The best books about quarantines

2 authors have picked their favorite books about quarantines and why they recommend each book.

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Until Proven Safe

By Geoff Manaugh, Nicola Twilley,

Book cover of Until Proven Safe: The History and Future of Quarantine

I found this a fascinating account of the origins and history of quarantine, stretching from medieval times right up to the Covid-19 pandemic, the authors take us on a tour of the many different forms that quarantine has taken in different parts of the world. Quarantine is about finding out what may be hidden within the body but this book reveals much about the different cultural and historical settings where quarantine has been employed. The book helped me understand why the responses to Covid-19 were so diverse in spite of the fact that governments were dealing with the same illness.

Who am I?

I founded Critical Metaphor Analysis, an approach that has become well known in English language studies. My books Corpus Approaches to Critical Metaphor Analysis, Politicians and Rhetoric: The persuasive power of metaphor, and Analysing Political Speeches have over 5,000 citations. I am also ranked first on Google Scholar on political rhetoric. I have always tried (though not always successfully) to write in an accessible style to reach out to audiences beyond academia. As well as lecturing, I assist in the training of Westminster speechwriters. I love languages and speak French, Spanish, Moroccan Arabic, and Malay with varying degrees of incompetence; I have rediscovered the pleasure of watercolour painting.

I wrote...

Metaphors of Coronavirus: Invisible Enemy or Zombie Apocalypse?

By Jonathan Charteris-Black,

Book cover of Metaphors of Coronavirus: Invisible Enemy or Zombie Apocalypse?

What is my book about?

This book explores the metaphors used by the media and by politicians during the Covid-19 era to understand how language shapes our moral reasoning and the role of language in policy formation and communication during a period of crisis. It analyses metaphors, metonyms, allegories, and symbols to gain insight into the moral basis for the decisions that people made during the pandemic. It draws on cognitive linguistics, history, social psychology, and literature for a multi-layered interpretation of the language of the pandemic and its social and political consequences. 

Outside, Inside

By LeUyen Pham,

Book cover of Outside, Inside

“When we couldn’t go to Grandma and Grandpa’s house, were they playing without me?”

It’s hard for me to put the last two years into context for my son. I was a little detached. I was busy thinking about the future, a “someday soon” when we could be around people, go to the movies, go to school, hug our friends…I feel like I missed nearly half of his life! This book is a reminder of what we’ve experienced, how we’ve changed, and how we got to the place we are now.

Who am I?

I’d been a preschool teacher and a children’s author for years before I decided to become a mom. I was pretty sure I’d kill it at motherhood, I mean, I knew all the songs and I had lots of books. I was always up for giving advice to the caregivers at my school, heck, I was the perfect parent before my son was born. I knew everything then. Not anymore. Thank goodness for books. Over the years, my child has asked some tough questions, read on…you’ll see. Do they sound familiar? If so, these books might help you find your footing as you go looking for answers. 

I wrote...

Stacey Abrams: Lift Every Voice

By Sarah Warren, Monica Mikai (illustrator),

Book cover of Stacey Abrams: Lift Every Voice

What is my book about?

Stacey Abrams: Lift Every Voice follows Stacey's life from her girlhood to the present, but it also portrays the ordinary people that Stacey fights for—the beautiful and diverse America that shows up to stand with one another. Backmatter includes a timeline of changes in US voting-rights law from the Constitution through the present day, demonstrating both how far the country has come and how far we have to go. With its spirited text and vivid illustrations, Stacey Abrams: Lift Every Voice will inspire readers to take their own steps forward.

Wilder Girls

By Rory Power,

Book cover of Wilder Girls

In Wilder Girls, a bizarre, unprecedented plague called the Tox has infested an island home to an all-girls boarding school. The Tox causes those it infects to mutate in gruesome ways—growing gills, claws, an extra spine, et cetera. The schoolgirls and remaining sparse crew of staff members have developed a system of survival, but when one girl goes missing and her friend determines to find her, everything is thrown into chaos.

