Lockdown Reading

 

I don’t know about you, but since Coronavirus hit, and we’re forced to spend all our time indoors, I have been reading way more. Which is actually really nice. It feels good to take that time to sit down and just read, it’s something I rarely do in “normal life”. So I thought I’d share a few of the books I’ve been reading.

All links are to Hive, an online retailer that gives a percentage of your money to your local indie bookshop. These are not affiliate links. 


Our Stop - Laura Jane Williams 

I read this one before the current crisis (about 5 times actually) but I’m including it here because it’s just so warm. The writing is friendly, funny, modern. The story is bloody excellent. It literally made me late for work when I first read it. The friendships in it are so lovely. It has strong, powerful, vulnerable, human women. The most perfect man you can imagine. This book is like a really good hug. 


The Five - Hallie Rubenhold

The first of 3 books on this list about London history, and it’s a tough read. This is all about the women murdered by Jack The Ripper, his 5 canonical victims. It challenges the long held preconception that all the women were “just” sex workers. It’s an unflinching look at what life in Victorian Britain was like for women, how easy and quick it was to go from respectability to living in the worst slums of London. It really is shocking - the late 1800s weren’t all that long ago.


The Flatshare - Beth O'Leary

Aah another good hug book. The sort of book that’s great for reading on a beach. Squishy and sweet and oh so romantic, I too would like love notes all over my house. It’s predictable in the best possible way, whilst still dealing with real and important issues like gaslighting and abuse. 


London: A Travel Guide Through Time - Dr Matthew Green

The premise is that you’re a literal time traveler, taken to key moments during London's history - the great fire, the black death, post blitz etc. It talks you through exactly what you’d see and smell and hear. It took me a bit of getting used to, especially as it throws you in the deep end with bear baiting in Shakespeare's London. It’s very direct and incredibly interesting, full of little titbits of knowledge perfect for any London themed pub quiz you might be planning on Zoom.


Hype Yourself - Lucy Werner 

I’m excellent at buying business books and then never reading them, hoping i’ll gain knowledge through some form of osmosis. Not so with Hype Yourself. I’m working my way through it, all this information on PR suddenly becoming crucial now I’m attempting to make the leap to freelance. Clear, conconcis and actually interesting, you really should give it a read if you’ve got a side hustle going on. 


A Short History Of London - Simon Jenkins 

A book I’m half way through, and the last London based book on the list. This one, being total non fiction, is very fact heavy and doesn’t particularly have any of the personal flourishes of the other 2 London books. It doesn’t suffer for this, it’s still an easy read. I’m particularly obsessed with street names, and used to work around Marylebone, so the Georgian chapter which explains how Harley St got its name, amongst many others, led to me exclaiming out loud. Pure history nerd joy.


Queenie - Candice Carty-Williams 

This one hurt to read, in the same way that Normal People hurt. It never shies away from sadness, I had to read it in small bursts. That doesn’t mean it’s not a good book, it’s excellent. Told from a perspective that few white people ever truly consider, it’s modern and well written. I also appreciate that although it talks about the abuse that Queenie experienced in the past, it never revels in it or glorifies it.  It deals with heartbreak and mental health and religion and the loss of love for yourself and from others, and it's so worth a read. 


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