What To Read During a Pandemic, As Decided by Experts (We Are Not Actually Experts)

Hello, friends! If you read Malka’s post about how she finds new books to read, you may have been waiting for the recommendations post that was promised. Well, not to fear! That post is here! Originally we wanted to write a recommendation post for what to read during this stressful time, individually. But then we realized that not everyone reads the same things when they’re stressed. In fact, the two of us read completely different kinds of books whenever we get stressed out. So we figured that if we combined our recommendations into one post, we’d probably have a much broader range of genres and moods you might be interested in reading at the moment.

Between Malka’s love of cute, fluffy, happy books and Chana’s gravitation to more depressing contemporaries or escapist fantasy when she’s stressed, we’ve got you covered! And for your convenience, all covers link to Goodreads so you can learn more!

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If you’re looking for contemporaries that won’t make you sad

What I Carry Sick Kids in Love

What I Carry: This story follows a girl who is about to age out of the foster care system. It provides a wonderful look into foster care and adoption. I particularly appreciated the fact that this book chose not to follow a girl with abusive foster parents, which I’ve read before, but rather focused on showing how difficult it could be to live with loving parents too. This book focuses a lot on friendship, family, identity and independence. It’s beautifully written, has a smidge of romance, and is a contemporary I’d recommend any day!

Sick Kids in Love: If you weren’t expecting to see this one on the list then you must be new here. This book is my most recent obsession, and I will keep recommending it because it is cute and wonderful! This book is about chronic illness, and it handles this topic so very well. Between the fantastic discussion about disability and the wonderful romance, this book is one that I think so many people will love. So far, everyone, I’ve recommended it to had only good things to say!


Sam @ We Live and Breathe Books actually created a list of happy contemporaries, which I found to be a wonderful resource! It had some of my favorite books, like The Running Dream and A Quiet Kind of Thunder, and I also got quite a few new recommendations!

If you’re looking for romance novels with more cuteness than angst

Lord of Scoundrels Get a Life, Chloe Brown

Lord of Scoundrels: I read this book a few months ago and absolutely adored the characters and their interactions. The main character takes no nonsense from the love interest. And I appreciated how the author took time to explain the love interest’s backstory early on, that way you understand his stupid decisions. I am very harsh with my romance ratings, but when I finished I knew instantly this was worthy of 5 stars. 

Get a Life, Chloe Brown – This is a really cute hate-to-love romance! It follows Chloe Brown as she makes a bucket list with the goal of having a less boring life, after nearly having a near death experience. And who better to help her than Red, her new superintendent! Chloe has a chronic illness and Red is recovering from an emotionally abusive relationship, and this book was just so perfect! It was one of those books where I started the first chapter on a whim in the book store, and next thing you know I had finished it! I know my synopses makes this seem super angsty, but there’s honestly so much cuteness in this book!

If you’re looking for over the top graphic novels

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Lucky Penny: This one follows a girl named Penny going through a rough time in her life, so she moves into her friend’s storage unit. It’s in this category for a reason. It made me laugh with the shenanigans that occurred, as they got progressively less realistic, but more and more amusing.

Fake Blood: This graphic novel follows a boy named AJ who dresses up and pretends to be a vampire to impress the girl he likes. Once again, it’s absolutely ridiculous, but so much fun to read! 

A Bit Haywire: A Bit Haywire is a fun graphic novel that follows Owen Bryce after he discovers that he has superpowers. Unfortunately for Owen, his powers are not what you’d expect. He can run really fast, but only when he holds his breath, and he can shoot lasers from his eyes, but only when he touches something cold. As Owen tries to figure out his strange new powers things tend to get a bit haywire. It’s a really cute and funny read, and I highly recommend it!


Malka has done a whole post on different kinds of graphic novels she’s enjoyed, that you should check out if that’s what you’re in the mood of reading!

