We are all quarantined now, with the temptation to be quarrelsome. Many of us are stuck in close quarters with loved ones for weeks with no fixed end in sight. Too much familiarity easily curdles into contempt. This comes out in harsh words, passive-aggressive mutterings, the silent treatment, or worse.
One way around this is to escape together. If you can’t do it physically, then I recommend reading a book out loud to the missus. (Or vice versa, back and forth, whatever; you do you.) That’s what I’ve done with the wife for years. It’s especially relevant and necessary now.
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Reading together is more engaging than watching movies together. With a movie, you see the world of the story in front of you. It might be intriguing, but it’s out there. With books, you slowly create that shared world in your heads. Consequently, the characters and settings are more real to you. They stay also with you longer as you read the book over several days or weeks.
You might end up reading way past your bedtime or going a little bit hoarse from all the projection. Normally, that would be a warning to go easy. But, these days, who cares? Go nuts.
I will say that finding the right book can be tricky. It’s best to pick a book that offers something for each of you. Be willing to discard a book that isn’t doing it and reach for another one on the pile.
The other day, we started reading a novel called The Twisted Ones. It’s a horror story with some comic touches by T. Kingfisher (the bestselling children’s author Ursula Vernon writing for grownups.). Chapter 6 begins, “Foxy had a face that was well lived in for fifty or in good shape for seventy, and since she never told anyone her age, I couldn’t say which it was.”
Jeremy Lott is creator of the Movie Men comic book, which is now available to download and read in your confinement.
Editor’s Note: The coronavirus pandemic has many of us shut up in our homes for now. That can be isolating and frustrating. But it can also be a chance to catch up on things we let fall away during busier times. So we’re asking our writers and readers: How are you spending your time amid the shutdown? We’re open to anything that will make us laugh or think and help us share what will be a difficult time for many. Please send contributions of 250–400 words to firstname.lastname@example.org.