Today In Books

Clarissa Goenawan’s RAINBIRDS to be Adapted as a Feature Film: Today in Books

Margaret Atwood and JM Coetzee Call for the Release of Jailed Iranian Authors

A letter by PEN America signed by dozens of authors and artists—including Margaret Atwood, Orhan Pamuk, Jonathan Franzen, Joyce Carol Oates, Khaled Hosseini, and JM Coetzee—is calling for the release of jailed Iranian authors. In 2015, Baktash Abtin, Keyvan Bajan, and Reza Khandan Mahabadi were arrested under charges of colluding against national security and propaganda. They stood trial in 2019 and were sentenced to prison. The letter asks for Iran’s president Ebrahim Raisi to release the authors, acquit them of all charges “in the legal case wrongfully brought against them,” and “cease official retribution against all writers exercising their right to express themselves freely.” The three imprisoned authors will be receiving the PEN/Barbey Freedom to Write award this October.

Netflix is Adapting Jordan Ifueko’s Raybearer as a Series

A series adaptation of Jordan Ifueko’s Raybearer is in development with Netflix. The series will be penned by Gina Atwater, who was the head writer of Westworld. This marks the first project in a multi-year deal Atwater has signed with Netflix. “It’s an absolute privilege to join the Netflix family! I’m grateful I get to collaborate with a company that shares my passion for pursuing bold and innovative stories that give underrepresented characters a place to shine in the prestige space,” Atwater said in a statement. The series will be produced by Sugar23 (Dickinson, The OA) & Macro (Fences, Sorry to Bother You).

Clarissa Goenawan’s Rainbirds to be Adapted as a Feature Film

Earlier today, Clarissa Goenawan tweeted: “PEOPLE. I still can’t believe I would EVER get to announce this.” Goenawan’s novel Rainbirds is going to be adapted as feature film. The adaptation will be filmed in Japan and directed by Anshul Chauhan. Goenawan added, “I can’t even say, ‘This is a dream come true,’ because it’s BEYOND my wildest dream! I’m so excited, thankful, and honoured.”

Book Riot Will Match Your Donations to Planned Parenthood of Greater Texas

From Friday, October 1 until Sunday night, October 3, Book Riot will be matching donations to Planned Parenthood of Greater Texas, up to $2,500 USD. You can get all of the information about how to participate here.

What's Up in YA

Kacen Callender, New Teen Titans, and More of Your YA News and New Books: September 30, 2021

Hey YA Readers!

I’m Erica and I’m filling in for Kelly today. If you also follow the Hey YA podcast, you may have heard me there as I started cohosting with Kelly recently.

Anywho, let’s get into news and new releases!

YA Book News

New YA Books This Week

*A note from Kelly*: Please note that with supply chain issues, paper supply challenges, and the pandemic more broadly, publication dates are changing at a pace I can’t keep up with. Some release dates may be pushed back. If a book catches your attention, the smartest thing to do right now is to preorder it or request it from your library. It’ll be a fun surprise when it arrives. This goes, too, for any books you might be planning to purchase for the holidays — the sooner you pick up the hard copies, if that’s your preference, the better.

cover of Beasts of Prey by Ayana Gray, featuring a hissing snake wrapped in ferns wrapped around the title

As Good as Dead by Holly Jackson (series)

Beasts of Prey by Ayana Gray

Before We Disappear by Shaun David Hutchinson

Bend in the Road by Sara Biren

Dark Rise by C. S. Pacat (series)

Drawn That Way by Elissa Sussman

For All Time by Shanna Miles

Lakesedge by Lyndall Clipstone

Once Upon a Broken Heart by Stephanie Garber (series)

Some Faraway Place by Lauren Shippen (series)

The Splendor by Breeana Shields

Steelstriker by Marie Lu (series)

Steelstriker by Marie Lu book cover

Tell It True by Tim Lockette

Time Will Tell by Barry Lyga

You’d Be Home Now by Kathleen Glasgow


(You may have to toggle to paperback)

All This Time by Mikki Daughtry, Rachael Lippincott

Bearmouth by Liz Hyder

The Broken Raven by Joseph Elliott (series)

