|Photo by Viktor Forgacs on Unsplash|
Jennifer @HoldsOnHappiness wrote a post recently about keeping calm in a world suddenly gone mad. Her simple solution was to stockpile books, not toilet paper. And tea.
It would seem that all the end-of-the-world stories I’ve read over the years, have seeped into my subconscious, as I would have to self-isolate for well over a year before I even went close to running out of unread books or tea!
But it got me thinking, what WOULD I read if my family had to go into quarantine thanks to one of us being exposed to Covid-19?
Plagues and pestilence have been the scourge of human life since time began. Which reflects the extraordinary number of stories that have been written about this topic since then. As soon as we started recording and remembering stories, natural disasters got the starring role. For instance, plague and pestilence visit the characters on the battle field in Homers’ The Iliad. You’ll also find a far bit of this going on, with the whole wrath of God behind it, in the Old Testament stories as well.
Giovanni Boccaccio went there in the 1350’s after the Black Death with The Decameron, as did Geoffrey Chaucer in The Canterbury Tales. Daniel Defoe gave us Journal of the Plague Year written in 1722 and in 1826 Mary Shelley wrote The Last Man.
More modern takes include Katherine Anne Porter’s Pale Horse, Pale Rider (which sounds fascinating by the way – a 1918 Spanish flu story), Albert Camus’ The Plague, Gabriel Garcia Marquez’s Love in the Time of Cholera, Geraldine Brooks’ Year of Wonders, Kim Stanley Robinson’s The Years of Rice and Salt, Peter Heller’s The Dog Stars, Chris Adrian’s, The Children’s Hospital, Ling Ma’s Severance, and Philip Roth’s Nemesis (a polio outbreak story).
If man-made bio-disasters are more your thing then you could try Margaret Atwood’s Oryx and Crake trilogy, Frank Herbert’s The White Plague, Emily St. John Mandel’s Station Eleven, Dean Koontz’ The Eyes of Darkness, Justin Cronin’s The Passage and Stephen King’s The Stand.
But would we really turn to plague-lit as a form of comfort during these trying times?
According to Buzzfeed last week, the 2011 movie Contagion is now the second most watched Warner Bros movie and the tenth most popular Apple iTunes movie. Maybe it should be reclassified as a documentary?
If I had 2-3 weeks off work, where I had to stay quietly at home I would have no trouble filling my time. I have several unopened jigsaw puzzle boxes, cupboards full of our favourite DVD’s (for when Netflix falls over due to high demand!) and mountains of unread books. But I do feel sorry for my more extroverted friends. Two weeks stuck at home is their worst nightmare!
I might be tempted to reread King’s The Stand. But I’d like to think I would use the time more fruitfully and finally tackle some of those more challenging books on my TBR like, Ducks Newburyport by Lucy Ellmann and Milkman by Anna Burns. Or maybe I will finally read all those delightful Angela Thirkell books stacked under by my bed for reasons of pure comfort and escapism.
Have you prepared your self-isolation reading list yet?
What are you looking forward to reading if you suddenly get two weeks at home?