If you’re looking for contemporaries that will make you sob 

We'll Fly Away Orbiting Jupiter

We’ll Fly Away: This book is told solely through letters that are written by a teenage boy on death row. This should be enough to tell you why it’s sad. Throughout the whole book the story of how the main character ended up in prison is pieced together. It’s super sad, but it’s also a story of friendship (which might actually make it sadder). My point is, if you’re looking for a book that’ll make you cry. This is the one. 

Orbiting Jupiter: This one is pretty short, so if you just need something quick to release some pent up tears, this is for you. It’s pretty hard for a book to make me (Malka) cry, so when a book can achieve even an unshed tear it’s a testament to the powerful writing and emotional attachment. 

If you’re looking for something depressing, but gay!

The Meaning of Birds More Happy Than Not

The Meaning of Birds: This book follows Jess after her girlfriend Vivi suddenly dies. It’s about young love and coming to terms with a new reality. It’s really sad, but the cover’s really pretty! 

More Happy than Not: It’s probably clear from the get-go that this book is sad, based solely on the fact that it was written by Adam Silvera. I’m not going to lie, it is super depressing, but it’s also so so good! It also holds the honor of being my (Chana’s) favorite Adam Silvera book. 

If you’re looking for something happy, and gay!

Redd White & Royal Blue Everything Leads to You

Red, White, & Royal Blue: There’s a good chance that at this point you’ve probably read this book, but on the off chance you haven’t already, now’s your chance. This is an enemies to lovers romance featuring the prince of England and the American President’s son. It’s mostly fluff and I adore it. It made me happy when I originally read it during finals last year, and I hope it can make you happy during a stressful time as well.

Everything Leads to You: This book is really cute, and it features a set designer which is super fun to read about! There’s Hollywood, romance, cuteness, and good friendship, so it’s perfect for if you’re looking for a fluffy feel-good book. 

If you’re looking for books featuring pandemics

Station Eleven The Fever King

 Station Eleven: This book follows a traveling troupe of actors in the aftermath of a pandemic that killed out most of the world’s population. It has beautiful writing and is super immersive as you learn all about different characters’ pasts and presents. I loved this book well before Corona became a global pandemic, so I think it would only be more fantastic when read in the current reality. (If you’re in the mood of reading something featuring a pandemic, of course.) I also want to mention that the author just released another book a few weeks ago called The Glass Hotel. Since I know it’s tough for new releases at the moment, I wanted to give that book a shout out!

The Fever King: This book is AMAZING I just finished the sequel a few days ago, and whoever hasn’t read this series must do so immediately. It features a deadly virus that leaves its few survivors with magic-like abilities, and specifically follows Noam Alvero, as he’s invited to train in a government facility to learn to use his newfound powers.


Shannon @ It Starts at Midnight has an entire post dedicated to books featuring viruses and plagues of all kinds. So if this section caught your interest, there are way more recommendations awaiting you in her post!

If you’re looking for books featuring isolation 

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The Martian: What I like about this recommendation is that it’s an isolation book that doesn’t have anything to do with illness. So if you’re sick all this talk about viruses and pandemics, but still want a relatable read this is perfect for you. As an added bonus, this book is hilarious and has a great movie that you can watch when you finish. It’s the perfect book to read right now!

The Skeleton Tree: For another book that features people being cut off from society that isn’t associated with illness, we have The Skeleton Tree! The Skeleton Tree follows two boys who have been shipwrecked after a storm at sea. It’s a really great survival story that involves amazing character development and family feels.  

If you’re looking for zombie books

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Warm Bodies: This book takes the classic zombie apocalypse scenario and a Twilight like scenario mushes them together and adds comedy. The movie is hilarious too, so if you’re looking for a funny, romantic, zombie apocalypse movie to watch, here’s the one you’ve been looking for. 

Girls Save the World in This One: I just finished this book and I had so much fun! It follows June and her friends at Zombie Con, where they’re excited to meet the cast of their favorite zombie show. But then there’s a zombie outbreak at the Con, and June and her friends need to use all their zombie knowledge to stay alive. I read an ARC of this one, but it comes out on April 14th, so that’s only a week wait to build your anticipation! I am not a zombie lover, and I normally shy away from anything that seems like it will be more bloody, but I had such a great time reading this one that I just had to recommend it! This book really took me by surprise!

