Pandemic Novels to Add to Your Reading List

Jentri Fule

September 05 , 2021

Pandemic Novels to Add to Your Reading List

In the past year, the pandemic confined people inside their houses--leaving a lot of us with a lot of free time to explore our interests and introspect. While others may have gone with viral Tiktok trends, food trends, and the like, avid readers probably saw this opportunity to put a sizable dent on their reading lists. Whether or not you’ve actually done some reading these past months, there’s always room for just one more pandemic novel on your shelf.

If you’re looking for your next big read, then maybe it’s time to read books that are thematic to what we’re collectively experiencing now. With COVID still keeping us inside our homes, maybe reading fictional books about pandemics will provide us with new insights and nuggets of inspirations as we cope and learn more about the new normal.

Expand your 2021 reading list and check out these interesting pandemic books:


Love In The Time of Cholera by Gabriel Garcia Marquez

Let’s start off this list with one of the classics from Nobel Prize winner, Gabriel Garcia Marquez. This book follows the story of Florentino Ariza and Fermina Daza over the years. While the two fell passionately in love, the whirlwind romance between the two came to a stop when Fermina marries a rich doctor trying to stop cholera. Despite all the trials and tribulations, Florentino continues to love Fermina from afar. This poignant love story gives you new insights on love and life amidst a pandemic--something that a lot of us might need these days.


The Plague by Albert Camus

The story in The Plague by Albert Camus starts at Oran, a coastal town in North Africa. There, a plague starts as portents that gradually becomes an ever present reality. Much like the COVID pandemic, the plague in Albert Camus’ novel brings a sense of misery, terror, and a questioning of compassion.

Camus’ novel lets us see what is happening today from a more detached perspective--but it also gives a sense of familiarity to the readers as we recognize these feelings. This deep and solemn read is one of the best pandemic books out there that gives us a moral and philosophical insight on the ongoing pandemic.


The Beginning At The End by Mike Chen

Everybody wants this pandemic to end. After all, we all want to get out and experience the outside world once more. Mike Chen’s book is set during a post-pandemic San Francisco. Quite similar to the current COVID pandemic, the pandemic in this novel set society back and took countless lives. The story follows a group of survivors traversing life after the pandemic and trying to prevent another outbreak.


The Great Believers by Rebecca Makkai

The COVID pandemic has changed a lot of lives, but years ago, the world experienced something quite similar with the AIDS epidemic. Rebecca Makkai’s novel weaves a story that spans over years and two continents. While not exactly set in a pandemic, the novel tells the story of a group of friends who lived through the 1980 AIDS epidemic and how it affects the lives of survivors today. It’s a wonderfully colorful, realistic, and vivid story that makes it worthy of being added to your collection of pandemic books.


The Stand by Stephen King

Let’s add a little horror to your choices for a new pandemic read. The King of Horror, Stephen King, gives us this thrilling read. Set in a post-apocalyptic United States of America, this novel focuses on the aftermath of an accidental release of a weaponized strain of influenza. Stephen King’s pandemic novel is both horrific and symbolic, not one to shy away from discussing the deeper things in the context of horror.


Blindness by Jose Saramago

Nobel prize winner Jose Saramago writes a compelling story about a sudden pandemic that causes people to go blind. This pandemic novel looks at how authorities handle the crisis: in a strict, heavy handed, authoritarian manner that does not leave society with feelings of disorientation and hopelessness. If you’re looking for a pandemic novel that looks at politics, morality, and the effects of authoritarianism on the collective response from society, then you’ve got a page-turner on your hands.

Jose Saramago follows up this novel with his 2004 release entitled Seeing which traverses through same themes.


Severance by Ling Ma

A pandemic doesn’t mean that you forget about the funny things in life. That also translates to the kinds of books you read, whether they’re pandemic books or not!

In this funny, irreverent novel, Ling Ma takes readers through the life of Candace Chen. Set in living life on a routine, Candace fails to notice the onset of a widespread plague that fills New York City. It’s only when her entire world stops and big changes come to her that she finally realizes that things aren’t the same.

Filled with millennial-type of humor, Ling Ma’s character-driven story gives readers a breath of fresh air and something lighthearted to read during days that feel a little too much.


World War Z: An Oral History of the Zombie War by Max Brooks

This recommendation is more of a joke than anything, but with all the jokes about the pandemic being the start of the zombie apocalypse, reading Max Brooks’ work is a funny way to milk the joke. This gritty account of a post-apocalyptic world features wonderful characters, logical storytelling, and well-timed horror that is sure to keep readers hooked.


How to Survive A Plague: The Inside Story of How Citizens and Science Tamed AIDS by David France

Sometimes, when all hope is lost, we just need to be reminded that there are things that can and will help us along the way.

This non-fictional account of a grassroots movement that powered through the AIDS pandemic is proof that there will be brighter times for us. This insider account explores how activists seized upon scientific research to aid the development of  drugs for HIV. It is thanks to them that HIV has turned from a deadly disease into a manageable condition.

Witness how politics, civil rights, and collective action can help through a pandemic and take notes for the next time you feel hopeless about the future.


Expand your Pandemic Books Library!

While we’re still mostly stuck inside our homes because of the pandemic, that doesn’t mean we can’t do anything else. After all, the quarantine gave us time to learn and be introspective. Reading can be a great way to take your mind off things--or it can be an excellent way to find a new perspective about this pandemic.


Expand your pandemic reading list and buy books online here in the Philippines