I’m sure you’ve noticed we are living through some pretty scary, anxiety-making times. I assume none of you have lived through a global pandemic of this proportion before – I know I haven’t. I stumbled upon a basic solution to managing my coronavirus anxiety – spoiler – it was books!
The coronavirus pandemic is affecting everyone in very different ways, and everyone will be dealing with their own worries and anxieties, and for me, my coping mechanism is usually to craft until my eyes hurt. But, of course, Hobbycraft closed when lockdown came into force. So, while I was waiting for my crafting materials to arrive, I found myself increasingly trying to find non-COVID content on Instagram and Twitter.
It was during one of my insomnia-fuelled Instagram scrolling sessions that I saw an app for Bookmate.
Can I just say that Instagram story ads are the best/worst. They just GET ME. It’s like they can see into my brain and know what frivolous crap I really don’t need, but definitely want to buy at 1am. The Bookmate App advert was no different – over 500,000 books and audiobooks available immediately? Yes please! The first month is free, with a £9.99 per month fee afterwards. I downloaded the app and there were so many
books I wanted to read, so I jumped straight in and read a whole 25% of a book in one post-midnight session!
My re-discovery of reading as a form of escape helped me so much with managing my anxiety – I was able to escape to another
world. Spending a few hours each night thinking
about Greek mythology, or a blogger from New York, meant I was able to drift
off to sleep peacefully. If you’re staying up late into the night staring at
your phone, looking up scary facts or getting involved in Twitter spats, then
consider using your phone to escape to a different world instead. Your mind might just thank you for this.
Here are 5 books that have helped me get through the start of lockdown – most of these books have been read using the Bookmate App.
Circe was the first book I read on Bookmate, late on a Saturday night (Sunday morning, if we are being honest) and i read over 100 pages in my first sitting.
Madeline Miller’s writing style is to the point, informative and engaging. This story plunges you straight into Greek mythology, focusing on the goddess Circe – daughter of Helios. The focus on the often-brutal, gritty, everyday life of Greek gods and goddesses was an absolute delight. This is the fastest I’ve finished a book since I was a child.
I read this one in actual book form – not on my phone! I found this story gripping from the start – it centres on Nova. Nova is blind and is presented with an opportunity of a lifetime – but will she take it?
Nova must re-learn everything she thought she knew, and then some. Nova’s life interacts with Kate – who is also at an important crossroad in her life. This book is full of emotion and has a free-flowing storyline that feels almost fluid. It’s perfectly paced, always leaving you wanting more.
The characters in this book are nuanced, funny and feel very real. I connected to Nova and Kate in a very genuine way and loved following their journeys.
I decided to download this book, as I enjoyed Circe so much. The Song of Achilles is actually Madeline Miller’s first novel – but the two books aren’t connected, so it didn’t matter too much. Madeline Miller’s style of writing pulled me in immediately – it’s like she takes the myths that we all know from childhood, and somehow updates them. This story follows Achilles and Patroclus (with other familiar names throughout!) on their epic journey with real life grit. Although a large proportion of the story is focussed on the Battle of Troy – this doesn’t feel like a story of war, rather a story of love and mythology. I did prefer the storyline of Circe to this, however it still did a very good job of taking me off to Olympus and Ancient Greece.
This is the book I’ve finished most recently (2am this morning, cough), on Bookmate. The tone of writing that Kiley Reid uses is as light as air – bright and breezy – which makes it an extremely easy-going read. I loved that this novel has hidden depths; what starts out as a fun story soon turns to more meaningful content. The story focuses on Emira, who babysits for a quirky little girl called Briar, and is all about Emira finding her place in this world. However, Kiley very cleverly uses Emira’s story to highlight themes around racism, feminism and privilege. I felt that this book was actually really useful for teaching me to recognise my own privilege, without being condescending. The story is lively and enjoyable – with a few twists along the way. But it’s more than that – I think it is a really important read.
The Holy Vible by Elis James and John Robins
This one is a wee bit different – firstly, I’m listening to this using one of my Audible Credits, and secondly because I’ve not actually finished it yet!
If you haven’t heard of either Elis James or John Robins, then you are in for a treat! They’re comedians and friends, who are an absolute joy to listen to. I’d recommend starting with the Radio X Podcasts, there are hundreds of these, so don’t be overwhelmed. John Robins also has a brilliant Netflix show called the Darkness of Robins.
The Holy Vible “is a complete guide to the hilariously niche and wonderfully obscure world of commercial digital indie radio’s most-unproducible hammer legends: Elis James and John Robins. The most exciting double act in comedy take on the big topics: Shame, Queen, The Highway Code (and others).”
5/5 stars (of course)
Please let me know if you’ve read any of these books, or if you have any recommendations for me – I’m always on the lookout for another book to add to my list.
I hope this helps in some way to calm your anxiety, and take you to another world!