Authors are used to being in isolation – their work often demands it and their natures often crave it. Our current circumstances with the coronavirus are new to us all. Over the coming week, we’ll have some of your favourite authors sending through messages and tips, and generally reaching out. While we might be isolated, together we can do this.
Mary-Anne O’Connor shares some of her favourite reads
Having to self-isolate is confronting. Not only are we told to bunker down under forts made of toilet paper and baked beans and be self-sufficient re food and supplies, we are also being challenged to wait it out.
Waiting. It seems to be a lost art, although we were rather adept it at before the days of being constantly plugged in and having our world dictated by screens. These days, once you’ve dropped your phone on your forehead a few times, dozing off from online monotony, waiting is trickier. There’s only so many social media feeds, same-old news stories and Netflix marathons you can occupy yourself with, right?
Enter that wondrous, magic cure for boredom that captivated so many of us in our youth: reading.
The oldest cure in the book IS the book, for what can be more deliciously escapist than falling into hours of imagery and emotion, sparked by the joining of two imaginative worlds: your own and the authors?
So, with no further ado, I present to you six books I have fallen in love with over the years – both classic and modern, stories that made me want to become an author myself, and worlds I have never quite left. Enjoy your time with them – all that isolation can be rather wonderfully wasted with the simplest cure to boredom of all:
A couch, a cuppa and a good old book.
THREE ALL-TIME CLASSIC READS:
Jane Eyre, by Charlotte Bronte
Often claimed to be the first ever feminist novel, this is one of the most moving if melodramatic stories I have ever read. Young girl that I was, I’d clench my fist with Jane with tears in my eyes as she fought for her rights in a world where so few were afforded her. I read it again as a grown woman and felt the same way. Outrageous, windswept and sublime – perfect Autumn reading.
Little Women, by Louisa May Alcott
Another childhood favourite and must re-read! The character of Josephine March so engrossed me as a girl, it actually inspired me to be a writer, so it’s little wonder I like to go back and visit with her up in her attic as she scribbles away at masterpieces. It will make you long, it will make you laugh and it will make you cry so hard you’ll need to use some of that precious toilet paper stash.
Pride and Prejudice, by Jane Austen
Well, Miss Austen ruined us all for men for decades, didn’t she? How dare she make our dream man a pompous, contrary character like Mr Darcy…and yet. Oh, let’s face it, we all fall in love with him in the end – and how we laugh along the way! Brilliant storytelling and deceptively light with unforgettable characters throughout. Love, love, love.
THREE MODERN MUST READS:
Gravity is the Thing, by Jaclyn Moriarty
This is an unusual and whimsical tale that I drifted into and could not put down. Original and unlike anything I have read before, Moriarty leads you on a journey that is almost dreamlike yet set in modern reality. I had no idea where she was taking me but I didn’t care, happy to drift along. Many wonderful local references for an Aussie girl too. Five stars – so good.
Bridget Jones’s Diary, by Helen Fielding
If I didn’t know better, I would suspect that Fielding studied me under hidden cameras when penning this character – so relatable, and so laugh-out-loud funny because of it, Bridget Jones is deservedly a much-loved modern classic. It’s somewhat of a shame that many people have relied on the movie for this much larger story – the book really is better than the film, as much as I love them both. Just don’t read it in public. People will think you’ve had four wines today.
Jasper Jones, by Craig Silvey
I read the first page of this book three times, not because I couldn’t decide if I could sink my teeth in, but because I was so in awe of the writing I could barely stand to leave the page. Jasper Jones is the tale of a teenage boy called Charlie Bucktin who lives in a country town in Australia in 1965. He’s geeky, smart and completely hilarious, and I became so heavily invested in him that I completely forgot that I was a middle-aged woman for a while. It’s an incredibly moving story with both tragedy and injustice entwined, but it’s also laugh-out-loud funny too. Simply wonderful Australian storytelling.