Words by Alicia Duggan
WE all need a bit of escapism, even in the best of times, but making space in our busy lives to delve into the pages of a gripping yarn was another matter. Until now.
With many of us under house arrest there has never been a more opportune moment to improve your mind with a literary classic, brush up on your Spanish or binge read a page-turning thriller from cover to cover.
So curl up on the sofa or grab a garden chair in a sunny spot as professional bookworm Alicia Duggan reveals the top 10 self-isolation reads that should be on every expat’s lockdown lit list.
1. The Eyes of Darkness by Dean Koontz
This novel rereleased in 1989 is a standard, run-of-the-mill thriller except for one aspect; it deals with a virus originating in Wuhan, China, which becomes a global pandemic!! Is Dean Koontz the new Nostradamus? (The 1981 edition has the virus originating in Russia but by 1989 it has changed to China).
2. Where the Crawdads Sing by Delian Owens
A masterfully written debut about a girl growing up utterly alone, abandoned by family and shunned by the locals, her isolation is intense and often unbearable, but she never loses hope. A beautiful read.
3. The Ghosts of Spain by Giles Tremlett
Written with humour, great affection and full of interesting insights, this is considered The Bible for extranjeros who want to learn some Spanish history and understand Spain.
4. Ulysses by James Joyce
Ulysses is famously the book that most people own but few have read. This is the perfect opportunity to have a crack at this witty and erudite literary classic.
5. DK (Hugo) Spanish in 3 Months
OK, so hopefully the lockdown won’t last for a full 3 months! However, self-improvement is always a good way to pass the time and Learn Spanish in 3 Months is an easy and comprehensive approach which takes you from beginner to intermediate level.
6. The Enemy by Charlie Higson
A sickness has swept through the adult population, mowing down millions and turning the rest into flesh-eating zombies. Only those under 14 are immune. Sound familiar? Now they must fight for survival. Although marketed as a YA book, this post-apocalyptic novel is an exciting, fast-paced action horror for all ages.
7. Good Omens by Neil Gaiman and Terry Pratchett
Maybe now is not the best time for a novel about the end of the world… But Good Omens is a warm duvet of a book, enveloping you in this good-humoured tale of fussy, sensitive angel Aziraphale and charming demon and best friend Crowley as they attempt to avert the apocalypse.
8. Killing Commendatore by Haruki Murakami
This riveting tale is the perfect introduction to the genius that is Haruki Murakami. His novels are enchantingly surreal and this one involves a reclusive artist, a mysterious hidden painting, a secret Nazi assassination attempt and a trip through the underworld. At 704 pages, it will take your mind off things for many a lockdown hour!
9. The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy Trilogy in Five Parts by Douglas Adams
Now, more than ever, we need a good laugh. These five hilarious novels by the late, great Douglas Adams will have you chuckling out loud. Follow Arthur Dent and Ford Prefect as they travel the galaxy looking for the ultimate question to life, the universe and everything and trying to get a really good cup of tea.
10. Joe Wicks – Literally anything by him!
In lockdown it is easy to become sedentary. Joe Wicks’ books offer delicious, healthy recipes and easy to follow exercise routines which you can also find on YouTube.