I returned home about 2 weeks ago and all I did was lay in bed until I got hungry and spend a ridiculous amount of time on TikTok (selfish self promo: follow my friends and I @thequaranteam). It takes time to adapt to staying home by yourself, with friends, family or a partner, when you are so used to always going from one place to another and seeing a large number of people on a daily basis. Eventually, you realize you do not really have a choice and you begin to find more productive ways to pass time. In between the cooking, working towards your assignments and watching Netflix & Disney+, you will find that reading a book is quiet relaxing and thought-provoking. So today I decided to share my 10 most open-minding books that you could check out during corona season.
- Solitude by Michael Harris
This is the perfect read for the situation we are all in at the moment. This book proves that true solitude is hard to find when your smartphone keeps beeping with notifications, and you spend your lockdown scrolling through different social media feeds.
Yesterday, my parents brought the idea of self-care and homemade masks, I then realized that being in quarantine is the perfect time to be alone and relax after a year of an emotional rollercoaster, travelling and working. If you too, do not really know how to completely switch off, Michael Harris will explain to you why alone time is now more important than ever in our inter-connected society and how you can become comfortable with solitude.
- Utopia for Realists and how we can get there by Rutger Bregman
This Dutch journalist questions the politics of society, happiness, money, family life and our future. He explores how today’s utopian ideas can become a reality, but also how humanity can drag itself into a dystopian world. All his examples are introduced with success stories and anecdotes which makes a utopian world more perceivable to the readers. This book will give you insights to areas of life you often ignore and forget about.
- What money can’t buy- the moral limits of markets by Michael J. Sandel
The author explores today’s economics and the way market values became important in most life aspects such as education, politics and even family life. He questions whether there “is something wrong with a world in which everything is for sale”, arguing both sides of his argument. He argues that obviously some things such as love do not need a defense against the market, but things that can have a price tag put on them will degrade over time even if they are not completely destroyed.
- The subtle art of not giving a f*ck by Mark Manson
Here the title says it all. I read this when I was a less confident, high school graduate who was embarking on the journey of university. As an aspiring journalist, I realized that staying in your comfort zone was really not what was going to bring excitement to what I wanted to study. Mark Manson establishes the real fact that “some things are f*cked up and we have to live with it”, which ultimately means that “in life, we have a limited amount of f*cks to give. So you must choose your f*cks wisely”.
Ps: this is my favorite from the list.
- Calm the f*ck down by Sarah Knight
This book is about handling anxiety, so if you are a rather calm person who navigates through life with the flow, it is not for you. The author teaches her readers how to deal with anxiety through four detailed stages:
- So you’re freaking out: acknowledge the problems.
- Calm the f*ck down: identify what you can control, accept what you can’t, and let that sh*t go.
- Deal with it: address what you can control.
- Choose for yourself: when sh*t happens, how will you calm the f*ck down and deal with it?
- Prisoners of Geography by Tim Marshall
This book discusses the geopolitics of the world, explaining why leaders are limited by the geography of their countries when making decisions. Tim Marshall provides you with ten maps that tell you everything you need to know about the politics of today. As an aspiring journalist, my knowledge of politics was very limited to what I studied in history, what I saw on the news and what my Kazakh parents taught me, so if you are a little bit like me, pick up this book in order to get a brief summary to world conflicts and why they happened.
- Sapiens- a brief history of humankind by Yuval Noah Harari
This is a long read that will probably get you through the whole time of lockdown. The author explores our whole human history and the choices we made which resulted in what society is today (and continue to make). It is very hard to explain this book in a few short sentences but a favorite chapter of mine consisted of exploring the idea that homo-sapiens survived on the basis of communication and the creation of communities such as religion, interest groups and families. My parents and I were reading this book at the same which struck interesting debate at the dinner table, so why not pass time exploring the humankind with this read?
- The sun and her flowers by Rupi Kaur
This is a book consisting of poems divided into five beautifully thought out chapters:
By using metaphors and analogies, Rupi Kaur writes about her personal life experiences of growing up to become a woman.
- Stuff I’ve been feeling lately by Alicia Cook
This is also a book filled with poems which are dedicated to “anyone who loves someone struggling with addiction”. What truly amazed me about this one is the structure of the book, which is divided into two parts and features the name of a song that the author was listening to when writing each poem. Side A shows the initial poem that the author has written. On the other part, Side B reveals the true message of the poem which is portrayed through crossing out certain parts of the initial one and circling the key words of the piece. The picture below will give you a better idea of what I am talking about:
This is short collection of stories about how people truly communicate. It reveals the struggles, banalities and simplicities of love that ordinary people experience, portraying that we all every day come across love in different forms. It explores the themes of elusive nature of love and the inadequacy of language, proving there is no language to describe the emotional and abstract subjects that come with it, therefore revealing that love is not just two people living happily ever after.
Final note: please keep in mind that these are my own interpretations to each book as I tend to relate them to my own personal life experiences. Hope you enjoy! And if not, hope you find Laoise's, Isabel's and my sense of humor funny on TikTok.