Recommended reading for a pandemic

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Story By Bridget Gibley, Culture Editor
Photo courtesy of

With the end of the semester coming up and the governor’s stay-at-home order extended through at least May 15, I’m sensing a lot of time for pleasure reading in my future. I’m about to graduate with an English literature degree, so I’ve read a lot of books over the past four years, but this pandemic calls for something a little different from the usual rotations of classics. Here are some recommendations for all your quarantine moods.

If you want to read about a fictional pandemic, I cannot recommend Station Eleven by Emily St. John Mandel enough. It’s a dystopia of sorts, as a flu has swept the world and devastated the population. The book takes place in what’s left of society after the pandemic, mainly following a traveling theater troupe. It will make you scared of the state of the world but confident in the power of the arts. 

If you’d like to get as far away from the topic of pandemics as possible (and who could blame you?), try The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo by Taylor Jenkins Reid. This novel tells the story of (fictional) legendary film actress Evelyn Hugo and the journalist who gets an exclusive interview with Evelyn. Her story, spanning decades and seven marriages, will captivate you and make you forget the stay-at-home order. 

Looking for something funny? I’m currently reading Samantha Irby’s Wow, No Thank You. Irby is a blogger and author who writes about her life–the good and the bad, the picture-perfect and the messy. Her work never fails to make me laugh out loud, and I’m finding it a much-needed cure for these times. 

Just want to read about people doing everyday things and seeing friends and traveling? I recently really enjoyed Rules for Visiting by Jessica Francis Kane. This novel is about a woman who decides to visit four once close friends one-by-one, to reconnect. It’s gentle and bittersweet and all about taking the time to let people know you care– and while traveling to see my friends seems to be off the table for a while, it did inspire some letter writing. 

If you’re more of a non-fiction fan, try Invisible Women: Data Bias in a World Designed for Men by Caroline Criado Perez. It’s an interesting look at how seeing the male body and experience as the default is hurting women. It’s full of statistics and explanations of the gender data gap, and I would recommend it to anyone who wants to know more about data bias. 

Although the libraries are closed, I’ve been catching up on all the books that I own and haven’t read yet– and after that, I’ll be visiting the bookshelves in my family’s rooms. So until this pandemic is over, practicing a little escapism and curling up with a good book might just be the recommended cure.


Bridget Gibley is a senior at Aquinas studying English, Spanish and Women’s Studies. She thrives on reading, writing, and lots of coffee.

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