At the Y

Tales from Quarantine


Five books stacked vertically, with the book on the right leaning diagonally to the left.
BYU professors share books they've been reading while social distancing during the COVID-19 pandemic. Photo by Bradley Slade.

Perhaps now more than ever, books can connect people to the world outside their walls. We asked BYU professors to share what they have been reading during their time of social distancing. Here are six reads to consider adding to your stack—some to escape, some to inspire, and some to remind us that this, too, shall pass.

Where the Crawdads Sing, by Delia Owens

Lisa Pfost Argyle (BA ’08), political science:

“[This novel] has some interesting perspectives on the profound challenges of living a socially isolated life. I am intentionally avoiding things that add stress or anxiety—no post-apocalyptic fiction for me right now!”

The Plague, by Albert Camus

Amy Harris (BA ’98), history:

“It’s not really [as much] about the disease as it is about human nature and human responses. [The novel was] written in the 1940s but [has] some spot-on observations about human behavior that I see reflected in today’s events.”

Why We Sleep: Unlocking the Power of Sleep and Dreams, by Matthew Walker

Jeremy M. Browne (BA ’01, PhD ’07), digital humanities:

“While our work hours get messed up, we need a reminder of how important good sleep is and how to get it.”

Blended: Using Disruptive Innovation to Improve Schools, by Michael B. Horn and Heather Staker

W. Bryan Bowles, educational leadership and foundations:

“This text provides practical advice [on] . . . blending online learning with traditional classroom techniques . . . for 21st-century learners. . . . Readers may agree or disagree with the book’s suggestions. In all cases the writing will stimulate one’s thinking. . . . The book is definitely pertinent to our current situation.”

The Overstory, by Richard Powers

Jane L. Lopez, sociology:

“At a moment when skies are clear and nature is breathing freely for a few seconds, this is the perfect moment to remember the beauty of the world around us and our desperate need to protect and care for it.”

Cranford, by Elizabeth Gaskell

Toni E. Pilcher (BA ’10, MA ’12), English:

“This Victorian novella is a collection of vignettes, . . . a book about a tight-knit community—something we miss terribly during quarantine—and the hilarious adventures of the two aging women at its heart.”

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