The Best Books I’ve Read During the COVID-19 Pandemic

Hey. It’s been a minute.

I’ve been struggling to discern what’s responsible to write about for my travel blog during a worldwide pandemic. Over on Explore Magazine, I’ve created videos about camping and hiking. I’ve edited and published important articles about diversity and inclusion. I’ve also accepted a new position as the Managing Editor for Canadian Traveller, so I’m planning the Winter print issue in a grounded world.

International travel still feels months—or even years—away.

Enjoying summer sunsets on Sunset Beach, Vancouver

Despite my good intentions, I haven’t written as many articles and essays or pitched my memoir to as many agents as I’d planned. However, taking a step back is making my writing better—through editing. I’m currently reading my manuscript aloud to my boyfriend, Tavis. He’s helping me catch errors and improve the story. I also just placed a very personal essay in The Huffington Post.

Considering we’re living through a historic, overwhelming, exhausting time, I’ve been giving myself a much-needed self-care break: watching reruns of Gossip Girl and relaxing on the beach near my apartment in downtown Vancouver.

And I’ve been reading.

Below, you’ll find my thoughts on three of the best books I’ve read during the COVID-19 lockdown. Only two are technical travel books; I was skeptical of one and scared of another. All are amazing and completely worth reading. I decided not to buy these books on Amazon and help line Jeff Bezos pockets—instead, I found them in local bookshops and borrowed from friends.

1. Traveling with Ghosts

Take out the tissues. Traveling with Ghosts is a true story of love, loss and the places in-between. I reviewed and published a Q&A with the author for explore. While discussing her book and late fiancé over a video chat, it was clear: she still loves him. This story makes my heart ache—and affirmed that I never want to go to Thailand.

2. Untamed

I’m not a huge fan of self-care books, but this treasure by Glennon Doyle hits different. I read Untamed expecting to find it decent at best—and I completely fell in love with the intimate, personal prose. So many of her wise words ended up being quotes I copied down to reflect on. Somehow, she manages to make intensely individual situations universal. I guess that’s why it’s a bestseller.

3. Girl in the Woods

If you enjoyed reading Wild, pick up this alternate account of thru-hiking the PCT. In Girl in the Woods, the author embarks on a journey by foot from Mexico to Canada. The descriptions of her hike make an interesting travelogue, but it’s her honesty, introspection and growth that kept me reading.

Bonus: White Fragility

After the murder of George Floyd, the Black Lives Matter (BLM) movement gained steam across the world. I support this important, anti-racist movement, and I decided it was high time to educate myself. White Fragility is written by a white woman who works as a diversity consultant. Many of the points in this text were difficult to read, but it was also imperative to begin my learning. I’d recommend this to any white person (even if you think you already understand your privilege).

What books are you reading to pass the pandemic? Comment below!

2 comments

  1. It still feels unimaginable that the freedom of independent travel could really be years away. I have a plan for next year, but no certainty that it will happen.
    These days I often think about how special it is to know what it feels like to be in those far flung places and to meet the people who never leave those places.

    I am reading ‘Eat, pray, love’, by Elizabeth Gilbert. I scored when I saw that on a ‘free book’ shelf, because it was in my list of books to buy for next time I want to give myself a present.
    I love the way she goes to such extremes with her chosen experiences and stays at those extremes for months at a time. It would not be my travel style, but I love reading about when somebody else does it, especially if it is a woman.

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