ECC instructors put the novel in novel coronavirus


Hadley Corbett

ECC professors recommended many books including “The Chronicles of Narnia” and “Ethics for the New Millennium.”

Hadley Corbett, Staff Writer

While social distancing may be keeping you from spending time with your favorite people, it doesn’t have to stop you from delving into the lives of literary characters. Whether you are looking for a quick read or something to keep you busy for hours, a fantasy novel or a philosophical discourse, a tear jerker or a comedy, Elgin Community College instructors have you covered with a book that will fit your mood during the COVID-19 quarantine.

Jason Kane, an ECC professor II of English, thinks “A Man Called Ove” by Fredrik Backman, is a good book to read no matter your time restraints. 

“The book is what I’d call a good read, well-written but not too complex, something you could read in the afternoon or in snippets before falling asleep at night, as I tend to read,” Kane said. “Although the book addresses loss, sadness, depression, and attempted suicide, it is filled with humor, heart, and ultimately shows how the lonely title character becomes part of a diverse, supportive community within his neighborhood.  It’s one of those books where you are likely to laugh and cry, but will feel good [and] reassured at the end about the human capacity to overcome and to love. And that seems like a good vibe these days.” 

Mary Elfring, an ECC English adjunct faculty member, recommends “Major Pettigrew’s Last Stand” by Helen Simonson.

“It takes place in England, and it is about a man, Major Ernest Pettigrew, who lives alone and whose brother has just died sending him into a funk,” Elfring said. “He meets a local Indian woman who intrudes into his staid and proper English life.This novel is about how one’s life and beliefs are shaken up when the perceptions of their world are radically challenged. It is about letting go of one’s long held view on life and accepting a new and most pleasant reality. I loved it! It is a sweet tale.”

David Zacker, ECC professor of humanities, recommends “Ethics for the New Millennium” by the Dalai Lama to everybody to help make sense of everything that is going on.

“It is a thought provoking book that helps you think through how to be happy,” Zacker said. “It is not just a self-help book, but goes deep into thought provoking ideas about how we come to be who we are… without getting so far into the philosophical weeds that you have to think hard to enjoy it. It [explains how] we are all dependent upon each other and leads to the conclusion that the most important human emotion is empathy [because] through empathy we can act spiritually, and thus morally toward our fellow humans and nonhuman animals. It is a philosophically satisfying book and opens you up to further questioning.”

Jeffrey Weisman, ECC assistant professor of English, has a book recommendation for someone who is trying to keep their children or siblings entertained and learning as well as themselves.

“A book my nine-year-old daughter and I just read, that we both loved, was “George’s Marvelous Medicine” by Roald Dahl…who is simply one of the greatest children writers ever,” Weisman said. “Overall, it really is an excellent book…and will take at most a few hours to read. In the story, George wants revenge on his grandmother so he goes all around his house [collecting items] to make his ‘marvelous medicine’. It is absolutely hilarious! Seeing how we are all stuck at home, thinking about what’s around us is kind of funny and insightful since we don’t always do that. Also, on a more base level, trying to take control over a situation that is dominating you is a pleasant release right now. I would definitely recommend it for children, children at heart, and those who like the preposterous made real.”

Joshua Thusat, ECC assistant professor  of English, thinks the new book, “Nothing to See Here” by Kevin Wilson, will satisfy readers interested in magical realism.

“The plot is irresistible,” Thusat said. “A woman must take care of kids who catch on fire. Certainly, it’s symbolic. But, these twins literally get angry and ignite, and their nanny must keep it quiet for their political father. It’s a quick, enjoyable read.”

Johanna Cummings Bernard, ECC professor of English, suggests people reread our favorite stories from childhood.

“Go back to the books you loved as a child,” Bernard said. “Maybe it was “The Chronicles of Narnia” or “Anne of Green Gables.” Maybe it was “Little Women” or “The Fellowship of the Ring.” Maybe it was “Harry Potter” or “The Secret Garden.” Whatever it was, try to remember the joy you felt when you were first immersed in that fictional world. We’ve all been reminded in times of trouble to look… for examples of good in a world that feels dark.”

All of these professors seem to understand the value of a good read. During times of uncertainty it can be comforting to find support in the pages of a book. 

[During this time,] look at the art you loved as a child,” Bernard said. “[Do so] because, it is the art – books, music, and movies – that is worth living and fighting for.”

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