Bored and Quarantined: Books & Comics to Binge While You Practice Social Isolation

bored and quarantined

Convention cancelled and you suddenly find yourself with a free weekend? Classes moved to online only and you’ve got a little extra time during the day? Just voluntarily practicing social isolation and doing your part to flatten the curve? Whatever the reason, we at The Geekiary have compiled a list of binge-worthy media to get you through this pandemic! Next up: books and comics/graphic novels.

Listen, going out to the movies or shopping is not being brave in the face of danger. It’s being socially irresponsible. This is probably the one chance in your lifetime to stay at home and curl up on the couch all day with a good book without being judged for it, so take advantage of that fact by checking out one of our many, many recommendations while you’re bored and quarantined.

BOOKS

TITLE: Little Brother X by Cory Doctorow
RECOMMENDED BY: Khai
WHY I’M RECOMMENDING IT: I read this book after finding it on a bookstore staff recommendation shelf with the label, “PEOPLE GET KICKED AND STUFF EXPLODES”. That label immediately caught my attention, and the book did not disappoint. Dystopian tech futures are my JAM, you guys. This one is extra creepy for being set in a world not much different from ours. The elevator pitch is, “A tech-savvy kid flips off the System mostly out of annoyance, then realizes how serious the situation really is and has to decide what he’s willing to risk to fix things.” The story itself will suck you in, but I’m putting it here for the relevance. Little Brother X tackles HIGHLY CURRENT issues like national security over personal freedom and our individual responsibility to do what’s right even at personal cost. It isn’t heavy, though. It’s a young adult novel, so the writing is snappy and accessible. This should 100% be on your read list. There’s also a sequel if you want more!

‘Iron Gold’ book cover

TITLE: The Red Rising series by Pierce Brown (Red Rising, Golden Son, Morning Star, Iron Gold, Dark Age)
RECOMMENDED BY: Tara
WHY I’M RECOMMENDING IT: Listen, I hate the word ‘unputdownable’ (seriously, how did that even become a word that people feel is okay to use?), but that’s what this series is. Sure, the main character – Darrow – is maddening, but so many of the other characters make up for that. You have underdogs, badass women, and more to root for – but keep in mind that at any moment any one of them could turn the tables on you. Between that and the near-constant action that is woven into the very tightly-knitted plot, if you haven’t picked up this series yet, you’re really missing out.

TITLE: The Remnant Chronicles series by Mary E. Pearson
RECOMMENDED BY: Jamie
WHY I’M RECOMMENDING IT: I’ve reviewed most of the books in this series on this blog already, so you should know why I love it, but if you haven’t gotten the chance, you should definitely pick this series up! The first book in particular has a particular hook that really thrilled me the first time I read it, and the series (and its sequel series, which I also recommend) have a great female protagonist at its core.

TITLE: Akata Witch by Nnedi Okorafor
RECOMMENDED BY: Khai
WHY I’M RECOMMENDING IT: You know that awkward, defensive feeling you sometimes get for loving Harry Potter even though JK Rowling is slowly picking away at her legacy online? I’m not telling you to stop loving the Potterverse… but I AM saying that if you want to read about a young, interesting character learning to use magic and you don’t want to feel conflicted about the creator, try Akata Witch and its sequel, Akata Warrior. Nnedi Okorafor’s writing is rich and alive and just fun to read. The characters feel realistic and relatable without the bitter, jaded tone of The Magicians (a book which I personally feel is for people who like magic but hate happiness, though I hear the series is lighter?). I want to be clear that I’m not even hinting that this is a knockoff of or a tribute to Harry Potter at all. That would be a disservice to a deeply original book. The only reason I’m referencing Harry is that I think you’d like Akata Witch if you like Potter. I read this book in one sitting and immediately ordered the sequel, so if you’re going to hit up the library for this try and grab Akata Warrior as well.

Gentleman's Guide to Vice and VirtueTITLE: The Gentleman’s Guide to Vice and Virtue and The Lady’s Guide to Petticoats and Piracy by Mackenzi Lee
RECOMMENDED BY: Em Rowntree
WHY I’M RECOMMENDING IT: These are two thick books of historical fiction with fantasy elements, just waiting for you to sink your teeth into them. Both are defined by their queer representation – the first has a bisexual main character, the second an asexual and aromantic main character. The style is easy to read, full of humor and heart-wrenching moments. When I was reading these books, every time I hoped that something would happen – that the plot would go a specific way – it actually did happen. I’ve rarely enjoyed a story in such a genuine, uncomplicated way. Packed with all the best tropes and also pirates, these books might be devoured more quickly than you’d really want – but there’s a third installment in the series that’s been announced, so at least there’s the promise of that to hold onto.

TITLE: Lock In by John Scalzi
RECOMMENDED BY: Khai
WHY I’M RECOMMENDING IT: In Scalzi’s Lock In, a major disease calle Haden’s Syndrome has struck the world and rendered a section of the population “locked in” inside their bodies, unable to move or speak. A huge wave of innovation and technology rose in response. Now people with Haden’s who are locked in can go out into the world in artificial bodies lovingly called Threeps (after C-3PO, because of course). Lock In follows Chris, who was one of the earliest poster children for Haden’s and is now a brand-new FBI Agent working on Haden’s related crimes. Here’s what blows my mind about this book: never once does Scalzi mention what sex Chris is. I assumed they were female, a friend reading the book assumed guy, but there’s no canon answer. When Chris talks about having kids later they say only that they’d need medical intervention, not what kind. Even their parents say “my kid” or just use their name in conversation. There are other characters with Haden’s who have and express gender preferences, so I’m inferring that Chris is an agender or genderfluid character. We don’t get a lot of those, and never as casually as in Lock In.

