Reading in the Time of COVID-19: Eight Books to Kick the Coronavirus in Its Stupid Dick

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Her Body And Other Parties & Upright Women Wanted are recommended reads. - MACMILLAN AND GRAYWOLF PRESS
  • Macmillan and Graywolf Press
  • Her Body And Other Parties & Upright Women Wanted are recommended reads.
Assuming you aren’t an absolute idiot, you’re staying home right now as much as possible.

Many of us are now unemployed and completely quarantined, while others still have jobs but are going home right after clocking out. If you’re still partying in large gatherings somehow, frankly I’m surprised you figured out how to open this newspaper.

But in all seriousness, stay the fuck home, folks. And while you’re looking to stay entertained there, open a book. Remember books? Books make our lives better, keep us entertained and you should read them.

To help you while away the time, here’s a list of fun things to read during these most disastrous of times. We could have compiled a list of depressing pandemic books, but what’s the point of reading something we’re already living? No thank you. Let’s do something a little bit different.



A People’s Future of the United States
Edited by John Joseph Adams and Victor LaValle

This anthology brings together 25 stories from some of the best writers working in science fiction — Tananarive Due, Hugh Howey, N. K. Jemisin and others. When compiling the book, editors asked contributors for “narratives that would challenge oppressive American myths, release us from the chokehold of our history, and give us new futures to believe in.” They also asked that the stories be bad-ass. Do they deliver? Hell, yeah, they do. This entire anthology is a book full of hope and perfect for our current struggles.

Her Body and Other Parties
By Carmen Maria Machado

Look, the more time you spend at home, the quicker you’re going to get bored. Unless you start shaking things up and experimenting around the house. Make forts. Do a scavenger hunt. Glue your furniture to the ceiling. What does that have to do with Carmen Maria Machado’s short-story collection? Because almost every one is told in a highly enjoyable experimental narrative. Her book will teach you there’s no one simple rule for writing a story, just like there’s no one simple rule for passing time.

Invasion of the Weirdos
By Andrew Hilbert

Surely, you’re going to miss embracing the Texas “scene” being stuck in your home so long. Why not give Hilbert’s novel a shot? It’s pretty much the perfect novel to introduce outsiders to our wild and wondrous state. It’s hilarious, strange and oddly optimistic. Plus, Hilbert works as a Texas bartender, and we should already know at this point how those in the bar and restaurant industries are getting screwed over right now. A little transparency here: I actually published this book through my small press, Perpetual Motion Machine Publishing. That said, by picking this novel up you’re not only supporting a Texas author but also a Texas small publishing company. Imagine how much bragging you could do on Facebook after buying Invasion of the Weirdos.

Savage Season
By Joe R. Lansdale

This may qualify as cheating, because if you read Savage Season, you’ll be left with no choice but to pick up every other title in Lansdale’s Hap & Leonard East Texas-set crime series. But listen, it’s hard to imagine having any more fun with a page-turning read than these books. Plus, like Andrew Hilbert, Joe Lansdale is a Texan. Support your local authors, folks, they’re gonna need it.

The Brief History of the Dead
By Kevin Brockmeier

For those who love fantasy novels, look no further than The Brief History of the Dead. This one is, well, a bit more depressing than some of the other recommendations on this list, but in some ways, it’s equally optimistic. It deals with the afterlife and the concept of memories, and you know what? These are subjects we’re all thinking heavily about as we ride out this pandemic.

Against the Fascist Creep
By Alexander Reid Ross

Given our current political situation, why would we be recommending this book right now? Any idea? Any at all?

Upright Women Wanted
by Sarah Gailey

Just because San Antonio libraries were closed at press time doesn’t mean you can’t read about badass librarians. Particularly, badass queer librarians trying to survive in a post-apocalyptic Wild West. This is escapist fiction at its finest. And it’s pure, wonderful entertainment we cannot recommend strongly enough.

Texas Gardening Almanac
By Doug Welsh

We’re likely heading into dark times, friendos. A recession seems inevitable, as does a prolonged recovery from this crisis. Things are going to get much worse before they better. It’s time to take an interest in growing your own produce. Not only will it help you save a buck in the long run, but it will benefit your community should things take an even more depressing route. Also recommended: The New Victory Garden by James Underwood-Crockett.

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