A Teacher’s Guide to Comfort Reading During Quarantine

Lose yourself in a good book.

Does the idea of reading comfort books during quarantine make you feel like crying right now? That’s OK. Ignore this article, go back to Netflix, and I’ll see you soon!

For the rest of you, here’s a list of the coziest, most relaxing books to read during quarantine. As I worked on compiling this list, I realized that “comforting” books span a wide range of genres and topics. Some are comforting because they’re funny, others for their setting (hello, rainy English countryside), some because they show triumph through difficult times, and still others are comforting for an easy escape. Do any of these books have any sad, uncomfortable, or upsetting things in them? Yes. But are those sad or upsetting things plagues, pandemics, or apocalyptic dystopias? No, they are not, my friend.

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Funny/Lighthearted Books During Quarantine

Let’s start with a go-to for many during troubling times: books that keep things funny and light. While my top recommendation is Calypso by David Sedaris, which made me laugh out loud until I cried, it may not be for everyone. Teaching middle school for ten years and growing up with two older brothers has made me a person that is not easily offended, so if you repulsed by the idea of a grown man feeding his removed tumor to a sea turtle, please refer to my next recommendation, Bossypants by Tina Fey.

Bossypants came out a while ago, and I’ve listened to it on audiobook probably four times since its release. This book also makes me laugh out loud, especially the chapter where she talks about her body. Plus, it was written long before any of us were quarantining, which will help slide you back into the glittering, pre-COVID world of 2011.

Other recommendations:

Historical Fiction

Historical fiction may not be the obvious genre to turn to since it often deals with wars and other human atrocities. But there’s something inspiring and reassuring to read about people who dealt with traumas far more serious than us staying inside—and did so with great strength and resolve. My top pick for historical fiction is The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society.

Long title, yes, but probably my favorite comforting read. Set in 1946, this book is an epistolary (letters between characters) novel about a writer in London who learns about a book club in Guernsey that met in secret during the German occupation of their island. It’s one of those books where you’ll mourn the ending—not because of the ending itself, but because it’ll mean the end of a journey with characters you’ve come to love. It’s … the best.

Other recommendations:

Romance

My recommendation for a romance novel is a book I have not actually read (yet!), but comes from an overwhelming recommendation from my readership: Red, White, and Royal Blue.

The son of America’s president. The Prince of Wales. NEED I SAY MORE? I’m awaiting this book to arrive in the mail and I’m very impatient.

YA Reads

My top pick for a young adult read right now is a sequel: On the Come Up.

Definitely grab her other book The Hate U Give if you haven’t read that first. Angie Thomas is—in addition to being a delightful follow on Twitter—a talented writer (channeler?) in making teenage personalities really come alive.

Additional recommendations:

Mystery/Crime/Drama

This genre is a truly effective way to transport yourself to another time and get wrapped up in a great story. My pick for drama is: Little Fires Everywhere.

Though I’m an English teacher, I’m definitely not always an advocate of “THE BOOK IS BETTER THAN THE MOVIE!” However, in the case of the recent adaptation released on Hulu—despite my fierce love for Reese Witherspoon and Kerry Washington—I would definitely say to read the book first because the book is way better. Then start an online Zoom book club for this book and invite me to it so I can tell you all my opinions. Anyway, back to the actual book: it’s set in the 90s in a suburban town where almost nothing bad happens. Almost. (But no pandemics—I promise.) It’s a fascinating, beautifully written intersection of class, race, and tragedy, and you’ll want to read everything else by Ng after you finish it.

Additional recommendations:

Inspiration/Nonfiction

There’s no more stunning way to breeze through an afternoon than with my next pick: Persepolis: The Story of a Childhood. This book by Marjane Satrapi is her story about growing up during the Iranian revolution, and responding to the sweeping changes in her life with humor, creativity, and resolve. Sound like something we could all use right now, yes?

Additional recommendations:

Cookbooks

Are stories a little too much right now? Don’t worry. I’ve got you covered.

Chrissy Teigen is one of my favorite follows on Twitter, and additionally one of my favorite purveyors of recipes. I’ve made a bunch of stuff from Cravings (Chicken Lettuce Wraps, Rotochick Chicken Noodle Soup, Sweet and Salty Coconut Rice among them) and I would give everything eleven stars if I could. As a bonus, her instructions and commentary are often hilarious.

Additional recommendations:

What are your top comfort books for quarantine? Share in the WeAreTeachers HELPLINE group!

Plus, Teachers, How Can We Care for Our Mental Health Right Now?

A Teacher's Guide to Comfort Reading During Quarantine

Posted by Love Teach

Love, Teach (Kelly Treleaven) teaches middle school English and writes about it at loveteachblog.com. You can pre-order her book, Love, Teach: Real Stories and Honest Advice to Keep Teachers from Crying Under Their Desks, or follow her on Facebook, Twitter, or Instagram.

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