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caption: Balancing stack of books. Photo by Getty Images
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Balancing stack of books. Photo by Getty Images

Pandemic Book Club: Reading recommendations from Nancy Pearl and KUOW listeners

Book Lust author Nancy Pearl talks with KUOW's Ross Reynolds and public radio listeners about great reads for lockdown.


Quotes about books

Quotes about books from KUOW.

Are your days of nonstop Zoom calls failing to spark joy? Are your socially distant walks around your block starting to get awkward as you try to avoid your neighbors who aren't wearing masks? Maybe it's time to cuddle up with your cat who's sick of you being home and read a great book!

In this hour, KUOW takes a break from this new normal of rising unemployment numbers and plummeting morale to engage in a little escapism with our favorite authors.


You don't have to burn books to destroy a culture. Just get people to stop reading them. Ray Bradbury

Our guides are America's Librarian and Archie McPhee action figure Nancy Pearl, our own voice of calm and curiosity Ross Reynolds, and you, our loyal public radio listeners.

Here's a list of your book recommendations while we’re in lockdown:

"White Butterfly" by Walter Mosley. Recommended by SassyBlack on today’s Are We Going to Be OK? episode.

"The Longing for Less: Living with Minimalism" by Kyle Chayka. Recommended by Alec Cowan.

"Stone Butch Blues" by Leslie Feinberg. Recommended by Jenna Montgomery.

"Watership Down" by Richard Adams. Recommended by Heather Dannenfelser.

"Uprooted" by Naomi Novik. Recommended by Adwoa Gyimah-Brempong.

"Finishing the Hat" and "Look, I Made a Hat" by Steven Sondheim. Recommended by Gregg Porter.


Books to the ceiling, Books to the sky, My pile of books is a mile high. How I love them! How I need them! I'll have a long beard by the time I read them. Arnold LaBelle

"The Mirror and the Light" by Hilary Mantel. Recommended by Amy Radil.

"Independent People" by Halldór Laxness. Recommended by Margie in Seattle.

"A Journal of the Plague Year" by Daniel Defoe. Recommended by Joshua McNichols.

"Say Nothing: A True Story of Murder and Memory in Northern Ireland" by Patrick Radden Keefe

"The Last Mughal: The Fall of a Dynasty: Delhi, 1857" by William Dalrymple. Recommended by Jemma Hovance.

"Africa: A History" by Alvin M. Josephy Jr. Recommended by Karen Turner.


Outside of a dog. A book is a man's best friend. Inside of a dog, it's too dark to read! Groucho Marx

"The Mirror & the Light" by Hilary Mantel. Recommended by Amy Radil.

"Six Feet Apart, Together!: A Tale of Social Distancing in the Age of a Pandemic" by Ari Levitt. Recommended by Amy in Seattle.

"Doomsday Book" by Connie Willis. Recommended by Margaret in Seattle.

"The Fifth Sacred Thing" by Starhawk. Recommended by Miriam in Briar.

"The Secret History of Twin Peaks" by Mark Frost. Recommended by Mark in Tacoma.

"A Gentleman in Moscow" by Amor Towles. Recommended by Allie.

"Station Eleven" by Emily St. John Mandel. Recommended by Heidi in Snohomish.

"The Audacity of Hope" by Barack Obama. Recommended by Pam on Vashon Island.


Fairy tales are more than true: not because they tell us that dragons exist, but because they tell us that dragons can be beaten. Neil Gaiman, paraphrasing G.K. Chesterton, Coraline

"The Book of Delights" by Ross Gay. Recommended by Caitlyn in Fremont and Brandi Fullwood.

"Independent People" by Halldór Laxness. Recommended by Margie from Seattle.

"The Catholic School" by Edoardo Albinati, "The Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire" by Edward Gibbon, and "Our Mutual Friend" by Charles Dickens. Recommended by Brad Craft from the University Book Store in Seattle.

"The Man Who Quit Money" by Mark Sundeen. Recommended by Pam.

"Tracks" and "Love Medicine" by Louise Erdrich. Recommended by Karen in Seattle.

"The Broken Earth Trilogy" by N.K. Jemisin. Recommended by John Sullivan.

"The Wind in the Willows" by Kenneth Grahame. Recommended by Grace from the University Book Store in Seattle.

"Breakfast at Sally’s: One Homeless Man’s Inspirational Journey" by Richard LeMieux. Recommended by Cheryl in Kent.

"Mountains Beyond Mountains: The Quest of Dr. Paul Farmer, a Man Who Would Cure the World" by Tracy Kidder. Recommended by Martha Baskin.


If you only read the books that everyone else is reading, you can only think what everyone else is thinking. Haruki Murakami

"Lincoln in the Bardo" by George Saunders. Recommended by Antoinette Wills.

"Horizon" by Barry Lopez. Recommended by Steve in Seattle.

"Wool" by Hugh Howey. Recommended by Jennifer in Seattle.

"Man’s Search for Meaning" by Viktor E. Frankl. Recommended by Kay in Redmond.

"Origins of the American Revolution" by John Chester Miller. Recommended by Frank.

"Maus" by Art Spiegelman. Recommended by Mark.

"The Library Book" by Susan Orlean. Recommended by Jennifer.

"Earth Abides" by George R. Stewart. Recommended by Bruce.

"The Coming Plague: Newly Emerging Diseases in a World Out of Balance" by Laurie Garrett. Recommended by Mary in North Kitsap.

"Fate is the Hunter: A Pilot’s Memoir" by Ernest K. Gann. Recommended by Steve in Renton.


Good friends, good books and a sleepy conscience: This is the ideal life. Mark Twain

"Captains of the Sands" by Jorge Amado by Carolyn in Seattle.

"Heavy: An American Memoir" by Kiese Laymon. Recommended by Kristin Leong.

"A Book of Fields: Tales from the Pioneer Valley" by Stephen Billias. Recommended by Ross Reynolds.

Recommended by our special guest, Nancy Pearl:

"Johnny Tremain" by Esther Forbes.

"The Brief History of the Dead" by Kevin Brockmeier.

"Under Heaven" by Guy Gavriel Kay.

"Gabriela, Clove and Cinnamon" by Jorge Amado.

caption: Nancy Pearl can be found on NPR’s Morning Edition talking about her favorite books. Among her many honors are the 2011 Librarian of the Year Award and the 2011 Lifetime Achievement Award from the Pacific Northwest Booksellers Association. Nancy is the creator of the internationally recognized program If All of Seattle Read the Same Book, and was the inspiration for the Archee McPhee "Librarian Action Figure."
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Nancy Pearl can be found on NPR’s Morning Edition talking about her favorite books. Among her many honors are the 2011 Librarian of the Year Award and the 2011 Lifetime Achievement Award from the Pacific Northwest Booksellers Association. Nancy is the creator of the internationally recognized program If All of Seattle Read the Same Book, and was the inspiration for the Archee McPhee "Librarian Action Figure."
Credit: Nancy Pearl

Looking to to pick up one of these titles?

May we recommend checking out this list of independent booksellers who would love your support right now from our friends at The Seattle Times.

This show was produced by John O’Brien and hosted by Ross Reynolds. This web story was produced by Kristin Leong.