The best books about everyday life during the COVID-19 pandemic

Who am I?

I am a sociologist with a longstanding interest in the social aspects of medicine and public health. I started with research on HIV/AIDS. Since then, I have written many books and conducted a multitude of studies on how people understand and experience health and illness and how they seek help when they are sick or feel at risk from disease. When COVID-19 hit the world in early 2020, it was not long before I started to think about what my research training and expertise could offer to understanding the social impacts of this new pandemic. I started to write about COVID and research on people’s everyday experiences.


I wrote...

COVID Societies: Theorising the Coronavirus Crisis

By Deborah Lupton,

Book cover of COVID Societies: Theorising the Coronavirus Crisis

What is my book about?

COVID Societies presents a compelling and accessible overview of key sociocultural theories that can help us make sense of the diverse, dynamic and complex elements of the COVID crisis. Throughout the book, a series of intertwined threads cross back and forth between the macropolitical and micropolitical dimensions of COVID-19: contagion, death, risk, uncertainty, fear, social inequalities, stigma, blame and power relations. Overarching these threads are five complementary themes: the historicity of COVID societies; the tension between local specificities and globalising forces; the control and management of human bodies; the boundary between Self and Other; and the continuously changing sociomaterial environments in which the world is living with and through the shocks of the COVID crisis.

The books I picked & why

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The Fell: A Novel

By Sarah Moss,

Book cover of The Fell: A Novel

Why this book?

One of the first novels set in COVID times, The Fell, by British author Sarah Moss, is presented from the perspective of four neighbours living in an English village over the timespan of a single night in the winter of 2020. The narrative charts their experiences and reflections on life as they struggle with boredom, loss of employment, having to work and learn from home, and feelings of isolation and claustrophobia. One of the characters simply can’t take it anymore and leaves her home during a period of mandated quarantine. These people care about and watch over each other as best they can, but the feelings of being under surveillance are strong. A dark but compelling read, masterfully written.

The Fell: A Novel

By Sarah Moss,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked The Fell as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

“A slim, tense page-turner . . . I gulped The Fell down in one sitting.”
—Emma Donoghue, author of The Pull of the Stars

From the award-winning author of Ghost Wall and Summerwater, Sarah Moss's The Fell is a riveting novel of mutual responsibility, personal freedom, and the ever-nearness of disaster.

At dusk on a November evening, a woman slips through her garden gate and turns up the hill. Kate is in the middle of a two-week mandatory quarantine period, a true lockdown, but she can’t take it anymore—the closeness of the air in her small house, the confinement. And…


Creative Resilience and COVID-19: Figuring the Everyday in a Pandemic

By Irene Gammel (editor), Jason Wang (editor),

Book cover of Creative Resilience and COVID-19: Figuring the Everyday in a Pandemic

Why this book?

This edited volume, by academics Irene Gammel and Jason Wang from Ryerson University, Canada, includes contributions from authors living across the world. The chapters focus on how the arts and culture can both express and document people’s thoughts, practices, and feelings about living through the COVID pandemic. There are discussions on the role of drawing, graphic fiction, cinema, diary writing, urban space, music, streaming services, film, and video conferencing platforms in helping people cope with COVID life. Reading the book provides insights into the different social, cultural, and geographical contexts in which the pandemic has been experienced and how people adjusted to the often very stressful conditions of lockdown, restrictions on movements, fear about their health and grief.

Creative Resilience and COVID-19: Figuring the Everyday in a Pandemic

By Irene Gammel (editor), Jason Wang (editor),

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Creative Resilience and COVID-19 as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Creative Resilience and COVID-19 examines arts, culture, and everyday life as a way of navigating through and past COVID-19. Drawing together the voices of international experts and emerging scholars, this volume explores themes of creativity and resilience in relation to the crisis, trauma, cultural alterity, and social change wrought by the pandemic.

The cultural, social, and political concerns that have arisen due to COVID-19 are inextricably intertwined with the ways the pandemic has been discussed, represented, and visualized in global media. The essays included in this volume are concerned with how artists, writers, and advocates uncover the hope, plasticity, and…


Life Without Children: Stories

By Roddy Doyle,

Book cover of Life Without Children: Stories

Why this book?

