Coronavirus Quarantine Reading List

I’ve been getting lots of people asking me for book recommendations and I have been sending them the list I made last year (find it here). But since I wrote this, I’ve read a lot of good books so I thought it was time for an update – especially as we’re all looking for something to do now we can’t go to the pub.

Books I couldn’t put down

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Normal People

Usually I avoid books with this much hype around them but I stormed through normal people and was heartbroken when it ended. An everyday love story about two people whose lives intertwine and define each other. There’s also the benefit that it’s been turned into a great on-screen adaptation.

The Overstory

I bought this on a whim and wasn’t expecting to enjoy it much – because essentially it’s a book about trees. However it proved me wrong and I ended up loving it. It follows different sets of people and how their lives unfold and the core role that trees play in this. Sounds weird I know, but it really makes you think about the wider world and your place in it. Beautiful and compelling book.

A Gentleman in Moscow

A much easier read than you would think it would be considering its set in 1900s Russia. An uplifting story about an aristocratic gentlemen sentenced to a life of house arrest in a 5 star hotel.

Shantaram

I was recommended this by people so many times and to be honest delayed reading it because it is looong. It is a bit of a slow burn but you’ve got to stick with it. An insightful look into the lives of everyday Indian people and the extraordinary journey of one man who ended up calling India home. Of course there’s some mafia and violence mixed in there too.

The Great Alone

A haunting book about the harshness of Alaska, the resilience of people when they come together as a community and the deep connection you can feel to a place. The great alone is about an unprepared family who move to the Alaskan wilderness after the Vietnam war, and the struggles they face. Told from the perspective of the daughter, this book will make you want to visit Alaska.

Shoe Dog

Again, one I’d been avoiding because of the hype but so glad I gave in. An incredible look into the early days of building a multi-billion dollar company and the team and the decisions behind it. Told very much like a story, Phil Knight brings you along the journey being frank about the good and bad decisions he made along the way.

Becoming

Michelle Obama clearly demonstrates her intelligence, poise and determination in this wonderful book about her life and views on the world. Easy to read and lots of lessons to be taken from this.

Daisy Jones and the Six

Embarrassingly for the first 5 chapters or so I thought this was non-fiction, but that just goes to show that its well written and entirely believe-able as a story. In interview style, it recants the story of a popular band in the 90s – both the ups and the downs. This almost was categorised in my beach-read section but I felt it deserved a space here because there are some darker themes.

The Goldfinch

I adored this book. I’m not sure if it’s because it basically reads as a love letter to New York, or it was so well written but I wish I could read it again for the first time. It follows a young boy after he is involved in a tragic museum bombing that kills his mother and in the aftermath he steals a priceless painting. The years that unfold are sad and happy and confusing and I literally couldn’t put it down. The movie is nowhere near as good which is a shame.

The Secret History

Following the Goldfinch I had to read something else by Donna Tartt. The Secret History is completely different but equally as well written. It’s a dark story of intelligent outsiders who form a tight group of friends, and how far they will go to cover secrets. Very compelling.

Educated

An emotionally impactful book, Tara Westover recounts her own unusual life and family relationships growing up in the remote countryside with extremely religious parents. This could honestly have been fiction and I wouldn’t have questioned it. Brilliant book.

The Dreamers

A little too topical, the book brings us to a small California town where a sleeping sickness spreads like wildfire (although no one is exactly sure HOW it is spreading). Those who succumb seem to be living within their dreams, and no one is certain if they’ll ever wake up. I really enjoyed this book but it almost leaves more questions than it answers (similar to The Age of Miracles by the same author). I suppose this is what real life is like though – we never get the full picture.

Circe 

The untold story of Circe, the witch from Greek Mythology and traditionally just a minor character in Homer’s The Odyssey, we are plunged into the world of Gods and Men – and what it means to be a woman in this history. I found this so interesting to see these traditional tales unpeeled and viewed from a different perspective.

Bad Blood

In an opposite to Daisy Jones and the Six, it is almost unbelievable that this is a true story. It will make your jaw drop what Elizabeth Holmes got away with and makes you wonder if she was delusional or an actual genius.

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Easy reads for the beach 

The sun is also a star

A classic teen tale set in New York – love with a time limit. Now a movie which I haven’t seen.

Cross Stitch (Outlander)

Who doesn’t love Jamie? It’s a bit steamy but definitely an easy beach romance novel. Obviously it’s now a great TV series.

Five Feet Apart

Another teen love story but this time set in a hospital with chronic illness meaning they can’t be together. Also now a movie.

Of Blood and Bone (Chronicles of the One)

I love a good post-apocalyptic book. Book two in the series. In book one disease kills lots of people and many of the survivors develop magical powers. This book then follows that on about 14 years through the training of the girl said to the ‘The One’ aka the saviour.

Leaving Time

I like Jodi Picoult – her books are easy to read but also don’t make you feel like your brain is turning to mush. This one is not 100% typical to Picoult but follows a similar ‘mystery / key information that gets revealed at the end’ kind of structure. About a young girl searching for her mother who disappeared when she was young, with the help of a gruff ex-cop and a psychic. Enjoyable and unexpected.

The Storyteller

Another Picoult book – again same structure of the reveal at the end of the book that finally gives you the full picture. This one is about an introverted night-shift baker who discovers her sweet elderly neighbour is an ex-Nazi officer who wants her to kill him.

In Five Years

Proper beach read, this follows a girl who has it all figured out (the job, the Fiance – you get the picture), but then has a very realistic dream that in five years time she’s with a different man. Of course, this plants a seed of doubt – is the life she’s living the one she’s meant to have? Only time will tell.

 

Books I struggled to finish

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A Darker Shade of Magic

I had hope for this parallel universe with magic situation but it was a bit dull and I found the characters flat. It’s got some strong supporters though so maybe it was just me.

The Starless Sea

Again I really wanted to love this because the idea was there and I really liked some of the authors previous books, but I felt the world was developed enough and there was a lot of building for it just to fizzle out.  Set in a library at the centre of the earth is the starless sea where stories live. It just didn’t all come together as I hoped it would.

Angels and DemonsThe Da Vinci Code

I think I’m the last person on earth to read these, but I figured quarantine was the time. Honestly I found the movies better. They were very long and I found Robert Langdon a less likeable character (i.e. more romanticised and always falling in love with much younger women) than Tom Hank’s version.

The Golem and the Djinni

This is cheating because I’m only half way through this but it’s taking me so long because I don’t feel the need to find out what’s happening. I took a bit of a risk with this one and I don’t think it’s going to pay off. Set in 1800s New York, it follows a Golem and a Dijinni who have arrived separately into this unfamiliar land, and their paths intertwine. Who knows, maybe it will get better.

 

What’s on my read list 

The Song of Achilles

Radio Silence

The Diviners

 

Hope this gives some inspiration for your next literary adventure. You can also see what else I’ve read on my GoodReads! Send me recommendations to add to my list 🙂

 

 

One thought on “Coronavirus Quarantine Reading List

  1. Great recommendations! I really love Normal People. I thought it was going to be an over-hyped book and then spent the next three days crying and feeling raw! Sally Rooney is brilliant!

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