The Good Hawk by Joseph Elliott (series)

Hope In The Mail by Wendelin Van Draanen

How It All Blew Up by Arvin Ahmadi

In The Study With a Wrench by Diana Peterfreund (series)

The Light at the Bottom of the World by London Shah (series)

A Neon Darkness by Lauren Shippen (series)

None Shall Sleep by Ellie Marney

Thoughts and Prayers by Bryan Bliss

When Villains Rise by Rebecca Schaeffer (series)

This Week at Book Riot

It’s been nice hanging with y’all! Kelly will be back for the next newsletter send, but you can catch me talking mess with her on the Hey YA podcast here.


-Erica, @erica_eze_ on Twitter


Mysteries and Thrillers in Translation!

Hello, Audiophiles! I’m so excited to chat with you this week. Here in the South, the weather has finally decided to cool down a bit, and I can feel a cool breeze in the evenings. I’ve brought out my candles and plenty of spooky books to celebrate.

I’ve also noticed that I have a ridiculous number of books going at the same time. A few years ago, I stuck to a strict, “no more than three audiobooks at a time” policy, but I’ve now thrown that idea to the wind. Last time I checked, I had ten audiobooks in my currently listening list. I’m not sure when I became such a polyamorous listener, but I’m cetainly not sad about it. Especially with the pandemic, I struggle to pay attention to the same audiobook after a couple hours, and it’s nice to have options.

Do you listen to a lot of books at a time? Let me know!

Now time for a true confession: as I type this, I’m actually waiting for my husband to return with our new Cardigan Welsh Corgi puppy—Dylan is going to be a big brother! Here’s an update from the airport:

A photo of Gwen, the black and white Cardigan Welsh Corgi, sitting on a mat. She is only 11 weeks old.
Meet Gwen!

Recent Listens

A graphic of the cover of quicksand

Quicksand by Malin Persson Giolito & Out by Natsuo Kirino

This week, let’s chat thrillers and mysteries in translation. As someone who reads only via audiobook, I often struggle to find audio editions of novels in translation. But with the rise in audiobooks’ popularity, I’ve found so many more titles that I’ve been excited to read. First up, I have to tell you about Quicksand by Malin Persson Giolito, translated by Rachel Willson-Broyles.

The novel begins at the start of Maja’s trial. She’s been charged with aiding a mass shooting at her highschool in Sweden. The story jumps back and forth between the trial and flashbacks of her relationship with Sebastian, a son of one of the wealthiest men in the country. Her family and friends think it’s amazing that the son of such an important person wants to date her, but what they don’t realize is how Sebastian is isolating her and emotionally manipulating her.

Quicksand also discusses Maja’s own privilege in regards to class through her friendship with Samir, who is the son of immigrants and lives in a less affluent part of the city than Maja and the rest of her friends. Samir and Sebastian act as foils, highlighting Sebastian’s incredible privilege. (Yes, I am dancing around spoilers!)

Speaking of discussion of the working class, I also listened to Out by Natsuo Kirino, Translated by Stephen Snyder, which follows four friends at a packaged food company. One of the women has a very abusive husband, and one day she seems to snap, strangling her husband to death. Panicked, she asks her friends for help. The women dispose of the body in trash bags which they throw away in trash cans across the city.

I sat on the edge of my seat, wondering if these women would get caught or crack under the pressure. This novel turns the traditional crime novel on its head as we the listeners want the women who committed the crime to succeed.

Both Quicksand and Out ask listeners to examine ideas around justice and what that looks like, and I found myself thinking about both of them long after I had finished the novels.

Quicksand, narrated by Saskia Maarleveld & Out, narrated by Emily Woo Zeller

Recent Releases

A graphic of the cover of Beasts of Prey by Ayana Gray

Beasts of Prey by Ayana Gray

One of the most anticipated Black fantasy novels of the year is finally here! Debut author Ayana Gray spins a tale set in a fantastical world where a young woman who works at the Night Zoo, a menagerie of dangerous beasts.

