Reading in all its forms continues to comfort, nourish and support us during the lockdown, and the MM Agency, along with the rest of the reading and writing community, have certainly been filling their isolation with books!
We wanted to ask our authors in particular what they’ve been reaching for over the last 6 weeks, so they’ve shared their top three isolation reads with us. It seems they’ve covered every genre going, and in true Agency solidarity we’ve caught them reading each other’s books too!
“Top of the list would be Wild by Cheryl Strayed. It’s a book I come back to again and again and is very appropriate for isolation. It’s the story of the author’s solo thousand-mile trek along the Pacific Crest Trail and how, through walking and time spent alone, she comes to terms with her mother’s death. Raw, funny, beautiful, uplifting.
Next would be Me Talk Pretty One Day by David Sedaris, a book that makes me laugh so much that I snort in a very undignified way, which is embarrassing when reading on the tube, but no problem at home in isolation.
And thirdly, A Book of Silence by Sara Maitland, an exploration of the power and history of living life in silence by a modern-day hermit.”
“I’m usually drawn to familiar books that are comforting to reread, and ideally ones that make me laugh too. Three books that I’ve loved re-visiting over the past couple of weeks are: Heartburn by Nora Ephron, Love, Nina by Nina Stibbe and The Rosie Project by Graeme Simsion.”
“I’ve just finished reading Red at the Bone, which was fantastic, and The Five by Hallie Rubenhold is next. I must also admit that I’ve promised my daughter that I’ll read the Twilight trilogy, so…from the sublime to the ridiculous.”
“I recommend a double whammy in The Handmaid’s Tale followed by The Testaments by Margaret Atwood. Confessions of Frannie Langton by Sara Collins is my favourite read so far for 2020. 7 Principals of Marriage by John Gottman PHD – useful for anyone who is working from home with their other halves. My husband and I have done so for three and a half years and this book has definitely helped us.”
“Venetia by Georgette Heyer – so comforting, like a warm bath drawn by discreet maidservants. The Girl with All the Gifts by MR Carey – wonderfully plotted, and reminds us that at least we’re not overrun with flesh-eating zombies. And The Secret Diary of Adrian Mole Aged 13¾ - because you’ve probably read it already, it’s like going back to an old friend – such vivid characterisation, humour and warmth.”
“The Skylark’s War by Hilary McKay, for cosy escapism into a very different time. Reasons to be Cheerful by Nina Stibbe: the perfect up-lifting quarantine read. And An Equal Music by Vikram Seth: you can almost hear the classical music drifting through the pages.”
“Wintering: how I learned to flourish when life became frozen by Katherine May … It’s uncanny: did Katherine write this foreseeing we’d all be in this situation? Also Saving Missy - by Beth Morrey, so good that it’s gone straight to the top of my reading pile. And Just Another Mountain by Sarah Jane Douglas. Inspirational armchair mountaineering and the conquering of grief.”
“My top isolation read: The Collector by John Fowles. It’s my favourite novel, and as a study of obsession, was a big inspiration for The Wreckage. In these times of self-isolation, it should make you thankful that at least you’re not locked up in the basement of a weirdo’s mansion.”
“I’m rereading both The Count of Montecristo – a good lesson in patience – and Pride and Prejudice, because Austen makes social distancing look normal. The Lost Art of Keeping Secrets by Eva Rice is my comfort read. I always go back to it when I want to escape.”
“The Glass Bead Game, by Hermann Hesse. Young Joseph Knecht is selected for his musical ability to join the elite scholars of Castilia and a lifetime’s training in the esoteric ‘glass bead game’. I read this every decade or so, and it always means something new and special to me.
The Name of the Rose, by Umberto Eco. Monks, murder, and philosophy. What else do you need?
The Masters, by CP Snow. This follows the election of a new master of a fictional Oxbridge college in the years leading up to the second world war. Jealousy and in-fighting, factionalism and fake news. It’s as timely as ever!“