Which books should you read while self-isolating from coronavirus?

Books can be life-changing. They can be a form of escapism that give a unique perspective into lives, times, places and ideas we will never experience ourselves. Or, a way of learning new ways of thinking, being and approaching the world. With all this time now spare, what are the key texts we should be reading?

The classics

Middlemarch seemed too long when time was scarce. Amazing how quarantine changes perspective.

A Journal of the Plague Year

They say fashion comes in cycles. The fresh relevance of Daniel Defoe's classic requires no explanation.

War and Peace

Since it has 587,287 words, you may never again have the time to read Tolstoy's classic novel about high society in early 19th century Russia.

Great Expectations

This Victorian page-turner will make you laugh and weep. In classic Dickens' style, the novel is full of the curious and the grotesque, with plot twists that will make you shudder. It is the perfect book to get lost in during a pandemic.


Alone? Self-acceptance has never felt more important.

The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People

Since 1989, this classic text has endured because its advice is so impactful. Steven Covey tells his readers how to follow so-called 'true North' principles to maximize their productivity.

The Power of Now

Eckhart Toll's guide to living in the moment shares many characteristics with practising mindfulness - or shedding anxieties to embrace the present.


Numerous scientific studies have shown the secret to success lies in grit, or tenacity. Angela Duckworth shares her research and how readers can use it to maximise their potential.

"Lifespan: Why We Age – And Why We Don’t Have To" by David A. Sinclair and Matthew D. LaPlante

Harvard researcher David Sinclair explores reverse aging. If we investigate the untapped powers of our own vitality genes, we’ll likely find both the answer and a more fulfilling life.

Science Fiction

Feels like we're living in it. Might as well read it.


Big Brother is watching. Since French citizens are under virtual house arrest, and elderly people face prolonged isolation, was there ever a more apt time to dive into George Orwell's classic novel?

The Andromeda Strain

The story follows scientists trying to end a pandemic caused by an alien microorganism, which hits close to home.


Jose Saramago creates a chilling alternate reality, where blindness is contagious, and society becomes susceptible to collapse in the face of fear and brutality.

"Under The Dome" provides an escape from reality

Under the Dome is a sci-fi nightmare, exploring how frightening things can quickly become when people are suddenly isolated from the rest of the world and exposed to severe stress.

Short stories

A story a day keeps the doctor away.

This Is How You Lose Her

Junot Diaz's masterpiece is a beautifully written reminder of the difficult, addictive and enduring nature of romantic love.

The Thing Around Your Neck

Chimamanda Ngozi Adiche is best known for her illuminating novels on women, marriage, politics, and race. But her short stories are also powerful. In this collection, she examines the nuances of human relationships and how they fall apart.

First Love, Last Rites

Ian McEwan's short stories dive into subversive narratives, looking at incest, sex, and murder. During this stressful time, the collection's dark subject matter provides readers with ideal escapism.


How did the people you admire deal with times of crisis?

The Story of My Experiments with Truth

Gandhi's autobiography highlights the fraught political and social landscape of the struggle for India's independence. It also discusses the personal philosophies of this extraordinary figure.

I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings

Maya Angelou's memoir is a poignant account of life as a poor, black teenager in racist America.

The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks

Lacks' incredible story is almost the stuff of movies. This poor, Southern tobacco farmer's cells were extracted without her knowledge. Those cells went on to become one of the most vital resources in scientific research even to this day.

Current events & politics

Books about the current political climate and/ administration.

You should read "The Captain & the Glory" by Dave Eggers

An absurd voyage that follows the election of “the man with the yellow feather in his hair” and the tomfoolery that follows as he rubbishes existing order to establish one that suits him. "The Captain & the Glory" is a must-read satirical take on the Trump Administration.
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This page was last edited on Wednesday, 18 Mar 2020 at 14:33 UTC