Book Playlist: Free resources for quarantine & Coronathon Part Two [MUSE]

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Grace Xu

I have finally started to read books for fun again during this (much too long) corona-cation, so what better time to recommend some novels? Additionally, a lot of companies and organizations have been providing free reading resources for quarantined students, so reading digitally has been about the easiest it’s ever been. Perhaps you can treat this as your next “Coronathon Challenge” (check out the Film and TV Coronathon Challenge here!), or just be inspired to check out a book.

 

Resources where you can read for free:

Natalie Khamis, Grace Xu
As you continue your coronathon, you can print out or screenshot this graphic as a handy checklist.

Audible: Free audiobooks for quarantined students (Check out the “Literary Classics” and “Teen” sections!)

Hoopla: Free movies, TV shows, audiobooks, music, e-books, and graphic novels available to anyone with a library card (There are no waiting lists on Hoopla.)

Libby: Free e-books or audiobooks available as long as you have a library card (I’ve found that Libby has more book titles available than Hoopla, so if you’re planning on reading, I’d check out this app first.)

Amazon: Amazon Editor’s Picks of free e-books for students (Fair warning, when I first found this link all the books were free; however, only some of them are still free.)

Spotify: Free audiobooks available (e.g. Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen or The Raven Boys by Maggie Stiefvater)

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Book Playlist: Coronathon Part Two

The smell of fresh books, turning pages, warm candlelight, cozy moments, beige palettes, dried leaves, snuggled in bed, reading the day away.

Fantasy

Harry Potter (J. K. Rowling): No-brainer. (Also, now is the perfect time to read—or reread—all seven books in one go!)

Winner’s Curse (Marie Rutkoski): As all of my friends (who read) will tell you, this is one of my favorite young adult (YA) novels. The characterization, prose, plot, world-building—everything, really—are all phenomenal for a YA novel.  

Six of Crows (Leigh Bardugo): Another one of the best YA fantasy books ever written. I would say it’s a mixture of heavy fantasy and Mission: Impossible, topped off with a uniquely delightful cast.

Mistborn (Brandon Sanderson): I know one of my friends would definitely kill me if I didn’t recommend this, and with good reason. If you enjoy any sort of high fantasy, this is a must-read. (Also, Brandon Sanderson’s world-building is out-of-this-world, literally. Haha.)

 

Classic

Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland (Lewis Carroll): A short, fun, qUirKy read. Seriously, the word “quirky” was made for this book. (Spotify version here)

Adventures of Tom Sawyer (Mark Twain): I know this was one of the required books in middle school, but I still read it from time to time because it’s one of the few novels that can actually make me laugh out loud. Also, the number of truths Twain manages to disguise with comedy is uncanny. (Like that fence painting fiasco? Classic.) (Spotify version here)

Grace Xu

Candide (Voltaire): Another quick read! (Maybe around 100 pages?) This book is dripping—no, drowning—in satire, so it’s quite entertaining. (Spotify version here)

Jane Eyre (Charlotte Brontë): Don’t kill me please, but this novel is better than all of Jane Austen’s books combined. Okay, perhaps that was a bit of an exaggeration, but Jane Eyre really delivers in terms of romance, humor, and the unnecessarily florid prose characteristic of classic literature. (Spotify version here)

A Tree Grows in Brooklyn (Betty Smith): Published in the 1940s, this classic was written in a more digestible language. It is still a whole rollercoaster of emotions, though, so be warned. 

 

Sci-Fi/Dystopia

Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy (Douglas Adams): Apparently, Adams came up with the idea for this book while drunk and stargazing, which pretty much sums it up. (This book reads like it was written by someone who was drunk and/or high—in the best way possible.) 

The Hunger Games (Suzanne Collins): Overrecommended, I know, but I recently reread it and fell in love with Collins’s writing all over again. I know not many people praise this book because of its writing style (to be fair, its characters and plot do overshadow the prose itself), but the way Collins shows Katniss’s personality and development through her writing voice comes across so naturally. (Spotify audiobook here)

Cinder (Marissa Meyer): Another classic YA Dystopia—it’s also the first installation of The Lunar Chronicles, which features one of my favorite casts. 

 

Romance

Grace Xu

Made You Up (Francesca Zappia): A unique romance surrounding a girl with schizophrenia and a boy she may or may not have hallucinated. My favorite part is that there’s also a well-written plot with a few surprising (and melancholic) twists.

Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe (Benjamin Alire Sáenz): I suppose by putting this in the romance section I’ve mildly spoiled the book (that is, if the summary wasn’t obvious enough). I’m usually not a fan of angst at all (fair warning: there is a lot of angst in this novel), but Sáenz manages to really touch readers through his starkly captivating writing. 

An Enchantment of Ravens (Margaret Rogerson): If you’re looking for a cute, star-crossed lovers moment set against an artistic fairy backdrop, I have the book for you. Also, is it just me, or do novels about the “fair folk” automatically have prettier prose?

Heartless (Marissa Meyer): Ironic, I know, recommending a romance novel titled Heartless. I just wanted to recommend this book, since it’s the best “retelling” of a classic (in this case, Alice in Wonderland) I’ve read—although strictly speaking, this is more of a prequel than a retelling. Don’t get me wrong, there still is a well-written romance set in the beautifully quirky world. There’s also a shocking yet inevitable ending. (Hint: this novel is the backstory of the Queen of Hearts… ) 

 

Mystery

Grace Xu

Girl on the Train (Paula Hawkins): Definitely a grittier book on an entirely different level from YA novels, but I read this thriller in one sitting. Also, perhaps you might remember—this book was all the craze a few years back and plastered over every Barnes & Noble, which is probably indication enough of how good it is.

And Then There Were None (Agatha Christie): If anyone managed to solve the murders before reading the epilogue, please tell me so I can bow down to you. Seriously, And Then There Were None is the best crime novel I’ve read. Agatha Christie is the Queen of Mystery, of course, but this one in particular—genius.

 

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And then there were no more books left in this curation… haha. During these trying times, I hope one of the above novels will help you out if you ever just feel like escaping the outside world for a bit. Stay safe, cozy, and healthy!

 

On this blog, Shruthi Ravichandran and Grace Xu provide monthly curations of all types of arts and media, from TV shows to music to novels to even YouTubers. On top of mood-oriented playlists, there’s also the occasional rant-filled review. They hope readers will always leave with a new piece of media to muse over. Click here to read more from MUSE.        

 

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