Since the first day I opened the app, I’m afraid I’ve been a victim of “Zoom fatigue.” While I love the opportunity to see friends, family, and coworkers (Verily has had a work-from-home team for years!), I quickly tire of seeing people on screens. The words they’re saying rush past my ears as I Google a quick reference or make myself a snack. I’m not fully present, and while it’s always so much better than nothing, there’s a sense of something missing.
Over the last week or so, I’ve been on a lot of video calls. But I also picked up a book—Bob Dylan’s Chronicles Volume One, the Nobel Prize-winning folk singer’s autobiography. Dylan writes like he sings—straightforwardly with no frills, perfectly frank and earnest, but also with a unique vision. I found myself immediately drawn into his descriptions of the 60s New York music scene—somewhere I never thought I’d find myself!—enjoying his masterful sketches of people and places and wry observations on the human condition.
Somehow, though it’s just words on a page, a book can feel like a presence. Falling asleep to a book at night is falling asleep a little less alone; pulling out a book on a train makes one not quite a solo traveler. You can’t make yourself a snack or Google something while really reading a book (trust me, I’ve tried both!). Like a conversation with a friend, a book can make the time pass quickly away, raising your mind to things that are more important than the rush of the digital lifestyle.
If you think of books as your friends, this week Verily has a few introductions to make. Today Monica Burke has several suggestions of cozy fall reads with drinks to match—here comes the season of book-reading under blankets! Olivia Downes offers a reflection on the meaning of books in our relationships; not only can books be like friends, they can also influence the way we relate to other people. And Lindsey Weishar offers a few suggestions of books that can alleviate the sense of loneliness that so many feel these days, especially those who happen to be in a time of transition.
What books are your favorite companions? Let us know here.