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5 Pandemic Books to Enjoy While Self Isolating

by Tom Ashford

As I mentioned in this week’s Weekly Write-Up, a surge of cheap and often plagerous books on the ongoing coronvirus pandemic has hit the Amazon store over the past couple of weeks. Amazon has been trying to remove them as quickly as they’re uploaded, but it seems there’s no line certain scammers and dodgy entrepreneurs will not cross.

The new flu is obviously a major concern, particularly for the elderly and those with underlying health issues. As a result, millions of people around the world have decided (or been forced) to self-isolate. All jokes aside, it could be a tragic time for many of us.

That said… we’re all going to end up stuck indoors sooner or later. Most of us authors are used to being isolated anyway, but still – it could be a great chance to get a few (hundred) thousand words down. But even better – it’s the perfect chance to read!

And given the current climate of bulk-buying pasta, hand sanitiser and toilet paper… what better time to sit down with a good pandemic novel?

That’s right. Here are some of the biggest and best books on viral outbreaks. To take your mind off the coronavirus, of course.

The Eyes of Darkness, by Dean Koontz

When the coronavirus was first kicking off (remember those good old days?) a few overly-excited people started suggesting that Dean Koontz had predicted the virus back in his 1981 novel, The Eyes of Darkness.

Apart from the fact that Koontz is neither psychic or some sort of bioweapon terrorist, the virus doesn’t actually have much similarity to the one we’re seeing today (our one is far from 100% deadly). It’s also man-made, rather than natural. But what caught people’s eye was that Koontz called his virus “Wuhan-400” – somewhat prophetic, until you realise that it was originally “Gorki-400” from 1981 until the book’s re-release in 1989.

Still. The Eyes of Darkness would make for some pretty chilling reading, if you fancy scaring yourself witless while cowering in your tower of non-perishables.

The Stand, by Stephen King

Another book that people have likened to the coronavirus, presumably by people who’ve never read a single other book about a virus.

That said, if it were like the coronavirus, we wouldn’t have to worry about social distancing anymore. In King’s 1,200 page book, a computer error leads to the release of a flu called “Captain Trips”, which kills 99% of the population.

It’s a great book, and great value for money given it’s length. You never know how long we’ll be barricaded up for.

The Andromeda Strain, by Michael Crichton

Here’s a proper classic. Published in 1969, The Andromeda Strain features an unknown (and unlike coronavirus, alien) micro-organism that wipes out an entire town. Scientists then rush to find a cure, with potentially cataclysmic results.

Also available in both movie and miniseries forms, for those who wish to wait out their isolation by staring at a different kind of screen.

Oryx and Crake, by Margaret Atwood

The first book in Atwood’s MaddAddam trilogy deals with both genetic engineering and a plague that has wiped out most of humanity. This one is no more easier to stomach than the other books listed, given the current viral climate, and one might argue that the challenging contents of Oryx and Crake make for an even more discomforting read.

A well-received novel. Plus, with two sequels, The Year of the Flood and MaddAddam, it will keep you entertained for ages.

Ark: Outbreak, by Steven Moore & Jay Tinsiano

And here’s a timely one from two self-published authors – Ark: Outbreak, by Steven Moore and Jay Tinsiano!

Released only last month, their book features a couple who find themselves trapped aboard a cruise ship whilst a deadly pandemic spreads across the globe. Rather than focus on the events worldwide, the story focusses on the collapse of society on board the ship instead.

Plus, this one’s an actual book. Much more fun to read than a dozen pages of information copy-and-pasted from government guidelines, right?

Tom Ashford

Tom Ashford

Tom Ashford is a professional copywriter, author of numerous dark fantasy and sci-fi novels, and the Head of Content at the Self Publishing Formula Blog. His books include the Blackwater trilogy and the Checking Out series.

He lives in London with his wife, in an apartment that doesn’t allow pets. Find out more about Tom here.