COVID Reading Discoveries

The outbreak of COVID-19 has forced a lot of change into peoples’ lives all over the world. For many of us, we are all staying home a lot more, our social lives have changed to Zoom calls (as have our work lives), our travel plans are canceled or on hold and we frankly have a lot more time on our hands. For me, this means ample time for reading!

I have always been a voracious reader. But, I am also a very extroverted person. So, much of my free time is spent catching up with friends over drinks, going to movies, shows and the like. My reading time usually takes place before bed. But now, since I’m not commuting to the office and I’m not going out, I have even more time to dedicate to reading.

According to GoodReads, I’ve read about a book a week since mid-March. I’ve read all sorts of different books, from Gothic to fantasy – and even some nonfiction. I thought it’d be fun to pause and share a few thoughts on some of the new books I’ve found. Here’s a sample of what’s been on my virtual bookshelf these past few months.

The Bear and the Nightingale by Katherine Arden
Oh my GOSH this book and the subsequent books in the series were an absolute dream!!! I read the first two in about two days. I haven’t read the final book in the series yet because I want to savor it. But, Arden creates a beautiful world based on the folklore of Russia and everything is just crystalline ice and house spirits/deities/entities and a young woman with whom my inner and younger self identify so strongly with it was uncanny! The storytelling is wonderful. I can’t believe I didn’t discover this series until just now!

Opium and Absinthe by Lydia Kang
If you know me, you also know that I will never turn down a good Gothic story. Opium and Absinthe is a novice sleuth story about a young woman whose sister is mysteriously murdered in a way that makes people think that she was bitten by a vampire. All of this takes place right around the time that Bram Stoker’s Dracula is published, in 1899. The now heiress, who has always been written off by her family as peculiar for her love of books and science and asking questions, defies her family and searches in earnest for the killer – even putting her own life at risk. She also battles several addictive substances throughout the story including opium and heroin, which are just norms of the Victorian era really. This was a fun and clever read and I enjoyed how the author played with the original story of Dracula in her own work.

Unorthodox: The Scandalous Rejection of My Hasidic Roots by Deborah Feldman
I don’t often pick up nonfiction, but this story caught my attention. It falls into a similar vein as Hillbilly’s Elegy and Educated (both are excellent reads as well). I appreciated this story and am again struck by the tenacity with which Deborah, and others, sought education. For those of us for whom education is without question, it’s hard to imagine a world where you aren’t able to access it. It’s definitely an eye opener!

The Other Bennet Sister by Janice Hadlow
Who doesn’t love a good expanded universe story from the world of Jane Austen? Particularly when it’s Pride and Prejudice! This story about Mary Bennet was heartwarming. You watch Mary who is the Bennet sister who is quite overlooked in the original P&P and in subsequent tellings. She is another woman who lives in a world where others don’t understand her desire for education and knowledge, as she goes out into the world and sort of learns that happy medium between emotion and understanding everything through the lens of a book.

Aurora Burning by Amie Kaufman and Jay Kristoff
Who doesn’t love a good Jay Kristoff story? And when he’s paired up with Amie Kaufman? You know you’re getting gold! This installment of another YA trilogy from this duo DOES NOT DISAPPOINT! To my chagrin, I read this book WAAAAY too fast and I wish I could slow down and savor it. But, sometimes it’s just so hard to do that! I also got the opportunity to attend a virtual book event with both Kaufman and Kristoff via Politics and Prose Bookstore, located in DC, which absolutely made my week back in May!

When you’re looking at the same walls and same trees every day and can’t really go anywhere, a book is a great way to travel to new worlds and places and just escape for a while. Reading has always been an escape for me — as has my fiction writing. They are both truly a gift for which I am grateful.

What have you been reading throughout all of this? Please share any recommendations in the comments! I am always looking for an exciting new read 🙂