A Pandemic Reading List: 16 Nonfiction Books

16 nonfiction books about the Covid-19 pandemic
Between autumn 2020 and spring 2021, lots of COVID-themed books started to appear on bookstore and library shelves in the UK, where I live. It felt like nonfiction was quicker to respond to the pandemic than fiction. Some of my favorites were too niche for US publication because they focus on the UK’s National Health Service (Intensive Care by Gavin Francis, a Scottish GP) or England’s lockdown spring (The Consolation of Nature by Michael McCarthy, Jeremy Mynott, and Peter Marren). It soon became a low-key obsession of mine to read whatever I could about COVID.

I’ve especially valued insider looks by medical professionals. Every Minute Is a Day by Robert Meyer, MD and Dan Koeppel is a blow-by-blow account of the first six months of the pandemic by an ER doctor at the Bronx’s Montefiore Medical Center. The statistics are stark: Of 6,000 COVID-19 patients admitted between March and September 2020, nearly 1,000 died. The situation changed daily as doctors recognized new symptoms and tested treatments.


Kalani Pickhart Interview: Debut Author Talks Ukraine

Kalani Pickhart, I Will Die in a Foreign LandKalani Pickhart's debut novel I Will Die in a Foreign Land follows four central characters through the tumultuous days of Ukraine's Euromaidan protests that took place between November 2013 and February 2014. The protests are so named because they were centered on Kyiv's Maidan Nezalezhnosti (Independence Square) and were triggered by then President Viktor Yanukovych's refusal to sign an agreement with the European Union that had been overwhelmingly approved by Ukraine's parliament. The protesters also opposed the overt and widespread corruption of Yanukovych and his ministers. As a result of the protests, an agreement was signed in late February 2014 by Yanukovych that called for the creation of an interim government, constitutional reforms and early elections. Shortly after, Yanukovych and his ministers fled to Russia, and Russia annexed Crimea and the Donbas region.


Sally Rooney's Dublin

In anticipation of the publication of Sally Rooney's Beautiful World, Where Are You September 7, we invite you to take a tour of Dublin from a literary perspective with our "beyond the book" article:

Bloomsday performers outside Davy Byrnes pubThe backdrop of Sally Rooney's Beautiful World, Where Are You is the city of Dublin and its environs. Rooney herself lives in this UNESCO City of Literature, a metropolis that boasts a flourishing literary scene and an impressive inventory of influential authors, poets and playwrights. The streets of the vibrant capital are infused with the presence of its bookish greats, with landmarks never more than a few minutes away.


Authors Who Switched Languages

Jhumpa Lahiri wrote her novel Whereabouts in Italian, a language she learned in adulthood, and later translated it into English. Many authors have at some time made the decision to become exophonic (to write in a language other than one's native tongue), whether for personal, artistic, practical or political reasons.

The author who is possibly best known for doing this is Irish writer Samuel Beckett, who famously adopted French in order to write "sans style" (without style). While he eventually returned to English, some of his most famous works were originally composed in French, including the play En attendant Godot (Waiting for Godot) and the trilogy of novels beginning with Molloy.


Literary Sequels

2019 was a year of literary sequels: bestselling authors expanding on fictional worlds they created, in some cases decades after the original book was published. Find Me by André Aciman is one such example, published 12 years after Call Me By Your Name. But it's hardly a new phenomenon—here are some of the most noteworthy literary sequels to have hit the shelves, often to the surprise and delight of readers everywhere.


The Importance of Diverse Fantasy Spaces in Books

"Children have a right to books that reflect their own images and books that open less familiar worlds to them…for those children who had historically been ignored – or worse, ridiculed – in children's books, seeing themselves portrayed visually and textually as realistically human was essential to letting them know that they are valued in the social context in which they are growing up…At the same time, the children whose images were reflected in most American children's literature were being deprived of books as windows into the realities of the multicultural world in which they are living, and were in danger of developing a false sense of their own importance in the world."

- Rudine Sims Bishop, from, "Reflections on the development of African American Children's Literature," Journal of Children's Literature, Vol. 38, Iss. 2 (Fall 2012): 5-13.


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