If you’re looking for escapist fantasies

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Strange the Dreamer: First things first, Strange the Dreamer is written so beautifully. If you’re not taken by the fantastical world-building, the writing is sure to sweep you away. Strange the Dreamer follows Lazlo, an orphaned librarian, as he gets to travel to a mysterious city that most believed to be lost.

The Ruin of Kings: I (Chana) read this book in almost one sitting it was so good! It has a lot of high fantasy tropes in it, like an orphan being the son of a lost prince, magical destinies and more, but it does them all so well!

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We hope that you found something you’re in the mood for from all these options! If not, there are so many other great recommendation lists going around, some of which we’ve mentioned as bonuses! But if you’ve written a list that we didn’t include, let us know because we’d love to check it out!

Also, if anything on this list caught your interest, or if there’s another book that you’re excited to read and would like to get immediately, Chana’s running a giveaway for a book of your choice on her Twitter right now!

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 Do you have a genre that you gravitate towards when you’re stressed? Have you read any of the books we mentioned? Do you have any recommendations for one of these categories? 



50 thoughts on “What To Read During a Pandemic, As Decided by Experts (We Are Not Actually Experts)

  1. Great post! I totally gravitate towards cute and light chick-lit books if I need a pick me up but also I like to be taken away from reality with some type of YA fantasy!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you! I’m a fan of cute and light books myself, at the moment. These past few week have been filled with romances and contemporaries, nonstop! But I’ve definitely had times where I’ve been swept up in a fantasy world that bears no resemblance to whatever’s happening in the real world! Different kinds of books appeal to me at different points in my life!


    1. Those books were both favorites a few years back! They’re some of the first books I can remember vividly describing to my friends so that they’d read them, and I figured this post was the perfect way to get even more people interested in reading some of my backlist faves!

      Liked by 1 person

  2. I definitely felt myself gravitating towards those escapist fantasies… I’m about 25 pages from the end of Hard Times right now, which I had to read for a literature class – and while I loved it, I might have to pick up something with dragons next! 🙂 Thanks for the recommendations!

    Liked by 1 person

  3. This was such a fantastic post! I haven’t read basically all of these books haha, so it was super helpful (especially with the categories you created). I absolutely loved Station Eleven, and I had no idea that Emily St. Mandel released another book 😮. Thank you so much for sharing this list! Stay safe you two 🙂!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you! 💕 I’m so happy to hear that the categories were useful! We had a lot of fun coming up with them, especially the more specific ones! And hopefully you found some books that you were interested in one category or another!

      Yes! Station Eleven was so masterfully written! I actually got an ARC of The Glass Hotel, Emily’s newest release, but I’ve been waiting for the perfect moment to read it, since I’m a mood reader! I started a chapter though to see what it’s all about, and from what I’ve read I have a feeling it’s going to be just as fantastic and intricate!

      I’m so happy you enjoyed the list! 😊 Thank you! And I hope you stay safe as well! ❤

      Liked by 1 person

  4. I am seeing some good recs in this post to help folks when they’re trying to find something to read in these trying times. I love both of your romance recs, Get A Life, Chloe brown is excellent and a surprisingly low angst contemporary romance I thought would be heavier than it was (which was a good thing) and Lord of Scoundrels! That book! I may need to reread that soon. I hadn’t even thought of reading a book which involves isolation but The Martian is an excellent choice, keeps things a little lighter with that Mark Watney humour.

    Currently my reading is leaning towards paranormal romance and pretty much anything which isn’t very real world but I’m just going where the mood takes me right now.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I’m so glad that you think this list is useful! We tried really hard to cover as many random categories that we could think of, in hopes of having at least one recommendation for everyone!

      Yay! I’m so glad! I’ve been reading so much romance lately, and I’ve found some that I really loved and was so happy to share! I had the same reaction to Get a Life, Chloe Brown! I went in a bit hesitant because I knew it dealt with some tougher topics, but I ended up having such a fun and enjoyable time! And Lord of Scoundrels had me squealing over all the antics that occurred! I think it would be the perfect reread! And yes! Mark Watney’s humor is so much of what made that book so great! But it’s definitely an isolation book! I don’t think anyone can beat being the only one on a planet!

