Pandemic Plusses: Keeping Sane During The Coronavirus Lockdown – Reading Helps

I spoke with this guy a few days ago. He’s got sick folks at home and he wasn’t taking any chances. Soon we’ll all be this smart.

You’ve heard it dozens of times before – as a result of the COVID-19 lockdown, people are buying out entire supermarkets, overstocking their homes for the long isolation meant to #levelthecurve of cases (notice we are not reducing them, just stretching out the timeline of when we get it) so hospitals have a fighting chance.

And yes, some people were selfish jerks last weekend and went out to #placeispacked bars and nightclubs, but many of us slowed our social calendar, cancelled our schedules, and stayed home. Honestly, what’s done is done, and if you are on board now, great, thanks, and if you are just starting to take this seriously, welcome aboard. Instead of pointing fingers, we need to come together in this effort, to all stay home, and minimize the spread of this very active disease as best we can. The lockdown is real. The need for us to be Americans and accomplish the difficult task of Staying Home is real. Let’s all do our part.

So now what do we do?

Yes, we all have “work from home” assignments to take up some of our day, but what do we do with our former gym or cocktails or dinner out or mall walking or favorite store haunting time? Like the setting of some Brian Keene or Stephen King novels, we’re living in ghost town times.

Penn Station at midday, captured by a friend.

How do we keep ourselves busy in our new sportless, nightlife-deprived reality? Some are doing jigsaw puzzles, or The New York Times Crossword, or playing video games (I heard my sons on with a bunch of their friends yesterday and found comfort in this perfect #socialdistancing socializing).

As for me, I am well stocked in books and music and movies and writing projects. Each day I plan on featuring one of them as a way to offer ideas or comfort or both during this truly weird journey with you. You can get book suggestions through Libby or whatever library app you use in your area, or Kindle them if that’s your thing. Here’s my first:

If you don’t know Joe. R. Lansdale, now you have a treasure trove of imagination to explore during The Great Lockdown.

I have been meaning to read Joe R. Lansdale’s The Bottoms for a long time, and the last two days were my chance. With seasonal allergies teaming up with The Great Lockdown to limit what I could do (and completely freak me out), reading seemed like a great alternative to despair. And The Bottoms delivered.

I have a personal list of Underrated American Classics topped by To Kill a Mockingbird and True Grit, with The Outsiders and many others included. The criteria is that the books have to resonate, especially if the professors don’t acknowledge them. (I’ll post that list and maybe we can add to it together some time soon.) I believe The Bottoms deserves a place near the first two on the list. All three have young, innocent protagonists forced to see the world fortune imperfect mess that it is. All three house the American Ideal in these protagonists, pitting them against the ugly American reality as antagonist. While The Bottoms is clearly the slightly older, much darker cousin to these others, it should still be required reading for those of us who believe in or are fascinated by this ongoing struggle.

What are you reading during The Great Lockdown? Let’s get some ideas together for everyone to share. We’re in this together, so we might as well use our love of reading to help us through.

Let me know what you are reading in the comments section.

About chrisryanwrites

I do my best to tell fast-paced stories with humor and heart. My fiction work is available on Here, I’ll write about the sources for those stories from what I read, watch, listen to, and observe to my experiences as a former award-winning journalist, high school teacher, actor, and producer.
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