What I’m Reading While Under Quarantine

by Jia

Hello! I hope you’re all safe and social distancing and taking care of yourselves! I’ve been under self-quarantine since Tuesday and so far it’s been okay! I’ve been wanting to catch up on some books and shows, so I guess this is a good enough time for that. Mirza and I have turned our room into a fort of sorts and we’re having movie marathons, which is super fun! I currently do not know when I’m returning to work so I’m trying to take this time to catch up on a lot of things – sleep, book, movies, me-time, you name it. Anyway, here’s my TBR list for books I’m hoping to read during my time in quarantine:

  • The Hakawati by Rabih Alameddine

An inventive, exuberant novel that takes us from the shimmering dunes of ancient Egypt to the war-torn streets of twenty-first-century Lebanon.

In 2003, Osama al-Kharrat returns to Beirut after many years in America to stand vigil at his father’s deathbed. The city is a shell of the Beirut Osama remembers, but he and his friends and family take solace in the things that have always sustained them: gossip, laughter, and, above all, stories.

Osama’s grandfather was a hakawati, or storyteller, and his bewitching stories — of his arrival in Lebanon, an orphan of the Turkish wars, and of how he earned the name al-Kharrat, the fibster — are interwoven with classic tales of the Middle East, stunningly reimagined. Here are Abraham and Isaac; Ishmael, father of the Arab tribes; the ancient, fabled Fatima; and Baybars, the slave prince who vanquished the Crusaders. Here, too, are contemporary Lebanese whose stories tell a larger, heartbreaking tale of seemingly endless war—and of survival.

Like a true hakawati, Rabih Alameddine has given us an Arabian Nights for this century — a funny, captivating novel that enchants and dazzles from its very first lines: “Listen. Let me take you on a journey beyond imagining. Let me tell you a story.”

  • You Deserve Each Other by Sarah Hogle (ARC)

When your nemesis also happens to be your fiancé, happily ever after becomes a lot more complicated in this wickedly funny, lovers-to-enemies-to-lovers romantic comedy debut.

Naomi Westfield has the perfect fiancé: Nicholas Rose holds doors open for her, remembers her restaurant orders, and comes from the kind of upstanding society family any bride would love to be a part of. They never fight. They’re preparing for their lavish wedding that’s three months away. And she is miserably and utterly sick of him.

Naomi wants out, but there’s a catch: whoever ends the engagement will have to foot the nonrefundable wedding bill. When Naomi discovers that Nicholas, too, has been feigning contentment, the two of them go head-to-head in a battle of pranks, sabotage, and all-out emotional warfare.

But with the countdown looming to the wedding that may or may not come to pass, Naomi finds her resolve slipping. Because now that they have nothing to lose, they’re finally being themselves–and having fun with the last person they expect: each other.

  • The Beauty of Your Face by Sahar Mustafah (ARC)

A Palestinian American woman wrestles with faith, loss, and identity before coming face-to-face with a school shooter in this searing debut.

A uniquely American story told in powerful, evocative prose, The Beauty of Your Face navigates a country growing ever more divided. Afaf Rahman, the daughter of Palestinian immigrants, is the principal of Nurrideen School for Girls, a Muslim school in the Chicago suburbs. One morning, a shooter — radicalized by the online alt-right — attacks the school.

As Afaf listens to his terrifying progress, we are swept back through her memories: the bigotry she faced as a child, her mother’s dreams of returning to Palestine, and the devastating disappearance of her older sister that tore her family apart. Still, there is the sweetness of the music from her father’s oud, and the hope and community Afaf finally finds in Islam.

The Beauty of Your Face is a profound and poignant exploration of one woman’s life in a nation at odds with its ideals.

  • What I Like About You by Marisa Kanter (ARC)

Can a love triangle have only two people in it? Online, it can… but in the real world, it’s more complicated. In this debut novel Marisa Kanter explores what happens when internet friends turn into IRL crushes.

There are a million things that Halle Levitt likes about her online best friend, Nash.

He’s an incredibly talented graphic novelist. He loves books almost as much as she does. And she never has to deal with the awkwardness of seeing him in real life. They can talk about anything…

Except who she really is.

Because online, Halle isn’t Halle — she’s Kels, the enigmatically cool creator of One True Pastry, a YA book blog that pairs epic custom cupcakes with covers and reviews. Kels has everything Halle doesn’t: friends, a growing platform, tons of confidence, and Nash.

That is, until Halle arrives to spend senior year in Gramps’s small town and finds herself face-to-face with real, human, not-behind-a-screen Nash. Nash, who is somehow everywhere she goes — in her classes, at the bakery, even at synagogue.

Nash who has no idea she’s actually Kels.

If Halle tells him who she is, it will ruin the non-awkward magic of their digital friendship. Not telling him though, means it can never be anything more. Because while she starts to fall for Nash as Halle…he’s in love with Kels.


And that’s my tbr! How is quarantine going for you? Let me know!

Jia x

(and please wash your hands)

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3 comments

May @ Forever and Everly March 22, 2020 - 1:45 pm

ooh i’m excited to see your thoughts on what i like about you! i was a bit disappointed by it but i hope you enjoy it 💞

Reply
Jia March 22, 2020 - 1:55 pm

i’ll dm you as soon as i’ve finished it!! 👀

Reply
Siham March 24, 2020 - 12:48 pm

Lebanon’s been in quarantine for a week now but things have so far been okay. I hope things are good for you too and stay that way until this nightmare is over. But that’s a solid TBR you’ve got there Jia, I’m excited to hear your thoughts about these books 🙂

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