We all have a lot of time on our hands now that we’re in lockdown. Some of you might want to read dystopian fiction or watch zombie apocalypse shows, but a lot of us just want to get lost in something other than a pandemic. So, Re: and Vic Books have put together a list of the best books to escape into during isolation.
With so many dystopian fiction lists doing the rounds this last month, we wanted to put together a list of uplifting and inspiring literature that offsets the dark times that we’re unable to escape every time we check the news. We don't even have to leave the comfort of our sofa - taking a real break with a book is a perfect mental escape.
Take a trip to fantasyland
Why not escape into a fantastical fictional world? It might be that some readers turn to re-reading these - after all, many are the comfort food of the book world. We all remember reading Harry Potter for the first time, and re-reading this kind of fantasy series would remind us of those times - especially for our millennial readers. Fantasy and sci-fi worlds beyond our own are a great place to turn when things get a little dark.
- Dune by Frank Herbert
- Harry Potter by J.K Rowling (the illustrated versions of these books might be a wonderful new way to re-read them)
- Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy by Douglas Adams
- The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe by C.S Lewis
- The Wonderful Wizard of Oz by L. Frank Baum
- Winnie-the-Pooh by A.A Milne
- The Lord of the Rings by J.R.R Tolkien
How about some great storytelling to immerse yourself in? Some of these are new, some prize-winning, some bestsellers.
- A Gentleman in Moscow by Amor Towles
- Fleishman is in Trouble by Taffy Brodesser-Akner
- Girl, Woman, Other by Bernardine Evaristo
- I Capture the Castle by Dodie Smith
- Never Let Me Go by Kazuo Ishiguro
- The Absolute Book by Elizabeth Knox
- The Secrets We Kept by Lara Prescott
- White Teeth by Zadie Smith
- Queenie by Candice Carty-Williams
- Pūrākau: Māori myths retold by Māori writers edited by Witi Ihimaera and Whiti Hereaka
Although it's hard to think about much outside of our unprecedented situation right now, non-fiction can allow us to be transported back to a pre-Covid time. Here are some uplifting memoirs, stories of people against the odds, and some lovely books to transport us back outdoors.
- Around the world in 80 trees by Jonathan Drori
- Becoming by Michelle Obama
- Educated by Tara Westover
- How to do Nothing by Jenny Odell
- How to Walk a Dog by Mike White
- Talking to Strangers by Malcom Gladwell
- No One Is Too Small to Make a Difference by Greta Thunberg
- Things I Learned From Falling by Claire Nelson
- The Library Book by Susan Orlean
- Salt Path by Raynor Winn
Books you've always meant to read
We all have a bucket list of classics that we say we'll get around to reading. Well, now is the perfect time! Jump into some classics - some old, some new.
- Anna Karenina by Leo Tolstoy
- Beloved by Toni Morrison
- The Big Sleep by Raymond Chandler
- Catch-22 by Joseph Heller
- The Catcher in the Rye by J.D Salinger
- East of Eden by John Steinbeck
- Moby Dick: Or, the Whale by Herman Melville
- To the Lighthouse by Virginia Woolf
- Don Quixote by Miguel de Cervantes Saavedra
- The Count of Monte Cristo by Alexandre Dumas
Netflix isn't the only binge-worthy thing out there. You can check out an original series before a TV show made it famous - like The Witcher or Game of Thrones. Or there are other really beautiful series to dive into that exist only on the page.
- The Thomas Cromwell series by Hilary Mantel
- The Witcher series by Andrzej Sapkowski
- The Seasonal series by Ali Smith
- The Outline series by Rachel Cusk
- His Dark Materials by Philip Pullman
- The Neapolitan Novels, or L’amica Geniale, by Elena Ferrante
- A Song of Fire and Ice by George R.R. Martin
Hopefully there’s something on this list that you’re excited to dive into, or that’s inspired you to pick up a different book.
The cruel irony is that now we’re in lockdown, independent bookstores like Vic Books are unable to sell you these books and libraries are unable to lend them. This means the only available avenue to purchase these books is international online retailers or audio or e-books.
With four weeks in isolation, you shouldn’t feel bad about engaging with literature in any way you can. However, the Re: team recommends you think about ways you can continue to support local bookstores however you can in this turbulent time. If you’re in a position to, whatever books you decide to read digitally or through audio in coming weeks, you could purchase physically from your local independent bookstore when lockdown is lifted. When that time comes, you can buy the books on the Vic Books website.
Regardless of how you get your hands on them, books are more important to our society now than ever - living in isolation and the rise of anxiety surrounding coronavirus means entertainment will play an important role in our mental health. A good book can make many situations bearable - we hope this is one of them.