This book will grip you hard from the first sentence, sink its teeth into you, shake you around, then have you gasping for air on the floor by the time you hit the last page. Seriously, this is an insane, intense ride, perfect for any fan of weird fiction and body horror. (That’s me.)

Who am I?

I’ve loved stories with a horror/thriller focus ever since I can remember. Yes, I was that creepy kid who read all of Goosebumps, as well as checked out a copy of Dracula from the library at the tender age of eleven, much to the chagrin of the elderly librarian. My own books are multi-genre, but tend to include a thriller or horror element—it’s such fun to write a page-turner that ends with a bang. I truly hope you enjoy these picks as much as I did. They are some of my very favorites!

I wrote...


By Katie Jane Gallagher,

Book cover of Specter

What is my book about?

Horror aficionado Lanie Adams should be thrilled when two eighties-era ghosts materialize in her bedroom. Yet after a fainting incident unbecoming of a horror nerd, she would rather her haunting just go away—the ghosts’ distorted, waterlogged voices and ice-cold auras are more terrifying than any movie. Enlisting the help of Ryan, an entirely-too-cute stoner, she makes it her mission to put the spirits stalking her to rest.

Some sleuthing reveals that their sleepy Connecticut town is host to a shadowy, decades-old conspiracy. If Lanie wants to say a final goodbye to her ghosts, she’ll need to keep digging. But it’s important to tread carefully. The culprit is still in town—and they’ll stop at nothing to keep the truth buried.


By Jim Crace,

Book cover of Quarantine

Written long before quarantines became so fashionable, Jesus in Jim Crace’s novel is an almost peripheral player, because set during Christ’s forty days in the wilderness six other people share in the inhospitable desert caves, miracles, and hallucinations. Each character has their own troubles and trials; their own battles with demons to resolve; which they hope isolation and fasting will accomplish. And for each, in ingenious ways, it does… I am a big fan of Crace’s style, rhythm, and invention, and this is one of his finest works.

Who am I?

I’m the author of five extremely different novels: Boy A (which was made into an award-winning film), Cham, Genus, The Tongues of Men or Angels, and Under Country. They share almost nothing in subject or setting. Ranging from first-century Judaea to a future London. From ski resort workers in France to young offender prisons in Britain. My latest work - Under Country - is about the 1984 Miners’ Strike and its still lingering scars in the North East pit villages. Yet, I suppose, if there were a unifying theme between them, it would be that each, in its own way, is influenced by and fascinated with Christianity.

I wrote...

The Tongues of Men or Angels

By Jonathan Trigell,

Book cover of The Tongues of Men or Angels

What is my book about?

The Tongues of Men or Angels was my first ever hardback and the hardest book I’ve ever written. The research alone almost killed me, quite literally a couple of times in the Middle East. But in some ways, it is the novel that I’m most proud of, because it is my own committed ‘truth’ about the birth of a religion. The Mail on Sunday put it better than I could:

“This daring novel tells the story of Jesus and his followers in the years leading up to and following the Crucifixion. Trigell's interpretation of the origins of Christianity, particularly the factional struggle between the disciple Cephas (Peter) and the convert Saul (Paul), will spark controversy, but there's no denying the raw power of the writing.”


By James Derry,

Book cover of Idyll

This is one of the very few books that made me yelp out loud in surprise when the twist happened, and I will forever recommend it because of how unique it was. The feel is reflective of The Road with the main part of the story showing a pained journey through a dangerous landscape. It also feels post-apocalyptic as these survivors struggle to cross the abandoned world that’s been overtaken by nature. The author wrote in a unique language that makes Idyll feel otherworldly but familiar too. All this blends together for really great world-building. I don’t want to give anything away, but there is a definite twist where the whole story flips into something different. You go from feeling like this is a Western to suddenly — Oh, yep, there’s the sci-fi!  

Who am I?

