Lockdown is dragging a bit, isn’t it. Normally around this time of the year, we are out in the sun with our friends or off on holiday somewhere. And although we should be responsible and only go out when we need to, this is not helping my wanderlust!
Like most people, I have a large amount of unread books sitting on my shelves that I keep meaning to get to, but I also have an Audible Account (not sponsored) which I listen to on my way to and from work on my bike.
I decided to disappear into a few books this lockdown and these ones are absolute crackers! All are fiction and I’ve listed them in no particular order, but the books I have chosen have books I have not been able to put down!
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1. The Beekeeper of Aleppo, Christy Lefteri
This is a harrowing read, but a very important one. Nuri is a beekeeper from the Syrian town of Aleppo. Him and his wife, Afra, get caught in the middle of war and are forced to escape. Afra, an artist, has seen such terrible things that she loses her sight. They travel through Turkey, Greece and other European countries to make it to their friend and business partner, Mustafa, who has been teaching fellow refugees to keep bees in Yorkshire.
2. Allegedly, Tiffany D. Jackson
3. The Gentleman’s Guide to Vice and Virtue, Mackenzie Lee
A lighter book and subject matter now. This is probably one of my favourite books of all time. And this is actually the first book in a series of three parts.
Monty is due to inherit the world from his abusive father, but as an openly bisexual man in the 1700s, he is frowned upon for his flamboyancy and wide range of sexual conquests. Monty, his sister Felicity, and his best friend Percy, head off on a Grand Tour of Europe to meet the higher ups he will be interacting with when he takes his fathers diplomatic place.
After a discrepancy with a French diplomat, their adventure changes course completely. This book had me rolling on the floor laughing throughout!
4. 1984, George Orwell
Would it be a book recommendation list without a bit of Orwell on here?
For those that don’t know this book, it depicts a dystopian future in which every move you make is watched and every thought you have is policed. Great Britain is now known as Airstrip One and is part of a larger superstate called Oceania. The ruling party is a totalitarian regime who employ the ‘Thought Police’ to monitor and advise of anyone not believing fully in the party ideals. Anyone caught with opposing views to the party becomes an ‘unperson’.
This book is one a lot of people read at school but I would recommend a re-read, especially with everything happening in the world at the moment. It advises of the risks of too much control by the government.
5. Girl, Woman, Other, Bernardine Evaisto
Bernardine Evaisto won the 2019 Booker prize with this book and it is a well deserved win. We follow the lives of 12 people over a number of decades whose lives interact in some shape or form. Told from the points of view of these women, you get an insight into the minds of a wide range of ages, sexualities and gender identities. This books covers issues including rape, racism, bigotry and LGBT+ issues.
I really enjoyed this book, it was funny in some places, uncomfortable in others and you get a sense that these characters are real people. Not based on anyone in particular but they have character and you feel you know them inside and out.
6. The Hate U Give, Angie Thomas
Starr is a young black girl from a poor US neighbourhood, who attends a private school which is in a majority white and rich part of the city. She is in the car with her friend Khalil when a police officer pulls them over and Khalil is shot dead. The shock of this event sparks riots and protests throughout the country and Starr’s voice gets louder and more public throughout the book.
This is a particularly poignant story considering the horrendous events of the last few months and the historical racial injustice encountered by people of colour.
7. American Dirt, Jeanine Cummins
I enjoyed this book, but it was another tough read. The story follows Lydia and Luca through a traumatic experience. At a family barbecue, Lydia’s husband and Luca’s father, Sebastian Perez and 15 other members of their family are gunned down in a horrific cartel revenge attack. Lydia and Luca survive by hiding in the bathroom but realise they will soon be wanted people. They make a break for the American border from Acopolco attempting to avoid the cartels, who own the police.
The story absorbs you into their world and you feel their pain.
8. When Dimple Met Rishi, Sandhya Menon
Dimple is an aspiring web developer attending a summer program in LA. Dimple’s parents are traditional Indian parents, keen for her to meet the ‘Ideal Indian Husband’. Since they paid for the course, she believes they are on board with her way of thinking. What she doesn’t realise is they’ve arranged a marriage to Rishi with his parents. He is also attending the program and doesn’t know she has no idea!
The story leads us through complicated feelings from both parities as they complete the summer program and tackle fake friends. I really enjoyed this book as Dimple is a strong female lead and it’s quite a light read.
9. Simon vs The Homo Sapiens Agenda, Becky Albertalli
Simon is a closeted sixteen year old keeping a low profile at school. One day, he receives an email threatening to expose him and thrust him into the school spotlight. If he doesn’t help Martin get a date with one of his friends, Simon’s secret lover, Blue, could be exposed alongside Simon.
This book captures the complexities of school dynamics in a way that transports you back to your school years with a blackmailing twist.
10. Moving Pictures, Terry Pratchett
And finally, one that I haven’t read this lockdown however, I would highly recommend for lockdown reading. If you don’t know Terry Pratchett, this is a fantastic start into his Discworld series. We follow the people of Ankh-Morpork who are drawn to the mysterious ‘Holy Wood’ where it seems anything is possible. The land of dreams.
I love this book as it is a hilarious retelling of how cinema and film came to be discovered in a world not so different from our own, except for the giant turtle they’re riding on through space – maybe give The Colour of Magic a read after this one!
Currently Reading: Queenie, Candice Carty-Williams
I’m five chapters into listening to this book and so far I am simultaneously hooked and uncomfortable. Queenie is on a self destructive path that feels all too familiar and yet experiences things I have never as a white woman. I’m sure it will be a recommended book on an upcoming list as so far it has all the traits I love in a book.
Let me know in the comments what your favourite book has been this lockdown – or even, before lockdown!