This Folio Life: 12 recommended reads for quarantine

In these uncertain and trying times, reading can offer moments of much-needed comfort and escapism. Whether returning to a well-thumbed favourite, exploring a new genre, or tackling a challenging text, it’s good to keep a book by your side. In this new blog, Publishing Director Tom Walker browses his bookshelves and selects his recommended quarantine reads.

 

Doctor Zhivago

What better time to re-engage with this great Russian epic? The recent translation by Boris Pasternak’s nephew returns the lyricism and colour to this beautiful novel of love, war and the Russian soul.

Doctor Zhivago limited edition, The Folio Society

The Tenant of Wildfell Hall

Being stuck at home and only allowed out to go to the shops seems a good time to read about feminism, and this is arguably the first feminist novel. Wildly surprising in its modern sensibility, Brontë rages against a society that held women shackled to men and the home.

The Tenant of Wildfell Hall, The Folio Society

The Little Prince

I can’t help thinking of how the Little Prince would respond to our world right now. An enigmatic, compassionate but sad creature of the stars, I sometimes imagine the weight of his judgement on us all for the job we’re doing of keeping our little planet safe.

The Little Prince, The Folio Society

The World Turned Upside Down

The English Civil War of the 1640s shook the nation to its core, and in the process out scattered a legion of radical ideas and philosophies which have formed the national identity ever since. One wonders how our current upheaval will reshape us.

The World Turned Upside Down, The Folio Society

Moby-Dick

What an opportunity, if you never have, to read this bulking leviathan of a novel. From the first pages in Nantucket, where Ishmael befriends trusty Queequeg, Melville loops his crazed tale of ambition and revenge, culminating in scenes of terror on the high seas.

Moby-Dick, The Folio Society

His Dark Materials

Pullman might be the purest storyteller of our times, and His Dark Materials is his masterpiece: a truly addictive adventure story which leads us into other worlds.

His Dark Materials, The Folio Society

The Handmaid’s Tale

Turning to Margaret Atwood in times of trouble is always a good decision. Prophetic or not she is wise and compassionate, and laces those qualities with a killer wit.

The Handmaid's Tale, The Folio Society

Maigret

If all else fails, pick up a Maigret. With plots as light as a feather and a stripped-down style, Simenon’s thrillers are beautifully evocative of the underground tensions of a mid-century Paris.

Maigret: Set One, The Folio Society

Persuasion

It’s always a good time to re-read Austen, to get lost in that luscious prose and arch wit. Persuasion is her last-completed, and perhaps her most mature novel, and a joy to revisit.

Persuasion, The Folio Society

I am Legend

In the current circumstances this is not a book for the faint-hearted: Matheson’s vision of a post-pandemic future doesn’t contain many people, and even fewer who are not zombie-vampires, but there is a glimmer of hope at its end…

I Am Legend, The Folio Society

The Shining

A family isolated for months away from civilisation … could there be a more pertinent premise for our current situation? With its violent and supernatural undertones this puts a terrifying spin on lockdown but it’s King at his finest and you’ll be hooked from the outset.

The Shining, The Folio Society

The Mirror & The Light

My final choice is not yet available as a Folio Society edition, but I do hope that it will be one day. This is my current quarantine reading. A nine-hundred-page masterwork of astonishing delicacy and intelligence which draws one back through the eyes of Cromwell to a Tudor London infested with plague and political instability.

It’s not always easy to focus on reading with the world turned upside-down but choose to lose yourself in any of these titles and I think you’ll be richly rewarded.

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Comments from others

  • Andrew James Constantine says:

    Thank you. I think these books are an excellent choice of your fine books to distract us from you know what.

  • Damian Smith says:

    I certainly concur with your choice of Persuasion. In these strange times I’ve been wrapping myself up in the wonderful world of Proust’s In Search of Lost Time, published by FS nearly 20 years ago and ripe for a reprint I suggest. Nothing can beat it !

  • Greg says:

    Great post. I just re-read I Am Legend and Planet of the Apes for the first time in over 40 years, both Folio Editions. And have the edition of The Shining as well.

  • Anne Hutchison says:

    Yup, just finished re-reading Persuasion, His Dark Materials and The Little Price. In current rotation are Mansfield Park, The Mirror and the Light (would love this trilogy in Folio editions) and The Handmaid’s Tale (as soon as I find where I left it). I have now moved I Am Legend and The Tenant of Wildfell Hall out of the bookcase and into the “to be read” pile. Thanks for the suggestions!

  • Eric Robinson says:

    Some special ‘Covid 19 Offers’, would be appreciated by many people, I’m sure.

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