QUARANTINE READING – the bold list


Love is Blind – William Boyd. How to travel around the world without leaving your sofa. Boyd spins the globe, sticks a pin in it and we’re off. A piano tuner, Scotland, Paris, Russia..and I won’t spoil the rest but the title says it all.

Face It – Debbie Harry 

A rather depressing rock n roll tale of New York in the Seventies and the roller coaster life and fortunes of Blondie who were precisely broke at the height of their fame. Nevertheless it’s an excellent rockography of the amazingly resilient and talented Debbie Harry. And a reminder that artists just aren’t commercial

The Secret River – Kate Glanville

A tale of white people raping a nation at the expense of indigenous people. This time it’s Australia and the early settlers in Sydney who decide that once free of their UK prison sentence there may be a better life to be lived away from Sydney and along the Hawkesbury River. It’s just not that simple however. A remarkable tale.

The Outrun – Amy Liptrot

A true tale of addiction and dependence spiralling out of control from the Orkneys to London and back again. Brilliantly written debut novel and sums up perhaps how easy it is to slip away into chaos with no boundaries but then back to some degree of normality with even less boundaries.

Mayor of Casterbridge – Thomas Casterbridge

I have to declare an interest as I am from Casterbridge (Dorchester) although was never mayor. Wonderful how such a classic novel is so approachable and easy to read. Some typical Hardy themes on show here of fate, alcohol, strong women, weak men and well, life in Dorset 150 years ago.

Bury My Heart at Wounded Knee – Dee Brown

Another tale of white men raping a nation at the expense of the indigenous Indians. We (white men) don’t come out well but for someone like me who thought Geronimo or Dances with Wolves told me all I needed to know about the American Indian history of the American West this is compulsory reading. It’s factual and depressing so you need to be in lockdown to be able to get into it.

The Million Dollar Blog – Natasha Courtenay Smith

A brilliant handbook for any of you out there who want to do this in isolation. New original content may be in short supply at this time but we have plenty to draw on in our memory banks plus endless lists of best ofs to compile.

A Life Inside, A prisoner’s notebook – Erwin James

An inspiration for these isolated times. If you can write like this from prison then maybe it’s not so bad. James started doing a column for The Guardian during his time inside for armed robbery and that lead to this memoir that is a fascinating collection of very short stories about life in true isolation.

The Pocket Wine Book – Hugh Johnson 

Having been touched by Covid 19 in the last week or so one of the weirdest things has been losing a sense of taste and smell and when it comes to wine that is as bad as it can possibly get. As no-one is spending any  money by not going out this could be just the time to start listing the wines that Mr Johnson suggests when we all get out more.





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