Literary Hub

What Your Go-To Quarantine Read Says About You

As I write this, more than 250 million people have been ordered to stay at home in attempt to slow the coronavirus pandemic. For many of those those lucky enough to be simply quarantined and not sick (or caring for anyone who is), the days have been filled with stress baking, worrying, stress cleaning, worrying, and reading. A lot of reading. And of course, there has been plenty of discussion on the internet about which books people are reading in this time of crisis and confinement.

Some of us are reading for comfort, some for distraction, some for enlightenment, some for visions of the apocalypse. Some are just reading so that they can stop staring at a screen for a little while. While everyone is dealing with this in their own way, you can tell a lot about someone from the first book they turn to in a crisis. So, for a little diversion, a list of snap judgements of how you’re faring in this trying time, based on nothing but the book you picked up when you knew you were going to be inside for two months.

Virginia Woolf, To the Lighthouse
You miss making plans the most.

F. Scott Fitzgerald, The Great Gatsby
At least you have plenty of liquor in your cabinet.

W. G. Sebald, The Rings of Saturn
Yes, your neighbors are setting their watches by your morning walk. Maybe give them a wave when you pass by their windows. It’s friendly.

Vladimir Nabokov, Pale Fire
You’re one of those people who is going to get a ton of writing done during this, aren’t you?

Lauren Groff, Fates and Furies
No matter how long you’ve been together, you’ve decided that this is the perfect time to really get to know your partner.

Emily St. John Mandel, Station Eleven
You’re grateful for what you have—or at least you’re trying to be.

Octavia Butler, Kindred
You are desperate to get out of your apartment. But trust me, it’s going to be worse if you do.

Shirley Jackson, We Have Always Lived in the Castle
Your rage is just beneath the surface—for now.

A. S. Byatt, Possession
Some days you wish your many years of education had been in medicine, not literature, so you could feel more useful.

Donna Tartt, The Secret History
There are a lot of books and tea in your house. You’ll be fine.

Murray Bail, Eucalyptus
Your endless storytelling is appreciated by your family (so far).

Haruki Murakami, The Wind-Up Bird Chronicle
You’ve been spending a lot of time on TikTok.

Ivan Goncharov, Oblomov
Nothing has really changed for you, has it?

Ken Kesey, One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest
Honestly, you’re a little grateful that you don’t have to be in the same room with your boss anymore.

Toni Morrison, Beloved
You intuitively understand the value of community (and a damn good sentence).

Emily Dickinson, The Complete Poems
You are baking up a storm these days.

Maggie Nelson, Bluets
The thing that hurts you most about having to stay inside for two months is the idea of missing spring.

Kazuo Ishiguro, The Remains of the Day
No matter what happens next, you will not complain.

William Shakespeare, The Complete Works
You will absolutely not write King Lear during this time. You are also smart enough not to try.

N. K. Jemisin, The Fifth Season
You suspect that somehow, we brought this upon ourselves.

Jane Austen, Pride and Prejudice
Your plan is to methodically rewatch all your favorite shows.

Don DeLillo, White Noise
You’ve convinced yourself you saw this coming. (You didn’t.)

Kobo Abe, The Woman in the Dunes
You’ve already forgotten there was another way to live.

Anne Carson, Nox
You’re keeping a journal, and you’re going to make good use out of it.

Gabriel García Márquez, One Hundred Years of Solitude
You’re taking this time to do all the weird kitchen experiments you heard about and never tried.

Cormac McCarthy, Blood Meridian
Don’t forget to go for a walk today.

Marlon James, A Brief History of Seven Killings
You’ve already been on more FaceTime calls and Zoom meetings and Houseparties than you can count.

Sally Rooney, Conversations with Friends
Mostly you’re still texting.

Richard Powers, The Overstory
In the grand scheme of things, you know this is only the smallest of blips.

Tracy K. Smith, Life on Mars
Now you have more time for stargazing.

Jonathan Franzen, The Corrections
You never thought you’d miss seeing your family.

Ernest Hemingway, The Sun Also Rises
Day drinking.

Jean Rhys, Good Morning, Midnight
Night drinking.

Jeffrey Eugenides, Middlesex
You’ve been calling your mom every day since this started.

Philip Roth, Portnoy’s Complaint
You know.

Jorge Luis Borges, Ficciones
You fully expect to find a secret passageway in your house one of these days.

J. D. Salinger, The Catcher in the Rye
You actually have no problem staying six feet away from other people.

J. R. R. Tolkien, The Hobbit
You probably have children.

Maurice Sendak, Where the Wild Things Are
You definitely have children.

George Eliot, Middlemarch
You have no children.

David Foster Wallace, Infinite Jest
You are single.

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