Narrated by Keylor Leigh, Tovah Ott, and Ronald Peet (Out of Shadows by Justina Ireland & A Girl Is a Body of Water by Jennifer Nansubuga Makumbi)

A graphic of the cover of Cloud Cuckoo Land by Anthony Doerr

Cloud Cuckoo Land by Anthony Doerr

With his first novel since the Pulitzer Prize-winning All the Light We Cannot See, Anthony Doerr tells the story of characters across space and time. Each section returns to the themes of the power of stories and the power of storytelling.

Narrated by Marin Ireland and Simon Jones (The Push by Ashley Audrain & The Lincoln Highway by Amor Towles)

A graphic of the cover fo Please Don't Sit on My Bed in Your Outside Clothes by Phoebe Robinson

Please Don’t Sit on My Bed in Your Outside Clothes by Phoebe Robinson

Phoebe Robinson writes one-of-a-kind essay collections and turns them into incredible audiobooks. She performs the essays herself, giving her narration perfect comedic timing. Plus, she has such incredible insight.

Narrated by Phoebe Robinson (You Can’t Touch My Hair by Phoebe Robinson & Everything’s Trash, but It’s Okay by Phoebe Robinson)

A graphic of the cover of The Matzah Ball by Jean Meltzer

The Matzah Ball by Jean Meltzer

It’s time for holiday romance novels! The Matzah Ball features Rachel Rubenstein-Goldblatt, a Jewish romance novelist who adores Christmas. But when she finds herself desperate for more work, she accepts a request from her publisher to write a Hanukkah novel. 

Narrated by Dara Rosenberg (Evidence of the Affair by Taylor Jenkins Reid & The Lightkeeper’s Daughter by Jean E. Pendziwol)

A graphic of the cover of Summer Sons by Lee Mandelo

Summer Sons by Lee Mandelo

When Andrew’s friend Eddie dies, Andrew finds himself haunted by a mysterious phantom. Now he must search for the truth behind Eddie’s death and maintain a sense of normalcy in his everyday life.

Narrated by Will Damron (Bad Blood by John Carreyrou & The Culture Code by Daniel Coyle)

Around the Web

Celebrate Your Right to Listen During Banned Books Week” (Audiofile Magazine)

Latinx Narrators You Should Be Listening To” (

7 Things You Need to Know About Shopping Early for the Holidays” (

Meet the Innovative Director Behind Audible’s Fully Immersive Adaptation of ‘The Sandman’” (Audible)

Over on Book Riot

10 of’s Most Pre-ordered Audiobooks for Fall Pt. 2” – I share the most popular pre-orders for October and November. And be sure to check out Pt.1 if you haven’t already!

I’d love to hear from you! Drop me a line at or say hi over on Instagram @kdwinchester. For even MORE audiobook content, you can find my articles over on Book Riot.

Happy listening, bookish friends!

~ Kendra

Book Radar

Gina Atwater is Adapting YA Fantasy Novel RAYBEARER and More Book Radar!

Happy Thursday, Readers!

It’s rainy outside, and I’m wearing the biggest sweatshirt I own, so that’s the vibe here today. I hope you’re doing well and that this week has been going great for you.

A lot of you have been messaging me about more upcoming readathons that are worth shouting out. Thank you so much to everyone who has reached out. Since this seems to be a popular topic, I’ll be doing a second round up this week of more fall readathons that aren’t horror/Halloween themed. So you’re welcome!

Anyway, a lot has happened over the past few days. Lots of book news to share lots of book things to dive into, so let’s just get into it, shall we?


Book Deals and Reveals

raybearer book cover

Writer, director and producer Gina Atwater has just signed a multi-year deal with Netflix. Her first project with the streaming platform? An adaptation of the YA fantasy novel Raybearer by Jordan Ifueko.

Scholastic Book Clubs and James Patterson are launching “The United States of Readers” to provide book access to 32,000 students in 1,500 classrooms.

Here’s the cover reveal for This is A School, John Schu’s debut picture book, illustrated by Veronica Miller Jamison.

Mara Brock Akil is adapting Judy Blume’s Forever as part of a 4-show Netflix deal.

Tor Books has acquired Olivie Blake’s The Atlas Six and the two follow-up novels planned for a trilogy.

