Quarantine Reading List: 5 Topical Books To Read During Your Self-Isolation

As the risks associated with the COVID-19 pandemic continue to grow, most people have accepted that they’re going to have to spend the next few weeks in relative isolation to mitigate the spread of the virus.

In anticipation of this period of isolation, citizens have stocked up on food, medicine, water, alcohol—and in some cases, enough toilet paper to wrap the entire planet like a birthday present. Of course, the best stocked pantry in the world won’t do much to combat the biggest risk of isolation: boredom.

For that, we’ll need to turn to things like Netflix, exercise, home projects, and of course, books!

Without any further ado, here are a few books you might enjoy during the days of isolation to come. Spoiler alert: All of these books either have something to do with disease or isolation.

Enjoy!

Deadliest Enemy by Michael Osterholm
Why not read something that helps you better understand how viruses like COVID-19 spread? Deadliest Enemy by Michael Osterholm is just that.

In this book, Osterholm, a world-renowned epidemiologist, shares some of his stories from decades researching infectious diseases all over the world. If you’re not a big reader but are interested in hearing Osterholm’s thoughts on COVID-19, he recently made a very informative appearance on The Joe Rogan Experience.

The Martian by Andy Weir
If you start to feel cooped up in your home, just imagine how it’d feel to be all alone on a hostile planet 236.94 million km from earth. That’s the plot of The Martian in a nutshell.

The book, which was initially self-published by Andy Weir in 2011, became immensely popular and was ultimately turned into a blockbuster movie starring Matt Damon. Meaning you can still enjoy the story even if reading’s not your thing.

Room by Emma Donoghue
If your apartment starts to feel extra small, cracking open Room by Irish-Canadian novelist Emma Donoghue will help put things in perspective.

This 2010 novel is written from the perspective of a five-year-old boy who is being held captive in a small room with his mother. Like The Martian, this book also got a big-screen adaptation, which starred Brie Larson and Jacob Tremblay and was nominated for four academy awards.

The Plague by Albert Camus
The Plague by Albert Camus is about, well, a plague—and the resulting quarantines.

Originally published in French in 1947, this is arguably Camus’ best known work. It’s set in the French-Algerian town of Oran, and is believed to be loosely based on the Cholera epidemic. It provides an incredible window into life in quarantine and isolation during a deadly plague, and will most likely make the weeks ahead look like a picnic in contrast.

The Hot Zone by Richard Preston
If nonfiction is more your speed, try The Hot Zone by Richard Preston, a 1994 novel that delves into the threats of Ebola virus and Marburg virus — both highly contagious diseases.

It’s a bit of a stressful read at this juncture of human history, but it’ll help you understand how viruses spread, the damage they can cause, and how they can ultimately be stopped. Inform yourself!

Tom Taylor

Tom Taylor

Tom Taylor is a globetrotting writer currently based in Ottawa, Canada. He covers mixed martial arts for Fightland and Vice Sports, and freelances for a number of other publications. Follow him on Twitter @TomTayMMA.

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