When lockdown started back in March I was spending an unhealthy amount of time on my phone. Every spare minute I had I was scrolling through news website with a knot in my stomach as I read about shortages of PPE, panic buying and rapidly increasing death rates. This constant exposure to so much bad news was causing my anxiety to soar and I made the decision to stop checking my phone so much. It was a great decision. Without reading the same news ten times a day and getting lost on twitter for hours, I started to feel in a better mental place. Another positive of cutting the screen time has been I’ve started to read more again. Since March I have read four books and have another two on the go. For some avid readers this may not seem many at all but my ‘free time’ is limited and if I continued to spend as much time on my phone there’s no way I’d have made it through two books let alone almost six. I thought I’d share with you the books that have been helping to keep me distracted and entertained during lockdown. Maybe you’ve reached the end of your to be read pile after months of staying indoors or perhaps you just need a bit of reading inspiration. Here is a list of all the books I’ve read recently, with spoiler free short reviews. Let me know if you’ve read any, I love a bit of book chat!
All the books I have read during lockdown
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1. Grown ups, Marian Keyes
I love Marian Keyes. I just adore how she writes big Irish families so expertly that I always end up wishing I could become an honorary member (and I always want to say everything is ‘grand’ after feeding one of her books). Grown Ups is a story about Jessie and her family and all their dramas and problems and Jessie’s quest for the perfect family get together that never goes exactly to plan. The story begins with a big family dinner celebrating Jessie’s husband Johnny’s birthday. All the family are there: brothers, sisters in law and all their children. One of Jessie’s sisters in law has a concussion and spills all the family secrets she has discovered in recent times. The book then goes back several months and as you read you learn of all the events and lies and betrayals that Cara will later reveal at the dinner party. Grown Ups is funny, draws you into the drama like a soap on the TV and you will find yourself loving then hating and then loving the characters all over again. Marian Keyes mixes important issues in with the laughs though and she tackles serious topics including eating disorders and depression. I really enjoyed this book, it took me a little while to read as it’s quite long but I was so engrossed by all the characters and was not disappointed by the ending. You should definitely read it if you like a character driven story, it’s grand.
2. Die for me, Luke Jennings
Ahh I was so excited for this book! If you know me then you will know I’m obsessed with Killing Eve. I love the TV adaptation but also really love the original books too. Die For Me is the final book in the Villanelle trilogy and it did not disappoint. Spoiler alert but not really as you find this out on like page 2, Eve and Villanelle are together in this book. Following the dramatic ending of No Tomorrow, Eve and Villanelle are now on the run from The Twelve together in Russia. The Killing Eve books are seriously fast paced and this final edition is no different. Like the previous books there are lots of gruesome (perhaps too detailed?) kills and lots of sexy times between the characters too. The books are very different to the TV versions, I would say that Killing Eve is VERY loosely based on the books so don’t expect the events of the BBC show to be found in the pages of this book because it’s a totally different plot. I enjoyed Die for Me, I did feel that Jennings ruined Eve a bit though. I always felt Eve was a strong and feisty take-no-crap sort of character but at times in this book she becomes a bit of a pathetic and sulky girlfriend and I found that quite jarring compared to the woman she’d been in the previous two books. Jennings managed to keep me reading though with all the fast paced action and Villanelle’s crazy antics and by the end I was mostly satisfied with how things turned out. If you like Killing Eve the TV show then you will probably enjoy this trilogy, just don’t expect similar storylines because the books are very different.
3. Pretending, Holly Bourne
I read Holly Bourne’s first novel for adults How Do You Like Me Now last year so I was very excited when I saw Pretending pop up on Amazon. Trigger warning, this book deals with sexual assault and rape as a running theme throughout. Pretending is a book about April, a thirty year old woman who is struggling to find love. She can never make it past five dates with a new man and she is starting to give up on love all together. April has experienced sexual assault and trauma in her past and she feels these events are stopping her from being the woman men want her to be (or the woman she thinks men want her to be). April decides to create a fake online dating account and she gives herself a new name – Gretel. Gretel is every mans dream girl and when April is Gretel she is care free and her past does not come back to haunt her. April/Gretel meets a man but will she be able to keep pretending to be the perfect woman? Is Gretel really the woman all men dream about? I really enjoyed this book, I was rooting for April the whole way through and was desperate for her to see she didn’t need to pretend to be someone else, that she was worthy of being loved for who she really is. Despite its heavy subject matter, Pretending has lots of funny moments and loads of spot on observations of modern life as a woman. Pretending was an eye opening, informative read but also a book I found really enjoyable and difficult to put down. Definitely recommend.
4. Queenie, Candice Carty-Williams
Oh my god, I LOVED this book. What’s this book about? Well, it’s about Queenie! Queenie is a 25 year old black woman living in London, trying to navigate life after her boyfriend of three years says they should have a ‘break’. Why do I mention that Queenie is black? Well, the book deals with lots of different issues, miscarriage and mental health being just two, but race is a constant theme running throughout. I learnt a lot from this book, by being in Queenie’s head and experiencing how she is treated on a daily basis because of the colour of her skin, I was given a glimpse into what life as a black woman living in the Uk must be like. I loved Queenie’s family and her relationships with her friends. Queenie is such a relatable character, she just wants to be happy with her boyfriend, her family and her friends but is realising that life is never that straight forward. Like Pretending, Queenie deals with serious and important issues but is also really funny at times too. I can’t recommend this book enough, you’ll learn a lot and laugh a lot and maybe cry a bit too. I was worried I’d be disappointed by the ending but the only thing I was disappointed about was that it had to end at all.
5. The Flatshare, Beth O’Leary
I am only a few chapters into The Flatshare but so far I am enjoyed it. The book is about Tiffy, an editor who has recently separated from her boyfriend and when looking for somewhere new to live, London prices and her lack of cash force her to accept a flatshare. The flat TIffy moves into belongs to Leon, a hospice worker who will be out of the flat every night and on the weekends. I’m not far into the story but so far I am intrigued to see how things are going to work out between Tiffy and Leon with their strange new living arrangements. They will probably end up together, I’m calling it from chapter four even when the characters haven’t met yet! The Flatshare is very readable and once I stop spending every spare moment trying to finish my crochet cardigan, I am sure I will get through it really quickly.
6. Gotta get Theroux this, Louis Theroux
I have so much love for the genius that is Louis Theroux and even though I bought this book for Oli, I have decided to read it first. As well as reading more, during lockdown I have been rewatching lots of old Louis Theroux documentaries and have gone right back to the 90s and watched loads of his Weird Weekends episodes (definitely worth a watch if you’ve not seen them before). Gotta get Theroux this is all about Louis’ life and his career in television. I am not very far in but I am enjoying getting to know more about the man behind the documentaries and also reading about how Louis felt when he was filming his programmes. It’s interesting to get more of a look into what Louis was thinking when he met the stars of his documentaries, as in the TV shows he asks the questions, we don’t hear his thoughts as much. If you enjoy Louis Theroux’s documentaries then you will enjoy this book too. I have still got a lot to read but at only a few chapters in I already know it’s going to be one of the most interesting books I have read in a long time.
Have you been reading a lot during lockdown? I would love to hear about the books you have been enjoying so I can add them to by to be read pile. I have already got I am not your baby mother, Olive and How do we know we’re doing it right? in my online shopping basket, I’m just trying not to buy anything new until I have finished the books I am currently reading. Have you read any of the books on this list? I’d love to hear your reviews.