8 reads to help you combat boredom

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If you're finding yourself with too much time on your hands, these page-turners are a great reason to #StayHome

By Grace Ortelere

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Published: Thu 30 Apr 2020, 6:00 PM

Last updated: Fri 8 May 2020, 10:35 AM

After breezing through a few weeks' worth of Netflix, I had to reluctantly admit that watching TV with subtitles could not be considered "reading". Most of us are finding it hard to concentrate on books in these high-anxiety times, making mindless television more attractive than ever before. I've put together a list of page-turners that can be easily put down for a quick Zoom call with your friends and picked right back up when you're done.

Into Thin Air by John Krakauer
My first recommendation covers the suspenseful, true account of an attempt to summit the world's highest mountain that was besieged by a number of mishaps. It might even make you glad to be stuck in your safe, little apartment - at least there you have ample oxygen and absolutely no risk of frostbite.

Severance by Ling Ma
There are a number of books people are re-reading now because they seem eerily predictive of Covid-19. I recommend this one - in which the Shen Fever makes ghost towns of cities like New York - because of its wry humour and satire in the face of an apocalypse.

My Brilliant Friend by Elena Ferrante
This book follows the intertwined story of two young women as they navigate the power dynamics alive in a working class neighbourhood of Naples, beginning in the 50s. You'll want to keep reading more, and luckily, you can - this is the first in a four-book series.

Me Talk Pretty One Day by David Sedaris
This book is laugh-out-loud funny, whether you read the print version or - even better - listen to the audiobook narrated by the author himself. The first part records his growing up years in the US, and the second, his trials while communicating with the French after moving to Normandy.

When Breath Becomes Air by Paul Kalanithi
I'm not going to lie to you: you will cry while reading this book, but I promise you: it's worth it. We are all in awe of the healthcare workers on the frontlines of the current pandemic, and Kalanithi will further inspire you with his humility as he faces death battling his own cancer diagnosis in this memoir.

Celestial Bodies by Jokha Alharthi
This book was the first translated from Arabic to win a prestigious Man Booker International Prize. It's quite timely, since the recent passing of Oman's ruler His Majesty Sultan Qaboos bin Said put a spotlight on the nation. It follows an Omani family and the way modernity impacts them for better and for worse.

My Sister, The Serial Killer by Oyinkan Braithwaite
The title tells you all you need to know. This book, which takes place in Lagos, is written in simple prose that holds a lot of depth. It's dark, it's funny, and it's a perfect lockdown book - assuming you're not locked in with your serial killer sister!

Born a Crime by Trevor Noah
We know from the beginning that this story ends well - Noah is the host of The Daily Show, a popular American comedy news show. So, it helps us laugh more freely at some of Noah's humorous recountings of his youth, even as they are woven with the difficulties he faced as an interracial child, then considered illegal in apartheid South Africa.



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