Students can read to pass the time and enrich imaginations

Though going outside while following the social distancing protocols is encouraged for mental health, boredom can still occur at home. Fortunately, there are also at-home activities to help cope with boredom.

Graphic by Michaeline Collins.

Reading an interesting book can pass the time and there are many types of stories that may even help people cope with the current pandemic. David Bowie is a professor and chair for the Department of English at UAA. If a reader is looking for a book that tells a story that goes deep into situations and emotions that are similar to the current pandemic, he suggests a book by Albert Camus.

“If anyone is interested in very on-the-nose stories of dealing with epidemics, Albert Camus’s ‘The Plague’ is deservedly a classic,” Bowie said.

“The Plague,” published in 1947, takes place in the French Algerian city of Oran. The book shows what a widespread sickness can do to a city and presents questions about the human condition. 

Bob Zmuda is a library science technician in Utah. He has lived and worked in Alaska for many years as a seasonal employee for Mt. McKinley Princess Lodge. Zmuda recommends classic literature to deal with emotions.

“I’ve been hearing generally that people have been finding solace in some Stoic writings, like ‘Marcus Aurelius’s Meditations,’ and I’ve been meaning to check them out,” Zmuda said.

Books to help escape can be a great way to relieve stress and take the reader on a mental vacation, even for just a while. Bowie has recommendations for this as well.

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“I’m a fan of magical realism, so Mark Helprin’s ‘Winter’s Tale’  and pretty much anything by Gabriel García Márquez, but perhaps especially ‘One Hundred Years of Solitude’ are solid go-tos for me, and some few books I happily revisit every few years,” Bowie said.

Lea Tifft is a communications major at UAA. She has some favorite books for this time of social distancing. One of these books she recommends is “The Tattooist of Auschwitz.” The story “tells the extraordinary tale of Lali Sokolov, a Slovakian Jew, who was imprisoned at Auschwitz in 1942, and forced to tattoo numbers onto the arms of thousands of incoming prisoners. At the camp, Sokolov met a Slovakian girl, and they fell in love,” according to a review in The New York Times.

Books to help improve the self are also an option during this time of less social interaction. Justina Kohler is a radiology and sonography tech major at UAA. She likes the book “You Are a Badass: How to Stop Doubting Your Greatness and Start Living an Awesome Life,” by Jen Sincero. Kohler says that it helps enrich her personality.

“It taught me self-confidence and that being myself is all I need. Truth be told, it also taught me to be independent and that I should speak up, respect others and not be afraid of what people think,” Kohler said.

Books can be purchased online through sites like Amazon, or accessed digitally through apps like Audible. Photo by Nick Fewings on Unsplash.

These recommended books and more can be purchased online as paperback, hardcover, or Kindle and audio versions. Audible, an audiobook website, has a free 30-day trial and is $14.95 after one month. Kindle also has many free books available. Another resource, Open Library, has a large catalog that users can read, borrow or purchase.