MAY 07, 2020

Spine breakers

BY FIEL ESTRELLA

There’s no better time to check some books off your reading list — and add a new title or two.

There comes a time when you’re old enough that reading becomes more of a wistful possibility or even frustration than a hobby. The notion of it could be followed by “I wish I could get back the reading pace I had when I was a teenager,” or “I’m so behind on my to-read list but I just can’t get a break.” 

Now that we’ve all found ourselves with time on our hands, though, books have been a wonderful escape: something to turn to amid the panic and uncertainty, something to get through the day with. Bookstores may be closed, but luckily there’s Scribd — a monthly ebook and audiobook subscription service that puts the best titles at your fingertips with just one tap. And best of all, it doesn’t cost much more than your average Netflix bill, and the first month is free.

If you don’t know where to start, here are some suggestions for novels, memoirs, and anthologies to check out when you make your Scribd account.

Severance by Ling Ma

In this apocalyptic satire, young office worker Candace barely notices when millions flee the city, everything ceases to operate, and even the New York subways have stopped moving because of a plague that has swept the nation. The Manhattan office tower where she works becomes her refuge when she’s enlisted to be a part of a skeleton crew with major salary perks, and in her own time she takes pictures of the empty streets for her anonymous blog. When a group of survivors recruit her for a journey to a supposed promised land called the Facility, though, she has second thoughts. Bumbling one’s way to adulthood is hard enough — doing it at the end of the world is another story altogether.

If It Bleeds by Stephen King

This new collection contains four never-before-published novellas from Stephen King: In Mr. Harrigan’s Phone, a young man gives his elderly friend a cell phone, which ends up buried with the friend’s body when he passes away. When he leaves a voice message for the friend’s number, he is shocked to receive a text in return. The Life of Chuck is a story that begins with the end of the title character’s life and moves back in time to unfurl how he had lived it. In Rat, a writer battling a creative block strikes up a bargain with the devil to help him finish a novel. And in If It Bleeds, recurring King character Holly Gibney investigates a school bombing where she suspects something is not quite right.

An Extraordinary Theory of Objects by Stephanie LaCava

In this memoir, Stephanie LaCava recalls her coming-of-age as a young expatriate in a quiet Parisian neighborhood. Lonely and awkward even in her international high school, she dealt with the changes in her life and the discomfort she felt with solitary walks around the city, during which she collected her own cabinet of curiosities: strange and beautiful objects and places that became her security blankets, beautifully illustrated and detailed in footnotes to her essays. An ode to ‘90s fashion and culture, France, and finding your own path, with some real talk about mental health in between.

Eat Joy edited by Natalie Eve Garrett

Writers such as Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, Anthony Doerr, Colum McCann, Lev Grossman, Carmen Maria Machado, Alexander Chee, Porochista Khakpour, Claire Messud, and many others have written essays about their relationship with food — whether it’s as they were growing up, looking for something to hold on to, or figuring out the true meaning of home. With illustrations and recipes, each entry in Eat Joy reminds readers the importance of self-care, the intimacy of cooking as a process, and the comfort of having someone to sit down and eat with.

I’ll Tell You in Person by Chloe Caldwell

Frank, funny, and wistful, Chloe Caldwell’s essays are confessional pieces about losing and loving people, longing and change, finding her writing voice, and failing with — and sometimes without — grace. We follow her through jobs, addiction, and relationships as she retraces the steps she took in her journey to adulthood. And in doing so, we learn that there’s never a perfect way to get there, only your way.