Life Without Children is a collection of ten short stories by Irish author Roddy Doyle. Nearly all the stories are set in Dublin and feature characters who are middle-aged or older men who are struggling to find a sense of purpose in their lives while confined to their homes during lockdowns. Some men lash out in anger at their partners. Others make the best of things, finding moments of intimacy and connection and forging stronger relationships with their adult children and wives. One of the few stories to be written from the perspective of a woman features a nurse who is shattered by the deaths from COVID of her patients. The stories in this collection are often bleak, but there are many poignant and even droll moments.

Life Without Children: Stories

By Roddy Doyle,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Life Without Children as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

"[Doyle] imparts a sense of poignancy and glimpses of happiness, of grief and loss and small moments of connection . . . you're left feeling close to dazzled." -Daphne Merkin, New York Times Book Review

A brilliantly warm and witty portrait of our pandemic lives, told in ten heartrending short stories, from the Booker Prize-winning author of Paddy Clarke Ha Ha Ha

Love and marriage. Children and family. Death and grief. Life touches everyone the same. But living under lockdown, it changes us alone.

In these ten beautifully moving short stories written mostly over the last year, Booker Prize winner…


Covid Chronicles: A Comics Anthology

By Kendra Boileau (editor), Rich Johnson (editor),

Book cover of Covid Chronicles: A Comics Anthology

Why this book?

The COVID Chronicles is an anthology of graphic fiction about COVID life. The dozens of contributors are mostly based in the US but also come from Australia, Canada, the UK, Europe, and Asia. There are a dizzying array of art styles and tones across the collection, from humorous to darkly grim. Together, all the graphic narratives reveal the ups and downs of pandemic life in the early months of COVID: from dealing with loneliness, unemployment, illness, and death, transitioning to working from home, racism, and the Black Lives Matter protests to seeking opportunities to show love, care, connection, and hope.

Covid Chronicles: A Comics Anthology

By Kendra Boileau (editor), Rich Johnson (editor),

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Covid Chronicles as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

In 2020, the COVID-19 pandemic brought the world to its knees. When we weren't sheltering in place, we were advised to wear masks, wash our hands, and practice social distancing. We watched in horror as medical personnel worked around the clock to care for the sick and dying. Businesses were shuttered, travel stopped, workers were furloughed, and markets dropped. And people continued to die.

Amid all this uncertainty, writers and artists from around the world continued to create comics, commenting directly on how individuals, societies, governments, and markets reacted to the worldwide crisis. COVID Chronicles: A Comics Anthology collects more…


The Year That Changed Our World: A Photographic History of the Covid-19 Pandemic

By Agence France Presse,

Book cover of The Year That Changed Our World: A Photographic History of the Covid-19 Pandemic

Why this book?

This book presents hundreds of photographs taken by Agence France Presse around the world in the first 18 months of the COVID pandemic. The images span the full range from the mundane (people exercising at home) to the bizarre (weird home-made face masks) to those that are frightening and tragic (mass coffins and graves). Over 150 countries are represented in these images, which are arranged chronologically, thereby presenting a visual global timeline of the major events occurring during this crucial early period of the continuing pandemic, when this disease was still a mysterious threat. This book helps us to remember the feelings of urgency, confusion, panic, and fear that were part of this period, as people came to terms with the upheavals wrought by the pandemic.

The Year That Changed Our World: A Photographic History of the Covid-19 Pandemic

By Agence France Presse,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked The Year That Changed Our World as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

The Year That Changed Our World is the definitive, visual history of the Covid-19 Pandemic. With more than 400 photographs, this ambitious publication traces the arc of the Pandemic from China in early 2020 through to the vaccine breakthroughs of Spring 2021.

Behind the relentless nature of the daily news since the events on Wuhan in early 2020 first broke, and the sense of fear and trepidation that the rapidly developing events provoked, what have we seen of the real stories of the world during the Pandemic? What can be told of how we lived through the pandemic and of…


5 book lists we think you will like!

Interested in fine art photography, creativity, and Black Lives Matter?

7,000+ authors have recommended their favorite books and what they love about them. Browse their picks for the best books about fine art photography, creativity, and Black Lives Matter.

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And, 3 books we think you will enjoy!

We think you will like Annie Leibovitz, On Photography, and How Photography Became Contemporary Art if you like this list.