You can never get a cup of tea large enough or a book long enough to suit me. ~ C.S. Lewis
If there was ever a time to catch up on some reading, that time would be now. Books can provide solace and help fill anxious hours when there seems to be nothing to do. But your reading habit has declined, and you don’t know where to start? Let me help with some recommendations!
The library may be closed but you do have the ability to “borrow” eBooks for free! You will already need to have a library card to access and there is a limit to the number of books you can borrow. Just get onto your library account online (www.collierlibrary.org) and search the book you want to read. You will be asked what ‘format’ you want to use—I downloaded it to Amazon Kindle—and just like that, I was able to check-out “Where The Crawdads Sing,” by Delia Owens for 14-days.
Of course, you can go directly to Amazon Kindle and Barnes & Noble Nook for other free downloadable books, and if you are an Amazon Prime Member, the selection is even better. If you are okay with shelling out some dough your options expand greatly with new releases being higher priced than older ones—or as I did above, check out from the library. On Amazon, you can sign up for a trial membership for Audiobooks and enjoy a new release for free. Just remember to cancel your subscription before the trial period ends. Or maybe you’ll love it so much you keep it!
Some websites offer free content. Librivox.org provides free Audiobooks read by volunteers—you can even become one yourself! Project Gutenberg at Gutenberg.org, Manybooks.net and Authorama.com are three other sites. I found that most of the free books fall into the Classics and Romance but with some digging, you can find great reads.
In the case of good books, the point is not to see how many of them you can get through, but rather how many can get through to you. ~ Mortimer J. Adler
So, now that you have some resources to find books, which books to read? Let me help with some books that still resonate with me today.
“The Book Thief” by Markus Zusak and “All The Light We Cannot See” by Anthony Doerr are two of the best historical fiction books I have read about WWII. Zusak’s novel is rooted in Germany and narrated by Death, while Doerr’s Pulitzer Prize Winner follows a blind French girl and German boy. I read them back to back and was surprised at the emotions they elicited.
Thinking of delving into someone else’s life with a biography? If you are looking for laughs then try “Bossypants” by Tina Fey or “Yes Please” by Amy Poehler. These women are as funny as they are relatable. Angelica Huston lets us into the charming early years of her life surrounded by Hollywood and Artistic Elites in “A Story Lately Told: Coming of Age in Ireland, London and New York.” Or “Dear Mr. You” by Mary-Louise Parker, an edgy and fascinating read; Ms. Parker is a wonderful writer. Take a step back in time to the early days of Hollywood and Broadway with “This Time Together: Laughter and Reflection” by Carol Burnett. And for something really different and amazing, look up “Down the Nile: Alone in a Fisherman’s Skiff” by Rosemary Mahoney. She does exactly as the title describes and it’s unbelievable.
Classics I can’t get enough of are “The Bell Jar” by Sylvia Plath, “The Good Earth” by Pearl S. Buck, “A Moveable Feast” by Ernest Hemingway, and “Memoirs of a Geisha” by Arthur Golden. To me, they have stood the test of time. Recent books I consider classics—besides the aforementioned WWII book— would be “The Things They Carried” by Tim O’Brien and “Cold Mountain” by Charles Frazier. These two are emotionally wrenching in a very good way.
I find television very educating. Every time somebody turns on the set, I go into the other room and read a book. ~ Groucho Marx
Now to my favorite genre—fantasy and science fiction! Neil Gaiman’s “The Ocean at the End of the Lane” is a great standalone, and “The Night Circus” by Erin Morgenstern took my breath away. A readable trilogy would be Erika Johansen’s “The Queen of the Tearling” series, but my all-time favorite fantasy trilogy would have to be “The Fionavar Tapestry” by Guy Gavriel Kay. There’s a lot of “And so it happened” starts to sentences that sound a bit dated, but the emotional punches are well worth it. Seriously, I cried more than once and that was during my THIRD reading. In Science Fiction, the “Red Rising Saga” trilogy by Pierce Brown may be slightly predictive but it is wholly imaginative.
I could go on and on but let me end with some random titles that deserve a look: “The Buddha in the Attic” by Julie Otsuka is the riveting story of Japanese women brought to San Francisco as “picture brides.” Read a fictional account of an American woman combat photographer during the Vietnam War in “The Lotus Eaters” by Tatjana Soli. Also, try “The Gunslinger” by Stephen King—because Stephen King! Learn about the ups, downs and all-around oddities of space travel in the nonfiction “Packing for Mars: The Curious Science of Life in the Void” by Mary Roach. Last, but not least, introduce or re-introduce yourself to the beauty and balm of poetry with “The Poets’ Corner: The One-and-Only Poetry Book for the Whole Family” by John Lithgow. No word-salad poems here—just a fantastic selection of poems for, well, the whole family.
Stay well, stay safe and find solace in your reading!