Stay Home Reading Tag

The reading community has been doing a marvelous job of leveraging technology to provide structure and support during isolation. It makes sense, when you think about, since so many of us already rely on technology, especially social media, to converse and exchange our thoughts about and experiences with books. Readathons and read-ins were already popular online events; now we have more of them to engage in.

Two that are happening this weekend are Cosy Reading Night hosted by Lauren and the Books and The Stay Home Reading Rush hosted by Ariel Bissett and Raeleen Lemay.

Cosy Reading Night is a three hour window where participants are invited to snuggle up with their favorite blanket, snacks, and book(s) and read. Lauren usually holds Cosy Reading Nights seasonally but has been hosting them every other Friday throughout isolation. She will be hosting one this Friday, April 17 from 7 - 10 p.m., British Summer Time.

The Reading Rush is a summer readathon, usually, but the hosts have opted to hold a long-weekend version during isolation, beginning Thursday, April 16 and running through Sunday, April 19. The challenges are posted at the end of this piece, and you can find out more information here. In the run-up to the event, they’ve created a reading tag. My responses are below, and I’d love to hear yours in the comments or on Twitter @booksinkhub.

How is your reading going while staying home?

The word that best describes it might be “uneven.” Staying home isn’t what’s new for me since I largely worked from home already. What’s new is not ever leaving—to visit family, have coffee or lunch with friends, stroll through a bookstore, or enjoy a coffee at a cafe with a book. I confess that I have at times struggled to focus. My mind will wander and worry, but readathons have helped tremendously. They’ve provided structure to my reading and thus to my thoughts.

Where have you been reading at home?

My two usual spots are the chaise in my study (pictured) and my bed. I’ve noticed that I’m reading more on my Nook than I had been, perhaps because I’m spending more time reading in bed, and it's great for reading in bed. I almost always read for at least half an hour before turning out the lights, but since isolation, I’ve increased that time to an hour or even an hour and a half because it helps me sleep better.

Best book you’ve read during isolation?

I’ve read so many good books that it’s difficult for me to pick the “best,” though to be fair, I often struggle with that designation. In this case, if “best” means books that have held my attention, I’d have to say The Two Lives of Lydia Bird by Josie Silver. Even though there are aspects of the book that I don’t like, it was compulsively readable; I wanted to see how she would resolve the story. The Last Magician by Lisa Maxwell also fell into the compulsively readable category for me. Note: Both of these novels involve time travel, one of my favorite conceits.

I also loved Mirra Ginsburg’s translation of Heart of a Dog by Mikhail Bulgakov, Alicia Stallings’ translation of Works and Days by Hesiod, Anne Carson’s translation of If Not, Winter: Fragments of Sappho, and Nobody by Alice Oswald.

What’s your favorite feel good book?

Ah, here is another question that I want to modify. I enjoy pure escapist reads—fantasy novels with challenges nothing like our own or cheerful romances. These work best for me when I’m traveling or on vacation with nothing much to think about except my next day’s itinerary. What I need during difficult times, though, is books that will help me feel hopeful. My favorite feel-good books for these days tend to be set in times of war or other crises and focus on humans’ capacity for good under the direst of circumstances. They also tend to be stylistically beautiful books. Some of these include:

All the Light We Cannot See by Anthony Doerr
Station Eleven by Emily St. John Mandel
A Visit from the Goon Squad by Jennifer Egan
The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society by Annie Barrows and Mary Ann Shaffer
A God in Ruins by Kate Atkinson

Book you wish you could buy or borrow from the library?

Truth is, I’ve been buying ebooks with reckless abandon, so it’s not so much book buying that I miss. I miss browsing at my local Barnes and Noble, visiting the cafe, exchanging recommendations with the wonderful staff there, ordering a fancy coffee I wouldn’t make at home, and sitting down with whatever I’m reading.  

Author you want to shout out during this time?

I’m thinking of debut authors, whose first books are coming out but who may feel uncomfortable talking up their books. If you know of a debut author or are one, let us know in the comments or via Twitter @booksinkhub.

What is your Reading Rush TBR?

Since I’m also doing the OWLs Magical Readathon this month, whatever I read for the Reading Rush will have to fit in with the OWLs. Most likely, this will be Seven Days of Us by Francesca Hornak for challenges one and two and E. V. Rieu’s translation of The Voyage of the Argo by Apollonius of Rhodes for challenges three and four.

Reading Challenges

1. Read a book with a house on the cover.
2. Read a book in the same room the whole time.
3. Read a book set somewhere you wish you could go.
4. Read a book that will make you smile.

How has your reading been during isolation? Have you or are you planning to participate in any readathons?