When we had the idea earlier this week to blog about the books we would read while social distancing, it was somewhat hypothetical. But things have changed rapidly; now we find ourselves working from home and our weekend plans are out the window. Luckily our bookshelves are prepared and stacked with Affirm Press favourites to keep our minds off the news. But we also put together a list of the books from other publishers we’ve got lined up – we can assure you none of these include the word COVID-19.
And if you’re looking for a delightful, exquisitely written page-turner in these turbulent times, you can’t go past Pip Williams’s stunning debut novel The Dictionary of Lost Words, out on 31 March and available now for pre-order from your local bookshop.
Last Saturday I went to the launch of Ellena Savage’s Blueberries (Text). It will probably be the last book launch for a while, which is very upsetting for a number of reasons (where will I go for free wine now?). But in all seriousness, I’m glad I was able to go and buy a copy – it’s a beautiful book and it’s important to show some love to both authors and booksellers right now.
I’ll be hunkering down with The Seven Deaths of Evelyn Hardcastle by Stuart Turton (Bloomsbury). I know very little about the plot, except that it’s been described as Agatha Christie meets Groundhog Day. It sounds absolutely bonkers and so fun – the perfect read for a self-isolation vacation.
I’ve just started My Dark Vanessa by Kate Elizabeth Russell (HarperCollins) which is very good but very dark – perhaps too dark for a fragile, anxious state as we watch life as we know it unravel. If things keep going at this rate I’d prefer to read Curtis Sittenfeld’s Eligible (HarperCollins). A delightful modern take on Pride and Prejudice, it’s a great reminder that when the world feels like it’s upside down and nothing makes sense we can all still agree that Mr Darcy is a socially weird megababe and things will all work out in the end (preferably with a double-wedding).
I’ve been planning a full His Dark Materials (PRH) reread since the first book in The Book of Dust series was released, so I’ll be getting onto that as soon as the lockdown starts!
If now isn’t the time to start Peter Carey’s Illywhacker (the 1985 UQP edition), I don’t know when is. I’ll be missing our office chats about books and reading, so to compensate I’ll dip into The Innocent Reader: Reflections on Reading and Writing by Debra Adelaide (Picador). Plus, I just made an online order to our beloved Hill of Content bookshop for three books personally recommended to me by Jaclyn Crupi on her Instagram. She will not steer you wrong!
Truth be told it would be a book on confident birthing! But let’s say Heather Rose’s Bruny (Allen & Unwin) for a good local thriller set near my home town. I’ve heard it’s really excellent and I’m after gripping escapism from what else I’m reading in the news.
I bought The Yield by Tara June Winch (PRH) a month or so back and have been keen to have a read – lots of booksellers have it as their pick for the Stella. I also would love to get to J.P. Pomare’s In the Clearing (Hachette) because I have also heard good things and he’s a terrific guy. And finally a particular book I have wanted to read for some time called The Feather Thief by Kirk Wallace Johnson (PRH), which is a true story about a man who broke into the Museum of Natural History to steal several rare bird specimens to use their feathers to make flies for fly-fishing. Yep, only I’d read this.
The Girl, the Cat and the Navigator by Matilda Woods (Scholastic), Butterfly Yellow by Thanhá Lai (UQP), and the first of Phillip Pullman’s Book of Dust trilogy (PRH) are high on my list. I am also desperate to read Hilary Mantel’s The Mirror and the Light (HarperCollins).
Now that The Mirror and the Light (HarperCollins) is finally out I’m raring to have a read, but lockdown would give me the chance to reread Hilary Mantel’s previous two books first – which is something I hardly ever get to do. Bring it on!
The Hilary Mantel trilogy. Done!