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Take-your-mind-off-coronavirus books

We thought a list of utterly addictive, read-while-you’re-brushing-teeth, stay-up-all-night books might be called for at this point. Here are our top ten:


Fingersmith by Sarah Waters

North Water by Ian McGuire

Rebecca by Daphne de Maurier

The Mermaid and Mrs Hancock by Imogen Hermes Gowar

The Porpoise by Mark Haddon

The Seven Deaths of Evelyn Hardcastle by Stuart Turton

And then There Were None by Agatha Christie

Alias Grace by Margaret Atwood

The Shardlake Series by CJ Samson

The Poisonwood Bible by Barbara Kingsolver

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Books about plagues

Personally, I’m a bit of an escapist, but for those of you who feel like reading about it here are some of the best books featuring plagues. From Daniel Defoe’s memoir from the 1665 bubonic plague to Stephen King’s The Stand where no less the 99% (!) of the population dies there should be something for every brave reader here.

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Quarantine in the time of the Spanish Flu

STOP PRESS! Apparently, this is not actually written by F. Scott Fitzgerald but FAKE NEWS. It’s quite good, though, and probably sums up how we feel these days so I’ll leave it up anyway.
Nothing much has changed in that last 100 years by the looks of F. Scott Fitzgerald’s letter while quarantined in the South of France during the 1920 Spanish influenza outbreak. And those dirty hands of Ernest Hemingway…

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Edmund de Waal’s Library of Exile at the British Museum

Before museums start closing down due to the Coronavirus, don’t miss ceramic artist and author Edmund de Waal’s Library of Exile opening today at the British Museum. It’s a temporary library, located in one of the British Library’s gorgeous oak panelled reading rooms, which houses 2000 books written by authors in exile. The idea came about as de Waal, while scanning his own bookshelf, realised how many of the books there had been written by authors living in exile, far from home, surrounded by a foreign language and sometimes hostility, as we see in our own times. It’s also a celebration of libraries (amidst a wave of closures in the UK) and a monument to destroyed ones (many are named on the walls of The Library of Exile). After a six month stint at the British Museum, the books in the library will end up in Mosul, Iraq where the university library was burnt to the ground by ISIS in 2015. A poignant and moving piece of book art. Go see it.

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A novel for International Women’s Day

I’m reading South Korean bestseller and #MeToo novel Kim Jiyoung, Born 1982 by Cho Nam-Joo at the moment and can’t think of a better novel to recommend on International Women’s Day. The novel tells the story of a South Korean woman’s life and how it’s shaped by systemic sexism from the moment (actually, even before) she is born. It sent shockwaves through South Korea’s patriarchal and traditional society and fired off a hefty debate which, judging by this book, can’t be a bad thing. Full review to follow.