Books to Read During a Pandemic

While we’re all #AloneTogether, #TogetherApart, #SaferAtHome, and #TogetherAtHome, we’re all dealing with quarantine and re-opening differently. And that’s a great thing! I’m getting ready to release some big changes and new features for my blog, I’m getting more creative with my workout and trying new things, and I’m loving having my husband at home with me all day while he’s working from home!

I don’t know about you, but I’ve also been reading more. Over the years I’ve read about other pandemics and medical crises, some based on true events, some totally made up. So I pulled together this list for you, in case you want some “misery loves company” and “at least we have it better than they did” reading material! *Links below are Amazon affiliate links, This means that when you click the links to shop with me, you’re supporting my small business at no additional cost to you!

Year of Wonders: A Novel of the Plague

Geraldine Brooks

I read this book several years ago, and it both absolutely fascinated and disgusted me. It’s a fictional story, but it’s set in 1666, when the Black Death was very real and very rampant. The book is inspired by the true story of the English village of Eyam and its people, and I really learned a lot about what the Plague was like. I’m a little embarrassed to say I didn’t know a lot about the Plague before reading this book!

The Ghost Map

Steven Johnson

This one is all about the quest to find the source of the cholera epidemic in London during the mid-19th century. Dr. John Snow is the only person who thinks there might be something in the water, and he uses science and personal accounts to prove it when everyone else thinks he’s chasing an impossible solution. The author gets pretty political, especially toward the end, which I think is a major mistake when it comes to talking about history in the context of its own time, but I still think the book is worth mentioning here (and worth a read) because forensics is fascinating!

Pox Americana: The Great Smallpox Epidemic of 1775-1782

Elizabeth Fenn

I read this as research while I was a tour guide in Old Town Alexandria, and even though it’s non-fiction and highly medical, it absolutely kept my attention the whole way through. You’ll read all about how illnesses can be weaponized (as smallpox was by the British during the American Revolution), how inoculations were originally done, and how quickly illnesses can spread. I highly recommend it!

Fever 1793

Laurie Halse Anderson

I think this is actually a young adult book, but I liked it anyway! I picked up a copy during one of my business trips to Philadelphia several years ago, and it fascinated me. This is a fictional story about a teenage girl in the nation’s then-capital city who wants to grow her family’s business, but the mysterious fever puts all that on hold. People don’t know how it happens or where it will strike next.


Alan Brennert

You’ve undoubtedly seen me recommend this book before if you’ve read some of my other reading lists or Hawaii-related blog posts. That’s because it’s one of the best books I’ve ever read! It’s an epic novel that follows one woman from the age of five up to adulthood and her life with leprosy on the secluded Kalaupapa Peninsula on Molokai, Hawaii. It will break your heart and teach you a lot about compassion, finding joy wherever you are, and living with a taboo disease.

I learned so much about leprosy, Hawaii, and history in this book. Many of the charaters were real people, and because the disease is curable today, you can actually visit the Kalaupapa Peninsula yourself, as I was inspired to do, where a dozen residents still live, despite being cured of their dreaded disease. I cannot recommend this book enough!

More here:
How to Visit the Kalaupapa Peninsula, Molokai

As Bright as Heaven

Susan Meissner

I just finished this book over the weekend. It will tug at your heartstrings and give you a sense of understanding that this current COVID-19 situation is not actually unique, which is comforting in a way. This fictional story follows four women—a mother and three daughters—during the Spanish Flu pandemic of 1918. They live in Philadelphia, which was one of the hardest-hit cities during the pandemic. What’s interesting about this book is that the Spanish Flu is only the first half. The second half of the book picks up several years later and highlights how the Spanish Flu affected their lives long-term.

The Andromeda Strain

Michael Crichton

I have admittedly not read this book, but I felt like it deserved a place here for a bit of whimsy! It was written in 1969 and is a fictional story about an epidemic from space! Scientists warn the U.S. government that their current sterilization practices may not be enough to kill bacteria that could come to earth on space probes coming back down from outer space. Sure enough, when one does fall to earth miles away from any inhabited town, people start dying.

What are you reading in quarantine? Comment below so we can all enjoy a good book or two! And don’t forget to check out all my Reading Lists on my Shop Page if you want something a little lighter!

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Published by quickwhittravel

Welcome to the blog! We do things a little differently around here: no ads, no negativity, and no checked luggage, y'all. My name is Whitney, and Quick Whit Travel Blog is your one-stop shop for all the best travel tips, packing advice, and destination information. Click around or message me on social media @quickwhittravel for more!

3 thoughts on “Books to Read During a Pandemic

  1. Came here to write Andromeda Strain! Great book; I read it one summer in college (after my shoulder surgery)

      1. Crichton’s books were all so well researched (he was a doctor). They also were ideas that, if someone got lucky, could work! His books were incredible.

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