Top 5 Pandemic Reading List Books

Updated: Mar 7

Reading and discovering new books and literature has helped so many people get through the tough days of the pandemic, lockdowns, isolation, and loss. As we come up to a year of the pandemic coursing through our lives, I wanted to look back at the best books I read over the past year.

Between March of 2020 and March of 2021, I read the most books I have in my life. In fact, I probably read more over the past year than the previous 5 years combined. Ouch! Call it escapism, call it a distraction, I'll call it feeding my soul with art and beauty.

Here are the stand-outs from this past year of reading everything and anything.

1 - The Birth House by Amy McKay

If you know me, you know I'm a sucker for historical fiction. This book (judging by the fact that I'd never heard of it before) is severely underrated. It was recommended to me by my best friend from New Brunswick. The book is the story of a young woman finding her way in life as a reluctant midwife while living in a turn-of-the-century Nova Scotian bay. She's faced with limitations on women's choices and opportunities. The story also covers the 1918 pandemic which was quite interesting to read during this time.

Overall, this novel made me so nostalgic. There's really no place like the Maritimes and the simple life offered by the shores.

2 - Where the Crawdads Sing by Delia Owens

One of the best books I've read - ever. What appears to be a wannabe To Kill a Mockingbird at first glance, is so much more. What is so endearing about this novel set in the swampy marshes? The main character. You cry for her, you sing for her. You beg for her redemption. This novel stands out as one of the best-written characters ... maybe ever. The novel's popularity is not underserved and it will soon be a motion picture.

3 - The Henna Artist by Alka Joshi

A Reese Witherspoon pick (yes, I trust her taste), this novel combines a few things I love. South Asian culture, religion, mythology, and homeopathy, historical fiction, suffering royalty, and a strong female lead. The author is an absolute down-to-earth sweetheart and still seems amazed at the novel's success. It's well-deserved.

While the characters felt slightly underdeveloped, the imperfection was also one of the endearing qualities of the book. While the plot wraps up neatly in the end, the characters are not black and white, but real people who make mistakes and don't always behave the way you expect them to. This was refreshing. And set against the Indian cultural background - it's worth a read!

4 - The Alice Network by Kate Quinn

Another historical fiction.. surprise surprise. But when it comes to #HistFic, you just can't beat my girl, Quinn. Her work is captivating and pulls you into the time period of the story. You feel so immersed in the world. I first fell in love with this talented author when I read her Empress of Rome series. Since then, her work has

Set during the second and first world war, simultaneously, the story follows two women fighting for their country and freedom. Although I wasn't particularly attached to the main character, the story was still so immersive that it was hard to put down.

5 - The Dressmaker of Khair Khana by Gayle Tzemach Lemmon

The resilience of the female spirit. What more can you ask for at a time like this? A true story of young women finding a way to survive and thrive through war and an extreme patriarchal society. While the book is written as investigative journalism by a white, American woman, it is largely from the point of view of the women who guide the story. It is beautifully written and will renew your faith in humanity. This book offered perspective and light during a difficult point in the year.

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