Even though many restaurants and stores have reopened, people are still home more than usual as the pandemic continues. During this extra time at home, you may be looking for reading to keep you occupied and entertained. Here are some popular trends that may give you some ideas.
Fiction that Allows an Escape from Day-to-day Reality
Many people are choosing works that allow them to think about other things and to put thoughts of the pandemic aside temporarily. Some examples of works that might provide an escape are:
- Funny fiction to make you laugh out loud,
- Fantasy and science fiction books set in different worlds, and
- Mysteries or thrillers with gripping plots.
If these ideas sound appealing, you might want to take a look at our staff picks and recommended reads in these areas, which are linked above.
Book about Race
People are also focusing on social issues, and in particular reading books on race, as this topic has come to the forefront of national discussions. Some informative and popular books on this topic written by African American authors are:
- So You Want to Talk About Race,
- Me and White Supremacy,
- Between the World and Me,
- How to be an Antiracist, and
- How to Be Less Stupid about Race.
Books about Pandemics
A final popular, and possibly surprising, trend is reading fiction and nonfiction books about pandemics. Here are the types of books about pandemics that people are reading and why.
Nonfiction for Adults:
These nonfiction books let us know that humans have been through pandemics a surprising number of times and have surmounted the crisis during historical periods when we were much less scientifically advanced than we are today. In a sense, these historical books are often both gripping and encouraging, as they demonstrate our ability to survive. Warning: some do offer grim predictions of future outbreaks. Click on a title for availability and more detailed descriptions of the work.
- Pandemic by Sonia Shah focuses mainly on the cholera epidemic, but also looks at the history and future of pandemics;
- Pandemic 1918 by Catharine Arnold studies the Spanish flu pandemic of 1918;
- Total Survival by James C. Jones focuses on the steps readers can take to survive pandemics and other dangerous situations;
- The Fever of 1721 by Stephen Coss recounts the smallpox epidemic in Boston in 1721;
- Superbugs by Matt McCarthy describes the scientific community’s effort to find treatments for antibiotic-resistant bacteria;
- Crisis in the Red Zone: The Story of the Deadliest Ebola Outbreak in History, and of the Outbreaks to Come by Richard Preston discusses the 2014 Ebola outbreak in West Africa;
- Pox: An American History by Michael Willrich discusses the smallpox epidemic in the United States at the beginning of the 20th century; and
- How to Survive a Plague by David France tells the story of the battle against the AIDS epidemic.
Nonfiction to help children and teens understand:
Adults often want to help children and teens understand what is happening and reassure them by providing background and context. Here are some books that can help children and teens understand the current situation.
- The Flu Pandemic of 1918 is a discussion of the Spanish Flu for readers grades 5-8;
- Influenza: How the Flu Changed History discusses the social and historical effects of the flu epidemic of 1918;
- Pandemics: Deadly Disease Outbreaks teaches readers grades 7-10 about past and possible future pandemics, and how doctors treat them (eBook only);
- Epidemic, Pandemic, Should I Call the Medic? is a biology book for younger children that describes the difference between an epidemic and a pandemic (eBook only)
- Examining Pandemics, for young readers, examines the microbiology of pandemics and their prevention (eBook only); and
- Engineering Solutions for Epidemics and Pandemics explains to readers ages 8-12 how scientists respond to disease outbreaks (eBook only).
Fiction books for adults:
Finally, there are many fiction books for adults about pandemics, and these titles often include gripping and moving stories that reveal the courage and endurance of human beings. Warning: choose carefully and read the descriptions by clicking on the titles, as some of these books are darker than others!
- Station Eleven (fiction/dystopian; fictional virus called Georgia flu):
- The Stand (horror; manmade virus)
- Wanderers (science fiction/dystopian; sleepwalking people being lead to an unknown destination)
- Cold Storage (horror; “highly mutative organism”)
- The Dreamers (science fiction; sleeping virus in a college town)
- The Dog Stars (fiction/dytopian; future flu pandemic)
- Great Believers (realistic historical fiction; AIDS epidemic)
- Severance (fiction/dystopian; fictional Shen Fever)
- Book of M (eBook only, fantasy fiction; people’s shadows disappear, and then they lose their memories)
- Bird Box (horror; people see “something” and become violent, an epidemic referred to as “The Problem”)
- The Decameron (classic fiction; written shortly after the plague of 1348, realistic story of 10 people who hide out in a countryside villa and tell stories until the plague has passed)
- A Journal of the Plague Year (historical novel; the bubonic plague in London in 1665)
- The Andromeda Strain (eBook only, fiction/horror; extraterrestrial organism in New Mexico)
- Zone One (horror fiction/dystopian; virus causes zombies)
- The Girl with all the Gifts (horror; fungal infection creates “hungries” or zombies)