Bookish Ways to Keep Busy During a Quarantine

Cassandra Neace |
3 months ago

I am currently living in Mongolia, and we’ve been under some level of quarantine since January 27.  For me, this means that I spend a few hours a day in Google Classroom. The rest of the time, I stick close to home. When I first heard about the five week quarantine, I thought I would use the time to catch up on my reading and do a little writing, and I have.  But the pure joy in such activities can only last so long.

I never thought I could get bored with reading, but it happens. It happens a lot quicker than you’d think.  I had to come up with other ways of filling my time, especially now that the quarantine has been extended another four weeks. I may not be in the mood to read all day every day, but I can still use this time to honor my love of literature. After much consideration, this is my list of ways bookish ways to stay busy during a quarantine. I’m including links to posts from the Book Riot archives, too.

Have a #Bookstagram Photoshoot

This is an excellent time to go digging through your craft supplies, your closet, or even the kids’ toys and round up props for a photoshoot that will impress even the best of the #Bookstagram crew. Then, pull out your favorite books and get to work building the perfect book-themed tableau.  To commemorate a recent trip to Japan, I took a book that I’d just picked up by a Japanese author and arranged it with a souvenir fan and a piece of fabric I picked up in Kyoto. I was pretty happy with the result.

The best thing about this activity? You can really get wrapped up in it and take up hours at a time, which is exactly what you’ll want to do if you find yourself with no choice but to stay home.

Arts and Crafts with a Bookish Twist

There are many, many different ways of going about this, and it’s one of our favorite topics here at Book Riot. We’ve pointed you toward several different cross stitch and embroidery patterns with a literary theme. We’ve got your covered when it comes to crochet and knitting, too. If you like to sew, we’ve got a few ideas with what you can do to bust your fabric stash. One of my favorite things to do these days is to doodle.

Even if you’re not particularly artistic, doing shelf illustrations is a fairly simple project. It just requires rectangles of different sizes and relatively neat handwriting. I highly recommend using watercolor pencils. Super easy to use, and I love the look!

Organize Your Book Collections

I only have eight books in my possession at the moment. The rest are in storage, so this is not one that I can participate in myself, but I dug into the archive for some recommendations.  Here’s a video from Contributing Editor Rincey about how she organizes her shelves.

We’ve put together some tips on organizing your TBR stack and a guide to apps that will help you keep track of your home library.

Use Teachers’ Tricks with the Kids at Home

If your kids end up out of school for an extended time, then it won’t just be yourself that you’ll have to keep occupied. Some schools will be able to schedule and plan online activities for students who are at home, but it never hurts to reinforce the skills they would normally be learning at school. Here are a couple of  activities that I have used or that my teacher friends recommend (and that I will be trying in the near future).

Perform a Character Autopsy

The idea here is to take (or draw) an outline of a person and then use the different body parts as stand-ins for different character traits. It can be a lot of fun, and if your kids are fans of series, that means they have several books worth of info to draw from. And, if you want to add in an element of dress-up, putting the kids in surgical gowns, scrubs, or lab coats is a nice touch.

Bookish Pictionary

This can be a lot of fun! You’ll need a large dry erase board and markers (or a paper and markers, or a chalkboard and chalk, etc.). Divide into teams and then make a list of favorite scenes from books. Playing titles only can simplify the game, but the scenes option adds a degree of difficulty. The idea is that the players will guess the title from the scene being drawn.  I haven’t actually tried this one yet (and I have no pictures), but I’m really looking forward to it.


I hope that I’ve helped you find ways to keep yourselves occupied during any long stretch of time at home, whether for quarantine or some other reason. Stay healthy and keep reading.

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