I’ve been pulled to rich, deep, complex fiction all my life. And I started building my own world when I was nine, adding to The Kota Series over two decades. Even while getting an English Literature degree, I was bored by simple worlds, characters, and stories and always found myself more interested in unique books and fresh reads. Really, the weirder the world, the better! That’s what I’ve continued to look for as a reader, and I’ve been lucky to encounter new authors that a lot of people might not have heard about yet. I’ve found some real world-building gems, like these I’ve discussed. I hope to find many more!

I wrote...

The Kota: Book 1

By Sunshine Somerville,

Book cover of The Kota: Book 1

What is my book about?

Mankind is stricken. Brought to its knees by a devastating virus, the world is further crushed by the Dominion tyranny. Humanity struggles to survive this apocalyptic nightmare, and there’s only one hope – the ancient promise of an annihilated people.  

The Kota is a science fantasy epic that begins the story of the prophesied Kota Warriors as they fight to save mankind. No hero is perfect, and no journey goes as expected. For the Kota Warriors, this means discovering who they are as well as how they can possibly defeat their enemy. Jump into this dystopian story and enjoy the twists and turns along the way!


By Sherri L. Smith,

Book cover of Orleans

In the wake of super-hurricanes and the deadly pandemic that follows, New Orleans has been quarantined from the rest of the United States, and those who seek to cross the border wall are killed. Narrator Fen, a member of the clan-based culture that has developed behind the wall, tells the story of her people and her personal quest for freedom in a dialect voice that is both beautifully rendered and brutally honest.

Who am I?

When I was eight years old, I read a book titled Dar Tellum: Stranger from a Distant Planet, by James R. Berry. It told the story of a boy who communicates with an alien intelligence to save the Earth from… global warming. That was in 1973, and it was the first time I’d heard about “the greenhouse effect”. Some things haven’t changed since then: I still read (and write) sci-fi, and I still have Dar Tellum on my bookshelf. But our climate is changing, and I’ve chosen four books of science fiction and one of science facts that help us think about the future—and present—of our planet.

I wrote...


By Joshua David Bellin,

Book cover of Ecosystem

What is my book about?

In Earth’s distant future, Nature has mutated into the Ecosystem, a planet-wide sentience that has driven humankind to the brink of extinction. While survivors seek shelter in small villages of stone, those known as Sensors—people gifted with the psychic ability to read the Ecosystem’s mind—travel in the wild to gather food, water, and fuel for their communities.

At seventeen, Sarah is the youngest Sensor in her village. She doesn’t fear the Ecosystem, but she hates it for killing her mother when Sarah was a child. Her hunt for revenge leads her into the Ecosystem’s deadliest places, where she discovers secrets that threaten to tear her—and her society—apart.

Rez Dogs

By Joseph Bruchac,

Book cover of Rez Dogs

Okay. I’m not always down on super heavy books. But this is a beautiful book, and the dog lives. Let’s focus on that. Told in verse, this book about a Native American girl staying with her grandparents during the pandemic dips into some difficult history and current event topics, but Bruchac’s faith in the power of stories and community makes it a compelling and memorable read.

Who am I?

I write middle-grade fiction. I write funny thoughtful books where diverse characters, including those with disabilities, are featured prominently. My books often include dogs, and I promise you this right now, the dogs will always live!

I wrote...

We Could Be Heroes

By Margaret Finnegan,

Book cover of We Could Be Heroes

What is my book about?

We Could Be Heroes is about Hank Hudson, who finds himself in trouble after an incident involving the boy’s bathroom and a terribly sad book his teacher is forcing them to read. That trouble catches the attention of new girl Maisie Huang. Maisie has been on the lookout for a kid to help her with a very important mission: Saving her neighbor’s dog, Booler. Booler has seizures, and his owner, Mr. Jorgensen, keeps him tied to a tree all day and night because of them.

It’s enough to make Hank even sadder than that book does—he has autism, and he knows what it’s like to be treated poorly because of something that makes you different. But different is not less. And Hank is willing to get into more trouble to prove it.

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