      Mood reading for the win! I’m leaning towards romances in general because I just need some happiness and cuteness in my life at the moment!


    1. I’m the exact same way! Light and fluffy is my go to, and that preference has only increased for me recently!

      Exactly! All the books you mentioned brought multiple smiles to my face, so I figured I’d share them with people who need something to brighten their day!


  5. Great post! I love The Fever King but I’m really nOT in the headspace to read about pandemics and diseases rn haha I’ll probably hold off on reading that sequel for a while. Definitely looking for happy books though RWRB is such a perfect happy book to read now ❤

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Yeaaah, I was super excited to read The Electric Heir and hopped right to it, but I totally forgot that a pandemic was featured so heavily in the book, so that was a pleasant surprise 😅 It was amazing though, so I hope you enjoy it when you do end up reading it!!


  6. this is such a great post!!! i love the sections that are like “depressing but gay” and “happy and gay” lmao! rw&rb and more happy than not are great recs for both of those categories, though. and yes for the fever king, though i’m not sure i could read it now with the whole virus/pandemic thing! and i have sick kids in love, and i’ve been eyeing it for a few months though i’m not sure i want to read about any *sickness* right now haha.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you!! 💕💕 Aaah, yayy, I loved writing those sections, though it made me realize that the list for depressing but gay is waaaaay longer than the list for happy and gay. Though maybe that’s just me leaning towards depressing books? Who knows 😅

      I just read Sick Kids in Love last week and it was really cute! I hope that when you do end up reading it you enjoy it! And I totally get staying away from books with sickness right now. I keep on starting books and then getting surprised when there’s some kind of pandemic or quarantine or illness in it. I don’t know if I have bad luck, or if these themes are just way more prevalent than I initially realized.

      Liked by 1 person

  7. Oh I LOVE this list! I find that depending on the day, I need a different genre at all times so it is kind of perfect! I agree about Sick Kids completely. Also, I need to read Station Eleven and Fever King ASAP, and YAY I own them both!! Thank you so much for sharing my post about depressing pandemic books 😂 I also really need to read Everything Leads to You, which I own, and The Martian. Carry On and The Skeleton Tree look awesome too. And I gotta say, that kid-on-death-row book might be too much even for me to handle. Honestly I am scared of BOTH of the tear books.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Exactly! My mood for books changes at the drop of a hat, so I’m always on the lookout for good reads of every genre. Your post was so good!! And yay for having so many books on hand!! Everything Leads to You is so so cute!! And Fever King is also great!! Aah, I just love all these books and I hope you enjoy them when you read them! 😂 Though We’ll Fly Away is *quite* heavy, but also really good? I think? I may have blocked out most of it after I read it since it was super sad but I remember enjoying it 😅


  8. there’s been some ‘sick kids in love’ buzz going around like CRAZY recently and i have to say, i am here for it!! it sounds so incredible and heartwarming but also like it’s going to hurt. so i’m IN!! i’ve been wanting to get into more graphic novels and ‘fake blood’ looks like something i can definitely vibe with (i really like the art style and the story sounds so fun)

    I DIDN’T KNOW THE FEVER KING WAS ABOUT PANDEMICS!! i absolutely ADORE station eleven, it’s one of the most amazingly well written stories i’ve ever come across and the way the author was able to loop everything back, phenomenal!! this was such a great post and so many recommendations!! ahh i love it!!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I’m pretty sure at least half of that buzz has been me shouting about this book from the rooftops! 😂 I’m just so very obsessed with it! And it doesn’t hurt too much! I actually can’t think of it hurting me at all, so I guess it only hurt in a good way if anything! But it is definitely incredible and heartwarming! That I can say for certain!

