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  • Writer's pictureBijou Books

Stay Home. Read a Book.

While the country remains on COVID-19 lockdown, it's sometimes hard to know - outside of work - what to do with the time we have indoors. It could be that you're balancing home schooling with working from home, you might be recovering or just trying to make it through the day.

This is where books and reading can be an escape for every one of us. So, we thought we would share some recommendations of books that we have read that you might want to add to that 'To Read' pile.

The Neapolitan Novels by Elena Ferrante

This is an interesting and absorbing four-part series by the Italian author Elena Ferrante, translated by Ann Goldstein and published by Europa Editions. The series follows the lives of two perceptive and intelligent girls, Elena Greco and "Lila" Cerullo, from childhood through to adulthood and old age, as they try to build lives for themselves in the violent and obstructive culture of their home in Naples, Italy.

The novels are narrated by Elena and while it could be seen as another 'coming of age' series, there's something different to this story; it feels more honest due to it being set post-War (circa 1950s) and how Italy has changed, as well as the complicated relationships that this breeds with some looking to stay the same and others wanting something better.

The series is made up of the following novels: My Brilliant Friend, The Story of a New Name, Those Who Leave and Those Who Stay, and The Story of the Lost Child. All of them are easy to read, but if you leave a gap or read something else in between, remembering how each character is related can be a challenge initially, but overall this is worth picking up and getting lost in.

Anything by Agatha Christie, but ideally The Mysterious Affair at Styles

We're murder mystery fans, so it seems obvious that we would recommend the Queen of this genre, as there are so many to pick up and follow her sleuths as they solve their complex cases.

However, we would say that if you start with The Mysterious Affair at Styles as this was Christie's first published novel and introduces you to the beloved Hercule Poirot, Inspector (later, Chief Inspector) Japp, and Captain [Arthur] Hastings. As Poirot is settling in England near the home of Emily Inglethorp, who helped him to his new life and his friend Hastings arrives as a guest at her home. When the woman is killed, Poirot uses his detective skills to solve the mystery.

The book includes maps of the house, the murder scene, and a drawing of a fragment of a will. The true first publication of the novel was as a weekly serial in The Times, including the maps of the house and other illustrations included in the book. This novel was one of the first ten books published by Penguin Books when it began in 1935.

The Odyssey by Homer

Don't be put off by the fact that this epic is circa 2,700 years old, at its heart it is an adventure story filled with romance, treachery, jeopardy, battles and a touch of mythology. You can get good translations, especially Penguin Books, as it'll be easy to digest and enjoy.

It is a sequel to the Iliad, the other Homeric epic, with this poem focusing on the Greek hero Odysseus, king of Ithaca, and his journey home after the fall of Troy. It takes Odysseus ten years to reach Ithaca after the ten-year Trojan War. In his absence, it is assumed Odysseus has died, and his wife Penelope and son Telemachus must deal with a group of unruly suitors, the Mnesteres or Proci, who compete for Penelope's hand in marriage.

Happy reading and stay home, protect our NHS and save lives.

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