What genre of books have you been reading during the past few months to keep you sane? Have you noticed a general theme around the media you’re consuming?

Personally, I’ve been reading and watching a lot of Japanese literature/films. The last real trip I took was September 2019 to Tokyo. I miss that sense of normalcy—walking through unknown towns, taking trains, stopping in cafes—without any real stressors. Since then, life has been relentlessly overwhelming, whether that’s due to school, track, work, or the unknowns that the pandemic has presented.

Books are a way to slow everything down, to forget about those worries (for the time being) and just fully immerse myself in another world. Stories truly have the power to function as a momentary escape.

Haruki Murakami’s delicate, casual prose makes me forget about my problems and instead become engrossed in the lives of Aomami & Tengo (1Q84) or Toru & Naoko (Norweigan Wood). Studio Ghibli’s atmosphere of nostalgia keeps me longing for a simplistic, beautiful world. And Square Enix video games that I’ve adored since childhood help me remember what it’s like to not have burdening real-life issues.

Though reality does hit when the book closes and the credits role, that temporary relief makes everything else seem manageable. It gives me something to look forward to as well. Everyone has different versions of escape—books and films are by no means the only ones. But if you purposefully look back at the content you’ve been consuming, do you notice an overarching theme? If you really analyze that, it may help you realize what’s missing, what you’re looking forward to, or ways to improve your day-to-day.

For me, I’ve noticed this trend of missing a simple life, so I’ve taken the time to go for long walks outside and just observe the mundane without worrying about pressing obligations or deadlines.