Reading in the Time of the Coronavirus

March 31, 2020:  

These last weeks have been a whirlwind. We may feel as though our hearts and minds are spinning with all of the changing information, filling us with stress, worry and fear. However, we may also find ourselves locked in at home, which might offer us rare opportunities to read and think for awhile, if we commit to that.

It’s crucial to occupy our time not just with more news and scrolling, but with words that can fill us and help us understand the current situation within our broader history and perhaps our metaphysical condition. To that end, our staff has begun to assemble a list of texts, from novels and poems, to articles and theological texts. We will be keeping an inventory of all the entries here for easy access. They are also available on our Instagram page, Facebook page, and also through our email newsletter.


Week 1:

The Skin of Our Teeth: A Play, by Thornton Wilder

The Plague by Albert Camus

Love in the Time of Cholera, Gabriel García Márquez

The Consolation of Philosophy by Boethius

Revelations of Divine Love by Julian of Norwich

The Cure for What Ails Us, by Lydia Dugdale (our special guest for this week’s Food for Thought Webinar!)

-He Leadeth Me by Fr. Walter Ciszek, S.J.

A Gentleman in Moscow by Amor Towles

Little Women by Louisa May Alcott

The Betrothed by Alessandro Manzoni

-“To Hope” by John Keats


Week 2:

Urbi et Orbi address by Pope Francis

Love in the Ruins by Walker Percy

Laurus by Eugene Vodolazkin

Uncanny Homes by Terence Sweeney in Plough Magazine

Learning to be Quiet with Tomie dePaola, a short video

Week 3: Holy Week Edition

The Student, a short story by Anton Chekhov

Symphony No. 3 by Henryk Górecki

Ubi Caritas Hymn sung by Audrey Assad

-Watch the Queen’s message here

-“Imaginary Conversation,” a poem by Linda Pastan

-“Liberation at the Cross,” reflections by Oscar Romero

Week 4: Easter Edition

We hope your Easter season is off to a joyful start even amidst this time of social distancing. Our reading recommendation series for thoughtful, fruitful texts to encounter during this time continues this week with an Easter edition. 

-John Updike’s poem, “Seven Stanzas at Easter

-Josef Pieper’s In Tune With the World: A Theory of Festivity

-Christina Rossetti’s poem, “Easter Monday

-Andrea Bocelli’s Quarantine Easter Concert at the Duomo in Milan

-Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice

-The Royal Choral Society performs Handel’s Hallelujah Chorus virtually

Week 5: Mercy Edition


A Prayer Journal by Flannery O’Connor
-John Henry Newman’s
The Dream of Gerontius
-Edward Elgar’s oratorio “The Dream of Gerontius,” setting Newman’s poem to music, Part 1 and Part 2

-“Reasons for Reading the Decameron Even After Coronavirus Is Over” by Stephen Metzger on Church Life Journal
The Merchant of Venice by William Shakespeare
-Henri Nouwen’s The Return of the Prodigal Son


Week 6: 

The Death of Ivan Ilyich by Leo Tolstoy

Catherine of Siena by Sigrid Undset

Life of Anthony, St. Athanasius (Incidentally, Michelangelo’s first painting was inspired by St. Athanasius’s account of the life of Saint Anthony.) 

The Phantom Tollbooth by Norton Juster (playful staff debate and disagreement on this choice…)

Canticle for Leibowitz by Walter M. Miller Jr.

Week 7: 


Lost in Thought: The Hidden Pleasures of an Intellectual Life by Zena Hitz

The Tables Turned, a poem by William Wordsworth 

The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe by C.S. Lewis

In the House of Brede by Rumer Godden 

Siciliana Da Antiche Danze Ed Arie Suite III” by Ottorino Respighi

Week 8: 


The Consolation of Poetry by Mark Bauerlein

-Hard Times Come Again No More, a folk song by Stephen Foster (here and here)

Prayer of Teilhard de Chardin

No Man is an Island by John Donne

The Summer Book Tove Jansson