Big Post of Book Recommendations

As bookstores continue to be shut in Belgium, I have started rereading books that I have at home instead of trying to get new ones. In the spirit of recycling, I put together a post of reading recommendations to cater for various mindsets and situations.

For those yearning for newness, I put complied a few of links below with some good and diverse recommendations by trustworthy sources. Then we shall continue with recommendations I have made in the past, put in thematic categories for ease of reference.

First, book recommendations and other recent, interesting book-related:

The New York Times book recommendations for this week (do read Lady in Waiting by Anne Glenconner from the list, I promise it’s like nothing you would expect).

The Guardian asks novelists to pick their favourite books to inspire and uplift

Another Guardian Covid-19 reading list ranging from Nora Ephron to Kazuo Ishiguro

The New Yorker’s latest recommendations (again featuring “Notes from an Apocalypse” – clearly trending…)

Why Virginia Woolf’s Mrs Dalloway is excellent lockdown-reading

In-depth essay about Blonde, a novel about the imaginary life of Marilyn Monroe

Then, onto thematic book recommendations I have made over the last couple of years.
I’ll start with feminist nonfiction.

A formidable collection of feminist theory and some lighter fiction, actually, as well. Plus the vintage classic Vagina Monologues.

Siri Hustvedt for sorting out messy minds – writes both nonfiction and fiction, such as What I Loved and the more recent Memories of the Future.

The Feminist Writing Hall of Fame – list of the most famous and influential feminist writers of basically all time.

Self-partnered and self-isolating? Look no further. Books for single women about being a single woman.

Moving on to confinement hobbies:

Herewith fiction to get you in the mood for your next Zoom-party. Also suitable for situations when you need a reminder of what it was like to go to parties and meet people in 3D.
Party girls die in pearls, here’s the best of.

Great many books have been written about alcohol and other substances. There’s an upside to missing out on the terrace-season: this year’s rosé consumption might be considerably lower than during a regular, non-pandemic year.
If you do, however, wake up with the excesses of the previous night’s Teams-hangout, I’ve got it covered. Books for Zoom/Skype -hangover will get you nicely through the day after.

Books to go with rosé wine, includes recommendations for SPF.
Featuring Manhattan Beach by Jennifer Egan and some basic animal neuroscience in case your boredom has risen to the next level.

If the odd gin o’clock on Skype doesn’t quite cut it anymore, there’s always the option to self-induce a medical coma until the end of lockdown. For practical tips in the form of a brilliant novel, look no further than Ottessa Moshfegh’s My Year of Rest and Relaxation. Her latest book about, aptly, isolation, is out in about now, and here’s an interview she gave to the New York Times the other day about Death in Her Hands.

I also liked her novel Eileen, here are some thoughts about it, as well as about some other, slightly darker reads.

Feeling voyeuristic, but not quite convinced that your neighbours have anything very interesting going on? Peek into the psyche of a Parisian nymphomaniac with Leïla Slimani’s Adele. It is also almost like visiting Paris, which we will not be doing any time soon.

If you’re the type who really wants to experience the pandemic atmosphere (as in obviously not catching the virus) full on, it’s not going to be complete without reading books that deal precisely with that. Herewith two freakishly apt novels about, um, health-related pandemic (but not depressing and/or angsty). By Nobel prize winner José Saramago (Blindness) and Karen Thompson Walkers (The Dreamers).

In the mood for some lighter literary delights that work exactly the opposite way, as in will take your mind off Covid-19? I made a poolside-edition of ten indie books last summer, some of them continue to be favourites.

It is perfectly normal to have a scattered brain at this stage. Everybody is more or less stir-crazy at this point in time, and not all of us have the time or inclination to concentrate on reading novels. Try short stories. They are a good way to spend the last 30 minutes before going to bed. These are my favourites. They are funny, heartbreaking, intelligent and mean equally, but obviously not everything at the same time.

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