Quarantine Selection: 9 Titles that Helped Me Get By

News update: Singapore finally announced that it was entering Circuit Breaker Phase 2 last June 19, 2020. This meant most establishments were allowed to open up. For example, dine-ins are now allowed but with safe distancing measures put in place. Gyms are allowed to operate (sadly, I had to terminate my membership because the circumstances and new terms did not serve me anymore and the monthly fee I was paying). Friends can hang out in groups of 5.

However, we still cannot leave the country, and I’ve learned to simply deal with it. Sometimes, it gets a bit painful when I start missing my Mom and Rocket and my friends back in Manila, but then, it’s just how things need to be at the present moment. I need to stick this time out and practice more patience (something I am learning), and just chalk it all up as growth points.

I’ve been finding new ways to deal with anxiety and loneliness, and I found that by re-visiting my love for reading (I read 5 books in the span of a month; a record-breaking feat since my teens), gaming, and a couple of shows that provided some sort of escape and comfort despite being on lockdown. I thought I’d share them with you in this post in case you were looking for material to “get by”. I hope you like them! Most of these were recommendations by friends, which just proves that word of mouth is the most effective form of marketing for me, haha.

By the way, after eight solid years, I’ve retired my first Kindle, who I lovingly named Melon. A first-gen Kindle that I got secondhand. No backlight, no touchscreen, but my friend was able to hack it so that it had no ads (genius!). Sadly, it gave up on me because of battery issues (I read a lot in the pool) and dead pixels on the screen.

I am now a proud owner of a Kindle Paperwhite, which has that backlight and that touchscreen, and which is also waterproof. I got it in twilight blue and named it Berry.

Books

1. Circe by Madeline Miller (Fantasy/Adventure)

Photo by booktravelsavvy.com

The first time I stumbled upon this book was in Eva Chen’s Instagram. Then, my friend Gracie recommended it to me, so I took it as a sign to purchase it! I’ve never written book reviews before (unless it was for school), so I’ll find a way to explain what this book is about without giving anything away (because I hate spoilers, too).

If you like mythology, you’ll enjoy Circe. I am a huge mythology geek. I remember when my high school teacher told us to get a copy of Edith Hamilton’s Mythology, and boy, what a trip it gave me. Circe is the daughter of Helios, the sun god, and of the ocean nymph Perse, and this book is sort of like her memoir. The book is so beautifully-written, and it sucks you into this mythical, magical world of gods, demi-gods, and mortals. At first I thought this was a book under the young adult category; I may have been slightly wrong. This is an awesome read if you’re craving some adventure,

2. Little Fires Everywhere by Celeste Ng (Family Drama)

Photo by NPR

I’m not really sure how to describe this book without starting off with the words “family drama”. But before you dismiss any interest in Little Fires Everywhere, let me tell you that it has quite an unconventional and juicy plot and has such a capacity to make you feel a lot at the same time. It’s gripping, and I guess I enjoyed it immensely because you get to know everyone’s secrets and you get to spy over them. Like most of the books in this list, Little Fires Everywhere was hard to put down. I have friends telling me about the show and how it sucked, so this sort-of affected their impression of the book. I haven’t watched the series, but I can assure that this book is a great one.

3. Stray by Stephanie Danler (Heavy Boots)

Photo by Entertainment Weekly

One of the best books I’ve read in 2017 was Stephanie Danler’s Sweetbitter, which is a coming-of-age story of a young woman in New York. She takes a job as a back-waitress, and everything unfolds from there. Stray is Stephanie Danler’s memoir, which took me on a range of emotions. I like to joke a lot about myself being someone who doesn’t feel much (except basic human feelings such as hunger, tiredness, etc.), which is why I can handle heavy. This was such a raw, painful, and exceptionally-written book that takes you blow-by-blow into the reality of life. This was tough for me to read despite its brevity, like taking big steps in heavy mud, but written with such insight and honesty.

