10 best books to read during lockdown for pure escapism…
Curling up with a book and a cuppa when the kids are asleep is one of my favourite things to do at the moment (gosh I’m getting old). Admittedly it doesn’t happen often enough but when I do get to relax, I want to read something that really grabs my interest. I’m guessing this might be the case for many of us, so I have put together my 10 best books to read during lockdown.
So what makes them the best books to read during lockdown? For me it’s the fact that they aren’t too taxing and that they transport me to another time or place! I normally read books via my Kindle these days and have recently started using Audible to listen to some of my books while pottering / exercising / doing house work. If you are interested in trying it out, you can get a free trial for Audible HERE.
1. Blood Orange by Harriet Tyce
Alison has it all. A doting husband, adorable daughter, and a career on the rise – she’s just been given her first murder case to defend. But all is never as it seems…
I did it. I killed him. Alison’s client stabbed her husband; she wants to plead guilty. And yet something about her story feels off…I’m watching you. I know what you’re doing. Someone knows Alison’s secret. Someone who wants to make her pay for what she’s done, and who won’t stop until she’s lost everything….
My thoughts: I couldn’t put this book down! It wasn’t quite what I expected and quite different from my usual reads but a page turner no less…
2. The Island by Victoria Hislop
Alexis Fielding longs to find out about her mother’s past. But Sofia has never spoken of it. All she admits to is growing up in a small Cretan village before moving to London. When Alexis decides to visit Crete, however, Sofia gives her daughter a letter to take to an old friend…
Arriving in Plaka, Alexis is astonished at its proximity to the deserted island of Spinalonga – Greece’s former leper colony. Then she finds Fortini, and hears the tale of her great-grandmother Eleni and her daughters, and a family rent by tragedy, war and passion. She discovers how intimately she is connected with the island, and how secrecy holds them all in its powerful grip…
My thoughts: An oldie but a goody! This was recommended to me as a friend and I have since recommended it to others. This book completely transports you to another place and during lockdown at the moment, it seem more relevant than ever. The fact that the story is heartbreaking and fascinating all at the same time in this piece of historical novel.
3. The Wrong Knickers – A Decade of Chaos by Briony Gordon
Bryony Gordon survived her adolescence by dreaming about the life she’d have in her twenties: the perfect job; the lovely flat; the amazing boyfriend. The reality was something of a shock. Her Telegraph column was a diary of her daily screw-ups; she lived in a series of squalid shoe boxes; and her most meaningful relationship of the entire decade was with a Marlboro Light.
Bryony busts open the glamorised myth of what it means to be a young (perpetually) single girl about London town, and shares the horrible and hilarious truth.
Bryony’s wonderfully ridiculous and ultimately redemptive story is essential reading for everyone whose ‘best years’ weren’t quite what they were expecting…
My thoughts: A wonderfully ridiculous account that many of us will relate to, especially if we had a bit of a wild-side before we settled down! Assuming we are settled down now…
4. Educated by Tara Westover
Tara Westover grew up preparing for the ‘End of Days’. She spent her summers bottling peaches and her winters rotating emergency supplies, hoping that when the World of Men failed, her family would continue on, unaffected.
She hadn’t been registered for a birth certificate. She had no school records because she’d never set foot in a classroom, and no medical records because her father didn’t believe in doctors or hospitals. According to the state and federal government, she didn’t exist.
As she grew older, her father became more radical, and her brother, more violent. At sixteen Tara decided to educate herself. Without wanting to give too much away, you can find out more when you read the book…
My thoughts: This book makes me feel very lucky that I was born into a (somewhat) normal family! Based on a true account of her upbringing, Tara is an absolute inspiration but my goodness she has to go through a lot!
5. My Friend Anna by Rachel DeLoache Williams
How does it feel to be betrayed by your closest friend? A close friend who turns out to be the most prolific grifter in New York City…
My thoughts: I found this true story fascinating! From the beginning of their friendship and how it played out to getting sucked into the web of lies, it gave me a really interesting insight into a completely different life…
More of the best books to read during lockdown!
6. So Lucky by Dawn O’Porter
Beth shows that women really can have it all. Ruby lives life by her own rules. And then there’s Lauren, living the dream. As prefect as it looks? Beth hasn’t had sex in a year. Ruby feels like she’s failing. Lauren’s happiness is fake news. And it just takes one shocking event to make the truth come tumbling out…
My thoughts: Funny, relatable and a breath of fresh air! I think I may have slightly preferred this book to O’Porter’s debut novel (The Cows) though I do think The Cows is worth reading too.
