You’re under coronavirus quarantine. What are you going to do with all this newfound time—and lack of outside entertainment? Why, read, of course!
There’s never been a better time to pick up a book. But what should you read under quarantine? Our team put our heads together and selected our best recommendations of great books to read while you’re under coronavirus quarantine.
10 Lighthearted Books to Read
Looking for something light and fun to take your mind off of quarantine, or offer a new perspective on illness? Here are TOP 10 reads:
1. The Decameron by Boccaccio
You’ve heard of The Canterbury Tales, a series of twenty-four stories told by a group of pilgrims on their journey to Canterbury. Boccaccio’s The Decameron predates it by several decades.
But Boccaccio’s cast of seven women and three men isn’t on the road—rather, they’ve sequestered themselves in a villa near Florence in hopes of escaping the Black Death. The hundred tales they tell each other during their two-week quarantine span the gamut from witty to tragic.
Alternate idea: Don’t want to read books while quarantined? Gather your household and challenge yourselves to tell a story every day.
2. Love in the Time of Cholera by Gabriel Garcia Marquez
Ask someone for literature about pandemics, and Love in the Time of Cholera is one of the first books that comes to mind. Hey, “cholera” is right there in the title!
In fact, this book is about more than just cholera. It’s about love and relationships that span decades, and it asks if maybe love isn’t the real disease.
If coronavirus quarantine is your opportunity to revisit the classics you missed in high school and college, this is the perfect book to start with. Or, if you want to say things like “literature in the time of coronavirus” with more knowledge of the source for your clever reference, read this.
3. Good Omens by Neil Gaiman and Terry Pratchett
You’ll be hard-pressed to find a more fun and entertaining read about the end of the world. With their signature darkness, satire, and clever twists on mythology, Gaiman and Pratchett created a wild tale of apocalypse.
You might have seen the Amazon Prime miniseries adaptation. If you haven’t read the book, do yourself a favor and pick up a copy. Actually, go ahead and watch the miniseries, too; you’ve got time.
4. Agorafabulous!: Dispatches from My Bedroom by Sara Benincasa
What if you weren’t stuck in the house because of a virus, but because you couldn’t make yourself leave? That was the case for Sara Benincasa, who faced down agoraphobia, depression, an eating disorder, and panic disorder.
Ultimately, she’s become a standup comedian, a far cry from her days of never leaving her college dorm room. Her memoir is a humorous beacon of hope that whether the illnesses we face are mental or physical, we can still find ways to thrive, and one day, even open the door.
5. Going Bovine by Libba Bray
The bad news is, 16-year-old Cameron has mad cow disease. It’s incurable, and he’s going to die. The good news is, he’s going to have the adventure of a lifetime first—even if it’s all in his head. Plus, there’s a wacky road trip, so you can travel in your imagination.
At once morbid and hopeful, Going Bovine is an inspiring challenge to find wild adventure and satisfaction even when our world is closing in on us. If you’re not interested in reading about terminal illnesses right now, this isn’t the book for you. But if you’d enjoy a wild YA romp that Publishers Weekly likens to The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy, definitely don’t miss this.
6. I Contain Multitudes by Ed Yong
Why not use this time of uninterrupted reading as an opportunity to learn something new? I Contain Multitudes is a fascinating exploration of the microbial world, the bacteria that keep our entire ecosystem running.
Read this, and you might just look at the microbes around you in a fresh and even positive light.
Also, wash your hands and don’t touch your face.
7. Crowdsourcing Paris by Joe Bunting
Remember when you could travel around the world to exotic locales, visit famous monuments and museums, and sit in streetside cafés watching the world go by? Remember when you could walk through an airport, get on an airplane, and arrive in another country without worry? In fact, remember when you could go out in public, period?
If you’re missing the thrill of travel, a travel memoir is the perfect book for you. Take in the sights of Paris with Joe Bunting’s crowdsourced adventure. It might just inspire you to find ways to make staying home an adventure all its own.
8. The Hike by Sarah Gribble
What if travel weren’t so peaceful as a trip to Paris, but a harrowing, life-threatening, man-against-nature risk in its own right? This short horror read about a daylong desert hiking trip gone terribly wrong will remind you why you’re glad to stay safe at home after all.
Did I say this was a lighthearted read? Well, it might take your mind off viral threats, at least. Does that count?
9. Still Life by Louise Penny
Louise Penny didn’t publish this, her first book in the Inspector Gamache series, until she was in her forties. It was worth the wait.
Here’s what Joe Bunting, the founder of The Write Practice, has to say about it:
I like the occasional mystery, but it’s hardly my go-to genre. But I haven’t been able to stop reading these books, and I’m now on book nine in the series after starting just eight weeks ago (and launching a book in the process).
Still Life drips with wisdom and strength. You’ll want to move to Quebec, drink a cognac or café au lait, and get warm next to the fire while reading this. You’ll probably also wish Inspector Gamache was your best friend, grandfather, and boss all at the same time.
All that to say, everyone should read this book. And quarantine is the perfect time to start a long mystery series that will keep you turning pages (and not thinking about illness) for weeks.
10. Warm Bodies by Isaac Marion
Just because there’s a zombie apocalypse doesn’t mean you can’t find love. That’s certainly the case for R, a zombie who’s not a fan of eating human flesh, and Julie, the woman whose boyfriend’s brain R eats.
This reimagining of Romeo and Juliet with zombies inspires hope that while we have the power to infect each other, our search for a cure—and for love—might just bring out the best in humanity.