Here’s the cover reveal for Meet Me in Mumbai, a new YA novel by Sabina Khan.

Bridgerton has released a teaser of season 2, featuring a new character: Kate Sharma, played by Simone Ashley.

We’ve also finally got a teaser trailer for the highly anticipated series adaptation of The Sandman.

Jennifer Hillier has shared the cover for her new book Things We Do in the Dark, coming July 2022 from Minotaur books!

Marvel has issued a series of lawsuits to retain ownership of Avengers characters such as Spider-Man and Iron Man.

Here’s a peek at footage from the upcoming season of The Witcher, including a first look at Kristofer Hivju.

And here are the recipients of this year’s MacArthur “Genius Grants.” Congrats to these MacArthur fellows!

Book Riot Recommends 

I’m a Contributing Editor at Book Riot, I write the Today in Books newsletter, and I’m a Bibliologist for Book Riot’s Tailored Book Recommendations subscription service. I also have a PhD in English, so I’m basically a doctor of books. Books are my life, in other words, so in this section of the newsletter, let me share with you some upcoming books I’m super excited about. And I think you will be too!

Can’t Wait for This One

the fervor book cover

The Fervor by Alma Katsu (G.P. Putnam’s Sons, April 26, 2022)

Did I mention it’s going to be October tomorrow? Because it’s going to be October tomorrow. Am I excited? Maybe a little. Why am I saying all of this? Because October means I’m back on my horror BS. And I’m already looking towards 2022 to all the horror fiction I can’t wait to get my hands on.

High on the list for horror in 2022? Alma Katsu’s latest The Fervor. Katsu has built a reputation as an author who is able to masterfully meld the horrors of real-life history with supernatural terror. 2018’s The Hunger looked at the real-life tragedy of the Donner Party and imagined a paranormal cause behind the terrible things that happened to these travelers. 2020’s The Deep reimagines the tragedy of the sinking of the Titanic as a ghost story.

In 2022, Alma Katsu returns to horror and history with The Fervor. Inspired by the Japanese yokai and the jorogumo spider demon, Katsu writes a supernatural story about Japanese internment camps during WWII. Meiko Briggs and her daughter, Aiko, have been taken from their home in Seattle and sent to an internment camp in the Midwest. The mother and daughter desperately want to return home and back to their normal lives, but a strange illness is spreading among those interned. It appears as if something sinister and demonic is threatening them, and they must stop the spread of this demonic disease before it’s too late.

Words of Literary Wisdom

“Without a name for it, it’s just something I am, a part of life. Once it’s got a name, I know that means someone has studied it, dissected it, pulled it apart. When something has a name, they can say it’s bad.”

Sorrowland by Rivers Solomon

What’s Up in the Book Community?

My iPhone is constantly telling me I spend too much time staring at my screen, which is honestly so rude. But this means I spend a lot of time scrolling around the online book community: BookTube, Bookstagram, BookTok, BookLinkedIn (JK. That’s not a thing… I don’t think). You get the idea. Don’t have the time, energy, or the will to do all of that yourself? No problem. I got you. In this weekly section of Book Radar, we’ll take a look at something cool, interesting, and/or newsy that’s going on in the book community.

I got some great recommendations for other readathons that are non-Halloween/scary themed that you might want to check out this fall. Here are a few good ones:

Your Weekend Reading Soundtrack

I’ve got a lot of writing to do this weekend, actually. So this is more of a writing soundtrack rather than a reading soundtrack. But whenever I put on music for writing, I love a good soundtrack with sorta creepy/ambient music. And yeah, the soundtrack for It Follows seems perfect for right now, because IT’S OCTOBER THIS WEEKEND, y’all! I’m so excited.

And Here’s a Cat Picture!

a black cat tangled in a cat toy

I can’t with this goober.

Whenever Phantom wants to play with his cat toy and we’re ignoring him, he just plays with it on his own. And then sometimes you get moments like this where he entangles himself in his toy. And it’s incredible.

We made it to the end of September everyone! I don’t know how. It was rough going sometimes, but we did it. Now on to the best month of the year! I’m so excited for October. Until next time.

