It’s a phrase often heard: “I used to read so much… but now, I somehow don’t seem to find the time anymore.” We understand: With mobile phones, Netflix and the rest of the connected world, the time seems to disappear. But a lot of us miss reading, the process of falling in love with an idea, a character, a storyline.
So, we thought, let’s make a virtue out of necessity during our lockdown, and curl up with something good to read. From us to you, with love, some recommendations:
The Players Come Again
by ‘Amanda Cross’ (alias Carolyn Heilburn)
One of the best of series with professor/detective Kate Fansler, who clears her head with martinis or Schnapps, depending. Here, the tangled fortunes of a celebrated novelist (whose books have probably been written by his wife), are told with wit, wry feminism and riddles unraveled in the pages of literature. A brilliant chronicle of the attitudes and preoccupations of 1980s New York.
Recommended by: Dardis McNamee
The Courage to Love – Principles and Practices of Self-Relations
by Stephen Gilligan
A wonderful summary of Gilligan’s method, to find deeper connections to self, others and the surrounding environment. Step by step he leads you to a better understanding of your own personality and needs through discovering and externalizing negative or, as he says, “alienating” beliefs and establishing nurturing habits. Combining traditional therapeutic techniques, meditation and age-old rituals, he shows that love is a skill and psychotherapy a compassion.
Recommended by: Margarita Randl
by Neal Stephenson
Part 1 of a trilogy, this ludicrously long bestseller tackles nothing less than the creation of modern western society in late 17th/early 18th century Europe by way of intertwining storylines: Daniel Waterhouse, a former puritan, scholar and member of the Royal Society; “Half-Cocked” Jack Shaftoe, a vagabond swashbuckler slowly going mad from syphilis; and Eliza, a Turkish harem slave who works her way up into the nobility of several European courts. Using conventions from adventure and picaresque novels, historical figures like Isaac Newton, John Churchill and William of Orange cross paths – It’s a Three Musketeers romp packed with an education on early economics, enlightenment-era philosophy and European history. If you actually get though this 944 volume during quarantine, never fear – volumes 2 & 3 are similarly long.
Recommended by: Binu Starnegg
The Big Picture: The Fight for the Future of Movies
by Ben Fritz
A great read for all film lovers. Written by the Wall Street Journal’s LA film and media editor and based on the infamous Sony hack from 2014, it pulls the curtain back on the contemporary film industry. Full of insider information, this book reveals why and how the American movie business has ended up where it is today and why we get the movies we get. I read it in a weekend!
Recommended by: Katja Stolbova
Wine in Austria – The History
by Willi Klinger & Karl Vocelka
Willi Klinger was for many years CEO of the Austrian Wine Marketing Board, his co-author Professor Vocelka is an historian with a great affinity for wine. Together they have produced a labor of love, a sweeping panorama of the world of wine through the ages, and not just Austrian. This is a book to casually skim or seriously mine for detailed descriptions of wine making through the ages, the terroirs, the secrets of the cellars and the marketing of the finished product. It is sumptuously illustrated, often with period prints and photography evoking the charm of the not too distant past. It is the indispensable vade mecum for anyone who enjoys more than just the glass.
Recommended by: Simon Ballam
milk and honey
by Rupi Kaur
A poetry collection by a young woman taking us on a journey through hurting, loving, breaking and healing. With words that lie close to the heart, Rupi’s poems seem to understand things we often find impossible to express. It speaks about love, pain, femininity and most importantly about healing. An empowering read in any phase of life – it shows that there is sweetness in everything.
Recommended by: Katja Haunold
Do You Mind If I Cancel? (Things That Still Annoy Me)
by Gary Janetti
It seems like a twist of fate that I picked up this collection of humorous essays (which I had been meaning to read for months) in this, the first week of our collective coronavirus quarantine. TV writer and producer Janetti wishes there were even more social media (!) and that he could slash at least 50 percent of all human interaction. Who could’ve predicted that a pandemic would take care of this for us? This little bout of irony is only the cherry on top of a highly entertaining take on the pains and indignities of everyday life. Maybe a little isolation isn’t so bad after all.
Recommended by: Philipp Rossmann
by Madeline Miller
“But in a solitary life, there are rare moments when another soul dips near yours, as stars once a year brush the earth. Such a constellation was he to me.” A book so rich, moving and deep, at the same time, as old as Greek mythology and yet as fresh and current as the #metoo movement. Circe is an enriching, engrossing and invigorating book for these times.
Recommended by: Benjamin Wolf
One Hundred Years of Solitude
by Gabriel Garcia Marquez
Besides the obvious reference to emotions arising out of isolation, I’m re-reading this glorious novel with such pleasure, enjoying every imaginative morsel. The chronicle of the Buendía family in the fictitious town of Macondo, the Columbian author’s sentences are so packed, you give yourself over to them, and like the characters, end up forgetting where you were when they began. “Science has eliminated distance. In a short time, man will be able to see what’s happening in any place in the world without leaving his own house.” To escape the monotony of your own four walls, Macondo is alive with motivations and memories that absorb your entire imagination. Also, Netflix is adapting the book into a series. So to avoid spoilers, now’s the time to read it.
Recommended by: Margaret Childs
A Little Life
by Hanya Yanagihara
Deciding to read A Little Life is a commitment, a promise, to accompany these four classmates from a small New England college on a journey through their lives, through their emotions. And there will be plenty of both. An actor, a painter, an architect, a lawyer, all intense and all frustrated, they head for New York City and the challenge to make something of themselves. At times, they will annoy you: you will not agree with their decisions or behavior – struggles with addiction, the seductions of ambition – yet somehow you stick by them. On these 814 pages, you will learn to understand them.
Recommended by: Julia Seidl