As soon as it was announced that there could be another national lockdown, I thought long and hard about the best books I read during the last lockdown so that I could share these with you.
The books below are amazing reads that I would recommend to anyone who is looking to pass the time. There are a combination of books that are uplifting, thought provoking, laugh out loud, emotional roller coaster and more - the main thing is that they allow you to escape from the messed up world that we currently live in.
You'll find the synopsis for each along with the genre and 2 or 3 words from myself to help describe what kind of book it is. You can find full reviews for each of the books on the blog.
SMALL GREAT THINGS BY JODI PICOULT
GENRE: Contemporary Fiction, Racism
THOUGHT PROVOKING, IMPORTANT, SENSATIONAL
Ruth Jefferson is a labour and delivery nurse at a Connecticut hospital with more than 20 years' experience. During her shift, Ruth begins a routine check-up on a newborn, only to be told a few minutes later that she's been reassigned to another patient. The parents are white supremacists and don't want Ruth, who is African American, to touch their child. The hospital complies with their request, but the next day, the baby goes into cardiac distress while Ruth is alone in the nursery. Does she obey orders or does she intervene?
Ruth hesitates before performing CPR and, as a result, is charged with a serious crime. Kennedy McQuarrie, a white public defender, takes her case but gives unexpected advice: Kennedy insists that mentioning race in the courtroom is not a winning strategy. Conflicted by Kennedy's counsel, Ruth tries to keep life as normal as possible for her family—especially her teenage son—as the case becomes a media sensation. As the trial moves forward, Ruth and Kennedy must gain each other's trust, and come to see that what they've been taught their whole lives about others—and themselves—might be wrong.
HALF A WORLD AWAY BY MIKE GAYLE
GENRE: Contemporary Fiction, Family TEARJERKER, BEAUTIFUL, GREAT CHARACTERS
Strangers living worlds apart. Strangers with nothing in common. But it wasn't always that way...
Kerry Hayes is single mum, living on a tough south London estate. She provides for her son by cleaning houses she could never hope to afford. Taken into care as a child, Kerry cannot ever forget her past.
Noah Martineau is a successful barrister with a beautiful wife, daughter and home in fashionable Primrose Hill. Adopted as a child, Noah always looks forward, never back.
When Kerry reaches out to the sibling she lost on the day they were torn apart as children, she sets in motion a chain of events that will have life-changing consequences for them both.
THE FLATSHARE BY BETH O'LEARY
GENRE: Fiction, RomCom
LAUGH OUT LOUD, FEEL GOOD, GREAT CHARACTERS
Tiffy and Leon share a flat
Tiffy and Leon share a bed
Tiffy and Leon have never met…
Tiffy Moore needs a cheap flat, and fast. Leon Twomey works nights and needs cash. Their friends think they’re crazy, but it’s the perfect solution: Leon occupies the one-bed flat while Tiffy’s at work in the day, and she has the run of the place the rest of the time.
But with obsessive ex-boyfriends, demanding clients at work, wrongly imprisoned brothers and, of course, the fact that they still haven’t met yet, they’re about to discover that if you want the perfect home you need to throw the rulebook out the window…
TRAIL OF SILENCE BY FIN O'DRISCOLL
GENRE: Fiction, Thriller
CLEVER, ATMOSPHERIC, TWISTS & TURNS
When former MI6 agent, Jack Conway is asked to investigate the death of his friend's teenage daughter, he quickly realises it is an accident. So why the similarity to the death of a government minister over 20 years ago. A coincidence?
But Jack doesn’t believe in coincidences.
A trail of clues lead him to an art gallery on the Côte d’Azur. The unlikely culprit, an eccentric and acclaimed French artist has disappeared after his parents died in a mysterious car crash.
But that was over 50 years ago.
Why is everything happening in reverse? Conway becomes enveloped in a web of intrigue. Greed. Revenge. Infidelity. Murder.
But in what order.
Nobody talks about it and the person who knows cannot talk. Only silence. A family feud like no other.
