After yet another week in this new social-distancing world, time does not seem to be the enemy any longer. People can read a 500 page book now or binge watch an entire six season TV show with no interruptions. With an asynchronous approach to learning, Perkiomen Valley students do not spend their days in school and instead find comfort from distraction in reading books or watching television.
While movies about pandemics are the main source of entertainment for many people, there are only so many times one can watch “Outbreak” or “12 Monkeys.” For a new source of escapism, here are three books to read while staying at home.
The first book is “Life As We Knew It” by Susan Beth Pfeffer, the first installment of “The Last Survivors” trilogy. Giving a day by day narrative through journal entries, the novel describes a new reality when an asteroid slams the moon out of orbit, causing frequent natural disasters and irregular weather patterns. The science-fiction portion is not the main focus, but the struggle of a family in surviving with limited supplies, no communication, a lack of community, and no certainty that things could ever get better. The gradual destruction of life as the characters knew it draws parallels to how the recent pandemic has effectively recreated today’s world while mirroring similar feelings of anxiety and hope.
If a book on the ramifications of an asteroid is too similar to life, there is also “World War Z: An Oral History of the Zombie War” by Max Brooks. The novel consists of multiple different narratives from survivors of a zombie apocalypse, giving first-hand experiences in a pseudo-historical account. Though a zombie outbreak is far from what COVID-19 has been, reading about a fictional pandemic delivered in a somber tone is the best form of escapism, especially when an ending is a guarantee for the novel.
Apocalyptic stories of zombies and asteroids aside, dystopian futures are another entertaining subject like the novel “The Road” by Cormac McCarthy. Much like “World War Z,” this novel is not an exact reflection of the COVID-19 pandemic or even about a contagious disease, but that might be the best reason to read it. Reading is for entertainment and a form of distraction, and though it is a grim sobering tale of a father and son seeking shelter in a post-apocalyptic world, it is the furthest thing from reality simply for not being about a plague.
Of course, there are many other dystopias and science-fiction novels that could be placed, but these choices are particularly fitting because they examine the various feelings that are common today like hope, fear, uncertainty, and compassion in an unpredictable time of history. Even if tomorrow could bring some unthinkable new obstacle, these books, and more like them, will keep us sane as long as we have to stay indoors.
Qz.com, Goodreads.com, Nytimes.com