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Best books to read in isolation

Is it time to step away from your law or business books for a while? Whether you’re a bookworm who doesn’t leave the house without a novel in your bag or someone who might read a book a year, it seems people across the UK are seeking escapism and support through books. During the week leading up to isolation, the BBC reported that sales of fiction rose by a third. They also noted the high street booksellers Waterstones seeing its online sales rise by 400% week on week. Staff at ULaw are doing the same thing, so we took the opportunity to collate some of our colleagues’ top recommendations for the best books to read in isolation.


His Dark Materials trilogy – Philip Pullman

“I’ve been reading Phillip Pullman’s trilogy, His Dark Materials. I’m not much of a reader and even though it’s aimed at a younger audience, I’ve loved its sci-fi/magic. It is a perfect way to escape this crazy world we are in at the moment.

Plus when I’ve finished the books, then I’ll watch the BBC adaption of it as it’s meant to pretty good too.” – Amy, Creative Services Co-ordinator


Factfulness: Ten Reasons We're Wrong About the World and Why Things Are Better Than You Think - Hans Rosling (with Ola Rosling and Anna Rosling Rönnlund)

“This is a tremendously enjoyable book which really gets you to challenge your assumptions and preconceived ideas about the world. It teaches you to look for facts instead of just accepting what you have been unconsciously conditioned to believe. The overriding message is that the state of the world is not always as bad as we think it is. In the midst of a global pandemic, where we are being bombarded with frightening and negative news stories, this book can help you separate scaremongering and journalistic spin from the actual facts. Full of humour and interesting anecdotes, it’s fun to read and helps you feel a bit more positive about the world we live in.” – Briony, Product Executive


Behind Closed Doors – B A Paris

Everyone knows a couple like Jack and Grace. He has looks and wealth, she has charm and elegance. You might not want to like them, but you do.

You’d like to get to know Grace better. But it’s difficult, because you realise Jack and Grace are never apart.

Some might call this true love. Others might ask why Grace never answers the phone. Or how she can never meet for coffee, even though she doesn’t work. How she can cook such elaborate meals but remain so slim. And why there are bars on one of the bedroom windows.

‘This is one of the best books I have ever read in my life. You are hooked from the very start, until the last word, and you won’t want to put it down. Would recommend as an escape from reality during this time as you get completely wrapped up in the character’s lives.’ – Livi, Senior Brand Campaigns Manager


My Sister, the Serial Killer - Oyinkan Braithwaite

‘I’ve really struggled with my concentration during isolation but I devoured this dark comedy-drama thanks to its short chapters with cliff-hanger endings. It follows hospital cleaner Korede after she receives a phone call from her sister, Ayoola. She asks Korede to help hide her boyfriend’s body after accidentally killing him in self-dense. But it’s not the first time Korede has had that exact same call, and she begins to suspect her uber glamorous sister is more than meet the eye. Could her sister be a serial killer?

Although the premise sounds dark, the writing is fast-paced and the tone is so farcical that it never becomes too dark and heavy. My Sister, the Serial Killer won lots of awards when it was published in 2019, and after reading it, it’s easy to see why.’ – Cara, Brand Content Executive


The Mirror and the Light by Hilary Mantel

‘I’d highly recommend The Mirror and the Light by Hilary Mantel. It’s the final book in a trilogy but if you’ve not yet read Wolf Hall and Bring up the Bodies, lockdown is the perfect opportunity to read all three in sequence. Hilary Mantel is a superb storyteller, the books are full of wonderful characters and they are full of suspense. There’s a fascinating history story at the centre of the three novels that are based around Henry VIII's minister Thomas Cromwell.’ – Fiona, Undergraduate Marketing Manager


To Be Taught, If Fortunate by Becky Chambers

‘To Be Taught If Fortunate, a novella from award-winning Sci-Fi author Becky Chambers, follows Ariadne, an explorer at the turn of the twenty-second century as humans venture into the cosmos studying life and all its forms. The diverse cast works together between bouts of decade-long stasis to catalogue life forms on brand new planets.

‘Chambers creates a world free of prejudice and allows us to glimpse into the exploration of one of life's biggest questions, all the while showing us that love, companionship, and diversity are the things that make the human race so unique, even when faced with an array of strange and slimy creatures. The Guardian described this novella as "a quietly profound tour de force", and they couldn't have been more accurate.’ – Joanne, Web Editor

You may find books harder to find online than normal but many local independent bookshops are still posting items to their customers. Try contacting your local bookshop or order online with Hive, Big Green Bookshop, Blackwells, Foyles or Waterstones.


If you’re missing big days out at the theatre of seeing live comedy during the lockdown, check out our blog on how to recreate a big day out from your sofa.