Since I’ve become a full-time writer, I haven’t been reading as avid as I was in my college years. I read the pitches from freelance writers and my peers’ works for editorial purposes. I read newspapers and research for my own writings. But the COVID-19-induced lockdown has given me more time to read and reflect. 

When I thought about making a list of books to read during lockdown, I opted to make it personal rather than follow numerous reading guides you can find online. These are some of the books I’ve read these days.

“All the Light We Cannot See” by Anthony Doerr

A heart lifting experience. 

The writer crafted the story in so much detail that I felt as if he took my hand and walked me through the later days of World War Two. It shows how mysterious turns of fate brings two people from very different backgrounds to the fairy city of Saint-Malo. 

I could relate to the main protagonist Marie-Laure, who happens to be blind, as she’s trapped in a house in a war-torn town as I myself is stuck at home to fend for myself from the unseeable but very real virus. What’s it like to feel powerless yet still hopeful for the better days?

Find it on Amazon.

“Bazaar of Bad Dreams” by Stephen King

As if there weren’t enough to be scared of outside.

I read horror stories just the same way people watch pandemic films in the midst of pandemic: control over our fears. 

King’s stories often tell about a protagonist, who’s usually young, overcomes their demons both literally and figuratively and finds they are stronger than they thought they were. 

This collection of short stories is a different, well, story. Some of them are scary, like Mile 81 and Bad Little Kid. Some of them are less scary and more human, have a go at Morality and Under Weather. Some of them are weird, such as Ur

King recounts the inspiration behind every story in it. So, you can get a glimpse of the writer’s mind palace.

Find it on Amazon.

“21 Lessons for the 21st Century” by Yuval Noah Harari 

This is my second time reading it.

I read it some time last year and was fascinated by what the future Harrari had imagined looked like. Never thought a deadly pandemic would be a part of it.

Harari said how the revolution in infotech and biotech could disrupt the job market, what we should do about terrorism and climate change, and how to perceive the crisis of liberal democracy. With all these forces at play, we now have to deal with a virus that can change life as we know it probably forever.

Since Harari’s first book, Sapiens, I’ve become a fan. His tone and writing style make unapproachable global affairs approachable for laymen like me. Perhaps his next book will be on the pandemic and “new normal”.

Find it on Amazon.

“The Book of Joy” by Tenzin Gyatso & Desmond Tutu

I got this book as a gift from my aunt and it has been sitting on my bookshelf for some years. 

To be honest I had been too confident to read it. I thought I had known very well how to find happiness and life never ran out of means to make oneself happy. What was I thinking? In fact life always finds a way to humble people. After the noises and lights of the party go out suddenly, we find ourselves in the dark.  

The 14th Dalai Lama Tenzin Gyatso and Archbishop Desmond Tutu met at the former’s residence in exile in India for a week to celebrate his birthday. This book is what they talked about this one timeless question: What it means to be happy?

Happiness is universal and therefore I don’t want anyone to assume this is a book of a particular faith. In fact everyone from different religions and beliefs can read it. We all deserve to be happy after all. 

Find it on Amazon.

“The Highly Sensitive Person” by Elaine Aron

Since teenage years, I got comments about how shy and introverted I was. For quite a time I thought it was my personality. 

A while ago I came across this personality test online which checked out most of my traits. The Highly Sensitive Personality denies both shyness and introversion. It maintains that about 70 per cent of highly sensitive people, or HSP, are introverted and that’s why they confusedly identify themselves so.

Even if you like meeting new people or are a social butterfly, you can still be an HSP. It simply means that you’re highly sensitive to a change in air, environment and people’s feelings that makes the world a bigger place than it is to you. That’s why you feel overwhelmed by everything in it sometimes.

Before you read the book, take this test. Find the book on Amazon.  

I hope this article helps you consider what to read next. As Burmese is my first language, I read Burmese-language books, too. But I decided to mention only English-language ones to make it appeal to both of our reader groups. 

Happy reading!


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