The Atlantic

The Books Briefing: Read to Find Focus, Even During a Pandemic

Suggestions for a wandering mind: Your weekly guide to the best in books
Source: Illustrated by Georges de Feure/DeAgostini/Getty

Hark, by the author Sam Lipsyte, is a satire of a world plagued by inattention. In it, hopelessly distracted characters who are desperate for focus turn to the ineffective self-help practice of “mental archery”—and fall further into chaos.

For many readers, this feeling may be painfully familiar. With , , and , the pandemic has made or long epics) can offer a respite. Detail-rich works are particularly grounding, helping readers concentrate even after they put the book down. My colleague Oliver Munday found that by Marcel Proust’s beautifully descriptive novel cycle, . Similarly, the critic Connor Goodwin experienced when reading , Nan Shepherd’s memoir about climbing in the Scottish Highlands.

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