7. The Girls by Emma Cline
Evie Boyd is desperate to be noticed. In the summer of 1969, empty days stretch out under the California sun. The smell of honeysuckle thickens the air and the sidewalks radiate heat. Until she sees them. The snatch of cold laughter. Hair, long and uncombed. Dirty dresses skimming the tops of thighs. Cheap rings like a second set of knuckles. The girls.
And at the centre, Russell. Russell and the ranch, down a long dirt track and deep in the hills. Incense and clumsily strummed chords. Rumours of sex, frenzied gatherings, teen runaways. Was there a warning, a sign of things to come? Or is Evie already too enthralled by the girls to see that her life is about to be changed forever?
My thoughts: Certainly thought provoking and a warts-and-all account of what commune living in the 1960s may have been like in some cases.
8. Normal People by Sally Rooney
Normal People is a girl-meets-boy story with a difference, interrogating the difficulties of sincere communication in a complicated, post-ironic world. Connell and Marianne grow up in the same small town in rural Ireland. The similarities end there; they are from very different worlds. When they both earn places at Trinity College in Dublin, a connection that has grown between them lasts long into the following years. This is an exquisite love story about how a person can change another person’s life – a simple yet profound realisation that unfolds beautifully over the course of the novel. It tells us how difficult it is to talk about how we feel and it tells us – blazingly – about cycles of domination, legitimacy and privilege. Alternating menace with overwhelming tenderness, Sally Rooney’s second novel breathes fiction with new life.
My thoughts: I loved this exquisite love story for many reasons, aside from the fact that Connell and Marianne grew up in the same county in Ireland as my Dad and they went to Trinity College, the same university that I went to as well! You can also watch the 12 part series on BBC iPlayer (after you have read the book).
9. Little Fires Everywhere by Celeste Ng
Everyone in Shaker Heights was talking about it that summer: how Isabelle, the last of the Richardson children, had finally gone around the bend and burned the house down.In the placid, progressive suburb of Shaker Heights everything is meticulously planned – from the layout of the winding roads, to the colours of the houses, to the successful lives its residents will go on to lead. And no one embodies this spirit more than Elena Richardson, whose guiding principal is playing by the rules.
Mia Warren, an enigmatic artist and single mother, arrives in this idyllic bubble with her teenage daughter Pearl, and rents a house from the Richardsons. Soon Mia and Pearl become more than just tenants: all four Richardson children are drawn to the alluring mother-daughter pair. But Mia carries with her a mysterious past, and a disregard for the rules that threatens to upend this carefully ordered community.
When the Richardsons’ friends attempt to adopt a Chinese-American baby, a custody battle erupts that dramatically divides the town and puts Mia and Mrs. Richardson on opposing sides. Suspicious of Mia and her motives, Mrs. Richardson becomes determined to uncover the secrets in Mia’s past. But her obsession will come at unexpected and devastating costs to her own family – and Mia’s.
My thoughts: I read Little Fires Everywhere in record time while I was away with my Mum. This psychological mystery is rich with complex characters and suspense. You won’t regret reading it…I hope!
10. Wild by Cheryl Strayed
At twenty-two, Cheryl Strayed thought she had lost everything. In the wake of her mother’s death, her family scattered and her own marriage was soon destroyed. Four years later, with nothing more to lose, she made the most impulsive decision of her life. With no experience or training, driven only by blind will, she would hike more than a thousand miles of the Pacific Crest Trail from the Mojave Desert through California and Oregon to Washington State—and she would do it alone. Wild is a brutal memoir of survival, grief and redemption: a searing portrayal of life at its lowest ebb and at its highest tide.
My thoughts: Hiking over a thousand miles through rugged landscape seems a far city from life in lockdown with several kids, doesn’t it? For pure escapism, I can’t recommend this true story enough. It can be a little slow in parts but persevere with it. Although I read it quite a long time ago, it’s still very clear in my mind…
Note – this blog post contains affiliate links which means that I could make a small commission on purchases made, with absolutely no cost to the reader. Thank you as always for supporting this small business. And if you have any recommendations for best books to read during lockdown, I would love to hear from you, either over on Instagram, Facebook or emailing email@example.com
In case you are looking for something for the children to do while you’re reading your favourite book (here’s hoping!), here are 30 things to do at home with the kids during lockdown!