Books for the Temporary End of the World

For all that I read a lot, most of my reading is done while doing other things – mainly commuting, and eating. I very rarely actually sit down in a corner and read. Usually.

Well, these are not usual times.

Here are a few books that I can heartily recommend for anyone who needs a little escape in their life right now. I actually had to think very long and hard about this – I have so many favourite books that I could have included on this list, but most of them are not “pure fun” in the way that these are…



The Diary of a Bookseller and its follow–up, Confessions of a Bookseller, by Shaun Bythell

Two weeks ago when I fled to my parents’, I found The Diary of a Bookseller in one of my mother’s I’ll-read-it-when-I-retire piles. It was perfect – short diary entries, kind on a frayed, distracted mind. The literary equivalent of a crackling pub fire, cup of tea and morning sunlight on your face all at once. Light-hearted, funny, and fun. I had to immediately order the follow-up; thank God that Foyles is still delivering (or at least, a few days ago they still were).



Temeraire, by Naomi Novik

After what must be twenty-five years or so of reading fantasy, this book is still the most fun of them all for me. I’ve read it three times so far and I expect to read it again. It’s Master and Commander meets Game of Thrones. It’s set during the Napoleonic wars – but with DRAGONS.


Temeraire is the sweetest dragon, more lovable even than Toothless from How to Train Your Dragon (although he’s not afraid to kill for his captain). Paired with Novik’s mock old-fashioned prose, the story is irresistible.



A Walk in the Woods, by Bill Bryson

This is the first book of Bryson’s that I ever read, and it’s still my favourite (although Down Under comes a close second). I like to think of it as the irreverent Eastern Seaboard equivalent to Cheryl Strayed’s Wild – she writes about walking the Pacific Crest Trail, learning to grow around the pain of her mother’s loss and to leave behind her drug addiction, whereas Bryson takes a friend and walks (some of) the Appalachian Scenic Trail on the other side of the U.S., with much hilarity ensuing. It may even make you feel slightly grateful to be indoors.



The Unexpected Inheritance of Inspector Chopra, by Vaseem Khan

This is kind of like The No. 1 Ladies’ Detective Agency, if Mma Ramotswe was a retired male Indian police detective living in Mumbai. Who acquires a baby elephant.

Which becomes his sidekick.

It’s quite adorable, and Khan deftly balances that with the harsher tones of life in Mumbai.

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