A little while back, a poignant and heartfelt letter came from an author in Italy, projecting our futures in the weeks ahead as we followed behind them in distancing, lockdown, and quarantine. In this letter, Francesca Melandri had many things to say: funny (“You will have an unstoppable online social life”), thought-provoking (“You will count all the things you do not need”), and moving (“You will miss your adult children like you never have before”). But one of those many things was this:
“You’ll pull apocalyptic literature out of your bookshelves, but will soon find you don’t really feel like reading any of it.”
And my thought process basically went,
I don’t know if anyone else’s brain did that.
At any rate, I have been reading. A lot. My book goal this year was naively set at finishing thirty novels before December 31st. Aw, so precious. It’s now the beginning of May, and I just finished book nineteen. As you can see, I have no claim to the precognitive arts, a fact that makes me extremely glad on a daily basis, except for this one prediction: Goodreads is going to soil itself laughing at me.
When I first read Melandri’s letter, I mistook her statement to mean I would be going back to my favorites. Were that the case, I would be rereading 1984 by Orwell. Unwound by Shusterman. Shorts like Matheson’s I Am Legend and Butler’s Speech Sounds. World War Z by Brooks, followed by yet another online rant about how the movie adaptation took the biggest and best opportunity in the universe to do something new and fresh with the zompocalypse and basically spit in its face. (Yes, I have rage about this.)
(Also, BRAD PITT. STOP TRAVELING. EVERYWHERE YOU GO, THE ZOMBIES GET IN. Israel does not thank you.)
But back to my faves, including my number one: the unbeatable Lord of the Flies by Golding. I find something new each time I read it. I’ve become quite friendly with audiobooks this year; maybe a listen would change the experience yet again.
In these weeks of lockdown, I haven’t been reading my old friends. What I have picked up instead is the new blood, and what wonderful new blood it is!
Dread Nation and its sequel Deathless Divide by Justina Ireland – 19th century America takes a turn when the fallen at Gettysburg get right back up again.
I Am Behind You by John Ajvide Lindqvist – Fantastic. Weird. Ending: not for everyone.
The Farm by Emily McKay – Just started. I have questions.
I also have plans for more vampires, more zombies, more disrupted socioeconomic systems. Possibly I may give Battle Royale another try, as it is staring at me from its place on Shelf Two, right beside the Red Rising series. Which I really, really am jonesing to finish.
I feel Melandri makes a good point: reading should be enjoyable. An escape. For me, I can escape just fine in the post-apocalyptia of my bookshelves, even now. Not everyone will find enjoyment in this genre at this time. But I have found that sci-fi, horror, and dystopian fiction can be very good at releasing the stresses of the real world they cleverly critique, from a sort of… safe space, if you will. A book can always be closed. Put away for another day, or happily spoiled by seeing how it ends first.
(In case you were wondering: books will not be counted on that list of things I don’t need.)
G. B. Lindsey was born and raised in California, where she earned her undergraduate degree from UC Santa Cruz before moving to Northern England for her master’s. Her first love has always been writing: as a child, she cultivated such diverse goals as becoming “a cowgirl… and a writer” or “a paleontologist… and a writer.”
Aside from her salacious ongoing affair with the horror genre, she engages in dedicated flings with sci-fi, romance, historical fiction, and short stories. Other hobbies include singing, the occasional period drama movie night, and devouring scary film after scary film. When she’s not working in kidney transplant or studying up on Arthurian myth, she relaxes at home in California with a good book and her cat, Hadrian.