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What Light Reads Would You Recommend in #Covid19 times?

By 03/04/2020April 13th, 2020reading
light boooks in covid times
In India and all over the world, an unseen enemy is bringing us to our knees.
I’ve been trying to keep it light, not get into the relentlessness of the suffering, especially of the poor in all the nations affected. In India, we’ve had migrant workers within the country walking hundreds of kilometers to their homes in the villages, and facing starvation. There are the slum-dwellers who live cheek-by-jowl, and are unable to practice social distancing. And the death rates are climbing, no matter where I look, the places where my loved ones live–Italy, Malaysia, India, UK, USA, France. Even in Singapore, we’ve had more cases lately, though no lock-down so far, because the government so far has managed to tread the fine line between health and economy.
In my cocoon of privilege, all I have to do is stay at home, and carry on all housework without help. The feeling of helplessness is never far away though–the pandemic is simply too overwhelming for my poor brain to make sense of–too many people suffering in too many places. Too much hatred and invective, too many people behaving as individuals who have no wish to be part of a whole. I try and focus on gratitude, but very often, that feels selfish and privileged.
As with all times of crisis in my life, I’ve turned to books, and I find I need books that do not make me work too hard. I’ve read a romance or two, because I can be sure nothing will ever go too wrong in those books. I’ve read Camus’ The Plague, and Blindness By Saramago many years back, and no thank you, I don’t have the stomach for books like those at the moment. I’m also trying to finish the scores of books on my TBR that I already have at home–but those are literary tomes, and I find my focus is too shot to tackle them. Nothing too gory or anxious-making either, which is ironic, because I write a ton of that stuff.
So, the books I’ve been reading are Less By Andrew Greer, Sapiens By Yuval Noah Harari, Warprize by Elizabeth Vaughan and Circe by Madeline Miller. I read a few books at a time, and should be finishing at least two of them very soon.
The Libby app on my phone lets me borrow books from the National Library of Singapore. I’m using it as much as I can, and that’s where I hope to find my ‘escape’ reads in the coming weeks.
What light reads would you recommend? I need well-written romance or fantasy, or perhaps a comedy or two, or maybe even cosy mysteries. Drop me your favourite books in the comments.
Are you part of nay online or offline book groups? Founded any? What is the experience like? Do you think online book groups are similar to those offline?My debut literary crime novel,”You Beneath Your Skin,” published by the fab team at Simon and Schuster IN is making its way into the world.

It is available in India here.

Worldwide, here.

Reviews are appreciated–please get in touch if you’d like a review copy.

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Damyanti Biswas

Damyanti Biswas is the author of You Beneath Your Skin and numerous short stories that have been published in magazines and anthologies in the US, the UK, and Asia. She has been shortlisted for Best Small Fictions and Bath Novel Awards and is co-editor of the Forge Literary Magazine. Her next literary crime thriller, The Blue Bar, is represented by Lucienne Diver from The Knight Agency, and was published by Thomas & Mercer on January 1, 2023.

I appreciate comments, and I always visit back. If you're having trouble commenting, let me know via the contact form, or tweet me up @damyantig !

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  • aj vosse says:

    I would throw in short stories here too… I may know someone who may someone who may know a few titles!! 😁😁😁

  • Sonya Rhen says:

    Somehow I posted this under another reply. (You would think I know how to do this by now.) Also wanted to add that I’ve just started reading “Swordheart” by T. Kingfisher and have trouble putting it down. Light and fun fantasy.

    “Like you I’ve been trying to read more light fun books. I love anything by Alexander McCall Smith. Connie Willis’ “Crosstalk” or “To Say Nothing of the Dog” are super fun. I just read Rhys Bowen’s “Her Royal Spyness” and Chris Dolley’s “What Ho Automaton!” Both really fun light reads. I read “When Dimple Met Rishi” by Sandhya Menon a while ago and it was a fun romance read. Happy reading!”

  • Debdatta says:

    I am not getting as much time to read… But reading Dorothy L.Sayers whenever I can

  • First Overland , London-Singapore by Land Rover by Tim Slessor Signal Books Limited Oxford.

  • Mark Murata says:

    What is your opinion of Circe? Is it an authentic retelling? Or does it feel too modern?
    If you have a good connection to the internet, you might look up “Marvel bloopers” on Youtube to lighten your day.

  • A cozy mystery or two, a great romance. Right now anything will suffice as a distraction!

    • Damyanti B says:

      Ain’t that the truth!

    • Sonya Rhen says:

      Like you I’ve been trying to read more light fun books. I love anything by Alexander McCall Smith. Connie Willis’ “Crosstalk” or “To Say Nothing of the Dog” are super fun. I just read Rhys Bowen’s “Her Royal Spyness” and Chris Dolley’s “What Ho Automaton!” Both really fun light reads. I read “When Dimple Met Rishi” by Sandhya Menon a while ago and it was a fun romance read. Happy reading!

  • Jemi Fraser says:

    We’re providing childcare for a special needs family member while the parents continue to work so our days are full and fun.
    Reading has provided solace for me at so many times during my life. I tend to reread favourites in times of high stress. I also stick with romance – I need to know there’s a happy ending!

