The library at Edith Wharton’s The Mount. Wouldn’t say no to curling up with a good book and a roaring fire (or open window, depending on the season) here would you?
I want to preface this post by reminding everybody that not everybody has the option to work from home, organize their closets or catch up on daytime reading at a time like this. There are countless people working in supermarkets, emergency rooms, public offices and more. I have so much respect for each and every person out there who is responsible for holding things down, keeping things moving. Let’s not forget them and continue to adhere to the protocols in place so we can all work together in our own ways to flatten this thing’s curve and get back to a more conscious normal.
Given the current state of the world, I’ve decided to re-channel the purpose of The Modern Bee for the time being. I created this site to celebrate and foster community and right now, I’m wrecking my brain to think of ways to help and nurture the greater community while the air is understandably ripe with so much fear and uncertainty. I’m not entirely sure what that will look like, but to start, I know that when I am going through a tough time personally, there are always books I reach for to help soothe my nerves. Books won’t solve the COVID-19 crisis, obviously, but they can be a tremendous support in helping us weather the storm and I for one am open to any instrument that will bring our collective ship back to calmer seas.
That being said, here are five books that I reach for time and again when the going gets tough. The interwoven themes throughout? Resilience and grit. I typically borrow books first from the library and then if I love them, purchase them to add to my own library but with libraries shuttered, I’ve purposely linked each to a favorite, independent bookseller; so if you’re looking to buy a copy, I encourage you to do so from the seller linked or from your own favorite–shop small, y’all! I would love to hear what books serve as your medicine, too. Sending everybody love and light and when we’re told to keep our distance to protect our bodies, let’s let books connect us to protect our spirits.
A Tree Grows in Brooklyn by Betty Smith
A classic coming-0f-age novel about a first generational girl growing up in the early 20th century tenements of Brooklyn. It has that kind of language that is so beautiful in its simplicity. I’ve always tried to live by Francie Nolan’s utter delight in the smallest of things that bring the biggest joy.
Devotion by Dani Shapiro
A stunning and raw memoir that I first discovered when I was coming to gripes with how to live with chronic anxiety that I found tremendously soothing. I always keep a copy nearby and I’m actually feeling off kilter right now because I loaned mine to a friend and feel absolutely lost without it…
The Diary of Anne Frank by Anne Frank
I don’t think this book needs any sort of introduction. The ultimate account of grit, resilience and finding beauty in the most dire of circumstances.
I Know Why The Caged Bird Sings by Maya Angelou
I would read the fine print of a thick book of instructions for a lawnmower if it was written by Maya Angelou. This is the first “chapter” of the seven-volume autobiographical series telling of an extraordinary life, with poetic detailing on everything from the indignities of racism to the power of generational love.
This Tender Land by William Kent Krueger
I’m still actually reading this book and the only reason I’m putting it down is because I want to make it last…it is so insanely good. Besides a plot that captivates, it’s got so many themes and topics that I find fascinating — the persevering spirit of the Great Depression era, scrappy children, mysticism, Mark Twain-esque characters and locations, Native American culture…should I go on? I’ve already started looking more into this author so I can devour his other works.