BETHANY, W.Va. – With social distancing guidelines in effect across the United States, many people have reached for their bookshelves to fill their time at home.

With that in mind, employees of Bethany College’s T.W. Phillips Memorial Library have offered some of their own favorites for your consideration.

Heather Ricciuti, library director, said she often turns to her favorite authors in times of stress. In some cases, that extends to books from her childhood. S.E. Hinton’s class disparity novel “The Outsiders,” for example, was the first book Ricciuti remembers reading under the covers with a flashlight, and Judy Bloom’s “Forever” and “Tiger Eyes” take her back to “simpler times of being a kid.”

Her other favorites include Wally Lamb, Anita Shreve, Jodi Picoult, and Jennifer Weiner:

  • “She’s Come Undone,” Lamb’s debut, is the coming-of-age story of 13-year-old Dolores Price who takes readers on a journey of love, pain, and renewal. Other standouts by Lamb include “I Know This Much Is True,” “The Hour I First Believed,” and “I Couldn’t Keep It to Myself.”
  • “The Pilot’s Wife” by Shreve follows Kathryn Lyon, who finds that her pilot husband dies in a plane crash. As she searches for answers, she unravels a string of secrets that her husband had kept from her.
  • “Nineteen Minutes” by Picoult tells of the events leading up to and following a school shooting. The 2007 novel became Picoult’s first to debut at No. 1 on the New York Times Best Seller List.
  • “Good in Bed” by Weiner tells the story of a Jewish entertainment reporter as she struggles with her weight, love life, career, and emotional abuse from her father.
  • “Without You” by Anthony Rapp is a beautiful memoir that explores his time performing in the musical “Rent,” his personal struggles, and his relationship with his mother during her battle with cancer.

Anna Cipoletti, learning resources librarian and cataloger, offers a mix of serious and funny to pass time. Though her selections aren’t available digitally at the T.W. Phillips Memorial Library, she suggests checking OverDrive or your local library.

  • “The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier & Clay” by Michael Chabon is the story of two Jewish immigrants working in the comic book industry during the 1930s. Cipoletti said the book deals a lot with Jewish identity and incorporates Jewish folklore in a really interesting way.
  • “Maurice” by E. M. Forster is a beautiful coming of age story about a gay man in Edwardian England that follows titular character Maurice Hall from age 14 to 24 as he attends school, goes into the workforce, and comes to terms with his identity. (Cipoletti offers one spoiler: There’s a happy ending!)
  • “Americanah” by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie is the semi-autographical story of a Nigerian woman who immigrates to America in the 1980s. “It deals a great deal with black, specifically Nigerian, identity,” Cipoletti said. “It is beautifully written and I learned a lot about Nigerian culture from it.”
  • “Days without End” by Sebastian Barry follows Thomas McNulty, an Irish immigrant, and his compatriot and lover John Cole as they fight in the American Indian war and the Civil War, and the life they have together with their adopted Native American daughter.
  • “Bossypants” is a memoir by comedy writer and actress Tina Fey that is a light read that’s “laugh out loud funny.”

Hanz Olson, learning resources librarian and coordinator of archives and special collections, recommends a selection of poetry – all available electronically via the T.W. Phillips Memorial Library with unlimited user access.

  • Stéphane Mallarmé’s “Collected Poems and Other Verse” (2006) has parallel French text alongside English translations by E.H. and A.M. Blackmore. Olson’s introduction to it came as an undergraduate when he read “Un Coup De Des” or “A Dice Throw” as one of many readings in Modern Poetry. “I would cite it as being influential in terms of starting to nurture in me this idea that poetry can be written and pursued because of a driving and mystifying idea rather than a specific subject matter posed as the only capable bridge between writer and reader,” he said.
  • Alice Notley’s “Songs and Stories of the Ghouls” (2011) was introduced in the same class. “I was then fortunate enough to have the chance to hear her read in person at the University of Wisconsin-Madison roughly four years later and before I returned to graduate school,” Olson said. “If you like epic poetry, this title will mold itself to that taste. If you are interested in underlying questions poets beg of themselves, their readers, and their craft, read and listen to Alice Notley.”
  • Nathaniel Mackey’s “Sound and Cerement” from the author’s book, “Splay Anthem” (2006) is contained within a larger whole, “part antiphonal rant, part rhythmic whisper.” “Steeped in the poetics of [Robert] Duncan and [Charles] Olson and the nature of ongoing serial poems, I recommend you read this poem out loud,” Olson said. “Check out the whole book when you return to campus if you can wait out not rushing to purchase a copy to treasure.”

Intern Ashley Worst offers a trio of selections, two of which take apocalyptic themes.

  • “Circe” by Madeline Miller: “This book was a quick and entertaining read, and made me nostalgic of my childhood when I was just learning the stories of the gods, titans, and heroes of ancient Greece,” Worst said.
  • “Good Omens” by Neil Gaiman and Terry Pratchett is a humorous look at the approach of the end of the world: “This book made me laugh out loud and I never wanted to put it down,” Worst said. “The Amazon show is pretty spot on for those who are not readers!”
  • “The Road” by Cormac McCarthy is a dark post-apocalyptic novel that Worst said made her think about the future of humanity. “This book is surprisingly one of my favorites,” she said. “It may be a little depressing for this situation we are in, but there are still shimmers of hope found in its pages to remind us that if we help one another, things will be alright.” She also recommends the movie.

Bethany College, founded in 1840, is the oldest private college in West Virginia. The Bethany experience focuses on academic excellence in the area of liberal arts and prepares students for a lifetime of work and a life of significance.