Prove your humanity

It’s week four of isolation, you’re not sure when was the last time you changed out of your pyjamas, all the days are blurring into one and you’re definitely thinking about murdering the person you live with. The outbreak of Covid-19 has brought many negatives into everyone’s daily schedule. Life as we know it, no longer exists and our lives have somehow managed to transform into a reality synonymous with either Parasite or The Hunger Games. And although everyone is itching to leave their houses and return to regularly scheduled programming, it is still important for us to be doing our jobs and staying home. On the plus side, there are still some positives within life of self-isolation that can brighten your day.

Maybe it’s time to bust out that book you’ve had sitting on your shelf, collecting copious amounts of dust for the last couple of months. With all the time in the world to procrastinate doing all the things around the house we should be doing, there’s nothing wrong with escaping into an imaginative world in order to escape our own.

But aside from finding something to do, amidst your boredom, reading something that might make you feel more familiar with the Covid-19 situation, or reading something that takes you far, far away from the situation, may be just what you need. Here are some books the Grok team have been reading and loving, and that we think you’d love during self-isolation:


Some heroic non-fiction

The Disaster Artist: My Life Inside The Room, the Greatest Bad Movie Ever Made by Greg Sestero and Tom Bissell

Mango Adonis: ‘I’m an avid fan of the disaster piece aka The Room. It’s a funny look at behind the scenes of the making of the movie.’

If you’ve ever watched the crash scene that is Tommy Wiseau’s The Room (2003), then you’ll know what it means when people say, ‘it’s so bad its good’. A book with a point of view from the inside of the film’s production, it details just how outlandish some of the things Tommy Wiseau did in the name of film.

The Vaccine Race by Meredith Wadman

Adilah Ahmad: ‘It’s eye opening to read how far ethics have come! And this is very relevant to our current crisis!’

It’s hard to imagine a time before vaccinations were at our fingertips but Meredith Wadman’s non-fiction details the life before this and the emergence of it. This book details the beginning of the measles vaccination. It seems however that even in the 1960s they had their fair share of anti-vaxxers.

Booked by Josh Turner

Rhonda Chapman: ‘Perfect for freelancers, including freelance writers, as it focuses on the ‘how the fuck do I get clients’ question that all freelancers ask when getting started.’

The non-fiction, Booked contains a 5-step process on how to position yourself within your industry and work your way up as a freelancer. This is the perfect read for anyone that has a little more time on their hands now and are trying to give freelancing a solid go.

Educated by Tara Westover

Ella Wakeman: ‘It’s reminding and encouraging me to really appreciate and make the most out of the educational opportunities I have!’

An auto-biography, Tara Westover’s family was so far isolated from mainstream society that it hindered at her education and her self-invention. Taking matters into her own hands, Tara began to teach herself enough mathematics and grammar in order to be admitted into university. But her journey along the way reminds her of just how different her previous life is to the new one she’s procured.


Fiction for escapism

The Ocean at the End of the Lane by Neil Gaiman

Caroline Sabater: ‘It’s so dreamlike and mystical.’

Returning to your childhood home should bring a sense of comfort and nostalgia. In Neil Gaiman’s novel it brings the main character a frightening, chilling and mysterious feeling. Returning to his childhood village decades later, the protagonist begins to remember some very strange and unusual things that occurred when he was a child.

The Martian by Andy Weir

Emma Ruben: ‘I’ve never wanted to go to space…and now I definitely don’t want to go to space.’

In Andy Weir’s The Martian, main character Mark is pretty sure he’s stuck on Mars…and will die on Mars. The novel details one man’s journey trying to outsmart the Martian environment and make his way back home. Refusing to quit, it’s hopeful to see what one man wills do to live and what society will do to save his life.

Oryx and Crake by Margaret Atwood

Adam Smith: ‘Margaret Atwood really doesn’t seem to have much faith in mankind.’

A sucker for a dystopian world, Margaret Atwood’s Oryx and Crake tells the tale of what seems to be the last man left on Earth, after society was wiped out by a plague (this sounds extremely familiar). However, this last man left on Earth discovers this may not be as true as he really believed. Atwood plunges readers into another dystopian setting that is beginning to look scarily similar to our own.

Soul of the World by David Mealing

Tim Maslin-Davies: ‘It’s a truly fascinating world and magic system Mealing has created.’

The first book in the series, this novel starts off building a fantasy world where the characters have magic and there’s rebellion brewing on the streets. Three heroes must emerge in order for there to be peace.

All the Light We Cannot See by Anthony Doerr

Maria De Vicente: ‘It pulls you in with incredible and artistic descriptions!’

Historical fiction set in WWII, this novel tells the story of a blind French girl and a German boy whose ability to build and fix radios makes him crucial to the German war aid. When their lives become intertwined, what emerges is a story of two children just trying to look out for one another.