What are you reading during the pandemic? We've been asking that question to a range of writers and they've responded with suggestions for fantasy, poetry, new fiction, old fiction, web comics, fairy tales and more. You can find recommendations below from Ben Philippe, Jade Chang, Raina Telgemeier, Tess Taylor and Thomas Pierce—and we'll add more as the summer goes on.
Ben Philippe Recommends The 'Animorphs' Series
During the pandemic, Ben Phillipe, author of The Field Guide to the North American Teenager, has realized that all of his previous desert island lists (you know, the lists of books you'd take with you if you were stranded on a desert island) were "complete BS." Turns out, he's not rereading The Virgin Suicides or Dostoevsky, but rather the children's fantasy Animorphs series by K. A. Applegate—in its entirety.
"The Animorphs are actually an incredibly dark dystopia," he explains. An alien invasion of Earth is underway, and five kids must fight for their doomed planet as best they can. "Underneath it all, there is such a looming sense of despair," Phillipe says. "I don't think I ever sort of latched onto that darkness when I was, you know, 14, 15. But now I'm like: Oh, God, this is so bad."
Phillipe finds the kids' tenacity soothing right now. "Even though the world is so dark, these kids keep going on," he says. "They still have crushes. They still go to dances. They have family gatherings. ... They just have to keep pretending everything's fine. ... I think that that sort of element of pretending and going on is very appealing to me right now."
Tess Taylor Recommends The Poem 'The Lake Isle of Innisfree'
Poetry critic Tess Taylor says she and her family are doing their best to keep busy and stay positive but "every so often, something will happen and one of us will burst into tears." There's a sense that the family is all in it together—but that they are fragile.