With the third instalment of Boris Johnson’s Lockdown series well under way, we’ve rounded up our top book recommendations to help keep you entertained. If you don’t have the energy for another Joe Wicks workout, or are getting sick of endless slices of banana bread, why not grab a cup of tea and escape with a good book? We asked our team for their top book recommendations for lockdown:
I love a good ‘whodunnit’ so enjoyed reading the latest Robert Galbraith detective novel, Troubled Blood, over the Christmas break. It sees JK Rowling’s engaging detective duo return for a cold case full of misdirection and simmering emotional tension.
The pace is akin to cosy old-fashioned Sunday night TV drama so ideal if you’re looking for an entertaining page-turner that’s not too stressful – I wish I hadn’t read it so quickly as it’s exactly the kind of book that would see me through lockdown. At 927 pages long, it’s not for the faint of wrist though!
I’m currently reading a book by Martina Cole, the queen of crime drama, and her novels can be quite dark and gory at times, as well as very tense! The stories are thrilling and I’m always second guessing what is going to happen next…sometimes I forget to blink – and breathe – when I’m reading them. They’re not the most relaxing read but once my head is in her books, I just can’t put them down!
I tend to buy books on my Kindle but during lockdown I’ve bought hardback copies as I’ve really enjoyed reading an ‘actual’ book. I’ve got quite the collection!
Transit Maps of the World: A very boring book on the surface, but it’s really interesting to read about how systems like the London Underground evolved to move people around one of the world’s busiest cities. It also gives you a great insight into the day-to-day lives of citizens from around the world, including the rate of development in developing nations. Many of the transit designs are true pieces of logistical art, although legend has it that London Underground designer Harry Beck was never paid for his work.
My ‘serious’ book recommendations would start with anything by Malcolm Gladwell. I don’t often read books (and even more rarely do I read fiction) so anything from his collection would be at the top of my list. They’re made up of multiple little stories of real-life examples that link back to an over-arching theme examining why we do what we do as humans – from making split second decisions (Blink) or why some ideas/behaviours spread like wildfire (The Tipping Point).
However, my latest read (also non-fiction) is Skincare by Caroline Hirons – I’ve barely put it down and it has honestly helped to transform my skin. I would highly recommend as we all need some form of self-care in lockdown!
I’m on Kindle Unlimited so tend to plough through anything that offers a bit of escapism, especially if there’s someone in it who’s worse off than we are at the moment – so crime thrillers and murder mysteries are current favourites!
I’m not always such a pleb though – my favourite novel is Wuthering Heights. The Brontë sisters were incredible storytellers and their characters stay with you forever. There are so many layers to it – the social commentary, feminism, the gothic element – that you can read it time and again and always take something new from it.
My Sister, the Serial Killer – I was reading this book at the start of the first lockdown and despite having some dark themes, the book was a great distraction from the real-world horrors. It really is a page-turning thriller that is part hilarious, part terrifying! Give this book a read if you are a fan of crime thriller with razor-sharp humour!
Why I’m No Longer Talking to White People About Race – I heard about this book when it was first published in 2017. However, following the Black Lives Matter protests in 2020, I felt that it was time to educate myself. This book is a great starting point in understanding black history in the UK. It is truly is an eye-opening read and discusses key points through the UK’s history and subject matter such as white privilege. Although I feel it only scratches the surface, it is a great starting point.
Hoax: Donald Trump, Fox News, and the Dangerous Distortion of Truth – I have just ordered this book and following on from recent events I can’t wait to read it. I think it is interesting to understand how the media, in particular Fox News, has helped Donald Trump spread his narrative and radicalised the American right.
If you’ve got the time (and dedication!) I would highly recommend Margaret Mitchell’s Gone with the Wind. It’s a long one but it is a fantastic story following Scarlett O’Hara’s life against the backdrop of the American civil war.
I am currently reading The Cartiers: The Untold Story of the Family Behind the Jewelry Empire, a book that I received as a Christmas gift. So far, I would definitely recommend it. It is written by a member of the Cartier family, Francesca, who began her exploration of her family history after a family birthday led her to uncover an old trunk full of letters and memorabilia in her grandfather’s wine cellar. The book details the firm’s vast history from its inception in the 1800s, through historic sales involving royalty and cursed diamonds, and into Hollywood with icons like Elizabeth Taylor. Definitely worth a read, I’m hooked!
I read The Tattooist of Auschwitz a while ago and it has always stuck with me. It’s about a man who volunteered himself to go on the promise of a ‘better life’ who finds himself then tattooing numbers onto the new prisoners. It’s a hard-hitting novel based on the real stories of Lale Sokolov.
You hear and learn things about what happened, and you know how awful it must have been, but to read things that happened from someone who survived makes it a bit more ‘real’ and I think it hits you a bit harder.
The Silent Patient is also a really good thriller. It’s about a woman who has killed her husband but who remains silent for years after his death. Her therapist in prison tries his best to get her to speak and there’s a huge twist at the end. It’s definitely worth a read if you have some spare time.
One of my core books for my Master’s dissertation is Platform Capitalism by Nick Srnicek. I would highly recommend reading this book if you are interested in topics such as data, tech, business models and the Sharing Economy. It’s an extremely critical book and is essentially about data and how platform companies, such as Facebook, Amazon and Google, revolve their business models around the collection of data. It’s only a short book at 129 pages but it’s packed with lots of interesting and insightful information!
Natives: Race and Class in the Ruins of Empire by the rapper Akala is a book I bought a few weeks ago. It was recommended to me by several friends, I am yet to read it, but I have heard great things! My friends describe it as eye-opening, emotional, educational and gripping.