When F. Scott Fitzgerald was in the South of France during the 1920 outbreak of Spanish flu, he wrote to a friend describing what provisions he and his wife had brought in to ensure they survived the month-long quarantine: “Zelda and I have stocked up on red wine, whiskey, rum, vermouth, absinthe, white wine, sherry, gin, and lord, if we need it, brandy.”
You’ll note that the author of The Great Gatsby didn’t mention books, but then he probably wasn’t sober enough to read. But as Australia experiences something approaching Fitzgerald’s quarantine 100 years ago, what should we be reading?
Keep me going
Who knows how long any social isolation is going to last? So you want books that will go the distance. Sure, get something you can rattle through – crime novels are good for that – but something to immerse yourself in is just the ticket. If you haven’t read Elena Ferrante’s four novels about female friendship in Naples, now could be the time. Then you’ll be prepared for her new Neapolitan novel, The Lying Life of Adults, out in June (hopefully we’re not still isolating then).