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Top Ten Powerful Books to Read This Quarantine

It’s been just over a week since lockdown was announced in the UK and for many of us, we are getting restless even during a Netflix binge, and are wondering how to pass the extensive amount of time we now have on our hands! As an English student, I’ve automatically turned to my ever-expanding ‘to be read’ list but many of us haven’t had time to read for a while. So, this list is full of some of my favourite books to get you started again!


  1. L.M. Montgomery, Anne of Green Gables: If you’re missing adventuring with your friends, there is no better world to turn to than Anne’s colourful life in Avonlea! Anne Shirley, an orphan girl staying with the Cuthberts is quirky, romantic and enchanting. The novel follows her childhood and though she gets into many scrapes, she ultimately transforms her life in her new home through her sharp imagination and fierce kindness. 

  2. Margaret Atwood, The Penelopiad: Atwood is well-known for her electrifying novel The Handmaid’s Tale and this novella captures a similar feminist spirit. In The Penelopiad Atwood illuminates the female perspective in The Odyssey. Our witty and shrewd narrator Penelope breaks away from her passive place in Homer’s text and writes back with a vengeance. Penelope’s biting narrative is accompanied by chorus pieces presented by the twelve slave girls who were hanged by Telemachus, written in poetry and drama as well as prose.                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                           

    a bunch of books
    Patrick Tomasso on Unsplash


  3. Harry Baker, The Sunshine Kid: If you are looking for something more bite-sized, this poetry collection is perfect. Harry Baker became the youngest World Slam Poetry Champion in 2012, and his poems are rhyme-filled and humorous. His poetry covers a bit of everything, from FIFA to maths to Freshers Fair. It is easy to digest but also incredibly human and uplifting. 

  4. Jane Austen, Emma: This classic novel about romantic mishaps set in the small country village of Highbury is an absolute page-turner. Emma is youthful, vain, clever and loves to match-make her friends. But after a few misjudgements, love saves the day again and Emma is taken down a few pegs along the way. This warm-hearted novel and a cup of tea is a perfect start to the day!

  5. Johanna Spyri, Heidi: This is another beautiful classic, set in the awe-inspiring Swiss mountains. Heidi is sent to live with her grandfather and their relationship blossoms. After a while, Heidi is taken to work in Frankfurt as a companion for Clara. Clara is a terminally ill young girl and she is enchanted by Heidi’s kindness and independence. The novel explores the power of resilience and friendship – two things that are especially valuable to us at this time too.

  6. Roger Robinson, A Portable Paradise: Recently winning the T.S. Eliot Prize, this collection is moving, and captures both the beautiful and the frustrating moments of life. It questions the fluid nature of paradise, how humans seek to achieve their hopes and dreams, the barriers they face, and the potential to overcome them. The poetry is sometimes angry and sad but always powerfully grounded in the weird and wonderful way of the world. 

  7. Phillip Pullman, His Dark Materials series: After being told to read it countless times, I picked up this series this year, and it was one of the best decisions I’ve made. Lyra’s world is similar to ours but with small but strange differences. When Lyra’s friend disappears, her attempt to rescue him leads her to discover cosmological wonders and eventually builds to a compelling, widespread battle for their universe and the divisive worlds around it.    

    Girl Reading A Book In Bed
    Breanna Coon / Her Campus

  8. Louisa May Alcott, Little Women: If you were as delighted by Greta Gerwig’s film adaptation of this novel as I was, and you want to see the words behind the screen, then pick up this book! Alcott narrates the lives of Jo, Beth, Meg, and Amy, their distinct personalities and what is expected of them in order to survive in a man’s world. Despite marital and financial pressures, these girls learn to stay undoubtedly true to themselves and kind to others. It is a beautiful novel of both sisterhood and friendship, and love and heartbreak. 

  9. Margaret Atwood, Alias Grace: If you’re looking for more (and longer) Atwood, this book is a great place to start. Atwood was captivated by the notorious historical figure Grace Marks, allegedly a murderess. In this historical fiction, Atwood explores Grace’s story and how she ends up being implicated for the murder of her master. This novel is gripping from start to finish and is one to be gobbled up. Grace Marks is level-headed and sharp yet mysterious and guarded, taking us on a journey through betrayal, friendship, secrecy, and fear.

  10. Roald Dahl, Matilda: Recently, I was listening to Matilda on a quarantine live-stream and was reminded of Dahl’s magical wordplay, tricks, and humour. Matilda is quick and easy to read, and tells a story of a girl with extraordinary resilience and intelligence and is a very uplifting read during this time of self-isolation. It’s also certainly a good break from heavy coursework reading!


I hope you enjoy these books just as much as I do, and you find this list useful as you plan things to try out in these next few weeks. Keep well and happy reading!


This article is part of our themed week on ways to cope with social distancing and isolation due to the COVID-19 pandemic in the UK. We send our HC love to all of our readers and contributors!

Social Media Manager for Her Campus Bristol, Second year English literature student, Aspiring Journalist
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