3 Ways to Spend a Bookish Birthday During Quarantine

Abigail Clarkin |
2 months ago

My 25th year of life began during the madness.

That is, my nieces slept over the night before…And my birthday happened to fall during the first week of quarantine for the COVID-19 pandemic. Plans for attending the symphony, a 1920s themed gala for work, and an alternative rock concert had to be scrapped. But there was no reason to mourn: a bookish birthday celebration awaited me.

Are you, too, celebrating another blessed year on this earth during this time? Do you have time outside of learning the groundbreaking ways in which hand washing can become as complicated as a ten step skin-care regimen? Here are three ways for you to make your best bookish birthday a reality, from the comfort of your home.

One: Whine Incessantly

Leading up to your birthday, if you do not have a copy of a beloved classic novel in your personal library, become quite vocal about this tragedy. Speak of it as much as possible. Leave battered library copies in obvious places. Watch four different film adaptations of the same story within two weeks of each other, bemoaning after each viewing that you cannot believe you do not own the book yourself.

These great trials and tribulations just might result in your mother presenting you with a lovely copy of Little Women by Louisa May Alcott on the morning of your birthday.

Curl up on the closest couch and read through the beginning scenes, when the four sisters choose to spend their Christmas money on their mother instead of themselves. (And then reconsider your previous actions. Perhaps buying the copy yourself wasn’t so outlandish an idea—perhaps you also should buy something for your parental figure.)

Two: Dig Up Your Childhood Films

When your 9-year-old niece admires a teacup set that your grandmother generously thrust into your hands, channel your inner Felicity Merriman: prepare to be as mannerly and brave as the horse-thieving American Girl from the Revolutionary War. Before the child can be distracted by the realization that there are indeed chocolate chips on the counter within reach, ask, “Shall we have a tea party today?”

“Okay,” she will respond, before you promptly remember that she doesn’t like tea.

You will suggest a hot cocoa party instead. Her bright blue eyes will shine feverishly, and as she nods with uncontainable energy, you will shrink within yourself, wondering just who you presume to be when planning to bestow the great power of sugar upon this brilliant girl and her rambunctious 5-year-old sister.

Nonetheless, you will proceed. You will realize that cucumber sandwiches do not go well with cocoa (nor the taste buds of people under the age of 70). You will also realize there are no cookies, cakes, or muffins in the house. Assembling graham crackers, cream cheese, and strawberry jam into petite, perhaps stale “Cheesecake Sandwiches” will become a messy game.

But a quick viewing of the tea scene in the 2005 film, Felicity: An American Girl Adventure will bring all things back into order. The manners displayed as the young hero quickly finds out that refusing a baked treat is the height of rudeness, will simply open up the world to your nieces.

It will also help those graham cracker desserts disappear at an alarming rate.

Take the opportunity to introduce your young family members to the other fearless characters in the American Girl series, such as through the books Meet Addy by Connie Porter or Good Luck, Ivy by Lisa Yee.

Three: Charge Your Fiend of a Laptop

Arrange so the stars align and the new Jane Austen film you’ve been dying to see begins an early streaming period. On your very birthday. Online and accessible. Invite your siblings—be they two hours behind in Colorado, or worriedly quarantined on Cape Cod—to join you in streaming Emma while video chatting. Six of them will gladly accept the invite.

Order the two who refuse to seek forgiveness by sending a check to you in the amount of 10,000 pounds. (Pin money shall suffice, you suppose.)

Watch as the young woman in the film daintily sips her tea while spilling all sorts of messes over the lives of those around her. Watch, breathe deeply, and smile as the light from television sets and laptops all over the country cast light onto the faces of your beloveds. Watch and remember that today is your birthday; the world is weak and shaking, but you’ve made it another year in the company of love and many faithful literary characters. Raise a glass to another.

And keep washing your hands thoroughly.


Looking for more structured, practical advice when it comes to a bookish birthday? Check out How to Throw a Fabulous Book Party. Want to get into the kitchen during this time of social distancing? Try out 12 of the Best Cookbooks for Quarantine Cooking and Prep.

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