5 books (or series) to read while we are staying in to stay safe

The Dark Tower by Stephen King

What’s it about?

The Dark Tower tells the story of Roland of Gilead as he embarks on an epic journey to reach the Dark Tower. Along the way we meet a whole host of mystical characters and creatures, visit mesmerising places and have fantastic adventures.

Why should I read it now?

There are many, many reasons I think you should read this series now. First of all, I believe it is Stephen King’s best work. I love Stephen King and he has written some of the best works of fiction of our time, but this tops them all. Additionally, while we are all stuck inside, this is a book series that takes you on adventure after adventure. There are 8 books in total to get your teeth into, they are easy to read, highly entertaining and thrilling to discuss. In short, perfect for while we are all staying home!

The Southern Reach Trilogy by Jeff Vandermeer

What’s it about?

The Southern Reach are a highly secretive government agency. In Annihilation they are sending expeditions into Area X, a fantastical part of the United States where nature is reclaiming the land which appears to host all kinds of creatures and properties which we don’t understand. In Authority we meet Control who is the new director of The Southern Reach and is desperately trying to unravel all its secrets and mysteries. In the third and final (for now!) book, Acceptance, we discover even more secrets of Area X through the mysterious lighthouse keeper, the new director and Ghost Bird and Control.

Why should I read it now?

I’m going to level with you guys, I’ve read this series twice and honestly still don’t really understand most of it. That is the beauty of Jeff Vandermeer’s books. You can sit for literally hours just thinking about them, trying to unpick them, coming up with theories and living in the stunning world he has created in the Southern Reach trilogy. The books are fascinating, scary, exciting and gripping. Guaranteed to keep you occupied.

The Grapes of Wrath by John Steinbeck

What’s it about?

The Grapes of Wrath tells the story of the Joad family as they travel across country in search of a better life in California. They are permanently confronted with challenges and difficulties but must find a way to overcome them to try and reach the promised land where they might be able to rebuild their lives.

Why should I read it now?

The main reason I hear people give for not reading some of the great fiction in history is that they don’t have the time. This is understandable. The books are often challenging, lengthy pieces of work. Now, however, you do have time. In my opinion, there is no finer book than The Grapes of Wrath. It is Steinbeck at his most powerful both in terms of linguistic and narrative abilities. The story resonates and hits hard with every single person who reads it. You have the time to tackle this epic, make sure you don’t waste it.

The Long Take by Robin Robertson

What’s it about?

The Long Take is a genre blending, half poem half prose story told from the perspective of Walker a veteran returning to America form France after D-Day, suffering with post-traumatic stress disorder. Walker tries to piece his life together and find a place to call home, but he can’t escape the violence and darkness of his past.

Why should I read it now?

I, like a lot of people, was scared when I heard this was a poem the length of a novel with passages of prose in it. Fear not though, while at times it can be challenging it is nothing you can’t manage. With all the time you now have, you should embrace the challenge and what you will discover is one of the most powerful and affecting pieces of literature produced in the modern era. It is a masterpiece and not enough people have read it.

The Salt Path by Raynor Winn

What’s it about?

The Salt Path is a memoir detailing the extraordinary journey Raynor and her husband Moth go on after discovering Moth is terminally ill and they lose their home and livelihood. They decide that rather than sleeping on their friends or children’s sofas they are going to walk the 630-mile South West Coast Path. They live wild and experience nature at its rawest.

Why should I read it now?

There are many reason this is a book you should read. It carries an important social message, about the stigma of homelessness and the cruelty of capitalism. It is funny, sad, brave, heart-warming and every other emotion you can imagine. The main reason you should read it right now though is the message it has. No matter how bad things seem, no matter how dark or difficult things are, if you keep going there is always light at the end of the tunnel and you will come out of the other side a better person.

Thanks for reading! Have you read any of these books? What are you reading during lockdown? Let me know!

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