I shared the other week about how I am reading more (but only physical books!) while spending so much time at home. I have, however, been pretty selective about the kinds of books I have been reading. Today I thought I would share what I have been reading in quarantine – I am open to suggestions too!
One of the key decision factors about what I’m reading in quarantine is that the book has to not leave me feeling sadder or more worried than I already am due to everything that is going on. That means books about heartbreak or war, death or destruction are all off the cards for me for now. I need things I can escape in to, books that uplift me, or books that are captivating. Not everything I have read lately has been entirely in those categories, but as long as it’s balanced enough it’s been ok. So, here are some of my recent favourites!
A Gentleman in Moscow
I hadn’t heard about this book before it was lent to me but it came with strong reviews from my parents. Turns out they were right! Set in a luxury hotel in Moscow and following the life of an aristocrat on house arrest, it was a beautifully descriptive novel. It jumps back and forth over time, tracking his life and introducing us to a series of interesting characters through a period of significant change in Russia. An easy but very absorbing read.
The Spy and the Traitor
I had this recommended to me ages ago, but only got around to reading it while in lockdown. It is almost hard to believe that this was a true story – tracking the life of Russian KGB turned MI6 spy and his decades of working as a double-agent. It was gripping, fascinating and eye-opening, and couldn’t have been further from life in quarantine. An excellent way to escape to another time, place and life.
This book probably couldn’t have been better timed for how this year turned out, even if that’s not why Julia Baird wrote it. A book about finding the light in dark times, it was full of research and stories of ways to push through times of adversity. I found it a little disjointed at times, but nevertheless a lovely read and a useful reminder of the value of strong friendships, finding gratitude and living with purpose.
Where the Crawdads Sing
There’s a chance I am the last person I know to read this book, but I am so glad I finally have. I devoured this book in about three nights – and I tend to only read for half an hour or so before bed – some accidental late nights were had! It’s safe to say I found this book captivating and hard to put down. Whilst in many ways the book is heartbreaking, it is also a story of resilience, determination and inner strength. It took me a little bit to get into the style of the writing as it is very descriptive, which isn’t my usual favourite , but once I was in I was hooked. There were elements that weren’t all that believeable, and it jumps around genres a bit, but even so I seriously enjoyed it. It definitely took me out of my day-to-day life too, which made it an ideal book for reading in lockdown.
Growing Up Aboriginal in Australia
I’ve spoken about how much I liked this book previously, but it deserved a mention here too! This collection of short stories may not have all met my criteria of being uplifting, but they certainly were interesting and important to read. The range of experiences may have been vast, but there were so many similarities to the stories as well. Super well put together, with stories from both well-known and not-so-prominent Australians alike, it was well worth a read.
Such A Fun Age
This is another book I was late to (I’m pretty much never on the early wave of books!), but one I also enjoyed. Actually, I’m not sure if enjoyed is the right word given it explores issues of race and privilege, but I found it a captivating, engaging read. I found parts of the ending somewhat frustrating, but was still glad I read it once it was over. I imagine it would spark some interesting conversations in book clubs as well!