Books have the power to heal the soul. They let us travel the world without ever leaving home. And what better time to travel the world of books than now when we’re all stuck at home. So, spend this time of lockdown by cracking open the yellowed pages of a good book and strap in for a delightful ride.
The Lord of the Rings by J.R.R. Tolkien
This is a classic book that was made into an Oscar-winning film series. The main story revolves around the protagonist Frodo Baggins, a young Hobbit who is given the unfortunate task of destroying a cursed ring he inherited from his uncle Bilbo Baggins.
If you feel incredibly keen, The Hobbit is a children’s book that is the prequel to The Lord of the Rings, so you may wish to give that a read as well. Personally, I appreciated The Lord of the Rings a lot more after reading the Hobbit. Be warned though, the entire series is a long read. But fortunately, now you have all the time in the world.
Little Women by Louisa May Alcott
This was also recently made into an Oscar-nominated movie by Greta Gerwig. It is an incredible story of family love.
The story revolves around the March family which contains four sisters and their mother as they live through the American Civil War and struggle with all the domestic problems of the day. The story follows these four sisters as they go from childhood to developing into young women. Each of these sisters have a unique personality that keeps the readers gripped to the pages
The book had other sequels, so if you want you can delve into these as well. None of the sequels ever gained the popularity of the original book, however.
The Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood
Margaret Atwood recently won the Booker Prize for the sequel to this book, The Testaments, after it’s hugely popular TV adaptation of The Handmaid’s Tale.
The story of the book takes place in a dystopian future where fertile women classified as “handmaids”, stripped of all human rights, are expected to conceive for their commanders (men in high positions), focusing in particular on one character Offred. What’s most interesting about this book is that the protagonist Offred is not the typical rebellious badass character often featured in dystopian novels, instead, she is a quiet woman who aims to survive by just going with the flow. This is the reason that her small acts of rebellion seem like big events and keep the readers gripped to the novel.
While it truly is a critically acclaimed book, the dystopian nature might be a little difficult to take considering the current climate.
Wolf Hall by Hilary Mantel
Hilary Mantel’s most recent release was a novel named The Mirror and the Light, which is the last in a trilogy.
Wolf Hall was her first novel which was also made into a famous BBC adaptation starring Mark Rylance, and follows the life and ministry of Thomas Cromwell. The events of the novel take place in the period from 1500 to 1535. It is a sympathetic fictionalised biography that documents the rapid rise to power of Thomas Cromwell in the court of Henry VIII all the way through to Sir Thomas More’s death.
Again, if you’re an avid reader you have three of these novels to devour: Wolf Hall, Bring Up the Bodies and The Mirror and the Light.
Pretending by Holly Bourne
This is a new novel by the British YA author Holly Bourne. The love story Pretending focuses on people’s need to be perfect.
In the novel the protagonist, April, assumes the identity of Gretel, a ‘perfect woman’ and a figment of her imagination – to enhance her online-dating experience. As soon as April starts 'being' Gretel, her life becomes much more fun - especially once she attracts the unsuspecting Joshua. Finally, April is the one in control, but how long can she control her own feelings?
Reasons to Stay Alive by Matt Haig
This is Matt Haig’s first non-fiction book. This is considered to be more than a memoir, as it is thoroughly uplifting and joyous as we learn the story of how he triumphed over his illness and crisis.
Describing the book on his website, Haig said: “I wrote this book because the oldest clichés remain the truest. Time heals. The bottom of the valley never provides the clearest view. The tunnel does have light at the end of it, even if we haven’t been able to see it. Words, just sometimes, really can set you free.”
The book is about making the best of one's time on earth written based on the writer's own life experience. At the age of 24, Matt Haig himself suffered from severe depression. Matt talks frankly about his experiences making the book both inspiring to those who feel daunted by depression and shedding light to those who are mystified by it. Above all, his humor and encouragement never lets the readers lose sight of hope.
It’s safe to say right now many of us can do with a bit of hope right now.