Angela Haupt of the Washington Post recently shared a fun list with the types of readers you meet during a lockdown.
I belong to the very first group. With a restless 4-year-old always around and with both Electra and me working from home, getting a free moment to read is pretty much impossible…
The working parents who are suddenly also stay-at-home parents
As I can attest, this group is lucky to get through a page of the New Yorker before passing out. These “readers” crave little more than reading the backs of their eyelids. They are caught in an all-day juggling act, and most books are too heavy to juggle.
The solution for parents and anyone else who is wildly distracted — and exhausted: fun short stories.
The readers seeking deeper meaning in the occult
In her 2008 book “End of Days,” the late psychic Sylvia Browne predicted that around 2020, “a severe pneumonia-like illness will spread throughout the globe.” Her prophecy is casting a spell over readers: Kim Kardashian West recently retweeted a photo of one of Browne’s passages, helping trigger a sudden spike in demand for the book.
The escapists running away to fantastical worlds
We hear the weather is nice in Narnia this time of year. Readers are fleeing to appealing worlds that share little in common with our own, like J.R.R. Tolkien’s Middle-earth and George R.R. Martin’s Westeros. Hogwarts, too. Enjoy the armchair vacation, escapists; no need to hurry back. And consider my very own sci-fi fantasy series, Pearseus, for your next book!
The parents of young children who are reading (and rereading) every kids’ book they own.
In that previous lifetime known as The Before, these readers might have curled up with “Where the Crawdads Sing” — now it is “Where the Wild Things Are.” “Dark Places” turned into “Oh! The Places You’ll Go,” and “The Green Mile” was replaced with “Green Eggs and Ham.” A Seuss-ed out parent’s first stop post-quarantine: Checking out the maximum number of new titles from the library for a refreshed selection.
If you’re fed up with the classics, you may also consider my own award-winning children’s books, Runaway Smile and Musiville.
The seize-the-day readers keeping busy with new skills
The overachievers among us will emerge from quarantine smarter — and with better buns. Those who are self-soothing by making bread might feast on “Sourdough,” a novel by Robin Sloan.
Others will find inspiration from self-help gurus or in instructional tomes. Your apocalypse self turned out to be your best self? Girl, stop apologizing, as Rachel Hollis would say.
The Netflix enthusiasts who ran out of shows to watch
Those who have quarantine-and-chilled straight out of things to watch can find new material in the books that inspired their favorite shows. After binge-watching “You,” read the novel by Caroline Kepnes; or perhaps Harlan Coben’s “The Stranger” after streaming the Netflix series of the same name. There will even be time for a healthy debate on which was better, the book or adaptation.
[‘The Princess Bride’ and other fantastical novels to help you escape reality]
The benched athletes who consider turning pages a viable exercise option
In the midst of the curveball that is this crisis, sporty titles are helping satiate those who typically prefer spring training to spring releases. “War Fever,” a new book by Randy Roberts and Johnny Smith, examines how baseball converged with the country’s last terrible pandemic. Among the tidbits revealed: In 1918, Babe Ruth had the so-called Spanish flu twice — so baseball, at least, has been here before.
The bucket-list readers who are finally checking off “War and Peace.”
Size matters to these readers, who have time on their hands and tomes on their shelves. Some are returning to their high school English syllabus, tackling those long, challenging titles that might otherwise have taken months to complete. Popular contenders include “Middlemarch,” by George Eliot, “The Count of Monte Cristo,” by Alexandre Dumas and “Ulysses,” by James Joyce — all over 750 pages.
The solo quarantiners desperate for human interaction — and settling for steamy romance novels
There is still time for a knight in shining armor to appear, pledging to remain by your side in quarantine and in freedom. In the meantime, the attention-starved are living vicariously through romance novels.
“In Five Years,” by Rebecca Serle, might keep these lonely hearts company, as would Andre Aciman’s “Call Me By Your Name” — and my very own clean sci-fi romance, A Heaven for Toasters.
The masochists devouring pandemic sci-fi
This global pandemic is only unprecedented to those who have not kept up with disease-plagued science fiction. Ah, the empathy readers now feel for characters grappling with deadly viruses, desolate towns, and extraterrestrial complications. These books offer good perspective, too: Aliens have yet to descend to chase us out of quarantine.
Best of all, titles like “Station Eleven,” by Emily St. John Mandel, and “Cold Storage,” by David Koepp, have what we all want: an ending to this stranger-than-fiction madness.
Which one are you?
I’m re-reading Benjamin Hoff’s ‘The Tao of Pooh’ and ‘The Te of Piglet’ a great treatise on staying calm that’s delightfully funny while being gently serious.
I’m too fidgety to get back into my present WIP, so I’m taking a breather after the mad rush last week to post my latest ‘art mystery-history’ ghost story, inspired by the writings of Marcus Aurelius, on Kindle.
Ordering ‘Heaven for Toasters’ today.