Much of the world is locked down as a result of the COVID-19 epidemic, and normal routines have been dramatically changed. I’m finding it hard to concentrate on things I usually love, which include watching films (preferably at the cinema) and reading voraciously.

Here are a few thematic ideas for books and films that might give some kind of insight into how to cope during a global pandemic.


  1. José Eduardo Agualusa, A General Theory of Oblivion (Angola): a fictional account of a woman who, on the eve of Angolan independence, bricks herself into her apartment in Luanda and survives there alone for decades.
  2. José Saramago, Blindness (Portugal): if you think your own country is mismanaging the current pandemic, then take comfort in the fact that they’re not doing as bad a job as the authorities in this book.
  3. Marlen Haushofen, The Wall (Austria): a woman finds herself cut off from the rest of mankind after she discovers that a mysterious wall has cut her off from the rest of humanity, including her own children, who are all presumed dead. See, it could be worse.
  4. Anne Frank, The Diary of a Young Girl (Netherlands): world-famous testament to an incredibly talented writer and to the suffering and endurance of her and her family, who were forced to take refuge in a secret annex in Amsterdam under constant fear of discovery during the Second World War.
  5. Ling Ma, Severance (China/USA): a satirical, fictional look at the world from the first perspective of a first generation millennial negotiating life in the USA after humanity has been brought low by a global pandemic.
  6. Margaret Atwood, The Testaments (Canada): another kind of dystopia, but at least its different enough from the one that we’re currently inhabiting.
  7. Emily St John Mandel, Station Eleven (USA): unexpectedly uplifting view of society after a pandemic, and an appreciation of the power of culture to save humanity.
  8. Tété-Michel Kpomassie, An African in Greenland (Togo): an account of an incredible journey by an incredible man. A work of non-fiction travelogue and memoir to inspire your own imaginary or real post-epidemic global adventures.


  1. Parasite by Bong Joon-Ho (South Korea): contains essential advice on how to lie low in the basement of someone else’s luxury home for an extended period of time, for free.
  2. Monos by Alejandro Landes (Colombia): beautiful if brutal setting and a nice reminder that at least you’ve not been taken hostage by a brutal teenage guerrilla group.

Join the Conversation


    1. Thanks for reading, and that’s a great review. I’m rereading the book at the moment. I don’t think my survival skills would be anywhere near as good hers, but I love her discovery of practical skills she didn’t know she had, her connections with her animals, and her hatred of hunting. I had read a few lists in the media of pandemic/lockdown reads, and this book was on none of them, so it has obviously dropped off the radar a lot since the author’s death.


  1. Great recommendations and reminding me I really need to read An African in Greenland. Let’s get through some of this TBR pile first though. Unlike so many people, I have MORE work at the moment and have always worked at home since I’ve been self-employed, so no extra time. Wah!

    Liked by 1 person

      1. I’m with you on the more work, I’ve got my normal workload (I also work from home most of the time except for meetings every couple of weeks) plus running a shonky homeschool 🙂 but I’m still living in hope I can get through all my TBR books while I’m not also ordering from Amazon etc. Inspired in part by you I have put all my TBR books on a separate shelf, which I will post a photo of soon. It’s shocking!


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