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Book Recommendations for Isolation

By Lydia Kendall-McDougall

Never Let Me Go is a brilliant read for anyone interested in dystopia, science and the human condition. It follows the lives of a group of ‘donors’, clones of real people navigating their lives from childhood to adulthood, experiencing love, loss and the consequences of their identities. It’s wonderfully written, heartfelt, and is as much realism as it is science-fiction. There’s also a film adaptation starring Kiera Knightley, Carey Mulligan and Andrew Garfield.

I’d really recommend this book for a time like this- despite all its drama, melancholy and tragedy, it is one of the most comforting and idyllic books I’ve ever read. It surrounds the rural life of Victorian England and the experiences in love and betrayal of the main protagonist, Bathsheba. This book has something to offer to everyone, and the tumultuous relationship between Bathsheba and a young shepherd, Gabriel Oak, is something to get really invested in.

McEwan’s 2016 Nutshell is adventurous, witty, and chaotic. It is told from the perspective of a baby inside a mother’s womb, listening to the lives of his mother and her lover, who plan to murder his father. The narration is profound and surprisingly mature, echoing that of Hamlet (but you don’t need to know Hamlet to get this book), and is as grotesque as it is comedic. It’s very unusual and takes a while to wrap your head around, but is definitely worth the read and, unlike Hardy, isn’t too long.

Their Eyes Were Watching God- written in 1937- follows its main character, Janie Crawford, blooming from a naïve child into a woman who knows the world. Considered a Harlem Renaissance classic, it explores themes of gender, race, motherhood, love and the home, to name just a few. It’s one of the best books I’ve ever read, and taught me as much as it moved me. Janie’s passage into knowing her own identity in relation to herself and the world around her is wonderfully written, both personal and political.