Young woman holding books

Five Of Our Favourite Books In Lockdown

A common side-effect of being under stay-at-home orders is the amount of extra time we all seem to have on our hands. It is a great time to dive into a new book for a little escape from the reality of our four walls. Here are five great books we can recommend.

A Very Stable Genius – Donald J. Trump’s Testing of America

By Philip Rucker and Carol Leonnig

There is one thing this pandemic is showing us: leadership matters. This book is a deep-dive into the shambolic presidency of Donald Trump, chronicling his pathway to the Presidency, from the moment he rode down the escalator to announce his candidacy to the revelation of the phone call he made to the president of Ukraine. 

Co-written by two NY Times reporters, this is an eye-opening depiction of what happens when a man rises to a position of power in which he comes to believe that he can do anything without facing the consequences. An incredible outline of how the US ended up with the wrong person in leadership at the wrong time. 

Weird Things Customers Say in Bookshops

By Jen Campbell

If you sometimes find yourself shaking your head in amazement at the stupid things people will say and do, this book is for you. A fantastically funny collection of genuine questions recorded by the proprietors of two independent bookshops. Be ready to laugh-out-loud at some of the unbelievably cheeky or outrageously weird things people say in bookstores. A great book to read if you need a little distraction from these strange times we are living through. 

Quote from the book:

Customer: I’ve been looking through your geography section – I can’t find any books on Atlantis.

Bookseller: You know, I think we managed to lose those.

The Muse 

By Jessie Burton

From the author of The Miniaturist, this book intertwines art, mystery and intrigue with historical fiction and feminism. An elegantly written tale of passion and desire following the lives of two women: Olive, a young artist, with a natural inclination towards painting, who feels the sexist society of Spain in the 1930s represses her talent, and Odelle, a young poetess from Trinidad growing up in England in the 1960s who faces many obstacles triggered by the colour of her skin. A beautiful story of two strong female characters and a powerful mystery that ties them together.

Very British Problems – Making Life Awkward for Ourselves, One Rainy Day at a Time

By Rob Temple

Very British Problems is a fabulous book to lose yourself in and pleasantly pass the time in lockdown. This book is a loving self-portrayal of the weird and quirky habits of the British. Every page will make you giggle if not howl with laughter at their constant need to apologise and their obsession with queueing. Enjoy being entertained by the British addiction to tea and biscuits and their preoccupation with the weather. In the chapter “Repressing One’s Rage”, Temple outlines the perfectly beautiful British ways to deal with annoyance:

 Dealing with a queue jumper by staring fiercely at the back of their head.

 Becoming so furious that you beg someone for their pardon.

Thanking people under your breath as punishment for them not thanking you.

A Paradise Built in Hell –The Extraordinary Communities That Arise in Disaster

By Rebecca Solnit

If there was a small silver lining to this pandemic, A Paradise Built in Hell, would be the place to discover it. This wide-reaching book examines how disasters have changed the societies that survive them by birthing new social possibilities and highlighting the best side of human behaviour. Covering major calamities such as the 1906 earthquake in San Francisco, the 1985 Mexico City earthquake, 9/11, and Hurricane Katrina in New Orleans, this book uncovers how disasters can result in vast outpourings of altruism and philanthropy allowing the positive sides of humanity to shine through. With many examples of how strangers will go to extraordinary lengths to help one another, this book gives us hope that humanity is more durable than the current crisis that faces us. 

We hope you are staying safe and well in your homes and can take some time out to relax and lose yourself in a great book. 

Maybe this is why we read, and why in moments of darkness, we return to books: to find words for what we already know.

Alberto Manguel