There are lots of things confusing about our current existence, like why is everyone playing Animal Crossing: New Horizons? I’ve spent most of quarantine avoiding playing Animal Crossing, and instead searching for new reads that will broaden my horizons. (See what I did there?). The resistance to play the game isn’t because I don’t like it. On the contrary, I know I’d love it. However, during a time of such societal chaos, from the pandemic and quarantine, to the important and ongoing Black Lives Matter movement, I think we can agree it’s a good time to educate and inspire. Not to say we can’t have a little literary fun. Here is a list of books from varying genres that will keep us entertained and educated instead of playing Animal Crossing.
Eloquent Rage: A Black Feminist Discovers Her Superpower, by Brittany Cooper
Eloquent Rage by Brittany Cooper is a collection of raw, hilarious, poignant essays about Black women and Black feminism and is a must read for any feminist. This doesn’t directly correlate to Animal Crossing, but this book will teach women they don’t have to settle for less, which is kind of how you should run your island, right?
A Phoenix First Must Burn, Edited by Patrice Caldwell
Instead of creating a colorful twitch-worthy island on Animal Crossing, and settling for the digital landscape on your Nintendo Switch, take a journey through the fantastical and powerful worlds woven in A Phoenix First Must Burn that contains sixteen stories about Black Girl Magic, resistance and hope.
Self Care: A Novel, by Leigh Stein
Genre: Fiction/Dark Humor
You could play Animal Crossing to decompress, or you can read this razor-sharp satire about wellness culture gone wrong. Self Care: A Novel by Leigh Stein is the laughter you need in a world of constant IG lives, Goop-esque documentaries, and targeted advertising on your social feeds.
It’s Not All Downhill from Here, by Terry McMillan
Genre: Contemporary Literature
Part of the reason everyone is playing Animal Crossing during the pandemic is it’s a way to feel more connected to your friends during a time we can’t necessarily see them. In the spirit of friendship and rising above loss, dive into It’s Not All Downhill from Here by Terry McMillan for a laugh-out-loud, soul-inspiring read that will give you the hope that it’s okay to start anew, especially with a little help from your friends.
Eat Pray Love, by Elizabeth Gilbert
It’s bummer that flights have been cancelled and we’ve all had to reschedule that vacation we had planned. Instead of settling for dodo birds to whisk you away to your friends island in Animal Crossing as a Bandaid to the situation, I suggest reading, (an oldie but a goodie), Eat, Pray, Love by Elizabeth Gilbert that will send you traveling across the world while doing some soul-searching along side the strong female protagonist.
Ghost Squad, by Claribel Ortega
Genre: Young Adult
No, Ghost Squad by Claribel Ortega does not have raccoon overlords like in Animal Crossing, but it does have an adorable fat cat named Chunk that helps fight malicious spirits set free by a magical spell. This read is more adorable than your avatar in Animal Crossing, and with Dominican culture and mythology beautifully woven into the story, it’s the cute, fresh, high-energy read you need. You’ll want to be best friends with Lucely, Syd and Chunk.
I hope the books on this list have made your to-be-read pile and inspire you to pick up a book on occasion instead of your Nintendo Switch. Don’t worry, your plants and flowers will be okay, and you can trade turnips later and start flipping pages now.