Updated: May 21, 2020
“Never trust anyone who has not brought a book with them.” - Lemony Snicket
I have always been a bibliophile since I was a little girl. Books were my thing. They became my gateway into not just stories, but worlds that could only be accessed through reading, or in my dreams. Magical worlds, beautiful ones, thrilling, ancient, happy, surreal worlds. I could be walking through a wardrobe into hidden lands one minute, and departing Istanbul on a 1930s passenger train the next. My parents told me that when I was younger I almost never put a book down when I started it. I thought they were exaggerating but I then thought hard and got flashbacks: book in hand whilst brushing my teeth, reading in the back of the car, under my duvet covers eyelids heavy with sleep (but I must forge on!) I ate, slept and breathed the worlds that were brought to life in books.
As I have gotten slightly older, I have found that I don’t make as much time for enchanting narratives - “too busy”. I could blame the fact that I am now an adult, and must do adult things and there’s just no time. But truthfully I can’t put the blame on that; I have been distracted and temporarily forgot about these literary refuges. Now, during this unusual time and with the onset of lock-down throughout the globe, I have rekindled my passion for books and have turned back the clock and become my former, voracious reading self. Voj, my better half, has joined me too and we dedicate an hour everyday to reading (this usually turns into two, or three).
I share with you our top reads so far.
1) The Corfu Trilogy by Gerald Durrell
Read this if you’re experiencing a serious case of fernweh.
With us all being holed up indoors (and rightly so) I have taken refuge in the world of the Durrells. Having watched the TV show first (which, if you have not, is one thing to add to your inevitably long list of quarantine must sees) and fell completely in love with their story. I had to see if this would be the case with the original trilogy. I must say, it lived up to the show and far surpassed it. The Corfu Trilogy is a biographical account of the comical misadventures and experiences of one of Britain’s most eccentric family, The Durrells. Written by the youngest son, Gerald, the stories flit between his astute observations of the natural world (having discovered a personal affinity and love for nature and conservation) and his satirical observations of his dysfunctional, yet charming family. It begins with the eldest son, Lawrence Durrell, moving to Corfu in 1935, just four years before the start of WWII. Soon after the rest of his family joins him and so the story begins. This highly entertaining, comical narrative transports you right to the heart of Corfu, and you can picture yourself sitting at the Durrels (rather dilapidated) dining room table, hot from the Mediterranean summer sun, exchanging humorous handwritten notes with Gerald on whatever that day’s calamitous disaster might be. All the while, Roger, their trusted family dog, snores peacefully at your feet. A truly feel good read, and one that will give you all the warmth and fuzzies.
2) Lady in Waiting by Anne Glenconner
Read this if you liked The Crown.
I must admit, I am a huge fan of The Crown, (Claire Foy and Olivia Coleman’s performances are just incredible) and have always had a substantial curiosity for the royal and aristocratic system. So when I received this lovely book as a gift from my parents I was over the moon! Written by Anne Glenconner, former lady in waiting to the Princess Margret, now aged 87 and living her best life, bares all (and I mean really really bares all!) in this autobiographical account of her life revealing all the good times and bad, Lady Glenconner invites you into her life with complete candour and heartwarming humour. This is not a decorated version of the dignified and “well-bred” but a detailed insight into the secret goings on of that seemingly bejeweled microcosm of high society. In a nutshell, quite the saucy read. Purchase: https://www.amazon.co.uk/Lady-Waiting-Extraordinary-Shadow-Crown/dp/1529359066
3) SAS Ghost Patrol by Damien Lewis
Read this for some thrilling adventure
I suppose you could say I am a bit of a history buff (I did study Modern History at University after all). World War I and II have always been of particular interest to me so the fact that I hadn’t picked up a Damien Lewis book until now has surprised me… but how glad I am that I did! Even if you don’t fancy yourself a historian as such, I would still urge you to pick up this book. The account follows the explosive story of the SAS Ghost Patrol unit and their impossible mission of an undercover raid of Tobruk in 1942. The longest mission taken by allied forces, this read depicts true daring, bravery, wit and a determined resolution to keep going when all seems lost. SAS Ghost Patrol captures the true essence of that long - established symbolic British heroism and classic gung ho attitude. A great book to sink your teeth into and despite it coming across as an epic fable, every single word is absolutely true.
4) This Is Not A Diet Book by James Smith
Read this for no nonsense advice on your health and well-being.
Voj’s recommendation and I concur. We both know the importance of trying to live a balanced lifestyle and make sure to do so without sacrificing the “fun” in life, or things that bring a smile to our faces (mainly in the form of chocolate or pancakes on a Sunday with extra syrup). We tend to shy away from health fads, diets, and taking it to the unnecessary extreme. As a result, we really resonated with James Smith’s creation, This Is Not A Diet Book. Raw, real and without any frills James really knuckles down on what it means to get in shape, identifies ways to reach real lasting progress and explores the psychology of how you can feel content and happy with your body and a healthy lifestyle. The narrative captures his personality to a T (warning it is riddled with the occasional swear word for emphasis) but it is excellently constructed and you can dip in and out of chapters that you find of particular interest. A refreshing and eye opening read that debunks the trying myths and at times irresponsible fitness trends championed in this commercial industry (finally someone who is bringing back good old fashioned common sense!) Purchase: https://www.amazon.co.uk/Not-Diet-Book-Confidence-Transform/dp/0008374279/ref=sr_1_1?dchild=1&keywords=this+is+not+a+diet+book&qid=1589472510&s=books&sr=1-1
5) The Woman In The Window by A.J Finn
Read this if you’re a fan of Rear Window.
Ok, I must be completely honest, I am only halfway through this book as I am writing this (a gross injustice to review before the ending, I know I know)… BUT, the fact that I have read half in two days simply alludes to how brilliant this book actually is. The story depicts the life of Anna Jones, an agoraphobic who has not left her house in 10 months, losing herself in the meantime to black and white films and wine (much like us all during this time of quarantine... or maybe that's just me). But then, her monotonous routine is shattered when she witnesses an incident through her window that was not meant to be seen. Aren't you already on the edge of your seat? If you’re a fan of the 1954 mystery film thriller, Rear Window, directed by the esteemed Alfred Hitchcock, you certainly cannot deny the direct parallels. Being a huge fan of said movie, I jumped at the bit to read this novel. Tune back in for a full review. Feel free to jump the gun before then and purchase this captivating thriller here: https://www.amazon.co.uk/Woman-Window-hottest-thriller-bestseller/dp/0008234159 Let me know if you decide to take up any of these suggested reads and what you think of them. Bye for now, Gia P.S; Can you spot spot which book in the photo does not match the list? This is an exciting novel that I will be reviewing soon so keep your eyes peeled.