But if there is no beginning, how can it end?
THE HEART'S INVISIBLE FURIES BY JOHN BOYNE
GENRE: Contemporary Fiction, Coming of Age, Sexuality
BEAUTIFUL, WITTY, EMOTIONAL ROLLER COASTER
Cyril Avery is not a real Avery or at least that’s what his adoptive parents tell him. And he never will be. But if he isn’t a real Avery, then who is he?
Born out of wedlock to a teenage girl cast out from her rural Irish community and adopted by a well-to-do if eccentric Dublin couple via the intervention of a hunchbacked Redemptorist nun, Cyril is adrift in the world, anchored only tenuously by his heartfelt friendship with the infinitely more glamourous and dangerous Julian Woodbead.
At the mercy of fortune and coincidence, he will spend a lifetime coming to know himself and where he came from – and over his three score years and ten, will struggle to discover an identity, a home, a country and much more.
We are shown the story of Ireland from the 1940s to today through the eyes of one ordinary man. This novel will make you laugh and cry while reminding us all of the redemptive power of the human spirit.
THE SEVEN HUSBANDS OF EVELYN HUGO BY TAYLOR JENKINS REID
GENRE: Fiction, Sexuality, Romance
COULDN'T PUT IT DOWN, SENSATIONAL, NOT WHAT YOU EXPECT
Aging and reclusive Hollywood movie icon Evelyn Hugo is finally ready to tell the truth about her glamorous and scandalous life.
When she chooses unknown magazine reporter Monique Grant for the job, no one in the journalism community is more astounded than Monique herself. Why her? Why now? Monique is not exactly on top of the world. Her husband, David, has left her, and her career has stagnated. Regardless of why Evelyn has chosen her to write her biography, Monique is determined to use this opportunity to jump start her career.
Summoned to Evelyn’s Upper East Side apartment, Monique listens as Evelyn unfurls her story: from making her way to Los Angeles in the 1950s to her decision to leave show business in the late 80s, and, of course, the seven husbands along the way. As Evelyn’s life unfolds—revealing a ruthless ambition, an unexpected friendship, and a great forbidden love—Monique begins to feel a very a real connection to the actress. But as Evelyn’s story catches up with the present, it becomes clear that her life intersects with Monique’s own in tragic and irreversible ways
WHERE THE CRAWDADS SING BY DELIA OWENS
GENRE: Contemporary Fiction, Coming of Age
BEAUTIFUL, ATMOSPHERIC, HEART BREAKING
For years, rumours 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 what they say. Sensitive and intelligent, she has survived for years alone in the marsh that she calls home, finding friends in the gulls and lessons in the sand. Then the time comes when she yearns to be touched and loved. When two young men from town become intrigued by her wild beauty, Kya opens herself to a new life–until the unthinkable happens.
Where the Crawdads Sing is at once an exquisite ode to the natural world, a heartbreaking coming-of-age story, and a surprising tale of possible murder. Owens reminds us that we are forever shaped by the children we once were, and that we are all subject to the beautiful and violent secrets that nature keeps.
QUEENIE BY CANDICE CARTY-WILLIAMS
GENRE: Contemporary Fiction, Comedy, Self Discovery
LAUGH OUT LOUD, REAL, RELATABLE
Queenie Jenkins is a 25-year-old Jamaican British woman living in London, straddling two cultures and slotting neatly into neither. She works at a national newspaper, where she’s constantly forced to compare herself to her white middle class peers. After a messy break up from her long-term white boyfriend, Queenie seeks comfort in all the wrong places…including several hazardous men who do a good job of occupying brain space and a bad job of affirming self-worth.
As Queenie careens from one questionable decision to another, she finds herself wondering, “What are you doing? Why are you doing it? Who do you want to be?”—all of the questions today’s woman must face in a world trying to answer them for her.
