What We Read in Lockdown 2.0


Here at Gallic Books, as we approach the end of ‘Lockdown 2.0’, we’re looking back at the books that saw us through the month of November. From a foodie’s tour of France to Atwood’s first poetry collection in a decade, plus novels in translation and some escapist non-fiction. Check out what we’ve been reading in lockdown 2.0…

JANE: “I’m reading The Mission House by Carys Davies because I enjoyed West, and like books that take me where I am now never likely to go – in this case a mission house in a hill town in Southern India. I also like the idea of the rural idyll but in brash modern times. I am also planning to read The Blind Light by Stuart Evers.”

EMILY: “I’ve found myself drawn to more non-fiction than usual this year. Not in an attempt to understand the crazy world we’re living in, but to escape it by remembering things I enjoyed in normal times. So I’ve taken myself on a delicious tour of France with Felicity Cloake’s One More Croissant for the Road.
  Elizabeth Day’s How to Fail has been all over Instagram and I have finally given in to it. Part memoir, part self-help guide, it could easily have been one long humble-brag from a horribly successful and beautiful writer and her horribly successful podcast guests, but it’s actually filled with lots of relatable takeaway advice that will make you feel better about your failure to master new languages or obscure crafts during lockdown.”

ISABELLE: “In lockdown I’ve found myself reaching for the comforting and the familiar. Margaret Atwood has long been one of my favourite writers and her return to poetry with the collection Dearly is exactly what I needed this month. Her poems are understated in style but rich with emotion, exploring themes of love and loss (hence the double meaning of the title of ‘Dearly’ – as in beloved and departed.) A timely reminder to keep embracing light, even while acknowledging and making space for darkness.
In terms of fiction I have been reading Strange Weather in Tokyo by Hiromi Kawakami, (tr. Allison Markin Powell), a slender novel about the slowly blossoming romance between an unlikely pair. It’s a quiet, gentle but wonderfully warm book, perfect company for current times.”

ANDY: I am Sovereign by Nicola Barker: “A beautifully weird joy of a novella that throws all storytelling caution and convention to the wind with gleeful abandon. I could say more (especially about how, having read this, I am happy to read no further fiction this year), but you would be much better off just getting it read.”

If On A Winter’s Night A Traveller by Italo Calvino: “Most of the people I have recommended this book to have hated it.  Hardly a surprise since it revels in its intent to frustrate.  But that’s the point. And, on some level, it might just be a bit too clever for them. Their loss. And maybe yours.”

ALI: The Well Gardened Mind: rediscovering nature in the modern world by Sue Stuart Smith: “If you’re finding the restrictions of lockdown tough going this is the read for you. Written by psychiatrist/psychotherapist and keen gardener, Sue Stuart-Smith details the many benefits of time spent outdoors, both physically and mentally.”

Rag and Bone: a family history of what we’ve thrown away by Lisa Woollett: “In this fascinating mix of history and nature writing Woollett charts a series of walks. A long the Thames, from City to estuary, and around the beaches of Cornwall, her journeys are charted by discoveries of rubbish telling the tale of our growing consumerism. Alarming and illuminating in equal measure.”

Wintering by Katherine May: “The perfect read if you’re finding the combination of shorter daylight hours and lockdown tricky. By observing historical methods and cultural practices, May finds some positives in the darker months to see us through to Spring.”

Posted on November 30, 2020 by Isabelle Flynn in

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