The Level 5 restrictions pose not only a challenge for the economy, but also put a strain on all of our mental states. This second lockdown once again means weeks of not being able to leave the house freely, weeks of isolating from friends and family, and weeks of tedious days blending into one another.
It’s natural for people to feel downhearted or stressed under these circumstances, but if you’re looking for a way to not let this second wave bring you down too much, experienced readers may have the answer for you: For them, reading has always been a tried and tested way of offering an escape to real-life problems.
As American author, Jhumpa Lahiri once put it: “That’s the thing about books. They let you travel without moving your feet.”
In that spirit, here are two books we recommend reading to make you forget about the pandemic at least for a little while.
1. “Conversations with Friends”, Sally Rooney
Most of you will probably know Sally Rooney’s newest novel - her work “Normal People" (2018) is not only a New York Times Bestseller but was also made into a well-received TV Show by BBC this spring. Her debut novel, however, while receiving numerous awards and praises, has not reached the mainstream quite yet: “Conversations with friends”, published by the young Irish woman in 2017, is definitely just as read-worthy though.
The book centers on two girls in their early 20s: There is Frances, the narrator of the story, and Bobbi, her best friend and one-time lover. Frances is thoughtful, highly intelligent, and cool without trying to be. Bobbi is charming, enthusiastic, and effervescent. The plot kicks off when the girls encounter a slightly famous, older married couple, successful photographer and essayist Melissa, and handsome actor Nick, whose career seems to be stalled despite his great talent. Throughout the novel we get to experience the four interacting with each other and entangling themselves in precarious relationships: Almost inevitably, Nick and Frances start having an affair, and the bulk of the novel highlights the rise and fall of their strange romance.
Interestingly, the book’s not about cheating - Sally Rooney doesn’t make it that simple. She highlights self-harm and self-abuse in an almost nonchalant way, studies ideas, and even more importantly, people in a brazing way. The characters are unlikeable and selfish, and you won’t find yourself rooting for some of them over the others. Instead, you’ll be drawn to all of them, wanting to find out more, wanting to understand their actions and thought processes. You’ll hurt for them.
Rooney’s writing is sharp, clean, and intelligent. She precisely describes feelings and concepts that will hit the mark with their familiarity and manages to make “Conversations of Friends” feel like tiny vignettes of humanity. The book will stay with you for a long time.
2. “Where the Crawdads Sing”, Delia Owens
Delia Owens’ debut novel “Where the Crawdads Ding”, published in 2018 has been one of the most-read books of lockdown, based on Amazon sales. It was no surprise that it topped The New York Times Fiction Best Sellers not only in 2019 but also again in 2020.
Where the Crawdads Sing is a coming-of-age story with elements of a small town murder mystery and romance. The story is set in the 1950s, in a fictional small town of North Carolina called Barkley Cove and follows the life and adventures of Kya Clark, aka the “Marsh Girl”, a young girl who has been abandoned by her family and rejected by town locals from an early age and is forced to overcome the challenges of surviving on her own in the marsh.
Growing up off the land she is exploring and learning life by observing nature and the wild. Along the way, she encounters a few acquaintances who mostly disappoint her, which let her permanently believe that life alone is better. But when Chase Andrews, the boy she once was involved with, is found dead and locals immediately suspect her,her life is about to change.
With her poetic writing and atmospheric tone, Delia Owens persuades us to seek and discover all on our own and lets you feel as though you could catch the smell of the sea and the sweet taste of her new love. Giving the Marsh a character as much as people in the book, it lets you feel deeply connected to Mother Nature and lets you appreciate nature’s effortless beauty. With Kyas unusual life circumstances, you can’t help but to hurt for her, to root for her, laugh and cry with her.
We can’t recommend you the book enough!