THE FAMILY UPSTAIRS BY LISA JEWELL
GENRE: Fiction, Thriller
CLEVER, UNIQUE, EASY READ
Soon after her 25th birthday, Libby Jones returns home from work to find the letter she’s been waiting for her entire life. She rips it open with one driving thought: I am finally going to know who I am.
She soon learns not only the identity of her birth parents, but also that she is the sole inheritor of their abandoned mansion on the banks of the Thames in London’s fashionable Chelsea neighborhood, worth millions. Everything in Libby’s life is about to change. But what she can’t possibly know is that others have been waiting for this day as well—and she is on a collision course to meet them.
Twenty-five years ago, police were called to 16 Cheyne Walk with reports of a baby crying. When they arrived, they found a healthy ten-month-old happily cooing in her crib in the bedroom. Downstairs in the kitchen lay three dead bodies, all dressed in black, next to a hastily scrawled note. And the four other children reported to live at Cheyne Walk were gone.
ELEANOR OLIPHANT IS COMPLETELY FINE BY GAIL HONEYMAN
GENRE: Contemporary Fiction, Self Discovery
LAUGH OUT LOUD, TEARJERKER, SENSATIONAL
No one’s ever told Eleanor that life should be better than fine.
Meet Eleanor Oliphant: she struggles with appropriate social skills and tends to say exactly what she’s thinking. Nothing is missing in her carefully timetabled life of avoiding unnecessary human contact, where weekends are punctuated by frozen pizza, vodka, and phone chats with Mummy.
But everything changes when Eleanor meets Raymond, the bumbling and deeply unhygienic IT guy from her office. When she and Raymond together save Sammy, an elderly gentleman who has fallen, the three rescue one another from the lives of isolation that they had been living. Ultimately, it is Raymond’s big heart that will help Eleanor find the way to repair her own profoundly damaged one. If she does, she'll learn that she, too, is capable of finding friendship—and even love—after all.
Smart, warm, uplifting, Eleanor Oliphant Is Completely Fine is the story of an out-of-the-ordinary heroine whose deadpan weirdness and unconscious wit make for an irresistible journey as she realizes. . .the only way to survive is to open your heart.
GIRL, WOMAN, OTHER BY BERNARDINE EVARISTO
GENRE: Contemporary Fiction, Racism, Sexuality
THOUGHT PROVOKING, UNIQUE, GREAT CHARACTERS
Teeming with life and crackling with energy — a love song to modern Britain and black womanhood.
Girl, Woman, Other follows the lives and struggles of twelve very different characters. Mostly women, black and British, they tell the stories of their families, friends and lovers, across the country and through the years.
Joyfully polyphonic and vibrantly contemporary, this is a gloriously new kind of history, a novel of our times: celebratory, ever-dynamic and utterly irresistible.
THE BINDING BY BRIDGET COLLINS
GENRE: Historical Fiction, Fantasy, Romance
CAPTIVATING, EMOTIONAL, UNIQUE
Books are dangerous things in Collins's alternate universe, a place vaguely reminiscent of 19th-century England. It's a world in which people visit book binders to rid themselves of painful or treacherous memories. Once their stories have been told and are bound between the pages of a book, the slate is wiped clean and their memories lose the power to hurt or haunt them.
After having suffered some sort of mental collapse and no longer able to keep up with his farm chores, Emmett Farmer is sent to the workshop of one such binder to live and work as her apprentice. Leaving behind home and family, Emmett slowly regains his health while learning the binding trade. He is forbidden to enter the locked room where books are stored, so he spends many months marbling end pages, tooling leather book covers, and gilding edges. But his curiosity is piqued by the people who come and go from the inner sanctum, and the arrival of the lordly Lucian Darnay, with whom he senses a connection, changes everything.
