Many of us will be spending more time at home over the coming weeks. You may be using this time to learn something new or confront the classic you always meant to read. Perhaps your travel plans have been postponed and you’d like to be carried somewhere else by a good book. Maybe you’re in need of some simple escapism. Whatever you are looking for, our Barefoot Bookseller has put together a list of recommendations to see you through these troubled times.
Notes on a Small Island by Bill Bryson
There is much to be said for living room travel, and anything written by Bill Bryson is the perfect candidate for transporting you to new shores without even leaving your living room. In Notes on a Small Island, Bryson travels around the UK, uncovering the eccentricities of this island nation and the people who inhabit it. His witty observations about the cultures he visits will have you audibly chortling to yourself. Wherever you are in the world, Bryson is a superb travelling partner.
Wolf Hall, Bring Up The Bodies and The Mirror and the Light by Hilary Mantel
If you haven’t yet read these evocative novels, now is the time. Telling the story of the rise and fall of Henry VIII’s right hand man, Thomas Cromwell, every page seethes with the life of the Tudor court and the sounds, smells and sights of the sixteenth century. This is far more than just well-written historical fiction; this is the most vibrant world-building, biting and vivacious.
The Neapolitan Quartet by Elena Ferrante
Beginning in the 1950s with My Brilliant Friend, this series of four novels follows two friends, Lena and Lila, as they navigate their childhood, adolescence and adulthood in an impoverished part of Naples. Depicting the social workings of a small, poor community, and the joys, jealousies and evolutions of friendship, you’ll find yourself transported to Naples through Ferrante’s warm characters and addictive prose.
The Silk Roads by Peter Frankopan
Reading The Silk Roads re-framed my perspective of history. Awakening readers to the prominence of the Asian continent throughout history, Peter Frankopan’s remarkable book manages to condense thousands of years of history into a concise yet thorough narrative. It’s a gripping story of empires, wars, and alliances that were built up along those trade routes. For anyone who would like to use the opportunity of some time at home to learn something new, this is perfect book.
Outside The Gates Of Eden By Lewis Shiner
Two teenagers meet in the summer of 1965 and, inspired by their hero, Bob Dylan, decide to form a band. The novel follows them through the next five decades, into the Summer of Love, the hope of those years, and the disillusion that followed. Described by George R.R. Martin as ‘a brilliant requiem for our generation and all our dreams’, it’s an epic about music and friendship, with a phenomenal soundtrack to boot.