Let’s be honest, even when we want to, we can’t talk about anything else.
The coronavirus has upended everyone’s life in ways both big and small. For some, it has meant an abrupt job loss with no immediate hope of employment, or a shuttered small business. For others, it is a health crisis for themselves or a close family member. For others, it is about carrying on in the face of emergency—the nurses, doctors, truck drivers, grocery store clerks, stock boys, and delivery drivers.
For myself and many others, it’s thus far been—and will hopefully remain—an inconvenience.
And a lot more time at home.
Every news outlet and magazine has been posting articles about what you should read, watch, and listen to during your self-isolation. Most of them are content you’ve probably already heard about and have on your list.
In times of crisis, I gravitate toward stories of resilience. I want to watch characters triumph over seemingly impossible odds using their wits, courage, and good old-fashioned grit. If there’s a hot cowboy thrown in, all the better.
So if I may, I’d like to offer a few recommendations for your self-isolation period that are a little off the beaten path:
*Mrs. Mike, novel by Benedict and Nancy Freedman (1947)
This thin little book has survived every book purge and Marie Kondo-ing because it brings me joy. It’s a love story set in the Canadian wilderness. Don’t let its age fool you—Katharine and Mike have lessons to teach us in this modern time about how communities can come together to survive—and thrive—in hostile conditions.
*McLeod’s Daughters, TV Series (2001-2009) (available on Netflix)
An Australian TV Series, McLeod’s Daughters is the story of two half-sisters. After the death of their father, Tess returns to her sister Claire’s Australian cattle ranch. Tess is a fish-out-of-water and has to adjust to the unforgiving life in the Australian outback. But with love and persistence, the sisters save the ranch and find their way back to one another.
*Hex Wives, graphic novel by Ben Blacker (2019)
A group of 1950s seeming housewives can never leave their homes. What better story to read during our current situation? These stepford wives seem happy enough, until unusual—and supernatural—things start happening.
*Follow the River, novel by James Alexander Thom (1986)
Everyone—and I mean everyone—in my family has read this book. Set in 1755, it is the story of Mary Ingles, a young wife and mother who is kidnapped by Shawnee Indians. Follow the River is her unforgettable journey home. Trust me, if Mary could make it back home, we can kick the coronavirus.
*Half Broke Horses, novel by Jeannette Walls (2010)
Jeannette Walls, author of the excellent memoir The Glass Castle, wrote this story about her grandmother. Walls calls it a “true-life novel,” as she can’t be sure which legends passed down in the family lore are true and which are tall tales.
No matter. You’ll fall in love with the unbreakable spirit of Lily Casey Smith, the kind of woman who can kill the pig and fry up the bacon before anyone else is even awake. Half Broke Horses is filled with stories of living a hard life on the prairie, in a time before experts and You Tube when the only rule was survival.
*Why My Third Husband Will Be A Dog, essays by Lisa Scottoline and Francesa Serritella (2009)
This recommendation is a little different. This is the first book in a series of books written by Lisa Scottoline and her daughter Francesca Serritella. Scottoline writes mystery novels, but these books are essays that she and her daughter write about their ordinary life. They are hilarious and will have you laughing and nodding your head. There are eight books in total, and I’ve read them all—they’re even better if you listen to the audio versions. They are the books that inspired this very blog.
So there you have it—plenty of books and shows to get you through. Before we know it, we’ll be back to taking all the little things we miss now for granted.