Ten Great Books to Take Your Mind Off COVID-19

Don’t you love a good book? Whether you bathe in the bloody world of bigotry and vampires with Octavia Butler, explore a new practice, books have it all. There are too many books to love and this list is designed to distract, absorb and focus your attention. Well-written and fun, provocative and insightful, here’s a short list for your COVID-19 stay at home.

A Confederacy of Dunces by the tragic John Kennedy Toole, who won the Pulitzer Prize. You’ll laugh so hard you’ll need some of the extra toilet paper you’ve been stockpiling.

IMG_5656Reminiscent of current times, the hero of this enthralling historical fiction, survives the plague and goes on to bust the ultimate glass ceiling: Catholic Pope. Pope Joan, exquisitely takes you through the middle ages, making you grateful for modern sexism. I’ll leave it to you to decide whether the events of Donna Woolfolk Cross’ page-turner really happened.

In the Land of White Death: An Epic Story of Survival in the Siberian Arctic is the true adventures of Valerian Albanov’s unintentional arctic quest. That he survives the impossible journey on a scale unimaginable to most of us is made sweetly harrowing by Russian officer’s beautiful prose, written in his dairy and saved for posterity.

Ann-Marie MacDonald’s Fall On Your Knees will  first break, then break open, then re-break your heart open. This laugh, cry, turn-the-page novel describes the personal costs of being a transitional character.

Jack Kornfield’s guide to mindfulness offers up small meditations in his workbook The Art of Forgiveness, Lovingkindness and Peace. This time of self-isolation can be turned into the space for self-reflection, healing and growth.

Become an expert of the undertakings of underworld with Anne Rice’s juicy and irreverent read: The Vampire Lestat. This fast-paced is speculative fiction at its most delicious. So loud, sexy and powerful, you may want to read the entire series and then watch the movies afterward.

Katherine Dunn’s weird and wild masterpiece of creation looks at how social insulation can lead to annihilation. From start to finish, Geek Love is the brutal story and definition of “toxic family”. Home-spun freak carnival is the backdrop for this home-grown American fiction about a transient family making their own sideshows attractions to survive.

Audre Lorde’s timeless essay collection Sister Outsider still proves relevant in the Me-Too era and the current surge of xenophobia and strife we’re experiencing. Lorde’s wisdom continues to be a balm for souls who hunger for impassioned prose funded by hunger for social-justice.

Witty and sleek, The Master and Margarita by Mikhail Bulgakov brings a fresh take on an old Faustian tale. It’s a short book, but vivacious, smart and

Beloved by our Toni Morrison—poetry, prose, history, magic realism wound tight with collective social-historical memory. You can spend time with our beloved you get ahold of the audio recording read by Morrison herself. t Pulitzer?

If you still looking for something else to read, try my essay about social-justice warrior Ernestine Rose in Fierce: Essays by and about Dauntless Women, edited by Karyn Kloumann. This anthology of 13 brilliant essays earned us a spot in the non-fiction finals for BookLife where we’ve earned 10 /10 in every category so far.

Historical Repetitions (Considering Past Forms): b

This painful truth has always been true and has also always been ignored. In History and fiction, the mythical truth/fabled realities of White people has been heavily documented in books like Tom Sawyer, Uncle Tom’s Cabin, Gone with the Wind, The Grapes of Wrath and The Sound and Fury. When we examine these texts with our eyes toward the realities excluded and unnamed, the whites people who thrive and prosper are far removed from the poor whites whose only privilege was their status as free people, a situation that has not entirely changed in the century and a half since Emancipation.

 

I’m reminded of Karl Marx and The Communist Manifesto, which 150 years ago cut through the collective conscience of people in various states of revolution with an ideology that spoke of liberty, a human ‘worth’ beyond economic measure; our election is an apparent resurgence of a similar hopelessness and the need for change. It was a referendum on the standards of living, which if we look around leave too many of us destitute, homeless and disenfranchised. What I don’t understand is why the lines are drawn across color lines. These conditions have only ever improved with a unified front, as indicated in the numerous measures implemented during the 1970s.

 

 

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Things to Ponder

 

What has changed?