❤️ Emily

Kissing Books

The Joy of Re-Reading

Welcome to the Kissing Books newsletter y’all. I’m P.N. Hinton, your guide to the world of romance novels. I hope your spirit is doing well today. Whether it’s a backlist, new release, or an under the radar delight, I aim to help you find a book or two that you can get lost in. If you’re new to the Kissing Books newsletter, welcome and enjoy your stay. If you’re a long-time reader, welcome back; it’s good to see you again.

Tomorrow is the first day of October. It’s that time of the year where I add scary books to my reading rotation. Don’t get me wrong; I live for romance but I know that there are other genres out there and this is my second go to. I actually had this revelation earlier this year: if I’m not writing about romance, I’m writing about horror. I know that they’re opposite sides of the circle genre-wise but both of them get the adrenaline pumping, albeit for different reasons. 

With that said I bring you one random thing that is giving me joy lately and that is the Surviving Romance webtoon. Girl finds herself in a romance novel that suddenly turns into a zombie outbreak.

Romance Reflection

I really wanted to not talk about this; but it is still being discussed in the Romance wing of Twitter, so I feel I have to. The latest Sally Rooney novel is getting a lot praise from ‘high literature’ over its depiction of sex positivity.

*head desk* 

Because, you know, there’s not a genre out there that already does that.

Look, nothing against Rooney herself since I know a lot of people enjoy her work. Honestly, I’ll probably never read her since that type of fiction is just not in my wheelhouse. But I don’t begrudge her success. That said, I am so very tired of someone who previously had no space in the romance genre suddenly getting accolades that authors in that field have been working hard at for years. Putting a sex scene in a novel doesn’t make it a romance; it makes it a fiction novel with sex.

Now, to her credit, I have also heard that Rooney is not comfortable with this type of praise since she seems to identify as a General Fiction writer. There’s nothing wrong with that just like there’s nothing wrong with romance. Just please stop with the accolades on what a revelation this book is. There are already tons of books with sex positive scenes in them in Romance. They’ve been there the whole time.

Around the Web in Romance

Here’s a handy-dandy guide to help find the romance book you’re thinking of based on the description alone, because I’m sure we’ve all been here.

I played this twice. The first go it was with what I would like to see in a romance story. The second was more closely aligned to my love story with my spouse. The first time I didn’t get his initial, but the second time I did, which I found kind of sweet.

As someone who is an aspiring romance writer as well, I loved these truthful words of encouragement.

Yay for grumpy/sunshine romances!!

Netflix released a snippet from the next season of Bridgerton and it only makes me want to reread The Viscount Who Loved Me even more.


I love re-reading books, although I’ll admit I haven’t done a lot of it recently. As a kid, I re-read a lot because I didn’t have many obligations besides school. Even with the various extracurricular activities I was in and the TV shows I just had to watch every week (Buffy, Dawson’s Creek, and Charmed to name a few) I re-read quite a bit.

There’s a certain level of comfortability in re-reading books. It’s like visiting an old friend. Which leads me to the theme of this week’s recommendations: books I can’t wait to re-read again.

cover of a prince on paper by alyssa cole

A Prince on Paper by Alyssa Cole

Johan has a reputation for being a royal bad boy, something he does primarily to deflect the paparazzi from his younger brother. When something threatens his brother’s future, he enters into a fake engagement with Nya, a woman who is in the midst of coming into her own after a lifetime of being under her father’s thumb. I’m sure I’ve talked about this before but Johan is one of the best cinnamon rolls I’ve ever read about. Plus it has fake dating, sort-of enemies to lovers, and thoroughly steamy scenes. What more could you ask for?

cover of the governess game by tessa dare

The Governess Game by Tessa Dare

Due to circumstances beyond her control that knock her off her career path, Alexandra becomes governess to Chase’s nieces and endeavors to show them how to be proper ladies. When part of this task includes ensuring they have a loving home with their uncle, who has kept them at arm’s length for the duration of their wardship with him, he becomes determined to educate her in pleasure instead. Of course, neither get what they anticipated when they begin to fall in love.

