Books: Top reads for #stayathome during UK coronavirus lockdown

PUBLISHED: 14:31 12 April 2020 | UPDATED: 14:31 12 April 2020

Doctor Zhivago

Doctor Zhivago

The Folio Society

As the UK continues in this unprecedented period of social distancing, more and more people are looking for productive ways to spend their time at home.

Doctor ZhivagoDoctor Zhivago

On the top of many people’s lists is reading and book sales have increased during UK lockdown.

While binge watching TV shows does help keep us entertained, it’s also good to finally say you’ll read “that” book when you have time.

Reading has many benefits and has been proven to help reduce stress and boost wellbeing.

To help book-loving Brits find their next read, Tom Walker, publishing director at The Folio Society, has pulled together his top picks of books to read whilst in self-isolation.

His Dark Materials Folio Society editionHis Dark Materials Folio Society edition

For over 70 years, The Folio Society has been publishing beautifully illustrated editions of the world’s greatest fiction books as well as thoroughly picture-researched non-fiction books,

Here are Tom Walker’s top reads for #StayAtHome

The Tenant of Wildfell Hall by Anne Brontë

Persuasion Folio Society editionPersuasion Folio Society edition

Being stuck at home and only allowed out to go to the shops seems a good time to read about feminism, and this is arguably the first feminist novel.

Wildly surprising in its modern sensibility, Brontë rages against a society that held women shackled to men and the home.

The Little Prince by Antoine de Saint-Exupéry

I Am Legend The Folio Society editionI Am Legend The Folio Society edition

I can’t help thinking of how the Little Prince would respond to our world right now.

An enigmatic, compassionate but sad creature of the stars, I sometimes imagine the weight of his judgement on us all for the job we’re doing of keeping our little planet safe.

The World Turned Upside Down by Christopher Hill

Moby-DickMoby-Dick

The English Civil War of the 1640s shook the nation to its core, and in the process out scattered a legion of radical ideas and philosophies which have formed the national identity ever since.

One wonders how our current upheaval will reshape us.

Dr Zhivago by Boris Pasternak

The Handmaid's Tale by Margaret Atwood The Folio Society editionThe Handmaid's Tale by Margaret Atwood The Folio Society edition

What better time to re-engage with this great Russian epic?

The recent translation by Boris Pasternak’s nephew returns the lyricism and colour to this beautiful novel of love, war and the Russian soul.

Moby-Dick by Herman Melville

The Little Prince Folio Society editionThe Little Prince Folio Society edition

What an opportunity, if you never have, to read this bulking leviathan of a novel.

From the first pages in Nantucket, where Ishmael befriends trusty Queequeg, Melville loops his crazed tale of ambition and revenge, culminating in scenes of terror on the high seas.

His Dark Materials by Philip Pullman

Maigret Collections Folio Society editionsMaigret Collections Folio Society editions

Pullman might be the purest storyteller of our times, and His Dark Materials is his masterpiece: a truly addictive adventure story which leads us into other worlds.

The Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood

Turning to Margaret Atwood in times of trouble is always a good decision.

Prophetic or not, she is wise and compassionate, and laces those qualities with a killer wit.

Maigret by Georges Simenon

If all else fails, pick up a Maigret.

With plots as light as a feather and a stripped-down style, Simenon’s thrillers are beautifully evocative of the underground tensions of a mid-century Paris.

Persuasion by Jane Austen

It’s always a good time to re-read Austen, to get lost in that luscious prose and arch wit.

Persuasion is her last-completed, and perhaps her most mature novel, and a joy to revisit.

I am Legend by Richard Matheson

In the current circumstances this is not a book for the faint-hearted: Matheson’s vision of a post-pandemic future doesn’t contain many people, and even fewer who are not zombie-vampires, but there is a glimmer of hope at its end...

The Mirror & The Light by Hilary Mantel

My eleventh choice is not yet available as a Folio Society edition, but I do hope that it will be one day.

This is my current quarantine reading.

A 900-page masterwork of astonishing delicacy and intelligence which draws one back through the eyes of Cromwell to a Tudor London infested with plague and political instability.


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