4. Where the Crawdads Sing by Delia Owens (Mystery and Love)

Photo by thebibliofile.com

Oh man, here we go. This is, by far, my favorite book of 2020 (so far). Big thanks to my friend Nilcah for recommending this to me! I know, it’s a big statement, but it’s true. Upon reading the first few pages, I was a bit tempted to put it away because of how it read (it had that North Carolina language written down with lots of sound junctions), but don’t give up on it. I love a good mystery book, and this book got me crying at 11pm, and it piqued my curiosity so much that I had to finish it, even if this meant a few more tear sessions and a 3am bedtime. I really, really, enjoyed this book.

5. Why Fish Don’t Swim by Lulu Miller (Science and Hope)

Photo by purewow.com

This book was recommended to me by my amigas Isa and Bea, and my reaction when I finished this book was frustration. WHY IS IT OVER??!?!?!? I greedily asked them. Lulu Miller is a fairy tailor of writing, sewing each word seamlessly beside the other, creating a magical novel with writing that I. still. cannot. get. over. with. I smiled a lot as I read this book, felt a lot, pondered a lot, and thought a lot (there’s a lot of cool science facts here, too, folks). Nothing but brilliance. Ugh, I love this book so much. It’s probably my second favorite book of 2020 (so far).

Next on my list:

Currently reading Atomic Habits by James Clear and Light on Yoga by B. K. S. Iyengar. Next fiction book will be Know my Name by Chanel Miller.

Games

1. Animal Crossing (Nintendo Switch)

I seriously owe this game a lot for helping me get by. I loved the idea of building my own island, of escaping reality for a bit and visiting friends, building things, traveling, getting rich (lol) even just through Bells. I first thought this was like another iteration-slash-mish-mash of Minecraft and Farmville, but it’s a genius game that you get so attached to because you create and cultivate your own island, connect with friends, and so much more. I sort of hit a plateau after playing The Last of Us 2, but I’m excited for the game updates.

2. The Last of Us 2 (Playstation 4)

I’m not ready to talk about this game. There is so much to unpack and unload. But if you want to know, I thought it was amazingly done. But now there is so much I also want to say, but oh my gosh, please send me a DM if you want to discuss. This game left my mouth agape when it was over. I didn’t know how to feel, so I just popped a can of beer.

Shows (based on books, haha)

1. Normal People (Hulu)

Photograph by Edna Bowe; Hulu

I read the book by Sally Rooney last year, so when I heard that the series version came out, I was a bit skeptical, as I always am when books are turned into films. Being the Instagram lurker that I am, I saw snippets of the series, and friends were raving about it, so I decided to give it a shot, and I am so glad I did. Beautifully-produced (cinematography is ace!), amazing chemistry, loved the storytelling and soundtrack. It made me feel all the feelings I felt as I read the book and so much more. I highly recommend it.

2. Looking for Alaska (Hulu)

I now trust that Hulu does great television. Looking for Alaska by John Green is a book that I read when I was 16 or 17 years old, and it’s only now, 14 years later, that they released a show. As a book, I read it I think a total of 5 times my whole life, all in different stages, and each time, I learned something new and different. It’s one of my favorite books of all time.

I watched this with my friend Kaye (we both love this book so much), and we really enjoyed it. However, we recommended it to some friends, and they said it was a bit too heavy. So maybe you shouldn’t watch this alone? Best with a girlfriend…and some snacks. But it was so fun to watch, reliving scenes of the book that we mentally and literally highlighted. We cried so much! It was so well-made. The Colonel is still my favorite, even after all these years. A part of me wished they released this earlier while the high was still there, but watching it now was still a wonderful experience.

Now that work has become busier than ever, I still hope I get to find time to invest in quality leisure time. I limited my use of social media to one hour a day for personal use, which I still think is too much for me, and I got to read, watch, and find pleasure in long-form media again. Let me know if you have any good titles, shows (I have two friends who already told me Dark on Netflix is super-good, so I’ll give that a try, and games (next on my list is Oxenfree).

Featured image by simonandschuster.com.

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