A major publisher has reported a huge increase in the sales of books about the spread of viruses and diseases, according to a reading charity.
The Reading Agency said Penguin Classics had experienced a 1393% increase in sales of The Viral Storm by the biologist Nathan Wolfe, which explores the spread of contagions.
Journal Of The Plague Year, which is a fictional account of the spread of disease in London written by Daniel Defoe and published in 1722, has also had a 750% rise in sales.
The Decameron by Giovanni Boccaccio, which is a collection of stories about a plague sweeping through Florence in Italy, has experienced a 288% uplift in sales and The Bethrothed by Alessandro Manzoni, which recounts a virus in Milan, has sold 181% more copies.
The figures, based on a comparison with the week before the lockdown, show sales of The Plague by Albert Camus are also up.
Author Anthony Horowitz said people were turning to the books as a way of understanding the crisis.
“I would have said that when something inexplicable like this happens, you do look to fiction to try to make sense of it,” he told PA news agency.
“I myself read The Plague recently.”
He added: “It is a strange thing that fiction often provides the answers to real life.
“It is not real life but it somehow provides the answers to what is happening around us.
“We look to fiction to try to make sense of the real world.”