      Yesss! Graphic novels are so wonderful, but I normally get them from my library, so I haven’t read any new ones in a while. I had lots of fun with Fake Blood. I actually picked it up in part because of the art style! It’s sharp and clear, which is my preference when it comes to graphic novels!

      Station Eleven is one of those books that has stuck with me even though I read it probably 4 or 5 years ago! It was so intricate and complex and I loved every second of it!

      Thank you so much! I’m so glad you enjoyed all our recommendations! ❤


  9. This is such an amazing post, I love your recommendations and definitely agree with the categories that you’ve put them under!
    The Martian is definitely an amazing isolation book, and I am gonna reread it now you have reminded me of it 🙂
    – Emma xx

    Liked by 2 people

    1. I think these recommendations work for just about any time of year! We chose to categorize each section though, because we know that some people have specific topics that they’re avoiding specifically because of the pandemic. But by all means, read whatever makes you happiest!

      Liked by 1 person

  10. What a great idea to cater to different people’s tastes – it’s so interesting that you two have different go-to’s for stressful times.
    The books I have read from this list are Get a Life, Chloe Brown, RW&RB, Warm Bodies and Everything Leads to You. And of course, Strange the Dreamer – one of my favourite two books. So I am looking forward to reading some of your other recommendations! The Skeleton Tree and Fake Blood in particular are calling to me.
    PS. I am LOVING the blog redesign! So cute and pretty!! I cannot get over your sign-off illustration.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Strange the Dreamer is amazing!! I lent the series to one of my friends before everything went on lockdown, and let’s just say that she’s also obsessed now. The Skeleton Tree is so good!! I hope you enjoy it if you read it!

      Aah, thank you!! 💕 The sign-off is one of my favorite parts of the redesign!

      Liked by 1 person

  11. What a fun post idea. I do love some of these like More Happy Than Not, The Fever King, and Red, White, and Royal Blue. I’ve been reading a lot of mysteries lately, and LGBT+ fiction – so nothing too new there. I am ready for some funnier reads though!


    Liked by 1 person

  12. Great list! The Ruin of Kings looks good!! I haven’t read anything contemporary in a MINUTE but I loved seeing your recs! 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    1. It is SO GOOD!! I actually want to do a reread of it soon before I read the second book since I read it ages ago and probably forgot tons of details. I hope you enjoy it if you read it!

      Liked by 1 person

  13. I LOVE this!! 1) you’ve totally made me want to try reading More Happy Than Not again (I just couldn’t get into it???) even though it’s super depressing. 2)the fever king I also started and is just GLaRING at me from my bookshelf… and now I totally want to read it!!! and OH. MY. GOSH red white royal blue… I’ve reread this so many times and now I just want to all over againnnnn.

    great post!! great recs!! ❤

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Yayyy, I’m so happy that this list is making you want to read these books! *Mission accomplished* More Happy Than Not is certifiably depressing, but I love it so much 😅 Also yaaasss I hope you enjoy Fever King! And trust me, I know the feeling of books glaring from your shelves. They’re so persistent and judgy 😂

      Liked by 1 person

      1. ahaha, yeah i kind of (definitely) DNF-ed it, but it’s still LOOOKING at me demanding to be read so I really want to give it a second chance. (as is the Fever King *eek* gosh I know right??? can they give me a break *sobs* hahaha


  14. Ah what a fantastic list, I love all of the prompts and picks you have there! I’m more in a mood to read fluffy, heartwarming and lovely contemporaries lately ahah so some of these would be perfect for me. I loved Everything Leads To You SO damn much, it’s such a good, underrated read. And Both What I Carry and Sick Kids are on my TBR, they sound amazing, I can’t wait to read them! 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you! We had lots of fun coming up with all these categories! I made sure to include some fluffy, heartwarming books, because that’s what I find myself always in the mood for, and I’m so glad you found them useful!

      I read Everything Leads to You a while back, but I still remember so much of it so vividly! I was so excited to have a chance to recommend it! What I Carry and Sick Kids in Love are both super underrated as well, and hopefully you love them just as much! I can’t wait to hear what you think of them!

      Liked by 1 person

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