10 Books I Read During Quarantine That Made Me Fall in Love with Reading Again
My love for books first began when I was a young child and my parents read to me every night before bed.
Over the years, my love for reading has continued to grow and throughout the past year, I have read over 50 books. Before the COVID-19 lockdowns, I was experiencing a reading slump; I have decided to share my top 10 book recommendations that made me fall in love with reading again.
1. ‘Life of Pi’ by Yann Martel
“To lose a brother is to lose someone with whom you can share the experience of growing old, who is supposed to bring you a sister-in-law and nieces and nephews, creatures who people the tree of your life and give it new branches. To lose your father is to lose the one whose guidance and help you seek, who supports you like a tree trunk supports its branches. To lose your mother, well, that is like losing the sun above you. It is like losing — I’m sorry, I would rather not go on.”
One of the first books I read during quarantine was ‘Life of Pi’. The story follows Piscine Molitor “Pi” Patel who survives 227 days after a shipwreck while stranded on a lifeboat in the Pacific Ocean with a Bengal tiger named Richard Parker.
I loved ‘Life of Pi’ and I finished it in one day; it makes you appreciate everything you take for granted, and it makes you consider the small observations in life. For example, Pi was afraid to run out of paper to document his days on the lifeboat and instead he ran out of ink, and I think it was significant that he chose to embrace three religions — Hinduism, Christianity, and Islam and not just one.
2. ‘Little Fires Everywhere’ by Celeste Ng
“…the thing about portraits is, you need to show people the way they want to be seen. And I prefer to show people as I see them.”
‘Little Fires Everywhere’ was another one of the first books that I read during quarantine. The story follows Mia and her teenage daughter Pearl who settle in Shaker Heights, in a duplex owned by the Richardsons. The Richardsons are a ‘perfect’ family that consists of Elena, Mark, and their four teenage children. Pearl quickly becomes friends with Moody, the third Richardson child, and his older sister Lexie.
When a family friend of Elena’s tries to adopt a Chinese-American baby, a custody battle erupts that divides the town, of which Mia and Elena find themselves on opposing sides. Elena Richardson used to be a reporter, and she starts diving into Mia’s past to figure out what her secrets are. But as Elena finds, Mia is not the only one keeping secrets.
I found this novel to be beautifully written with multiple characters, themes, and storylines, each one adding a new layer of complexity that was well intertwined.
3. ‘And Then There Were None’ by Agatha Christie
“It is really a hard life. Men will not be nice to you if you are not good-looking, and women will not be nice to you if you are.”
‘And Then There Were None’ follows 8 unacquainted guests who have been invited to a very large home on an isolated island off the coast of England for a summer holiday. When the water ferry drops them off they find their host has not yet arrived but there are two staff members there to meet their needs. Soon it is brought to their attention that all 8 guests along with the 2 staff members have previously been accused of various murders from their past. Then the first of the guest drops dead. By the next morning, another of the remaining 9 is found dead.
I found this book an engaging introduction to Agatha Christie’s writing as it left me guessing who the potential murderer was until the very end, which was shocking and so unexpected. I thought the setting of the island was very appropriate, with no phone or transport they are isolated without contact with outside civilisation.
4. ‘We Are the Ants’ by Shaun David Hutchinson
“We may not get to choose how we die, but we can choose how we live. The universe may forget us, but it doesn’t matter. Because we are the ants, and we’ll keep marching on.”
‘We Are the Ants’ tells the story of a teenager, being gay, and not being accepted in society. This book begins with Henry telling us his experience with aliens; these aliens have abducted him several times, conducted experiments on him, and finally given him the ultimate choice. The world is going to end, but pushing a button will stop it — will Henry find a reason to save the world?
This is a story about heartbreak, loss, grief, and trying to figure out who you are; it holds an important discussion about mental illness and how you must learn to live with it as it’ll never go away. ‘We Are the Ants’ puts forward the questions: Is the world worth saving? If you had the power to stop the world from ending, would you?
5. ‘The One’ by John Marrs
“If you’ve got the opportunity to love someone as much as they love you, then grab it with both hands and hold on to it for dear life.”
In ‘The One’, scientists have previously discovered a gene that you only share with one other person, your DNA match. Millions of people have taken the test and found their match. 10 years later, we follow five people: Mandy, Christopher, Jade, Nick, and Ellie, as they find their match.
The book is very well written and the chapters are short, fast-paced and all ended on a cliffhanger. I instantly became so invested in the character’s storylines. There are several twists; some you see coming and some you don’t, which makes it a very enjoyable read.
