What’s The Best Book You Read In Lockdown? Part One
I asked readers to share their favourite reading material from the past five weeks, and after wading through hundreds of your submissions, I’ve collated some of the most common responses and included them below along with a couple of reader’s reviews for each one.
I’ve also split this article into two parts – so consider this the first course of your literary lockdown meal.
The Thing Around Your Neck is a 2009 collection of short stories by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, a Nigerian author who has won much acclaim for her first two novels, Purple Hibiscus and Half of a Yellow Sun.
Readers said: “This is the first book of short stories I’ve ever read and, truthfully, I didn’t have much interest in reading this style of book as I couldn’t imagine how you could get emotionally-invested in a character in such a short amount of time – I was so wrong! Adichie crafts her characters with such incredible depths and detail of their histories that you can’t help but root for them, and she does it all in twenty pages or less. Each short story follows a character from Adichie’s home country of Nigeria, and each centres around an issue that, for those living in a western world, is difficult to even comprehend; things like police corruption, the “white saviour” complex, and race riots.”
Jenny is unloved, unemployed and emotionally unfiltered. Sunday Times Bestseller, ADULTS is the story of one woman learning how to fall back in love with her life.
Readers said: “This is so easy to read and so funny! The perfect book for a moment like this, I devoured it so quickly and just loved how relatable it was.”
Rest And Be Thankful is an unforgettable novel about a paediatric nurse called Laura who spends her days caring for the fragile bodies of sick babies and her nights lying next a man who doesn’t love her anymore.
Readers said: “A book which will make you appreciate nurses so much more. Beautiful, evocative prose.”
The heartbreaking story of a mother and son who are forced to leave their home in Acapulco, Mexico, and head north towards America after a notorious drug cartel murders her husband and 15 other family members.
Readers said: “I know this book has been controversial, but it is the most well-written book I’ve read in a long time (and I read a lot of books). I couldn’t put it down, she had me on the edge of my seat turning the page as fast as I could. It is harrowing, eye-opening and gripping.”
A Little Life is an exploration of male friendship, the complexities of love, and the long-term consequences of childhood trauma. It spans the decades-long friendship of four friends who move to New York to pursue their careers.
Readers said: “A book has never made me cry as much as this one. Absolutely heartbreaking.”
“I know The Twenties Club said not to read this in lockdown, but it has been sitting on my bedside table for months and I’ve always been intimidated by its size. This book consumed me – although it was hard to get into, once I was in I couldn’t get out. I was reading it in between cooking dinner, reading it in the morning and at night. It completely broke my heart and I think it’s the best thing I’ve ever read. I can’t stop thinking about it.”
An eye-opening account of when the British Raj was in control of India. The book is framed around the Amritsar massacre of 1919, which cost the lives of hundreds of civilians, and one Indian man’s twenty-year journey to seek revenge.
Readers said: “Anita Anand brilliantly tells both sides. It pulled me through an entire array of emotions about this man who is simultaneously a villain in England and a hero in India. It’s quite a heavy read but it touches on an important time in history which seems to have been brushed aside (I was barely aware of it – which may be my ignorance…). It contains a lot of history but it reads like a gripping thriller.”
The unforgettable and heartbreaking story of an unlikely friendship between a wealthy boy and the son of his fathers servant, The Kite Runner is a beautifully crafted novel set in a country that is in the process of being destroyed.
Readers said: “This book was so inspiring. At such an uncertain time, reading about young children living in Afghanistan amidst the Soviet-Afghan war was incredibly grounding. It’s a story of friendship, redemption and forgiveness that I honestly couldn’t put down!”
For years, rumors of the Marsh Girl have haunted Barkley Cove, a quiet town on the North Carolina coast. So in late 1969, when handsome Chase Andrews is found dead, the locals immediately suspect Kya Clark, the so-called Marsh Girl. But Kya is not who they think.
Readers said: “It was so beautifully written! It was very imagery heavy and super different to a lot of the books I usually read. It was simple but so powerful and the short chapters made it easy to get through quickly.”
“I couldn’t put it down. I really felt like I knew the characters. Every female should read this book.”
“A beautiful walk through a wild world. This book has something for everyone – a coming of age story, a romance, a meditation on race and class in the American south, and a murder investigation. Owen’s prose is beautiful and poetic.”
It Ends With Us tells the story of Lily Bloom and her doomed romance with Ryle Kincaid; tracing her past history growing up in an abusive home, her fall into an abusive relationship, and how she ultimately escaped.
Readers said: “The blurb for this book did not prepare me for the emotional wreck I became while reading it. I’ve never empathised with a character so much, so quickly – even though it was a situation I’d never personally experienced. It was an eye-opening read.”
An addictive thriller about actress Charli Carter who, eighteen months into her happy marriage, catches sight of her husband’s image on a dating app that her friend is browsing. But Charlie soon discovers that infidelity is the least of her problems. Nothing is as it seems and nobody is who she thinks they are.
Readers said: “I’ve read both of Pip’s books – and discovered this one after reading The Sunday Girl. All of Pip’s books are dark and impossible to put down, and The Strangers We Know is a modern day thriller that I devoured in a single day. The twists in the story and appeal of it being set in modern-day London made it one of my favourite reads of the year so far.”