Reading Between the Lines with Eva: Positive Reads for Troubling Times

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BY: EVA MONHAUT

Columnist

emonhaut@iu.edu

The 2020 Covid-19 pandemic has left all of us in a whirlwind: our lives have been suddenly uprooted and many of us are left struggling to make ends meet, adjust to a new routine and battle the emotional destruction of these troubling times. 

Personally, I felt utterly gutted when I first heard that the IU South Bend campus was shutting down. I trudged through an array of emotional detritus from anger, to sorrow, confusion, annoyance, and grief; IU South Bend had been my home for three dedicated years, and suddenly, I was no longer allowed to walk its halls or spend my evenings curled up with a oat-milk latte and a good book on the fifth floor of the library. I felt dismantled– upended– and frustrated, and I know I am not alone.

We all have our ways of trying to cope and adjust to the world when all seems upside down and for me this has always been literature. Perhaps one of the many positives I am coming to realize resulted from the pandemic, (on a personal level, at least), was being given the chance to read more books with some of my new-found downtime. 

In particular, I believe it is crucial to immerse oneself in literature that cultivates a sense of positivity when the negativity and isolation of quarantine weighs so heavily upon us all. Therefore, I have made a brief list of five reads that I think we can all benefit from especially during troubling times. 

  1. The Tibetian Book of Living and Dying By: Rinpoche Sogyal

This is the perfect quarantine read because the book focuses on the mindfulness, awareness and inward spiritual practices in Tibetian Buddhism. It provides a perfect guide for those who feel disjointed and in need of some self-reflection, tranquility, and perspective on life. 

  1. Pilgrim at Tinker Creek By: Annie Dillard

Many of us all have also been given the chance to think and connect more with nature during the pandemic. Dillard’s Pilgrim at Tinker Creek is the perfect addition on any nature-lovers-to-read list and makes for a wonderful summer, hammock read. The book is an intimate contemplation, reflection, and meditation on the beauty, depth and radiance of nature as well as humanity’s relationship with the natural world.

  1. The Peace of Wild Things By: Wendell Berry

Poetry in general is a cathartic release and a place of peace when we find ourselves in moments of stress and uncertainty. Berry’s collection of poems The Peace of Wild Things brings tranquility, hope and a sense of belonging to a confused mind through his reflective poetry on nature and the human condition.

  1. Hyperbole and a Half  By: Allie Brosh

Humor is a healthy way to work through tough times and Brosh does not fail to deliver in the Hyperbole and a Half. The book came about after Brosh had been keeping a blog, entitled the same, documenting her life adventures in mostly humorous-comic form. Readers looking for something easy to read, light-hearted, and joyful to ease their minds will fall in love with the work of Brosh.

  1. All I Really Need to Know I Learned in Kindergarten By: Robert Fulghum

Lastly, Robert Fulghum’s witty but thought-provoking reflections on light are the perfect addition to this collection. Both an easy, read full of humor and joy, as well as a deep exploration of life’s most troubling moments. Fulghum’s short anecdotes and essays probe what it means to be human, to learn, to live, to laugh, to love and to lose.

It is my hope that you investigate a few, if not all, of the books on this list during these troubling times and find solace, joy, self-reflection, peace, and new knowledge in their depths.

Want to know what I am reading or see more of my recommendations? Check my Goodreads page out at https://www.goodreads.com/1withthepen.

 

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