[Note from Frolic: If you’re in a book slump, author Abbie Greaves is here to help! She’s recommending some great quarantine reads. Take it away, Abbie!]
In the first week of lockdown, my normally voracious appetite for reading waned. Like many others, I was at risk of developing a repetitive strain injury in my thumb from relentless refreshing of the news live feed. But more worryingly, for the first time in my life, the more I read, the worse I felt.
In desperation, I forced myself to drop my phone and pick up a thriller from my bedside table instead. Five hours later, I was finished. After a week when time seemed to move at an impossibly glacial pace, with a book in hand everything changed. I hadn’t even noticed that it had grown dark outside, let alone that I had missed dinnertime entirely.
Turns out it wasn’t reading that was the problem, it was what I was reading. Fiction will always be my great escape and it is more important now than ever. After all, what better way to connect us than through a brilliant story?
For anyone stuck in a reading rut, here are four novel recommendations to help get you back into the good stuff again.
The Pact by Jodi Picoult
Jodi Picoult is one of my all-time favourite authors. I love how she can take an impossible dilemma and make the reader see it from every side, unpicking the thorniest issues with such sensitivity.
With most of us spending more time at home than ever before, it’s a great opportunity to delve into her earlier books. The Pact was first published in 1998 but it feels timeless – always the sign of an exceptional book.
It tells the story of two families – the Golds and the Hartes. Next-door neighbours and best friends, it seems that their offspring are destined to fall in love. So when Chris and Emily enter into a relationship as teenagers, both sets of parents are thrilled. Until seventeen-year-old Emily is found dead, shot by Chris in an alleged suicide pact. But a local detective has doubts…
This is a spellbinding family drama – guaranteed to keep you glued to the pages.
My Sister, the Serial Killer by Oyinkan Braithwaite
This is the book that I have recommended to absolutely everyone since it published last year – from reluctant reader friends, to family members who might be put off by the (gruesome) title!
It’s a satirical novel about a Nigerian woman called Korede whose younger sister has an inconvenient habit of killing her boyfriends. It’s short and sharp with so many laugh-out-loud lines that my copy is dog-eared from turned down pages. I devoured the whole novel in one sitting and I can’t imagine that I’m alone in that.
Not to mention the fact that the cover is one of the best I’ve ever seen.
If I Never Met You by Mhairi McFarlane
There’s nothing like a pitch-perfect romcom to distract you from the rest of the world and there are few writers who deliver them better than Mhairi McFarlane.
When Laurie’s partner of eighteen years dumps her, it’s a struggle to put one foot in front of the other. Even work doesn’t help as her ex is a lawyer at the same firm. So when handsome colleague Jamie offers to stage a relationship to help her heartbreak and his own career in one fell swoop, Laurie agrees. But what happens when you develop real feelings in the middle of a fauxmance?
Laurie and Jamie are the sort of beautifully realised characters who you can’t help but think about long after you have finished the last page.
Seven Days of Us by Francesca Hornak
If you are struggling with self-isolation in the family home, then this is the novel for you.
The Birch family haven’t spent a week under the same roof in years. But when the oldest daughter Olivia returns from her role as a medic, treating an epidemic abroad, the whole family is forced into quarantine for seven days. No-one can enter the house and no-one can leave. Symptoms may not emerge, but some family secrets certainly will…
I read this over Christmas, in the strange hinterland between the Big Day and New Year. Cue plenty of strange glances from my family as I guffawed over Hornak’s witty observations about family life and its myriad of tensions.
What books will you be diving into this week?
About the Author:
Abbie Greaves graduated with a Double First Class Honours degree from Cambridge University before working in publishing for a number of years. The Silent Treatment is her first novel. She lives in London, UK.
Connect with Abbie:
The Silent Treatment by Abbie Greaves, out now!
A lifetime together.
Six months of silence.
One last chance.
By all appearances, Frank and Maggie share a happy, loving marriage. But for the past six months, they have not spoken. Not a sentence, not a single word. Maggie isn’t sure what, exactly, provoked Frank’s silence, though she has a few ideas.
Day after day, they have eaten meals together and slept in the same bed in an increasingly uncomfortable silence that has become, for Maggie, deafening.
Then Frank finds Maggie collapsed in the kitchen, unconscious, an empty package of sleeping pills on the table. Rushed to the hospital, she is placed in a medically induced coma while the doctors assess the damage.
If she regains consciousness, Maggie may never be the same. Though he is overwhelmed at the thought of losing his wife, will Frank be able to find his voice once again—and explain his withdrawal—or is it too late?