“Reading gives us someplace to go when we have to stay where we are.” – Mason Cooley
In times of great distress, I return to reading books of comfort and peace, great story-telling with an apparent gentleness, seeking out words that foster encouragement and joy, and stories of triumph over incredible odds. When life is out of my control, I seek solace in knowing that one of the many, significant ways I can regulate how I feel is by being intentional and mindful of what I am reading and consuming each day. During this historical time that we are facing together, I encourage you to join me in reading inspirational, calming, and hope-filled pieces. Make a point to find some balance between daily news briefings from your state and the nation, and leisurely escape for a while between the pages of a book, magazine, or peruse blogs that inspire and encourage your heart and mind.
One fantasy I had conjured up a few weeks ago—when I realized that the kids would go to school for one last time on a Friday then possibly not return for the remainder of the school year—is that we would be spending many, long, uninterrupted hours of time reading alone and together. Prior to our stay-put order, I diligently logged on to our local library and reserved a ton of books for my family, and promptly gathered our lot from the drive-thru window before the library, sadly, closed. Truthfully, even though we are diligently adhering to the stay-put edict, our reading time hasn’t increased much at all. After spending the better part of each morning attending to online schooling, my kids (and their eyes) need a shift, and that has naturally moved to more play, which I fully advocate. I hadn’t anticipated how much their bodies and minds would need a break from words, and thrive off of creative and imaginative play, building and crafting, and moving more. Another misconception is that the days would feel too long and agonizing, in a way. What I have found is that the days haven’t felt lengthened nor too difficult; not at all. Adjusting my expectations, and allowing the days to develop organically is helping all around. And despite the juxtaposition of what I thought would occur and what is truly unfolding, having books nearby remains a great comfort to me.
Here’s a glimpse of what we are currently reading:
- Bookworm Babe is enjoying reading through Ready…Set…Read! The Beginning Reader’s Treasury assembled by Joanna Cole and Stephanie Calmenson. A compilation of stories, poems, riddles, and more, it’s interesting, humorous, and clever. His favorite selections so far are: the poem, “I Left My Head” by Lilian Moore, and the story, Morris Has a Cold by Bernard Wiseman.
- Bookworm Girl has been engrossed with book one of The Borrowers by Mary Norton. A third grader, she gravitates to classics and books in a series. She commented that the writing is a fine level for her, and that she likes the characters because they remind of her of little fairies. With only a few chapters left to read, she’s looking forward to continuing the adventures.
- Bookworm Boy is reading The Fog Diver by Joel Ross, the first of two books. It’s futuristic fiction, according to my son. He says the story is suspenseful, even a little scary at times, but the writing is at his level, and the story line is captivating. He says he’ll definitely read the sequel, The Lost Compass, too.
- Myself, The Joyful Reader, I have a few books on rotation in my stack and loaded to my Kindle. Taking my time, I’ve been soaking up the beauty of Forest Bathing by Dr. Qing Li, and the rich advice found within The Enchanted Hour by Meghan Cox Gurdon. On my Kindle, I’m indulging in the novels and series of fiction titles by Hannah Ellis.
In addition to traditional reading, an anomaly that’s unfolding all over the nation and world is that fresh and free avenues of thought, word, and melody are opening up to the masses in order to enhance the background of life with meaning, comfort, and depth. Here’s a sample of what you can take advantage of now:
- Free audiobooks from Amazon with Audible Stories.
- Beginning April 2nd, Dolly Parton will read bedtime stories to you and your family.
- Revered writer and independent bookstore owner, Ann Patchett has written about discovering the amazing stories of Kate DiCamillo in her essay for the New York Times titled “Why We Need Life-Changing Books Right Now.”
- One of my favorite magazine indulgences, Breathe and make time for yourself, is an elixir for this stressful time.
- Many musicians are singing famous tunes online and even offering free concerts from inside the confines of their own living rooms. Our family enjoyed one of our favorite musicians, Jack Johnson perform his first #TogetherAtHome concert on Sunday in support of the World Health Organization.
We would love to hear from you!
- How have you found solace in words during the COVID-19 pandemic?
- What stories of hope are inspiring you or bringing comfort into your life right now?
No matter how you’re spending this unnerving and uncertain time, we pray that you cling to hope.
“Reading—the best state yet to keep absolute loneliness at bay.” — William Styron
4 thoughts on “Searching for Words of Comfort and Peace During the Coronavirus Pandemic”
From a vernacular perspective, one way I have found solace in words is writing to family and friends and/or receiving messages from them. For example one of my friends has been texting me often–sending jokes and thoughtful messages to cheer me up. From a literary perspective, I find calmness, peace and joy reading the bilingual book of poems titled Rendicion in Spanish or Sur(rendering) in English, a series of short lyrics about love lost and found.
Letter writing is such an important part of connection, even in today’s tech-obsessed world. I find great comfort in penning a note and receiving mail, as well. I love that you’re receiving humorous and kind texts, as well. It is a blessing that there are so many avenues to staying connected, each with their own benefits. I like the varied approach, as well. Poems are such a balm for me, as well! Rendicion sounds lovely!
So happy to receive a Book Joy update in my inbox during this difficult time. I am staying with my mom as she recovers from surgery and I have been reading out loud to her. We are reading YA, so something for the Bookworm Kiddos to look forward to someday. “Burn, Baby, Burn” was our first book and we are in the middle of “One of Us Is Lying” right now. I have a couple of more books on hand, including “Marcelo in the Real World” and “When You Reach Me”—which is one of my all-time favorites that I try to read once a year (it might be OK for Bookworm Boy to check out now!). Thank you for the update—keep on reading! Wishing you continued safety and health.
Reading out loud is such a wonderful pastime. I bet your mom is loving this time together, despite the circumstances. I pray she is recovering well. When You Reach Me is so good! Thanks for the reminder. Wishing you safety and good health, as well. Hugs to you. Can’t wait until we can meet for tea once again!