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Stuck for new things to read during this lockdown? Or just looking to widen your book collection? Amy and Alice have you covered with these book recommendations. 

 

Alice: 

Back in March last year, when the world was turned upside down, life for me became something of a dream. With my A-Levels cancelled, I had nothing to stop me from sitting down and reading to my heart’s content. This ultimately meant that I got through a LOT of books in 2020 – enough that I felt I should share my favourites from the last year. Not all of these were new releases, but they were all books that I devoured and then wished I hadn’t because they were so good.

 

1. Figuring by Maria Popova

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Canongate Books Ltd, Image source: amazon.com

 

My first pick is Figuring by Maria Popova. There’s nothing more I can say about this book other than that it’s beautiful. Popova delves into the history and lives of some of the most amazing women throughout history, from Emily Dickinson to Harriet Hosmer.

Each story overlaps with another equally famous, equally amazing woman, and shows just how much they built of the world we live in today – especially in that queer, feminist way we all need to see more of! Figuring brought me to tears as I came to the end and learned about the life of Rachel Carson, a biologist from America who brought ecology right to the forefront of our collective attention. This book is off bounds to no one and will enchant anyone who picks it up – I promise!

 

2. Behind the Mask by Tyson Fury

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Century, Image source: amazon.com

 

Second up on my top three list is Behind the Mask by Tyson Fury. I read this right back at the start of 2020 and it didn’t disappoint. Fury is really open about his battles with mental health and in this book, he details his story, from beating Klitschko to his big boxing comeback

 As a bit of a sports nerd, this was always going to be a hit with me. However, the sheer determination of Fury is apparent in every word. For anyone stuck in a rut at work, battling their own mental health challenges or just wanting to see how a world champion boxer built himself back up from the brink, this is a must read in 2021.

 

3. The Body by Bill Bryson

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Black Swan, Image source: amazon.com

 

My final recommendation would have to be The Body by Bill Bryson. Again, this is another nerd moment for me, and I’m totally okay with that.

The Body goes into detail about – you guessed it! – the body and how each system functions to make you a living, breathing human. A particular favourite chapter of mine was The Immune System, but that may have something to do with the fact that I read it just as COVID was taking a hold of the UK. This is probably the most specific of the books I’m recommending because if you have no interest in biology or how the human body works, then this just won’t appeal to you. However, I would recommend this for students who are doing A levels and want to add some spice to their studies (although, I wouldn’t use it in your UCAS statement as I feel that a lot of people will be right now!).

 

Amy:

I think we can admit that we all want to be doing anything but work at the moment. I’ve filled my lockdowns with various activities, like watching probably too many medical dramas (I highly recommend Chicago Med); trying, and often failing, to cook new things; and reading more than usual.

 

1. Midnight Chicken by Ella Risbridger

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Bloomsbury Publishing, Image source: amazon.com

 

My first recommendation is a book I looked through quite recently; Midnight Chicken by Ella Risbridger. On the surface, this is a recipe book, but once you get your hands on a copy, you’ll realise that it’s actually full of personal anecdotes linked to some really lovely recipes. My personal favourites include: the Paris cookies (but I usually switch out some of the chocolate chips for crushed lotus biscuits or fudge pieces); the soups, especially the butternut squash one; and the broccoli on toast - trust me, it’s way better than it sounds. I definitely recommend this to anyone who likes cooking or wants to try out some new recipes, but also to anyone who could do with a little encouragement during lockdown!

 

2. The Flip Side by James Bailey

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Penguin, Image source: amazon.com

 

If you’re in a bit of a reading slump, I’d suggest trying The Flip Side by James Bailey. This romantic comedy follows Josh throughout his year of making almost every decision by the flip of a coin he found on one of the worst nights of his life! If you’re looking for a book to take you out of your head and to various European countries with an eclectic group of supporting characters, this is the one for you. I read this at the start of the year to hopefully get myself back into the habit of reading and kickstart my 30-book challenge for 2021.

 

3. The B*tch Doctrine by Laurie Penny

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Bloomsbury Publishing, Image source: amazon.com

 

This last recommendation is a little bit rogue but stay with me for a minute. The B*tch Doctrine by Laurie Penny is a book I read last year, and this essay collection covers a lot of ground on feminism, identity politics and so much more. Whilst being bold and discussing a variety of really important topics, Penny often uses humour in her relatable and accessible essays, making them much easier to read than some other collections I’ve tried to read but have left unfinished. I love an essay collection; I like dipping in and out of things, or reading specifically about topics that I’m passionate about, rather than dedicating a big chunk of time to one topic.

 

If you’re a bit of an essay-collection fiend like me, other recommendations are the Scarlett Curtis collections, on both feminism and mental health, and Meaty by Samantha Irby.

 

Words By: Alice Mason and Amy Randles 

Edited By: Olivia Flower 

 
Languages student and lover of all things pink - I am a huge mental wellbeing advocate so, expect a lot of articles about that (with the odd Drag Race one thrown in there)!
International development student Lover of all things northern, feminist and leaf print
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