Reading Through The Pandemic

Social isolation presents lots of opportunities to catch up on some reading. Arsen Kashkashian, Head Buyer, and Liesl Freudenstein, Head of Children’s Books at the Boulder Bookstore join Maeve Conran of KGNU to talk about reading through the COVID 19 pandemic, and to share their recommendations for readers of all ages.

Listen to the segment below:

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Arsen’s picks:


Now might be the best time in people’s lives to really devote the time necessary to read all of those classics they have put off for years and years. Whether it’s a 19th century Russian novel or one of Toni Morrison’s masterworks.

Light in August by William Faulkner. This is the most accessible of Faulkner’s great novels.

Moby Dick by Herman Melville. What better time to chase the ever elusive white whale. No American novelist has ever been a better observer of human obsession or whaling, for that matter.

Death Comes For the Archbishop by Willa Cather. Willa Cather is perhaps the most underappreciated American novelist. Here she beautifully recreates 19th century New Mexico. The archbishops gentle nature and attention to the poorest among us is certainly soothing reading.

Song of Solomon by Toni Morrison. Milkman Dead is one of Morrison’s most unforgettable characters. His desire to fly and leave this earth behind resonates with the struggles of African Americans.

Arsen’s Current Favorites:

Vernon Subutex 1 by Virginie Despentes. Vernon is a former record store owner who falls on hard times after his friend the superstar Alex Bleach dies. Despentes gives us a tour of contemporary Paris and an absolutely crazy cast of characters in this novel that was Short listed for the Man Booker International

You Think It, I’ll Say It by Curtis Sittenfeld. These stories entertainingly examine our contemporary American society. Sittenfeld’s puts gender relations and class at the center of many of these smartly observant tales. She’s never afraid to skewer her characters if that’s what they deserve.

The Wall by John Lanchester. In this near future world, a wall surrounds an entire island nation. Our narrators is one of the defenders of the wall. For every person who gets over the wall one of the defenders is sent out to sea. A thrilling novel of betrayal, Lanchester has us examining our own assumptions and society.

Arsen’s New Books Suggestions:

The Splendid and the Vile by Erik Larson. A detailed look at how Winston Churchill got Great Britain through the bombing of London and other cities while the United States sat on the sidelines.

Afterlife by Julia Alvarez. A recently retired writer is reeling from the sudden death of her husband when a pregnant undocumented teen shows up on her doorstep in Alvarez’s first adult novel in 15 years.

The Mirror and the Light by Hilary Mantel. The final book of Mantel’s trilogy about the life of Thomas Cromwell. The first two Wolf Hall and Bring Up the Bodies won the Man Booker Prize.

Leave Only Footprints by Conor Knighton. Knighton traveled to all of America’s National Parks from Acadia to Zion. Besides for being a great travel guide, Knighton talks about his personal journey from a man with a broken heart to someone utterly changed by his encounters with nature.

Liesl’s Picks:

In a Jar by Deborah Marcero

Folktales for Fearless Girls by Myriam Sayalero, Dani Torrent

Escape This Book! Tombs of Egypt by Bill Doyle

Dragon Hoops by Gene Luen Yang

Love Sugar Magic: A Dash of Trouble by Anna Meriano & Mirelle Ortega

The Blackbird Girls by Anne Blankman

Village of Scoundrels by Margi Preus

Clean Getaway by Nic Stone

City Spies by James Ponti

Race to the Sun by Rebecca Roanhorse

Let’s Go Swimming on Doomsday by Natalie C. Anderson

A Good Girl’s Guide to Murder by Holly Jackson

Lovely War by Julie Berry

The Kingdom of Back by Marie Lu

Sorcery of Thorns by Margaret Rogerson

The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes by Suzanne Collins

The Shadow of What Was Lost by James Islington

Sin Eater by Megan Campisi

The Punishment She Deserves by Elizabeth George

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