Barb Caffrey's Blog

Writing the Elfyverse . . . and beyond

Read More, or, How to Stay Sane in a Global Pandemic

with 8 comments

Folks, I wrote a week ago or so about the mass hysteria over the corona virus. Since then, more information has come out, and it appears the only thing that can mitigate the damage from this previously unknown virus is “social distancing” — in other words, trying to stay away from people who aren’t members of your nuclear family (or are exceptionally good friends you’ve seen in the past week or two).

Social distancing doesn’t necessarily mean isolation, mind. You can still talk with your friends, even those who you haven’t seen in the past week or two, by phone or by using an internet app like FaceTime or Skype. And if you do go out with someone you’ve seen recently, you can probably walk next to them as per usual; still, to be safe, we’re told to keep six feet apart in public if at all possible.

The hope by doing this is that it’ll give the virus a chance to die out. But no one knows if it’ll work.

But this post is about how to stay sane during this difficult time. And I intend to tell you what helps me the most: Reading books.

In fact, I splurged and bought Sharon Lee and Steve Miller’s newest Liaden Universe book, ACCEPTING THE LANCE. And I enjoyed it immensely. There’s a lot in that book that seems to apply right now — people who’ve been upended by life, having to re-establish themselves, having to learn how to go on in drastically altered circumstances. And the new consensus that comes out of the chaos is a much better one than the previous; it allows for people of great diversity to find ways to talk to one another, and to find ways to help everyone become their best selves.

Yes, it’s only a book. A bit of entertainment, if you will. But there’s a lot of truth in it.

That said, here are some other books I absolutely adore, and believe may help you if you are a SF&F reader (or just want to broaden your horizons).


This is the Night Calls trilogy, and it is exceptionally good. Alfreda “Allie” Sorensson is a smart young lady in a frontier version of America that includes magic. And she has a good deal of it. But she’s a practical soul, is Allie, and she knows being strong in anything can scare people. How she finds her own balance and equilibrium during a number of harrowing tests is well worth reading, again and again.

The stories of Stavin Kel’Aniston, starting with ALL THAT GLITTERS — Loren K. Jones

Stavin is my favorite of Loren’s many characters (thus far). He is quite short, feels he’s not attractive or smart or worth anything…then he takes up a dare, meets a dragon, and the dragon is impressed. (Note that Stavin was far too smart to try to kill the dragon.) He’s much more intelligent than he thinks he is, but Stavin is also a young man with a young man’s faults. Who he meets, the challenges he faces, who he loves, and what happens to him are well worth reading about. And you’ll love his wife, Sharindis (or Shari); she knows just what to say to bring him down a peg or two, whenever needed.

Mind, if you want to read something else by Loren, I’m all for it; I’d just start with Stavin, as he’s so much fun.

Finally, I also recommend the stories by Chris Nuttall. He has several great universes going on, but my favorites are his Schooled in Magic universe (featuring Emily, a young lady from Kansas who must learn her magic quickly or she won’t survive) and his Zero universe (where most people have magic, some have a ton — but the people who may have the most power of all are, paradoxically, the Zeros who have none as they’re the only ones who can forge truly awesome weaponry).

So, to find these stories, go to Amazon and look first at Katharine’s page. Then at Loren’s. And finally, at Chris’s…you can’t go wrong, and it may help you deal with this crisis to be reminded that resilience and pluck come in all shapes and sizes.

8 Responses

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  1. In an effort to remain entertained while all those around me are losing their minds, I…I think I may have picked the wrong book. John Ringo is an excellent author. He’s one of those people that could make his grocery list into an engaging tale. But, I started reading The Last Centurion, in which he starts out talking about an outbreak of a severe flu (H5N1 bird flu) which in real life has a mortality rate of around 60% in humans, and which might be rearing it’s head again right now in China, along with H5N6 spreading in birds.


    March 18, 2020 at 3:29 pm

    • Yeah. Maybe that’s one you might want to skip for now. (He has other books that don’t talk about global pandemics.)

      What about David Weber or David Drake as well as Ringo? They all have good stuff to read.

      How are things with you, Kamas? You’re in a field (police) that is essential, so I hope you are keeping very safe. 🙂

      Barb Caffrey

      March 18, 2020 at 6:01 pm

      • doing well so far. I sit in dispatch, so not A LOT of personal contact with the public. We do have some walk up traffic, but liberal use of bleach wipes and Lysol has been implemented. One of the Safety Office guys has all the ingredients ready for hand sanitizer if we run out of the store bought stuff.


        March 18, 2020 at 6:52 pm

      • That’s good. I’m glad to hear that, Kamas. You and your folks there in the police department stay safe, OK? 🙂

        Barb Caffrey

        March 18, 2020 at 7:19 pm

  2. Sharing suggested books at this time is a very valuable idea.
    If you wish to try something to take you quite away from the current situation I would suggest ‘Three Men In A Boat’ by Jerome K Jerome. An account written in the late Victorian era of the adventures and mishaps of three young men going on a boating trip. It also has a few colourful and thoughtful asides on Human Nature as well as a very lyrical imagining of the signing of the Magna Carta.
    You may well be able to find it free on-line.
    All the best


    March 29, 2020 at 10:34 am

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