Throughout the book, there are many moral and ethical questions raised. Can a psychopathic serial killer fall in love? Is it wrong to have a baby through IVF without the man’s knowledge or consent? Should you marry someone out of pity because a scientific DNA test suggests that you are destined for one another?
6. ‘Ugly Love’ by Colleen Hoover
“Love isn’t always pretty, Tate. Sometimes you spend all your time hoping it’ll eventually be something different. Something better. Then, before you know it, you’re back to square one, and you lost your heart somewhere along the way.”
When Tate Collins meets airline pilot Miles Archer, she knows it isn’t love at first sight. The only thing they have in common is an undesirable attraction. Once they reveal this, Tate and Miles realise they have the perfect arrangement. He doesn’t want a relationship, she doesn’t have time for a relationship; that leaves sex. Their arrangement can only work if Tate can stick to Miles’ two rules: “Never ask about the past. Don’t expect a future.”
The story is told through two different timelines: one is set in the present when Tate is falling in love with Miles, the other is set in the past when Miles is falling in love as a teenager.
This is my first Colleen Hoover novel and I loved it! I was so impressed with how engaging the storyline was and how I was so easily drawn into it.
7. ‘They Both Die at the End’ by Adam Silvera
“Sometimes the truth is a secret you’re keeping from yourself because living a lie is easier.”
Death calls just after midnight. Mateo and Rufus will die today. They don’t know each other yet, but their paths meet on ‘Last Friend’ (an app created for deckers, deckers are those who have received the death call) and they decide to have the best last day together they can. From here we watch as their relationship goes from awkward strangers to best friends falling in love. They learn to face their fears, challenge each other and support one another through their final day.
‘They Both Die at the End’ isn’t a book about death, it’s about life. It’s about becoming the person you’ve always dreamt of being without fear holding you back. It makes you ask the question if you knew today was your last day would you be happy with everything you’ve accomplished?
8. The ‘Harry Potter’ series by J.K.Rowling
“Mr. and Mrs. Dursley of number four, Privet Drive, were proud to say that they were perfectly normal, thank you very much.”
On Harry Potter’s 11th birthday he is revealed to a world of magic, a world that every child dreams of. He receives a letter from Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry. From this moment, we watch Harry, and his friends Hermione Granger and Ron Wizardry grow from innocent children to 17-year-olds battling in the Second Wizarding War.
My favourite thing about this series is how the plot is tied together perfectly at the end. I admire J.K.Rowling’s imagination, the depth of the plot, and the definitive plan from the start. This is one of the few series that deserves the hype it gets; throughout each book, you become more emotionally attached and the characters feel like friends.
9. ‘Boys Don’t Cry’ by Malorie Blackman
“Sometimes the things you’re convinced you don’t want turn out to be the thing you need the most in this world.”
Dante is a 17-year-old that has his life all planned out, he’s just about to receive his A-Level results and go to University to study Journalism. But then his ex-girlfriend, Melanie, appears holding a baby.
‘Boys Don’t Cry’ is written from the perspective of brothers: Dante and Adam. Both Dante and Adam struggle to fit in and are excluded from society but for very different reasons. Dante struggles with the harsh reality of being a teenage parent, whereas, Adam struggles with being accepted in society because of his sexuality.
This book makes you think about the consequences of your actions, how a small mistake can change your life so drastically. It’s one of the few books that portrays fatherhood from the perspective of a single, teenage boy. Throughout this book we see Dante’s fears not only for himself but also for his daughter and that he won’t be good enough for her.
10. ‘Little Women’ by Louisa May Alcott
“Women, they have minds, and they have souls, as well as just hearts. And they’ve got ambition, and they’ve got talent, as well as just beauty. I’m so sick of people saying that love is all a woman is fit for.”
Finally, during the COVID-19 lockdowns, I read ‘Little Women’ for the first time. ‘Little Women’ follows Meg, Jo, Beth, and Amy who are the daughters of Doctor March, a preacher working in the civil war after losing his fortune, leaving his wife, Marmee, and his four daughters. Meg is the oldest sister; responsible and kind. Jo is a tomboy and an aspiring author. Beth, a talented pianist with frail health. Amy, the youngest daughter, is an artist who adores visual beauty.
Louisa May Alcott portrays a beautiful family in a beautiful story; her writing is simple yet captivating. This classic is written for a younger audience and older readers reading it for the first time might not feel a connection with the book. However, an older reader would be able to put into perspective the societal norms of the time that the story depicts.