When I was younger, I read book after book like there was no tomorrow. Each page was an escape, a way to learn about the world, and a tool to become a stronger thinker. As I've worked through college, though, my passion for reading can't compete with my taxing schedule and my quest towards employment.
Well, not anymore!
I'm staying at home. You're staying at home (I hope). We're all staying at home. Now's the perfect time to fall back in love with books, and here are 12 ways to build your own reading list during this isolation period:
1. Re-read your favorite book.
Mine, When Breath Becomes Air by Paul Kalanithi, is filled with underlines and stars and sketches of the mountains that Kalanithi metaphorically ascends in this story of a surgeon's fight against cancer. The beautiful thing about re-reading your favorite book is that you already know the story, you've got lines memorized -- it's like a warm-up to dive back into reading.
2. Find a book that matters to your career.
I'm a health policy major, and I absolutely love learning about history. I asked one of my professors for a recommendation about how our healthcare system has evolved in recent history, and he suggested The Social Transformation of American Medicine by Paul Starr. Now's the perfect time to deepen your knowledge about your field, and your professors will be glad to help.
3. Be inspired.
Braving the Wilderness by Brené Brown is next on my list. This book illustrates how we cultivate belonging and rediscover our individualism. Elsewhere on my desk is The Golden Rules by Bob Bowman, Michael Phelps' swim coach. Choosing stories designed to teach us better ways to be ourselves is the perfect way to spend this isolated, introspective period.
4. Read a classic.
The Catcher in the Rye, The Adventures of Tom Sawyer, Invisible Man -- find any title you recognize, but you've never really read. Understanding classic literature can give insight into how modern writing draws its cues from the past. I've got Heller's Catch-22 and Hemingway's The Old Man and the Sea, balancing comedy and tragedy.
5. Explore your family's bookshelves.
I've been ransacking my house's community shelves like a madman. Ethan Coen's Gates of Eden caught my eye because I recognized the author; Guns, Germs, and Steel by Jared Diamond boasted a Pulitzer Prize (and again, I love reading history); and how could I ignore Lies and the Lying Liars Who Tell Them by Al Franken? Other people's shelves can be a gold mine.
6. Step back and learn about history.
Have I mentioned I enjoy reading history? Next, I've got Night by Elie Wiesel. Reading about the world we've inherited can give you so much perspective about our purpose, our mistakes, and how we can grow.
7. Choose something fun.
My fun book is a throwback: Egghead by Bo Burnham. It's a short book of poems that feels like part of one of his stand-up routines, so it's a nice thing to pick up now and then between other stories. I'd recommend reading your fun books in little empty moments, like right before dinner, or between classes, just to brighten your day.
8. Finally finish THAT book.
You know the one I'm talking about. The one you started and forgot about and picked up where you left off and realized you had to start over because you didn't remember a thing but you still haven't finished. That one. Mine's Chaos by James Gleick, an overview of the mathematical science of the chaotic. Yeah.
9. Pick up a skill.
Now that I'm bored out of my mind, all I want to do is pick up new talents and new hobbies. Thanks to How to Grill Everything by Mark Bittman, maybe I'll learn how to be a hit at tailgates when this is all done.
10. Check out a new genre.
If you're rediscovering your love of books, why not branch out a bit? I found a YA novel called Evidence of Things Unseen by Marianne Wiggins at a small bookstore a few months back, and even though it isn't my usual cup of tea, I'm interested to open up to different writing styles.
11. Actually read your textbooks.
I mean, if we're paying for them, I guess this is as good a time as any.
12. Study dystopia.
If you're feeling reflective, 1984, The Lord of the Flies, The Giver, The Handmaid's Tale, even The Hunger Games could be appropriate. Nothing reflects our world better than literature, so now I'm turning to books to guide me bravely through this new world (ha, get it?).