The next few weeks will prove a challenging time for those of us faced with the prospect of self-isolation. However, since it is for the health of society’s most vulnerable that we practice social distancing, it’s a good idea we agree with the recommended measures. In the next week, The Badger will be recommending some of the best art to while away the hours with. This section, I’m recommending the best self-isolation books.
A Journal of the Plague Year – Daniel Defoe
One facet of literature is escapism. This book won’t necessarily let you escape, but it will give you the warm sense that things have always been bad, and they always will. Considered by some the very first ‘novel’, this book provides a semi-fictional account of the last years of the plague. Defoe illustrates the era’s own social distancing measures through lonely walks along the Thames, and tales of rumours and hysteria. It should be noted, however, that there is no panic buying of toilet paper in this book. People had sense back then (and no toilet paper).
Remembrance of the Things Past – Marcel Proust
People often complain that they don’t have the time to read. While this is hardly a good enough excuse for not reading the latest Dolly Alderton, or Marian Keyes, it makes sense when you consider something like Proust’s opus. 4,215 pages long, Proust’s reflections on the loss of time and lack of meaning in the the world could possibly lend some help to your own ruminations. Added to this, being able to tell people you have read Proust is a genuine achievement – even though it’s rare you’ll ever meet a person to discuss it with.
Room – Emma Donoghue
You are likely to be in a room during self-isolation, and this is about a room – need I say more? Yes. This is a compelling book about motherhood, isolation, and sexual assault. It has the added bonus of being widely read and very accessible.
Waiting for Godot – Samuel Beckett
The opening line, “nothing to be done”, will sum up your week in isolation.
Swing Time – Zadie Smith
This is a text for the genuine escapist. Zadie Smith is a fantastic writer and this is a lovely work that’ll transport you beyond your four walls. Chronicling the lives of two young dancers in London, it’s well written and entertaining.
The Bible – God?
Revelations may be particularly apt. Other than that it’s got some great stories comparable to Chaucer or Aesop’s Fables. Adam and Eve is a riot.
Metamorphoses – Franz Kafka
The majority of this book takes place in a single room from which the narrator cannot escape. That he is a great disgusting bug that people are repelled by could be similar to your experience as a carrier of Covid-19.
To Kill a Mocking Bird – Harper Lee
Another for the escapists. A beautiful book, there’s nothing more to say about it. With a week in isolation, there’s no excuse for not having read this classic.
How Not To Die – Dr. Michael Greger