Boredom Buster – Pages to dispel isolation

In this new series of articles, we bring you boredom buster ideas to keep you busy and happy during Covid-19 confinement.

The world of books has been waiting for this.

How many of us are scanning the headlines for information on the spread of the coronavirus? From the prosaic to the inane to the conspiracy theories, the chance is we’re in danger of overload. To take your mind off matters, here is a list of books that promise hours of escapism from quarantine.

Should you be in isolation with children or teenagers who aren’t in school learning how to better their reading or writing skills, then reading series such as Philip Pullman’s ‘His Dark Materials’ or J.K. Rowling’s ‘Harry Potter’ can do more than entertain.

Reading improves literacy rates, expands empathetic skills as well as vocabulary. The Harry Potter books offer 4,100 pages and 1,225,900 words, which delivers over 68 hours of reading time. Whilst for young adults, there are blockbuster hits such as “The Hunger Games” trilogy or “Twilight”.

For more classical tales, Tolkein’s “Lord of the Rings” is a perennial favourite that’s bound to stir the imagination, too.

For an extra challenge, why not then encourage your children to create their own fantasy series once they’ve finished reading?

Talking of fantasy series and one for the adults, George R.R. Martin’s “Game of Thrones” series will absorb countless hours if they haven’t already filled up your viewing time.

If historical novels and character studies appeal, Hilary Mantel’s award-winning trilogy of the fictionalised biography of Thomas Cromwell is a worthwhile read. The first in the series, ‘Wolf Hall’ establishes Cromwell’s rise from being the son of a blacksmith to aligning himself with Henry the VIII while ‘Bring Up The Bodies’ presents Cromwell’s role in Anne Boleyn’s fate. Finally, and recently released, ‘The Mirror and the Light’ completes the trilogy and Cromwell’s life. With a total estimated page count of 1,800 and 537,972 words, at an average reading speed of 300 words per minute, this series will help you to pass at least 29 hours and 52 minutes.

Chances are you’ll emerge with a stronger grasp of history and wonder what you were doing when taught this period of British history in school. Mantel makes it all that much more exciting!

For those of you more inclined for factual and philosophical, there’s Dr. Yuval Noah Harari’s series that charts Homo Sapiens’ rise in ‘Homo Sapiens: A Brief History of Humankind’. Combine this with ‘Homo Deus: A Brief History of Tomorrow’ and then ‘21 Lessons for 21st Century’ to waken yourself to man’s place in the universe and our impact on the planet. Then, take time to consider the future we want when we emerge from isolation into a post-pandemic world.

But if the list so far is too light, how about erring towards the more challenging and ticking a few off the top 100 greatest reads of all time? For a mind-bending literary excursion, try David Foster Wallace’s genre-defying ‘Infinite Jest’ which demands commitment, especially as it delivers a word count of 325,312. Yet even that mighty count is over-shadowed by Leo Tolstoy’s classic ‘War and Peace’, which serves up over 400,000 words spread across 1,392 pages and demands close to 24 hours of your attention.

Put these reads together, and you’ll emerge to a world that’s, fingers-crossed, in full recovery.

By ANNA LOEWY