What to Read in a Pandemic

Well. 

Well, well, well.

Things have come to a pretty pass, have they not? And all the things I meant to write about have flown right out of my head as I try not to touch my eye, except there is SOMETHING IN MY EYE, and it's driving me crazy, and I grew up right outside of the Containment Area in New Rochelle, and wait—where was I?

Friends, it's reading season, and I'm saying this as someone for whom it is always reading season. You will be stuck in your house most likely at some point in the next month, and while what I mostly wish for you (and all of us) is good health, health of your loved ones, and a functioning government, I also hope you have something really good to read. So, in a show of almost unparalleled hubris, I will endeavor to recommend some books, in the most relevant areas I can come up with:

FOR THOSE WHO ARE UP FOR SOME TERRIFYING VIRUS READING

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The Stand. It is the virus book by which all other virus literature will be judged, the first half especially has his signature weird hyperreality, I loved it when I read it as a kid, I love it now, yet it is a little…close, you know?

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Station Eleven, oh how I loved this! It's profoundly humane and interesting and engaging. Also, yes, terrifying. But if you're up for virus talk, you go!

FOR THOSE WHO WANT TO READ SOMETHING ELSE ENTIRELY, BUT SERIOUS

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The Last Chronicle of Barset (also that link is to free e-book!). OK, full disclosure, this is part of a series, and it's not the first one, but just wipe that information out of your head because it's SO GOOD. Sad and moving and funny and strange (to me anyway), this book broke through the outer crust of my heart a few years ago, and it is very, very far from where we are now.

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Yes, Moby-Dick, and yes, that was the craziest cover I saw (not counting the ones that had a…non-white whale, which…what?). Want to go somewhere far, far away? You go—go far, to another world, this one is just too messed up. Check back in when you're ready.

FOR THOSE WHO WANT TO READ SOMETHING ELSE ENTIRELY, BUT SILLY, OR AT LEAST, LIGHT

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To those of you who have not yet read this book, oh how I envy you! Shining Through is almost unbelievably wonderful. Sex! Spies! Nazis—and we're against them! So, so good, also so funny. Wow, I may have just convinced myself to reread it yet again, it's so freaking good WWII good in all the ways something can be good—heart, spirit, mind.

Oh how I hesitate on this last one. Things that have gone through my head: Rich Men, Single Women. Scruples. The Patrick O'Brian novels. The Robert B. Parker Spenser novels.

But what I really think you should read is…anything you want. The book you love but are embarrassed to buy, the romance from the drugstore if that's your fancy, the Agatha Christie you already know the end to, the Little House on the Prairie series if that's what works. No one is watching—no one was ever watching, and if they are or were the hell with them. Follow your reading heart and find something you love. It's one of the few healing things I can imagine right now. 

Other than this, which is on my desk:

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Stay health, everybody.

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