Personal Commentary: My quarantine reading journey and a list of recommendations to get you started with reading!
“These are the days that must happen to you”
Said Walt Whitman. As the silk of each evening fell, the days elongated and the concept of time, as alienating as a new fragrance, the coronavirus pandemic took over our world, sooner than rains, wars and humans. I began to look at this phase as a middle ground, a state of grace offered to us. When times were horrifying trying and the prospect of positive pursuit seemed bleak, the news of diseases and deaths being overwhelming, I thought myself to be lucky. I was, I am. I, being of human temperament, promised myself to utilise this time to read and grow.
When things aren’t provided in a silver spoon, you find them off of leftovers and abandoned bowls. But now, there was a platter of time and space and yet somewhere, I faltered and stumbled to find balance and peace. Reading had always been a dear thing to me, my passion in times of stress, a friend in times of loss. As a child, I would be found in class and corners, streets and places, with a book in hand, a story on my mind. And as I grew up, it seemed like reading left me behind.
I had a habit of stopping when I was afraid. If I didn’t try, I couldn’t fail. It was paralysing.
For very long I believed I had left it, for I could have fallen out of love. But now, I can’t help but wonder, did it leave me?
What is it that makes reading hard?
What is it that keeps you from it?
I couldn’t answer these questions but I began anyway. The initial month of the lockdown, I found it hard to do anything on some days, while the others were flooded with ideas. I believed it was the state of flux to blame. Hence, the month of turmoil passed away. And then came the fire, the energy. It was a late Wednesday afternoon; I began reading Pride and Prejudice. I had owned the book for almost three months then, but somehow, the fire repelled the moth. But that day, I sat. And read. And read some more. Light left, stars shone, the birds sang again and I was still reading.
It wasn’t an epiphany or a sudden electricity that got me there. I just sat. I was fighting myself but I sat. What do you do when the winning and losing side are both yours? You keep struggling until you win, either way. Pride and prejudice left me stunned. It was somewhere around halfway in; I had felt a nervous tingle in my stomach. I had been smiling, unconsciously and I hadn’t felt that good for months. It really cannot be comprehended but It's close to feeling the rain on your face or the embrace of a loved one. It's soft, it's beautiful, and it's golden.
The month passed and so did the books, I found myself making up for time that was lost, both mine and writers, I was so desperate to read. Books came with full force and left imprints the size of earthquakes on me. I'm not the same I was a month ago. A claim I don’t make with exaggerated pretence or silly longing. It's dancing on a spinning earth. Its nature. And it’s all because I sat.
So, I request you and humbly plead you,
It’ll be a blessing.
Here’s the list of books I read during my wake, to get you started. Covering genres across all dimensions, these stories are rich and arresting, making you question everything all the while falling for the characters beyond reach and repair.
Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen
Frankenstein by Mary Shelley
The Little Prince by Antoine de Saint-Exupéry
The Great Gatsby by Scott Fitzgerald
A room of one’s own by Virginia Woolf
Wuthering Heights by Emily Brontë
Villette by Charlotte Bronte
1984 by George Orwell
Anna Karenina by Leo Tolstoy
The Diary of Young Girl / Anne Frank
The Trial by Franz Kafka
Symposium by Plato
The Republic by Plato
Thus Spoke Zarasthura by Friedrich Nietzsche
The God of Small Things by Arundhati Roy
Our Chemical Hearts by Krystal Sutherland
The Sun is also a Star by Nicola Yoon
Norwegian Wood by Haruki Murakami
- Maitreyee Sathe