One of the few things I’ve enjoyed about being in lockdown is having the time to sit in the garden with my book and read for hours; it’s the one thing that allows me to truly escape from the world and get lost in the lives of interesting characters. Before all the shops shut, I did a little book haul and bought six books (to add to the two I already had) from W H Smiths and Sussex Stationers. I’m so glad I did now as I’m onto my sixth book and have already ordered three more in anticipation.
I’ve raced through so many books recently and the below is only a snapshot really of what I’ve been reading. Here’s a list of five books to get lost in during lockdown.
Where The Crawdads Sing – Delia Owens
First up is Where The Crawdads Sing which is one of the most beautifully descriptive books I’ve read in a long time. I sometimes find too much description can distract me from the narrative but Delia Owens strikes a perfect balance between description of the marsh and pushing the narrative along.
The story begins in 1952 where we are first introduced to five year old Kya who lives in the North Carolina marsh with her family. Kya’s mother and father are extremely poor, living off the lay of the land with little to provide for their family often leaving her and her two brothers and sisters hungry. One day, Kya’s mother walks out of their small marsh shack and never comes back. One by one, the rest of Kya’s family leave the marsh and she has to fend for herself. So begins an extraordinary tale of survival, friendship and resilience as Kya learns to live on her own but her world is about to change forever when two men visit her shack.
I could not stop reading this book and absolutely loved the character of Kya. There were times when my heart broke for her as she struggled to understand the actions of others and the way she was feeling. The twist at the end was expertly done and for once, I was actually satisfied with the way a book ended.
Parts of this book reminded me of To Kill a Mockingbird so if you’re a fan of Harper Lee’s writing, you will definitely enjoy this one.
Gillian Flynn – Dark Places
Flynn’s most famous novel, Gone Girl is one of my favourite books and one of the few that’s on my list to reread. She’s one of my favourite writers and her writing style is blunt and hard hitting. The way she writes characters, often revealing their deepest thoughts and fears, has the power to make you feel uncomfortable. It’s not exactly the most cheery of stories but as we learn what happened in Libby’s childhood, you come to sympathise with her blasé comments and anger.
The story is dark but full of atmosphere and suspense and will have you wondering who was really responsible for putting Libby’s brother behind bars and for the death of their family. Another book which I just tore through and didn’t want to end. A grisly thriller that has you guessing until the final page.
The Dreamers – Karen Thomson Walker
This book was one I selected on a whim and received as a Christmas present. I wasn’t quite sure what to expect but I fell in love with the hypnotic prose of The Dreamers. Set in a post –apocalyptic world, one night a student from a college in California falls asleep and doesn’t wake up. No one can seem to rouse her and when a second and then a third student fall asleep, the panic begins to spread across the town. Those affected by the illness seem to be showing signs of being in a dream like state and are very much alive but no one knows how to stop the spread of this strange, unknown illness.
I know what you’re thinking. Why would I read a book that is weirdly similar to what’s going on with Coronavirus? I started this book in early March but as the weeks went on, the story was eerily alike to what was happening on the news. Despite that, I really enjoyed The Dreamers and would definitely recommend.
The Water Cure – Sophie Mackintosh
Ah The Water Cure. I’m a sucker for a book with lots of hype and this one was described as an ‘eerie, uncanny feminist fable’. I’ve read The Girls by Emma Cline and loved it so was hoping The Water Cure would be similar. Spoiler alert: it’s not. It did take me a long time to get into this book as it’s fairly slow paced but once I was in, I was hooked.
The book follows Grace, Lia and Sky who live in an abandoned hotel on a small island. The sisters live there with their mother who teaches the girls lessons to make them ‘good’. They’ve been told that they must not leave the island as the world beyond the water is contaminated and men are the contamination.
One day, three brothers come ashore the island and set in motion a chain of events that are both shocking and unexpected. I could not have seen where this story was going to go but I was gripped, especially by Lia’s story which I felt was the most interesting. I’m not sure I quite understood the hype around this book but it’s definitely an eerie tale that will please those looking for a book with feminism at its roots.
Normal People – Sally Rooney
Normal People is another book that has received a lot of attention and for good reason because it’s written incredibly well. The story is your typical boy meets girl narrative but is focused less on romance and more on what it means to be human and our life’s desires. It follows Marianne and Connell who go to the same school but socialise in different friendship groups. Soon friendship turns into something more but life moves on and Marianne and Connell pursue their own interests. I think this part in the blurb for Normal People sums up the story perfectly: ‘in the company of two people – funny, magnetic, complex – who try to stay apart but find they can’t.’
I related a lot to Marianne and sometimes to Connell too. I loved how the author got the dialogue just right and explained even the awkward silences between the two.
Normal People is also being made into a BBC drama which airs on Monday. I can’t wait to see one of my favourite books on the screen. I just hope they do it justice.
Rooney has written another book Conversations with Friends which is equally as good and I’d highly recommend.
What books have you enjoyed recently?