Cover of Work for It by Talia Hibbert

Work For It by Talia Hibbert

Griffin and Keynes are complete opposites in all ways, but their chemistry is undeniable. What was supposed to be a one-time and chance encounter in a dark alleyway becomes more when they find out that they are also going to be working together. Despite all the reasons they should stay away from each other, the men find themselves continuing to be drawn together and Griffin becomes determined to break down Keynes’s walls once and for all. 

That’s all I have for you today. I’ll be back Monday and until then you can catch up with me over on Twitter under @PScribe801. Have a great weekend and see you next time!

Kid Lit Giveaways


We’re giving away five copies of Barefoot Dreams of Petra Luna by Alda P. Dobbs to five lucky Riot readers!

Enter here for a chance, or click the image below!

It is 1913, revolution rages in Mexico. Twelve-year-old Petra’s mama has died and before her papa is dragged away by soldiers, Petra vows to care for her abuelita, little sister Amelia, and baby brother Luisito, until they can be reunited. They flee north through the unforgiving desert as their town burns, searching for safe harbor in a world that offers none.

Through battlefields and deserts, hunger and fear, Petra stops at nothing to keep her family safe and lead them to a better life across the U.S. border – a life where her barefoot dreams could finally become reality.



We’re giving away five copies of The Wish by Nicholas Sparks to five lucky Riot readers!

Enter here for a chance, or click the image below!

From the author of The Notebook and The Return comes a novel about the enduring legacy of first love and the decisions that haunt us forever. Renowned travel photographer Maggie Dawes is unexpectedly grounded over Christmas, struggling to come to terms with a sobering medical diagnosis. Increasingly dependent on a young assistant, she finds herself becoming close to him. And as they count down the last days of the season together, she begins to tell him the story of another Christmas, decades earlier—and the love that set her on a course she never could have imagined.

Riot Rundown


Today In Books

This Year’s MacArthur Fellows Have Been Announced: Today in Books

Marvel Sues to Retain Control of Avengers Characters

Marvel has filed a series of lawsuits in an attempt to retain full control of Avengers characters, including Spider-Man and Iron Man. The suits follow a notice of copyright termination was filed by the estate of the late comic book artist Steve Ditko. Ditko created Spider-Man and Dr. Strange with the late Stan Lee, and now Ditko’s estate wants to terminate the grant of copyright to Marvel by June 2023. Marvel has responded with a series of lawsuits the claim the creations are “work made-for-hire.”

Tor Books Has Acquired Olivie Blake’s The Atlas Six

Tor Books has acquired Olivie Blake’s The Atlas Six, along with two additional books in a planned trilogy. This fantasy novel about magicians vying to join a secret society was self-published in 2020, and it quickly became a top seller at online book retailers. Author Olivie Blake said, “I am beyond excited to be working with Molly McGhee and Tor to bring this trilogy and its dynamic cast of characters to both new and existing readers.” A newly revised and edited version of The Atlas Six with new illustrations will be available in ebook and hardcover formats on March 1, 2022.

This Year’s MacArthur Fellows Have Been Announced

This Year’s MacArthur “Genius Grant” recipients have been announced. This year’s recipients include essayist, poet, and music critic Hanif Abdurraqib (A Little Devil in America, They Can’t Kill Us Until They Kill Us) and American critic and cultural historian Ibram X. Kendi (Stamped from the Beginning, How to be Antiracist). Each MacArthur fellow receives $625,000. “As we emerge from the shadows of the past two years, this class of 25 Fellows helps us reimagine what’s possible,” MacArthur Fellows managing director Cecilia Conrad said in a statement. “They demonstrate that creativity has no boundaries.”

10 Books Millennial Kids Read That Could Never Get Published Today

If you grew up in the ’80s and ’90s, you’ve lived through some questionable childhood experiences. Here are ten books you probably read as a kid that could never get published today.

Past Tense

Finding Comfort with Pandemics in Historical Fiction

I’ve been thinking a lot about the representation of pandemics in fiction lately. Maybe because I’ve started to come across more mentions of it in the books I read. Mostly it’s authors notes explaining that they’re intentionally leaving the pandemic out of their book to provide a bit of much needed escapism. And for the most part, that’s been my preference. Life has been hard enough, right? My reading is an escape from all that. It’s made me think about how few contemporaneous novels were written about the 1918 Flu Epidemic. There was a war going on then, too, of course, but still. It seems like people often need time to come to terms with the pandemic they’re living through before they’re ready to write or read about it.

