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As we careen gracelessly into Lockdown 2 here in the UK in the year of our Lord 2020, I see a lot of people pledging to use their newfound free time to engage with their hobbies. Reading is definitely up there as a top pick, which had got me feeling reminisce-y. So I thought I would look back on some of the cracking reads I devoured during our first 2020 lockdown, and maybe give some of you out there a few ideas of what to pick up.

So, what did I read in Lockdown 1?

Sea of Rust by C. Robert Cargill

Was it, in hindsight, a great idea in the current climate to purchase a post-apocalyptic novel where humans are extinct and the robot race who destroyed them are following in the footsteps?

Yes. Yes, it was.

Sea of Rust packed a punch – with a likeable, ballsy robot protag and a very unique setting. I was drawn in by the world and the social commentary. I stayed for the bants. More lighthearted than anticipated. Recommend!


Homegoing by Yaa Gyasi

An utterly brilliant generational saga beginning with two sisters, Effia and Esi, born in different villages in Ghana during the 18th century. They never meet. Effia becomes the unwilling wife of a slave trader. Esi is captured and sold as a slave. What follows is two hundred years of history and gut wrenching personal stories of both Effia and Esi’s descendants.

The stories and perspectives were engrossing and the characterisation was basically perfection. A gritty, detailed and excellently crafted story well worth picking up.


The Pull of the Stars by Emma Donoghue

“Blame the germs, the unburied corpses, the dust of war, the random circulation of wind and weather, the Lord God Almighty. Blame the stars. Just don’t blame the dead, because none of them wished this on themselves.”

What better way to lean into lockdown than to pick up a book about another pandemic? The story takes place in Dublin, 1918, over three days in a maternity ward at the height of the Great Flu. It is a short, claustrophobic tale of Nurse Julia Power and that’s all I’m going to reveal … I was more than a little bit destroyed by this one. I found it so powerful, the characters so brilliantly portrayed, and the scene and the atmosphere gave me chills. Absolutely loved it.


The Rearranged Life of Oona Lockhart by Margarita Montimore

This is an absolute gem of a novel, all about a woman living her life out of order. The story was just as emotional as it promised to be, and I loved the writing style. Very polished and clean, no messing around with purple prose, no focus on imagery. Everything was focused on bringing the characters to life, which Montimore achieved with a clear expertise. All of the characters were enjoyable, likeable, and 100% felt like real people – real people I immediately connected with. Oona Lockhart is a real accomplishment: made me think, made me feel, and most of all, made me excited for what the author is going to bring us next.


Circe by Madeleine Miller

“I had stood beside my father’s light, I had held Aeëtes in my arms, and my bed was heaped with thick-woolled blankets woven by immortal hands. But it was not until that moment that I think I had ever been warm.”

A fulfilling and feminist interpretation of the Greek tale of Circe, the witch-goddess daughter of Helios, Titan and god of the sun. The story definitely stirred my dormant childhood obsession with Greek mythology, and brought along Miller’s additional insights and flair. Circe is a phenomenally complex, yet relatable character. I cared about her from the start and was enthralled with her story and her relationships from the start. Highly recommend.



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