  • DutchIl says:

    Thank you for sharing!!.. I usually let the mood of the moment determine what to read, just follow my heart… 🙂

    Hope all is well with you and family and until we meet again..
    May the love that you give
    Always return to you,
    That family and friends are many
    And always remain true,
    May your mind only know peace
    No suffering or strife,
    May your spirit only know happiness
    On your journey through life.
    (Larry “Dutch” Woller)

  • I just finished reading “The Astonishing Life of August March” by Aaron Jackson, which was just released. It is fun!

  • I definitely recommend anything and everything by Agatha Christie – I always find her books fun and exciting, and a breeze to get through.
    Stay well and happy reading! xx

  • Unishta says:

    I didn’t think Sapiens was a good book to read during this time particularly. Noah seems so depressing and pessimistic. I would recommend “Those Days in Delhi” by Yashodhara Lal. You may just like it having spent so much time in Delhi

  • writershilpa says:

    Last week I read ‘Mafia queens of Mumbai’, real-life stories of the women in Mumbai’s underworld. I really liked it. You might not find it light, as such, but it takes the mind away from what’s happening around. For me, it does.
    Now I am reading 51 lesser known tales from Mahabharata. it’s an epic I love to read. These are very short stories and make for not just entertainment, but also information. And, light on the mind, too.
    Next, I have A Mussoorie Mystery by Ruskin Bond. I have to read it still. And, there is a romance by Rubina Ramesh – The confused bridegroom – this one too is on my kindle, waiting to be read.
    Hugs, Damayanti! For me, too, my books, art and writing help me cope. Without these, I would have been in a really miserable shape. 🙁

  • hilarymb says:

    Hi Damyanti – I don’t really have any light reads – but need to get reading. I guess if we don’t have them at home … it’d be tricky to get hold of any – I’d go for crime novels – Agatha etc … but historical ones too … by CJ Sansom: historical mysteries – fiction but set in the Tudor period (well recommended by others recently – I’ve got to read them) … light, but well written I gather; and the Cadfael books – a Benedictine monk up in Shrewsbury in the first half of the 12th century – historically accurate – I loved these … haven’t read them in years. If the library was open – I’d get them … but I’ll read my own.

    Take care – and yes there’s too, too many awful things happening – that are so cruel – over and above the virus. I trouble to talk about things – except one can’t avoid it … so all the best – Hilary

  • msw blog says:

    Young adult novels are a hit in my household its turned into a impromptu book club 🙂

  • arlene says:

    Trying to read but I am distracted 🙁

  • I’m having a moment where I realize just how dark my tastes usually are. Probably a lot of people are. **sigh** I may just have to watch and pick up recommendations as they come up.

  • Sapiens is great. I am thinking about going back to some very old novels that I loved in my teens/twenties – Mary Renault, The Last Of the Wine (set in Greece in the time of Socrates, a love story and history), also Neville Shute (old-fashioned now), mostly set in WWII, so some bad stuff, but they are all about good, decent people, Pied Piper (about an elderly man getting back from France to Britain as war begins who ends up with some children in tow), or Pastoral or The Far Country. He often writes about the underdog, who suffers from prejudice (often racial).

  • Have you read the IWSG anthology from last year, Masquerade? It was all love stories, so light and uplifting.

  • I had two books checked out from my local library before we went into lockdown. One was on art. One was on Korean. Usually, when I check out books intended for study, I have to rush through them to get them back on time, rather than being able to take however long it takes to study them from cover to cover. This time, they told us that if we have checked out materials we should keep them until further notice because they are closing the building and the drop-off boxes outside of it. So, while I’m also reading light and fantastic genres in my TBR backlog, as unrelated to real crisis as possible to keep my spirits up, I’m also taking advantage of slowly proceeding through these study materials at my own pace. So, if you need a break from stories, but still need a quiet activity to lift your soul, your electronic library might also have books on arts, languages, self-help, or anything else you’ve maybe wanted to learn about but never had time for until now. Even books about the craft of writing can be inspiring and maybe provide a bit of relief from focusing on seemingly impossible problems and world-wide fear and grief. <3

  • I’ve been reading poetry and am enjoying a book by a fellow Ohio native, Chris Barzak, who generally writes YA, I think. But his THE LOVE WE SHARE WITHOUT KNOWING is more mature reading. It follows a bunch of lovers living in Japan, a setting which feels far away and fantastical–just what I need right now. Also the form is really interesting. I’d call it a linked collection, but it was billed as a novel. I guess the interesting stories and form are enough to keep me distracted in a good way right now! I hope you’re well and writing, Damyanti!

  • Lynda Dietz says:

    One of the authors I work with, Kim Watt, writes cozy mysteries and has released one fantasy book recently. She’s fun and lighthearted, and the books are always positive. She also has free short stories on her website you might enjoy to get a feel for her style.

  • Jacqui Murray says:

    Sapiens–definitely on my list. Thanks for the reminder. I’m reading Westerns, about people who struggled every day and never gave up. It feeds my soul and my angst.

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