As a creature of habitual isolation, the notion of quarantining never really frightened me.
While giving up luxuries such as travelling outside of 2km and moseying around the city centre at weekends have been an adjustment, the concept of staying indoors was one with which I was most comfortable. (An extremely privileged viewpoint, I know.)
This is because, just as lockdown was announced, I had ordered a pile of new books that I was desperate to get stuck in to. For me, reading adds more shape to my day than any TV show could, and I also feel like I'm learning something via osmosis – albeit subconsciously more often than not.
The past few weeks has seen me pick up a myriad of reads, all a little different, with the hopes of inspiring others to pick up the novel that's been gathering dust on your shelf and making you wonder why you hadn't picked it up sooner.
1. Such A Fun Age by Kiley Reid
As with most superhyped novels, I admittedly wasn't expecting much from Reid's Such A Fun Age. However, this astonishing debut (!) had me at the edge of my seat from start to finish. It takes places you do not expect it to, while also touching on emotions every young person has felt before.
A must-read for anything interested in the daily idiosyncrasies of racism in the US or anyone who has ever felt less than when compared to their friends.
2. Long Live The Tribes Of Fatherless Girls by T Kira Madden
Another absolutely explosive piece, unafraid to show the ugly parts of girlhood. I cried a lot during this, for a number of reasons, but mostly because of how viscerally true every page felt. The piece spans addiction, betrayal, the chaotic nature of growing up and the heady vividness of feeling used for the first time.
To echo Chanel Miller, this is the book I wish I had growing up.
3. Know My Name by Chanel Miller
I've never really been one to become quickly obsessed with a book. Generally, I'm quite picky about what I read and will put it down if I don't start enjoying it before 50 pages in.
However, Know My Name has changed my way of thinking, being and reading. This has made it to my top five books ever. Miller's writing is as beautiful as it is devastating, allowing you to live through every moment of the tragic night that kickstarted this book. I may need to read this again in a month's time when my feelings settle. This should be on curricula across the world.
4. Girls & Sex by Peggy Orenstein
A book I purchased years ago and allowed to gather dust on my shelf. Never again.
While researching her new book, author Peggy Orenstein spoke with more than 70 young women between the ages of 15 and 20 about their attitudes and early experiences with the full range of physical intimacy. She believed that when it came to sexuality, girls today are receiving mixed messages. Girls hear that "they're supposed to be sexy, they're supposed to perform sexually for boys but that their sexual pleasure is unspoken."
This no-holds-barred piece explores what it means to navigate your sexuality today as a young woman – resplendent with all the unwritten rules you remember from your adolescence and more. Hugely insightful.
5. Slouching Towards Bethlehem by Joan Didion
A 1968 collection of essays by the very best.
Didion mainly describes her experiences in California during the 1960s in the style of New Journalism which was revolutionary at the time and remains to be so some 50 years later.
She explores the lives of people who have come to the Golden State in search of something that will give their lives meaning and purpose by inserting herself into each narrative to create greater nuance, detail and democratisation of the subject matter. A hugely impressive piece for anyone who enjoys reading and/or writing.
Next on my list:
- Little Weirds by Jenny Slate
- The Supreme Court by Ruadhan Mac Cormaic
- Sex And Lies by Leila Slimani
Got a book recommendation? Let us know below.
Main image by @themodernbookclub