And yet, contradictorily, there’s a certain comfort in reading about pandemics and epidemics of the past. The literature that came out of the 1918 Flu “speaks to our current moment in profound ways.” There’s a sense of solace in seeing how the world has dealt with pandemics and epidemics of the past. We got through them eventually, after all. Pandemics in historical fiction provide a means of processing what we’re going through without having to face the fear and uncertainty of our present moment, at least directly. They tell us: yes this is awful but one day we’ll be through it. Maybe you’ll find some of that comfort in these historical fiction books, too. Unfortunately, there aren’t as many books about past pandemics written by authors of color, but hopefully that will change soon.

The Pull of the Stars Book Cover

Pull of the Stars by Emma Donoghue

This historical fiction novel is the first that really got me thinking about the parallels we can find in pandemics of the past, and the sense of relief that comes with that. In a Dublin maternity ward in 1918, the affects of the flu are immediate and devastating, impacting expecting mothers and their unborn children alike. Their lives rest in the hands of one young nurse in an understaffed hospital also dealing with the aftermath of war. It’s a heartbreaking portrayal of sickness and loss but also of courage in the face of hardship and the unknown depths of the human spirit.

TW: death and graphic depictions of childbirth and stillbirth

In the Company of Men Book Cover

In the Company of Men by Véronique Tadjo, translated by John Cullen

The 1918 Flu Epidemic may be the one that has drawn the most comparisons with Covid-19, but it’s not the only one to devastate the people affected. Tadjo brings to light the Ebola epidemic in West Africa through snapshots of those affected, from doctors protected from the virus by only the thin layer of a plastic suit to the volunteer gravediggers, overwhelmed by the sheer number of bodies. It is especially timely in depicting the question of how we deal with overwhelming fear and prejudice in the face of a devastating health crisis.

The Second Life of Mirielle West Book Cover

The Second Life of Mirielle West by Amanda Skenandore

In the Louisiana institution known as Carville, people branded as lepers were stripped of their rights and quarantined throughout the 20th century. Mirielle West was living the life of a socialite, married to a silent film star in Hollywood’s Golden Age, when a doctor noticed a pale patch of skin on her hand and sent her hundreds of miles away to Carville Lepers Home. At first, Mirielle holds onto the hope that her stay there will be brief, but life at Carville is more of a life sentence than anything. With no other choice, she’ll have to carve out a life for herself among this disparate group of people with an incurable disease.

Year of Wonders Book Cover

Year of Wonders by Geraldine Brooks

1666 is a time of fear, and superstition is almost as rampant as the plague ravaging its way across Europe. When an infected bolt of cloth brings the disease to an isolated English village, the spread of illness leads the villagers to turn on each other in a deadly witch-hunt. One young healer takes it upon herself to save her community from disintegration in this book based on the true story of Eyam and its experiences with the deadly Bubonic Plague.

The Great Believers Book Cover

The Great Believers by Rebecca Makkai

In 1980s Chicago, the director of an art gallery sees his career flourish even as the AIDS epidemic devastates the world around him, taking out first one friend, then another. Telling both the story of the survivors affects by the aftermath of the AIDS crisis and those living through it, The Great Believers depicts the struggle to find hope amidst devastation and despair.


Emma Donaghue discuses The Pull of the Stars, the “narrative gold mine” that is epidemic fiction, and how she researches for her historical fiction.

Listen to (or read the transcript of) this interview with author Véronique Tadjo about the uncanny timing of her book’s English translation release amidst the Covid-19 Pandemic.


That’s it for now, folx! Stay subscribed for more stories of yesteryear.

If you want to talk books (historical or otherwise), you can find me @rachelsbrittain on Instagram, Goodreads, Litsy, and occasionally Twitter.

Right now I’m reading The Inheritance of Orquídea Divina by Zoraida Córdova and The Chosen and the Beautiful by Nghi Vo. What about you?