As an avid reader, isolation is almost a dream for me. Restricted only by university summatives, it has been dictated by the government that my time cannot be spent going to work or doing anything that involves going outside.
For the first few days of isolation, I focused on getting through my remaining reading lists for the semester. Since this is my final semester, I wanted to cherish those last few reads and make the most of the end of my degree. I’m glad I did this, as the final novel I read ended up becoming a new favourite! The novel was for my ‘Banned Books’ module, and is entitled The Bastard of Istanbul by Elif Shafak. Since reading it, I’ve read Shafak’s most recent release, 10 Minutes and 38 Seconds in This Strange World (Longlisted for the Man Booker prize 2019), and it cemented my love of the author’s work. A win there!
Now that I’d finished all my university reads, I turned to my university bookshelf, overflowing with unread fiction. I feel really lucky to have access to such a large number of physical books during this time, as many of my friends have returned to their home addresses and had to leave their much-loved novels in Norwich. I’ve been using a couple of online resources to access books when I don’t feel like reading something on my shelf, and they’re incredibly useful – all you need is an internet connection. The first is ‘Libby’, an app that gives you access to your library’s eBook and audiobook selection for free. The other is ‘Scribd’, an app that works similarly to audiobook provider ‘Audible’, but gives you access to an unlimited number of eBooks, audiobooks and sheet music every month. They are offering a free 30 day trial during the isolation period, and I’ve found that audiobooks can be very soothing if you’re struggling to focus on a physical text.
I’ve decided not to re-read any books during isolation, but I would recommend turning to old favourites if the familiarity would comfort you. I’ve selected the next few books that I hope will give my reading a little structure, and it’s quite a variety of titles. One book that I’ve chosen is Frankenstein – I’d like to use this time to familiarise myself with a classic that I’ve heard lots about but haven’t read. For some recent releases and more literary fiction, I’m looking towards Weather by Jenny Offill and The Man Who Saw Everything by Deborah Levy – another author that I discovered during my time at university. I’m a huge fan of fantasy work, and now is a great time to dive into the genre if you want to escape the current situation. The recently released Hugo shortlist gives you a varied insight into what’s being published in the genre at the moment. Next up for me is The Poppy War by R. F. Kuang and The Priory of the Orange Tree by Samantha Shannon.
Although I’m enjoying the time that isolation has given me to read, I know that many people are finding it difficult to balance with their mental health. If you’d like to turn this solitary activity into an opportunity to connect with others, there are dozens of book clubs and ‘readathons’ cropping up across YouTube and Twitter. Happy reading!