As we continue to power through our days of self-isolation and the daily dosages of boredom and anxiety that come along with it, picking up a book may just be the best, most welcome way to escape. Not only is cozying up with a good book a great way to practice stress-relief and self-care, it’s also fun, entertaining, and a quick way to steer your mind away from the chaotic pandemic news-cycle and towards new and exciting literary worlds. I’ve compiled a list of some of my favorites, all of which are available to buy everywhere where books are sold. Happy reading, Disco Babes!
1. CivilWarLand in Bad Decline by George Saunders
One of my favorite short story collections of all time, Saunders’ 1996 debut is packed to the brim with outrageous stories that offer sarcastic, yet poignant, reflections about the downtrodden underside of the American Dream. Featuring stories about everything from a ghostly Civil War themed amusement park, to dream-like memory holograms, this collection is a must read—and a perfect escape.
2. Her Body and Other Parties by Carmen Maria Machado
This award winning short story collection intertwines magical realism, horror, and science fiction to create some of the most beautiful stories I’ve ever read. “The Husband Stitch,” a horror tale that comments upon the intrusive, sexist, and often non-consensual surgical procedure, is a story that will stay with you forever.
3. The Harry Potter Series by J.K. Rowling
If you grew up as a Harry Potter fan and need an escape that goes beyond the realms of realistic fiction, this is the perfect time to pick the magical series back up and start over from the beginning. For me, nothing is more comforting than diving back into the adventures of Harry, Ron, and Hermione. And, if you’ve never read the books before, now you simply have no excuse. Hogwarts forever!
4. Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen
I haven’t read too many classics in my life, but my love for this story—a love shared by—goes deep. Following Elizabeth Bennet through 19th century rural England is a perfect escape, and it only helps that the book is dotted with humor and of course, everyone’s favorite heart-throb, Mr. Darcy. After reading, be sure to watch the 2005 film adaptation starring Keira Knightley, it’s simply the best.
5. Fever Dream by Samanta Schweblin
If you love psychological horror, this is the book for you. One of my favorites ever, this chapterless book composed entirely of a dialogue between two people, the narrator and a boy named David, is one big trip. I don’t want to give anything away, but I highly recommend reading this book in one sitting to fully experience it’s fever dream inducing effect.
6. Red Clocks by Leni Zumas
If this pandemic has you thinking about other worlds that are not too distant from our own, this book imagines an America after abortion is illegal again, in-vitro fertilization is banned, and rights are given to every embryo. It’s a stunningly written book that follows the interconnected lives of five different women as they try to understand what it means to live in this world as a woman.
7. Dandelion Wine by Ray Bradbury
Missing summer? Dandelion Wine may be the book for you. Another Bradbury classic, and my personal favorite of his, this book follows 12-year-old Douglas Spaulding during the summer of 1928 as he tries to discover what it means to be alive. Each chapter focuses on a different neighbor or person living in Douglas’ small-town, almost functioning as little short stories. The language in this book is absolutely beautiful, and it is sure to leave you with a nostalgic, bittersweet longing for the summer months pre-quarantine.
8. Calypso by David Sedaris
If you’re looking for a laugh, Sedaris’ most recent collection of mostly autobiographical essays is the book for you. A comforting, humorous take on life, family and the bleakness of life, Calypso is full of little joys that will leave you feeling a little less alone, especially now.
9. Geek Love by Katherine Dunn
Two words: cult classic. Geek Love is a weird masterpiece, a book so beloved that it’s continuously been in print since its initial release in 1989. The rather long book follows the Binewski family’s traveling circus, who use drugs and radioactive material to create genetically altered children for their own freak show. As wild as it sounds, at its heart the deeply engrossing story questions what exactly it means to be human, and it’s sure to keep you turning the pages.
10. We Were Feminists Once: From Riot Grrrl to CoverGirl®, the Buying and Selling of a Political Movement by Andi Zeisler
Finally, if any of you Disco Babes are looking for some feminist theory that isn’t super academic-language heavy, this is a great place to start. I’ve been reading this book for a Gender and Capitalism class I’m taking, and it does a great job at covering the commercialization and commodification of feminism that exists within a capitalist society. Learn on!