• Erin Zaranec

Stack your shelves for social distancing

If you're reading this, I hope you're at home - if you have the luxury of being able to be away from work while the Coronavirus takes center stage, that is. If you don't have that luxury and work in a service-based field - THANK YOU! All of my retail workers and cashiers have been incredible this past week and I'm sure there's many people who wish they could be home but their job simply doesn't allow for it.

I work mange in-school fundraisers full-time and Ohio has officially closed schools for three weeks to help stop the spread of COVID-19 throughout our community which leaves me at home with some extra time to read!

I live alone, so I'm a bit worried about going stir crazy and if you are, too, I wanted to give you a list of reads that will transport you right out of your home and into a new world.

Stack your shelves for social distancing with some of my favorite reads:

Red at the Bone, Jacqueline Woodson

I finished this book in less than 12 hours, it was SO GOOD. Woodson writes in such a romantic and poetic way that really connects you with the characters, reading this book truly feels ethereal.

Red at the Bone tells the story of a family over generations, examining generational cycles at their best and worst. Woodson writes of the various ways young people are forced to make long-lasting decisions about their lives, even before they have begun to figure out who they are.

Just Mercy: A Story of Justice and Redemption, Bryan Stevenson

I read this after reading a memoir of one of Stevenson's clients and immediately knew I wanted to know everything about this man. I NEVER go to see movies in theater but made an exception for this film and was left speechless. Truly, this may be one of the few instances where the book and the movie are equally as great.

Stevenson founded the Equal Justice Initiative, a legal practice meant to defend those most in need - including those wrongly accused and condemned. He faced more obstacles than most could imagine but never let his passion for justice fade. Travel through time with Stevenson to see how he went from a new lawyer to the leader of such an incredible group.

City of Girls, Elizabeth Gilbert

I am a self-proclaimed member of the Elizabeth Gilbert fan club - I've read all of her published work (with the exception of Eat, Pray, Love - oddly enough) and adore her.

City of Girls only made me love her more as she transported me to New York City in the 1940s, following Vivian Morris as she becomes in a woman in the city that never sleeps. The book is equal parts gritty, sexy, sweet and romantic and is a great read to sweep you away from reality.

The Secret Life of Bees, Sue Monk Kidd

This is one of my favorite reads ever! I read this book years ago and revisit it every now and again - it's truly such a soothing read.

The Secret Life of Bees is set in 1964 South Carolina, following the aftermath of Lily Owens' mother being killed. She is taken in by a group of three beekeeping sisters and is introduced not only to the magic of bees - but the strength of black sisterhood in a way she has never seen as a young white girl in the south. This novel encompasses womanhood, love, and the compassion we all need for others.

She Said: Breaking the Sexual Harassment Story That Helped Ignite a Movement, Jodi Kantor and Megan Twohey

Not only is this read super timely (and will be for the next 23 years...!) but it's a true example of the importance of journalism in today's society.

Kantor and Twohey broke the story of Harvey Weinstein's sexual misconduct after rumors had circulated Hollywood for years. The women tell their candid story of working with women across the world who shared a common thread: traumatic stories with Weinstein as the central character. Thanks to the reporting of these women and the bravery of Weinstein's accusers, he is now sitting behind bars after a 23 year sentence was handed down.

The Great Alone, Kristin Hannah

After Leni's father returned home from the Vietnam War, he wanted his family off the grid. To Ernt, no place was more off the grid than Alaska. At just thirteen-years-old, Leni comes of age in America's last true frontier and, man, does it make for an amazing novel.

I was hanging onto every last word of The Great Alone when I read this novel - it's the perfect read for a little mental vacation.

From Here to Eternity: Traveling the World to Find the Good Death, Caitlin Doughty

If you want to be transported around the world with the flip of each page, this is a great read. Maybe a bit morbid in the face of a health crisis... but informative nonetheless.

Doughty travelled around the globe to answer one question: how to different cultures care for their dead? These rituals and customs are like nothing known in the states and are beautiful, touching, and commemorative. Go from American to Indonesia, from Mexico to Bolivia and more.

My Sister, The Serial Killer, Oyinkan Braithwaite

What would you do if every single man your sister went on a date with ended up dead? Well, that's Korede's reality. When she gets a call during dinner from her sister, Ayoola, she knows exactly what is expected of her and gets to work with gloves and bleach. Self defense, she always says - but as Korede gets more involved with her sister's love life she starts to question where her loyalty lies and what moves her sister is making out of necessity versus a sense of thrill.

This is another read that I flew through and read so quickly. Sibling relationships are difficult enough as is, but add murder to the mix and you have yourself a great novel.

What are you reading while you're holed up in self quarantine? Let me know - I'd love to chat!


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