My must-reads during social distancing

The COVID-19 pandemic has called for people to spend time inside in an effort to stop the spread of the virus. While practicing social distancing, I have picked up many books that act as escapism during this surreal time.

  1. “Between Shades of Gray” by Ruta Sepetys

This book tells an aspect of World War II which isn’t talked about a lot but deserves to be heard – Lithuanians displaced to Siberian work camps. The novel follows 15-year-old Lina and her family after Soviet officers barge into her home, separating her from her father and forcing them onto a crowded and dirty train car en route to a work camp in Siberia. Lina is an artist and documents events by drawing, hoping these messages will make their way to her father’s prison camp to let him know they are still alive. This book is a brutal, but important read.

  1. “Nemesis” by Brendan Reichs

This book is escapism at its finest. It is about a 16-year-old girl named Min, who has a secret. Every two years, on Min’s birthday, a strange man finds her and murders her in cold blood. But hours later, she wakes up – alone, unhurt, and with all evidence of the crime erased. While battling with these traumatic truths, the world is facing destruction. The Anvil, an enormous asteroid, is headed straight toward the Earth which threatens life as they know it. The intriguing plot and fascinating characters kept me on the edge of my seat.

  1. “Anna Karenina” by Leo Tolstoy

I wanted to challenge myself  and read something that I wouldn’t normally read. So why not try the book acclaimed by many as the world’s greatest novel? Anna Karenina is about contemporary life in Russia and explores humanity in general. Tolstoy creates some of the most memorable characters in literature. Anna is a sophisticated woman who abandons her empty existence as the wife of Karenin, and turns to Count Vronsky to fulfil her passionate nature — with tragic consequences. Another character, Levin, is a reflection of Tolstoy himself, often expressing the author’s own views. This book is dense and 900 pages long, so it will hopefully last through the entirety of the shelter-in-place orders.

While we cannot connect in person right now, I think reading can make a person feel less alone. Maybe even starting an online book club would curb our need for social interaction a little bit. Either way, I encourage you to take advantage of the circumstances and read more.