TITLE: Station Eleven by Emily St. John Mandel
RECOMMENDED BY: Jamie
WHY I’M RECOMMENDING IT: It’s not really a “binge” if it’s one novel, and it’s perhaps gauche to recommend this one considering the circumstances, but Station Eleven really is one of my favorite books. It follows a traveling orchestra after a global pandemic wipes out most of the population, bouncing back and forth in time to before and after the devastation. It’s about the resilience of the human spirit in times of great adversity.

TITLE: Leigh Bardugo’s Grishaverse novels (The Grishaverse trilogy, The Six of Crows duology, King of Scars)
RECOMMENDED BY: Tara
WHY I’M RECOMMENDING IT: Listen, for me these books are kind of a guilty pleasure – or at least the original Grishaverse trilogy is. They are young adult fiction at its best…and, at times, at its worst. But Bardugo does a great job in fleshing out her characters, portraying an abusive relationship in a way that – for me at least – was enlightening but not triggering, and while I fell in love with the world she created when I read the original trilogy, she builds something almost entirely new and absolutely amazing with the Six of Crows duology. And then – BONUS – we get more of her world and the characters we’ve grown to love – because THEY have grown – in King of Scars. These books are a quick read and also worth re-reading, and I love them all.

TITLES: His Unexpected Mate, A Fated Bond, & Angels & Man-Beasts by T.L. West (published by NineStar Press)
RECOMMENDED BY: Farid-ul-Haq
WHY I’M RECOMMENDING IT: This is basically a shameless plug-in for the mystery/erotic/paranormal novellas I have published under the penname T.L. West. If you’re into steamy quick reads featuring a whole lot of queer characters, you should consider helping out an indie author. If you’re really into worldbuilding, the three novellas are set in the same fictional world. However, you can read each as a standalone, too. There’s danger, gore, not the most well-prepared queer leads, dark magic, fated lovers… you know, the usual stuff. You can find these titles wherever ebooks are sold.

TITLE: The Books of Babel by Josiah Bancroft
RECOMMENDED BY: Tara
WHY I’M RECOMMENDING IT: A friend of mine designs the covers for Josiah’s books, and when I was handed a copy of Senlin Ascends I immediately dove into it. There are three installments in the series now, and every one of them is amazing. You want high class world building? It’s there. Amazing characters? IN DROVES. Action, suspense, and PIRACY? You will literally never be disappointed. This was a series that started with two self-published books and was [somewhat] recently picked up by Orbit, and for good reason. It’s a well-written saga with more to come, and I for one can’t wait for it.

COMICS/GRAPHIC NOVELS

TITLE: The Unbeatable Squirrel Girl
RECOMMENDED BY: Khai
WHY I’M RECOMMENDING IT: When the world is really rough, I like to read about a hero who is upbeat and a little snarky and a lot ridiculous. Squirrel Girl fits that to T. There’s just no getting her down. This is a perfect comic for lifting your spirits and making you laugh. There are big collectible volumes that can often be found at your local library, but you can also get them on Amazon for not too much money (well, you may have to order them elsewhere with Amazon focusing on medical supplies but it’s worth it!).

Check Please year oneTITLE: Check Please!
RECOMMENDED BY: Jamie
WHY I’M RECOMMENDING IT: I don’t have much else to say that I didn’t already mention in my rec of the series a few years ago, but with Bitty’s adventures coming to an end very, very soon, a period of self-isolation is the perfect opportunity to start from the beginning and remind yourself why this pure Southern baker with a heart of gold won the world’s (and Jack’s) heart in the first place. (I recently did a reread when I got my review copy of Sticks and Scones!)

TITLE: Strong Female Protagonist
RECOMMENDED BY: Khai
WHY I’M RECOMMENDING IT: This book doesn’t have the same upbeat tone as Squirrel Girl, but it is a great read and there’s a lot of it. It follows the adventures of a young woman with superpowers who is spent the majority of her younger years as a Superhero before becoming disillusioned and retiring. I like it for the variety of compelling characters and the way it handles complex issues. It might be something you can sink your teeth into if you also are feeling a bit disillusioned. I personally have the paperbacks and I like that format, but you can find it online if you are unwilling to leave your house.

Author: Jamie Sugah

Jamie has a BA in English with a focus in creative writing from The Ohio State University. She self-published her first novel, The Perils of Long Hair on a Windy Day, which is available through Amazon. She is currently an archivist and lives in New York City with her demon ninja vampire cat. She covers television, books, movies, anime, and conventions in the NYC area.


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About the author

Jamie has a BA in English with a focus in creative writing from The Ohio State University. She self-published her first novel, The Perils of Long Hair on a Windy Day, which is available through Amazon. She is currently an archivist and lives in New York City with her demon ninja vampire cat. She covers television, books, movies, anime, and conventions in the NYC area.