“That’s the thing about books. They let you travel without moving your feet.”
This is the first in a four part series on books to read during the lockdown.
I’m beginning with my favourite comfort reads.
How I live Now – by Meg Rosoff
A brilliantly told book that completely immerses you in its narrator’s world. I love Daisy and her journey from hurt New York teenager to someone competent and capable of caring for and thinking about others. This might not be everyone’s cup of tea, as the voice is very definitely that of a teenage girl and as we are living with Daisy we only know what she knows about the war that breaks out, which some might find dissatisfying.
I Capture the Castle by Dodie Smith
One of my all-time favourite books. Like Meg Rosoff, Dodie Smith does a fabulous job of fully immersing you in Cassandra’s world and making you love her dysfunctional family. This book is just a joy, especially Topaz.
The Pursuit of Love by Nancy Mitford
Another heroine in a dysfunctional family (I think my comfort reads might have a theme). In The Pursuit of Love though, Nancy Mitford tells Linda’s story from the outside. Our narrator is sensible cousin Fanny, who is both bewitched and in awe of her chaotic Radlett cousins, with their amazing highs and terrible lows. This book is just a pure delight, it never fails to make me laugh and cry.
What Alice Forgot by Laine Moriarty
You might be familiar with Liane Moriarty’s runaway bestseller, Big Little Lies, but What Alice Forgot is my favourite of all her books. Forty-something Alice hits her head at the gym. When she comes around she is suffering from partial amnesia. In her head, she is newly married and pregnant with her first child and she’s horrified to find that somehow the choices she’s made over her life, have brought her to a place she doesn’t like at all.
This is such a clever look at what we think life will be like, and how it ends up being, and how we grow and change as we age.
The Scorpio Races by Maggie Stiefvater
I love this book so much, to me it is perfect. It’s set on an imaginary island where every November islanders, and main landers, compete in a race on magical horses, that emerge every year from the sea, and who will kill you if they can. I know it sounds completely bizarre when you right it like that, but trust me it works. It’s told in a duel narrative by Kate Connolly (Puck) a first time rider in the race and Sean Kendrick, three time champion of the races. Puck and Sean are two of my all time favourite characters. This is a YA novel and they are teens, but it has a timeless quality that I think makes it perfect for older readers too.
The Night Circus by Erin Morganstern
I feel like this is a marmite book, i.e. you adore it or you loath it. There’s no in-between with this book. The style is unusual, and I’ve heard some people say the plot moves too slowly. For me it’s a gorgeous immersion in a magical world, I could stay for twice as long watching as a magical battle unfolds slowly across the years. Simply perfect.
Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen
The ultimate comfort read. Who couldn’t be cheered up by Lizzie, Darcy, and the unstoppable Mrs Bennet.
CrossStitch by Diana Gabaldon
If you want a completely immersive reading experience I suggest CrossSitch, once you start this book it’s hard to put it down, despite is size. Claire and Jamie’s epic century spanning romance is just fabulous.
Uprooted by Naomi Novik
A wonderful fairy tale reimagining about the dragon who demands the sacrifice of a pretty maiden every year to leave the village in peace. I just love this book. Her other fairy tale retelling Spinning Silver is also magical.
Big Magic by Elizabeth Gilbert
If you’ve always dreamed of doing something creative now might be the time and Elizabeth Gilbert’s beautiful book might be just the boost you need.
Tomorrow I’ll be suggesting some great kids books that the whole family can enjoy. Wednesday I’ll be back to adult books, with some great books I’ve read recently. On Thursday I’ll be sharing (part of) my own lockdown TBR list.