What To Read While You’re Social Distancing During COVID-19

Stuck at home during a global pandemic? Here’s WDET’s recommendations on books to start.

Photo credit: Jessica Ruscello/Unsplash

Events have been canceled. Social gathering spaces like bars, theaters, and gyms have closed. Millions of people are working from home.

Normal life hasn’t stopped – there are still kids to look after, meals to be made, bathrooms to be cleaned – but it has certainly slowed down for many people.

Tell WDET what you’re reading during social distancing »

If you are someone who finds themselves with more time on your hands than you normally do, binging endless hours of “The Office” on Netflix is probably going to get old pretty fast. Consider picking up a book instead!

We’ve compiled a few recommendations to get you started.

Here’s what WDET listeners responded with when we asked what they were reading:

  • “Pandemic” by A.G. Riddle
  • The Antidote: Happiness for People Who Can’t Stand Positive Thinking” by Oliver Burkeman
  • “Meditation for Fidgety Skeptics” by Dan Harris
  • “A World Undone” by G.J. Meyer
  • “Hood Feminism” by Mikki Kendall
  • “Pachinko” by Min Jin Lee
  • “You and I Eat the Same: On the Countless Ways Food and Cooking Connect Us to One Another” by Chris Yang
  • “Years of Wonder” by Geraldine Brooks (Listener Mary Jo says “It is a 2001 best seller novel based on a true incident – a small Derbyshire village of Eyam, when beset upon by the plague in 1666, quarantines itself in order to prevent the disease from spreading further.  The plague that hit Eyam and other parts of the UK in 1665-1666 was one of the many recurrences that had taken place since the Black Death of the 14th century.”)

And WDET’s Meta Stange compiled recommendations for what mood you’re in.

If you don’t have these on your shelves already, fear not! Public libraries across Southeast Michigan offer their patrons a variety of outlets to access content on their mobile devices, e-readers, and desktop computers, using their library card.

Additionally, local independently owned bookstores are offering discounts on shipping when you order through them.

What to read if …

… you’re ready for a good cry.

The Great Believers by Rebecca Makkai

Set in Chicago during the AIDS crisis and in contemporary Paris, this novel features richly developed friendships tested by grief, hardship, and tragedy. An emotional depiction of the long-lasting emotional impact a health crisis can have on a community.


… you appreciate art imitating reality.

The Dreamers by Karen Thompson Walker

A college town faces the outbreak of an unknown disease that causes victims to fall asleep and remain asleep. Featuring a variety of perspectives, this novel demonstrates how terrifying the unknown can be, but is also brimming with humanity.


… it’s hard for you to slow down.

How to Do Nothing by Jenny Odell

“Nothing is harder to do these days than nothing. But in a world where our value is determined by our 24/7 data productivity… doing nothing may be our most important form of resistance.” This book challenges the reader to reconsider their relationship with productivity within a capitalistic society.


… you’re ready for a funny spin on end-of-the-world narratives.

Severance by Ling Ma

Candace Chen, a millennial, first-generation American and office drone meandering her way into adulthood, doesn’t really notice when a plague of biblical proportions sweeps through New York. This offbeat satire will challenge what you thought you knew about apocalyptic literature.


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  • Meta Stange
    Meta Stange is the Digital Content and Engagement Manager for 101.9 WDET, overseeing the station's digital editorial content. She enjoys reading, making bad jokes, and hanging out with her dog, Salmon.