Book Recommendations

Three Great Books to Read to Help You Master Social Distancing

Emily Kingsley
Apr 10, 2020 · 4 min read

Ocean voyages! Craggy hills! Petit Larceny! Escape into these books for a break from tired conversations about quarantines and toilet paper.

Photo by Waldemar Brandt on Unsplash

What’s your social distancing story? Did you get chastised for putting your groceries on the conveyor belt too soon? Did you have to pay with a card because nobody is taking cash? The other day, I pulled over and let my son pee on the side of the road instead of taking him to a public restroom.

None of these stories are very interesting, but it’s also hard to stop talking about them.

If you need a break from the monotony of life under COVID-19, here are three great books to get you started.

Each one is a true story of isolation that will give you a break from the news cycle and concerns of our 2020 lives. Also, reading them will give you something new to talk about with the people you’ve been stuck at home with for the last month. And they might even inspire you to start planning an adventure of your own someday.

This autobiographical book was written in 1905 after Slocum, an experienced sailor, hopped in his 37-foot wooden sloop named Spray and set sail from Boston. He travelled alone in the boat for more than three years and covered over 46,000 miles.

Slocum survived epic adventures, often navigating using dead reckoning, which is only slightly more sophisticated than guessing. He writes about inventing an imaginary shipmate to watch the boat while he slept, dodging pirates and traveling to tiny islands that you’ve never heard of.

Still, most of his time was spent alone. Instead of suffering this condition though, he writes:

“I had already found that it was not good to be alone, and so made companionship with what there was around me, sometimes with the universe and sometimes with my own insignificant self; but my books were always my friends, let fail all else.”

The madness of standing six feet apart seems manageable when you consider the madness of months alone on the deck of a boat with neither a person or an iPhone for companionship.

To purchase this book, click here.

This book is about Perley Swett, a man born in rural New Hampshire in 1888, who lived the type of life that a lot of people fantasize about. After a prison sentence alienated him from friends and family, he moved to an isolated plot of land, which is where he lived out the rest of his life.

He cleared land, bred goats, and became ironically well-known as “The Hermit of Taylor Pond.” He rarely left his own property and had only limited interactions with other people.

Reading this book will change the way you think about prosperity. On one hand, living alone on a mountainside without electricity and only goats for company seems pretty rough.

But on the other hand, wouldn’t it be nice if you didn’t have to worry about renewing your gym membership, filling up your car with gas for your commute, or updating the software on your phone?

It’s just a guess, but I don’t think Perly Swett would have struggled with any of the social distancing practices we’re all trying to maintain right now.

To purchase this book, click here.

While the first two books were about a different world and time, this book takes place in recent history.

It’s about a man named Christopher Knight who slipped into the woods of Maine in 1986 and evaded discovery until he was caught in a summer camp kitchen in 2013. He spent 27 years kicking about, stealing bits of food and small comfort items from seasonal camps in order to make a homey little shelter between a few boulders in the woods.

During this time, he saw no one and spoke only a few words. He never got sick, spent any money, nor tempted to re-enter society.

When you read this book, you’ll be left wondering about human nature and sanity. When you consider how chaotic our lives are, who wouldn’t want to disappear into the woods? But then when you read about Knight’s life, spending frozen nights in sleeping bags and living on stolen peanut butter and chips, you’ll feel grateful for the many conveniences of modern life that we all enjoy.

It’s a fascinating read that will make you question your own values. Should Knight be charged and punished for the thousands of small thefts that he committed over the years? Or should he be celebrated as a hero for rejecting the lifestyle of consumerism and false connections that leave so many of us feeling listless and empty?

To purchase this book, click here.

Whichever book you choose to start with, you’ll realize that six feet isn’t so far after all. Or else you’ll want to buy a boat, a desolate swath of land in New England, or drive your car into the woods and never return.

If you do any of those things, please write a book about it and send it to me ASAP.

Photo by Jenn Lopez on Unsplash

Stay tuned for more reviews by Emily Kingsley.

The Riveting Review

Constantly fascinated by the words that lie sprawled across…

Emily Kingsley

Written by

I like big words and I cannot lie. Small words are ok too.

The Riveting Review

Constantly fascinated by the words that lie sprawled across the page, begging someone to engage, lean in, and flip to the next part of the story. Book reviews keep us abreast of the newest stories, the newest journeys, and the newest lives we could all be living.

Emily Kingsley

Written by

I like big words and I cannot lie. Small words are ok too.

The Riveting Review

Constantly fascinated by the words that lie sprawled across the page, begging someone to engage, lean in, and flip to the next part of the story. Book reviews keep us abreast of the newest stories, the newest journeys, and the newest lives we could all be living.

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