April 24, 2020, by Shweta
Books You Must Read Before Lockdown Ends
If there’s one thing most 20-something year old’s will agree to, it’s that somewhere along the way we all lost the penchant for reading we once had. Did we get too busy? Did social media encourage immediate gratification in a way books never could? There are a million reasons why; and sadly, not a lot of convincing answers. As a 10-year old, I was packing away books so fast that my parents bought me my very first e-reader solely because there were no spaces left on the shelves. Today, I’d be lucky to get through a few chapters a month. The benefits of being a bookworm are undeniable and it’s safe to say that I’ve fallen behind on those parameters of personal growth dictated by a love for literature. And that’s why, as I’ve promised to read every day during quarantine, you should too! Here are my favourite books to make the habit almost unconscious; after all, some books are too good to be put down.
Perfume by Patrick Suskind
Published in 1985, ‘Perfume’ is one of the best-selling German novels of all time. Don’t worry if you don’t know any German, the book is a popular ‘works in translation’, available in 49 different languages, including English. ‘Perfume’ follows Jean-Baptiste Grenouille, an orphan in 18th century France, with a unique talent; an impeccable sense of smell. A foray into the perfumery business turns into an unquenchable thirst to put together the “perfect” scent. The premise may seem straightforward, albeit startlingly novel, but this book is anything but. It explores power and control through social ladders. Imagine a coming-of-age novel combined with the philosophical movements of the 18th century and there you have it! ‘Perfume’ is a wonderful read for those of you who like to finish a book with an element of reflection on your own life and the meaning it carries.
Seriously Curious by Tom Standage
A massive shift in genres with this next suggestion, written by the Deputy Editor of The Economist. ‘Seriously Curious’ answers questions you may never even have thought about in digestible formats. Together, they open your eyes to renewed perception on daily principles. Timeless, profound, and a little strange would be the perfect descriptors for this piece. Want to know the link between avocados and crime? How about the effects of polygamy on civil war? The world can be a confusing place, especially right now, and Tom Standage and his team work to unravel the mystery piece by piece.
The Stranger by Albert Camus
Can you tell philosophy is one of my favourite genres? The Stranger is yet another golden oldie; a classic from the 20th century. I first read this one during my English Literature classes in high-school. The simple fact that I’m still recommending it nearly 5 years later is evidence of its impact on my life. So much so, my best friend, from the same class, even has a tattoo inspired by the novel. ‘The Stranger’ follows an indifferent French-Algerian man navigating Mediterranean culture, but with a strongly existential view of the world. It discusses the concept of one being only stranger in their society, exploring alienation, and the meaning of life. One of my top philosophical reads of all time and definitely one that will get you reflecting on your own life.
I Know This Much Is True by Wally Lamb
If you’ve been following my blog for some time, you’ll know that mental health is a topic that’s extremely near and dear to my heart. Wally Lamb perfectly describes the heart-breaking, yet poignant journey of coming to terms with mental ill-health in this novel focussing on a twin’s acceptance of his brother’s schizophrenia. A perfect example of soul-baring story-telling, this is a novel that will be hard to put down and even harder to forget. It echoes themes that we are all familiar with to some extent: connection, forgiveness, destruction and renewal. This one has remained at the top of my recommendations list for a long time, and will remain there for years to come. Be warned though, it’s a lengthy read and can get incredibly emotional at times. Nonetheless, it will be one of the most intense, life-changing novels you will ever get your hands on.
Some other authors that sit pretty on my ‘must-read’ list include Haruki Murakami, Atul Gawande and Khaled Hosseini. And remember, you don’t need to go to bookshop to purchase any of these. A friend may be able to lend you a copy (from a safe distance, of course) or you may be able to find versions of it online for a small fee. Books have a way of transporting you to a different world and amid chaos and quarantine, that sounds like a welcome treat. Happy reading!
Until next time,