GHOSTS BY DOLLY ALDERTON
GENRE: Contemporary Fiction, Self Discovery, Relationships
RELATABLE, WITTY, EASY READ
Nina Dean has arrived at her early thirties as a successful food writer with loving friends and family, plus a new home and neighbourhood. When she meets Max, a beguiling romantic hero who tells her on date one that he's going to marry her, it feels like all is going to plan. A new relationship couldn't have come at a better time - her thirties have not been the liberating, uncomplicated experience she was sold. Everywhere she turns, she is reminded of time passing and opportunities dwindling. Friendships are fading, ex-boyfriends are moving on and, worse, everyone's moving to the suburbs. There's no solace to be found in her family, with a mum who's caught in a baffling mid-life makeover and a beloved dad who is vanishing in slow-motion into dementia. Dolly Alderton's debut novel is funny and tender, filled with whip-smart observations about relationships, family, memory, and how we live now.
THE ONE BY JOHN MARRS
GENRE: Fiction, Thriller, Dystopian
CLEVER, STRONG CHARACTERS, TWISTS & TURNS
How far would you go to find The One?
A simple DNA test is all it takes. Just a quick mouth swab and soon you’ll be matched with your perfect partner the one you are genetically made for.
That’s the promise made by Match Your DNA. A decade ago, the company announced that they had found the gene that pairs each of us with our soul mate. Since then, millions of people around the world have been matched. But the discovery has its downsides: test results have led to the breakup of countless relationships and upended the traditional ideas of dating, romance and love.
Now five very different people have received the notification that they’ve been “Matched.” They’re each about to meet their one true love. But “happily ever after” isn’t guaranteed for everyone. Because even soul mates have secrets. And some are more shocking than others…
DEAR IFEAWELE BY CHIMAMANDA NGOZI ADICHIE
GENRE: Non Fiction, Sexism, Equality
UNAPOLOGETIC, EDUCATIONAL, EYE OPENING
A few years ago, Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie received a letter from a dear friend from childhood, asking her how to raise her baby girl as a feminist. Dear Ijeawele is Adichie's letter of response.
Here are fifteen invaluable suggestions--compelling, direct, wryly funny, and perceptive--for how to empower a daughter to become a strong, independent woman. From encouraging her to choose a helicopter, and not only a doll, as a toy if she so desires; having open conversations with her about clothes, makeup, and sexuality; debunking the myth that women are somehow biologically arranged to be in the kitchen making dinner, and that men can "allow" women to have full careers, Dear Ijeawele goes right to the heart of sexual politics in the twenty-first century. It will start a new and urgently needed conversation about what it really means to be a woman today.
THEY BOTH DIE AT THE END BY ADAM SILVERA
GENRE: Fiction, Dystopian, Self Discovery
UNIQUE, EMOTIONAL, CAPTIVATING
On September 5, a little after midnight, Death-Cast calls Mateo Torrez and Rufus Emeterio to give them some bad news: They’re going to die today.
Mateo and Rufus are total strangers, but, for different reasons, they’re both looking to make a new friend on their End Day. The good news: There’s an app for that. It’s called the Last Friend, and through it, Rufus and Mateo are about to meet up for one last great adventure—to live a lifetime in a single day.
Adam Silvera reminds us that there’s no life without death and no love without loss in this devastating yet uplifting story about two people whose lives change over the course of one unforgettable day.
WE SHOULD ALL BE FEMINISTS BY CHIMAMANDA NGOZI ADICHIE
GENRE: Non Fiction, Sexism, Equality
UNAPOLOGETIC, THOUGHT PROVOKING
With humor and levity, here Adichie offers readers a unique definition of feminism for the twenty-first century—one rooted in inclusion and awareness. She shines a light not only on blatant discrimination, but also the more insidious, institutional behaviors that marginalize women around the world, in order to help readers of all walks of life better understand the often masked realities of sexual politics. Throughout, she draws extensively on her own experiences—in the U.S., in her native Nigeria, and abroad—offering an artfully nuanced explanation of why the gender divide is harmful for women and men, alike.
Argued in the same observant, witty and clever prose that has made Adichie a bestselling novelist, here is one remarkable author’s exploration of what it means to be a woman today—and an of-the-moment rallying cry for why we should all be feminists.