What to Read Next: Recommendation Roundup, Pandemic Edition

Well, well, well. I’m finally sinking back into a regular posting schedule, and I have to admit it feels a bit weird since I’ve been writing everywhere but my blog for a long time. Not weird in a bad way, per se, but still strange.

While I’m still ironing out the specifics of what I’ll be covering in the coming weeks, I did realize over the past couple of days that for those who don’t follow me on Twitter, you might not know what books, TV shows, or movies I’ve been recommending. To make it easier on everyone, I’m going to round up a list of sci-fi series (books and movies) that I’ve watched through the course of the pandemic and enjoyed.

In that light, I guess a more accurate title for this post would be “what to read or watch next, now that you’re stuck indoors.”

The Best Books to Read During Quarantine

Best Books to Read During Quarantine the Only Harmless Great Thing

1. THE ONLY HARMLESS GREAT THING, by Brooke Bolander

Genres: Literary Sci-Fi, Alternate History.
Read It If You Like: Short, beautifully-written books with no romance.
Content Warnings: Terminal illness, radiation sickness, cancer, animal cruelty, major character death.

One of my favorite novels that I’ve read over the past couple months was actually a novella. I discovered THE ONLY HARMLESS GREAT THING by way of the Tor eBook Club.

Jumping back and forth between alternative historical events and current sci-fi affairs, THE ONLY HARMLESS GREAT THING tells the story of radioactive circus elephants who rose up to become a competing civilization. Simultaneously, the book focuses on the efforts of a human envoy in the future who is trying to broker peace treaty with these giant pachyderms.

While you can definitely look at the elephants as a metaphor for something else (trust me, it’s easy), that’s the general gist of the story. If you’re looking for a short, weird, beautifully written book that can be finished in an afternoon, then this is the one for you.

2. THE QUEEN’S ADVANTAGE, by Jessie Mihalik

Genres: Sci-Fi Romance.
Read It If You Like: Kissing in space, ballroom scenes, fancy dresses, light smut, and happy endings.
Content Warnings: None.

Jessie Mihalik is one of my favorite authors at the moment, specifically because she specializes in sci-fi romance. And when I say she’s one of my favorite authors, I mean she’s really a favorite author. I immediately buy her new books as soon as I see her name on the cover.

As the second book in a series, THE QUEEN’S ADVANTAGE is a continuation of THE QUEEN’S GAMBIT, which I read last year and also heartily recommend. Picking up where the first book left off, THE QUEEN’S ADVANTAGE starts with a bang when the Rogue Coalition leader, Samara Rani, travels to the heart of Imperial territory to pay off a personal debt to Emperor Valentin by helping him find the traitors in his court.

When an assassination attempt is made on both their lives, however, Samara must use her streetwise skills to root out the traitors before they kill Valentin and her. Definitely read this novel if you’re looking for kissing-in-space with a happily ever after, but read Book 1 first.

The Best Sci-Fi Movies on Netflix

1. 3022 (2019)

Genres: Sci-Fi Horror.
Watch It If You Like: A bleak sci-fi premise that manages to pull off a happy ending.
Content Warnings: Suicidal ideation, graphic violence.

While I’ve definitely been looking for more “feel-good” books, apparently the same can’t be said for movies. One film that I’ve been dying to recommend is the sci-fi disaster movie 3022 on Netflix, directed by John Suits.

The setup: a group of astronauts are living on a long-haul space station, where they’re supposed to stay for the next ten years. When their group begins to suffer mental health issues due to isolation, they decide to go home early. Just before they head back, however, Earth is suddenly obliterated, leaving them as the sole survivors.

While 3022 is definitely dark and brutal to watch, it ironically has a more hopeful ending than The Rise of Skywalker. No, seriously.

2. Contagion (2011)

Genres: Contemporary Drama, Disaster Movie.
Watch It If You Like: Comparing a fictional pandemic to our real one.
Content Warnings: Literally everything you can think of related to a pandemic, up to and including on-screen child death.

That’s right folks, I did it. I actually went and watched a pandemic movie while we’re suffering through a real one.

While my judgment on pick-me-up movies remains highly suspect, the much-hyped Contagion movie did make it onto my recommendation list.

Notable for its accuracy in portraying how a real-life pandemic operates, Contagion tells the story of a rapidly-spreading virus that gains an international toehold after it jumps from country-to-country via air travel. From there, the movie explores how the events of the pandemic play out.

Perhaps not surprisingly, I watched this movie because I wanted to see how accurate Contagion was in comparison to our real-life apocalypse. While this film definitely has some laughable ideas as to how “noble” the rich will be, or how competent the government is, the virus itself was pretty accurate.

So in terms of a Contagion movie review, my general consensus is to “watch it.”

Looking for the Best Games to Play During Quarantine?

Interested in recommendation lists I’ve written for other sites? Check out the best mobile games that let you explore the world, courtesy of MakeUseOf.

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