Need an escape? We’ve rounded up six great books that will distract you from the constantly beeping news alerts on your phone. Enjoy!
Eleanor Oliphant Is Completely Fine by Gail Honeyman
It was only as I scanned my bookshelves to find an uplifting novel, that I realised that I don’t own many. Generally speaking (I can now see) I prefer exquisitely depressing books. However, Eleanor Oliphant is a rare exception.
The premise might seem bleak: a young woman without the social skills to take part in normal society develops a crush on a singer. But this is a quirky, endearing and engrossing book that will reaffirm your faith in the inherent goodness and resilience of humans – which is exactly the message we all need to hear right now.
Selected by PRIMER co-founder Anna Saunders
Where’d You Go Bernadette? by Maria Semple
There’s a scene in Where’d You Go, Bernadette? where the eponymous heroine just lies down one day on a sofa in a shop, her expression inscrutable behind dark sunglasses. I’ve often felt the same urge, but have never acted upon it, which applies to most of Bernadette’s behaviour in the book.
After a spectacular neighbourhood dispute and some unwelcome news about her husband, she simply disappears; the novel is an account of her daughter Bee’s attempts to find her. Semple worked as a screenwriter before writing this novel, which shows in the sharp writing and clever plotting. I laughed out loud all the way through.
Selected by PRIMER co-founder Felicity Robinson
Circle Of Friends by Maeve Binchy
Nothing could be more soothing than reading Maeve Binchy’s Circle Of Friends, unless you’re reading Maeve Binchy’s Circle Of Friends in the bath.
Like all of the late Irish writer’s books, it’s a rich and romantic story of connection centred on a heroine called Benny with big hopes and dreams, even as the world around her tries to tell her that she’s not good enough, which feels perfect for right now. This story of small-town best friends Benny, Eve and Nan as their lives become entangled with Dublin’s wonder boy Jack and his mate Aidan will take all your anxieties away. Trust me.
I am reading it as we speak to try and undo the damage of reading the wrong book (My Dark Vanessa, not soothing in any way shape or form) on my way back from London to Sydney in the height of coronavirus panic and trust me, it’s working.
Selected by Hannah Rose Yee
The Overstory by Richard Power
The Overstory, by Richard Powers, is made up of many stories, which curve around each other like rings of wood around a tree. Beautiful, inventive, hopeful. It charts the stories of nine strangers brought together by an unfolding natural catastrophe. Inspired by research that illuminates the way trees communicate, and even ‘think,’ The Overstory turns science into poetry. This novel will make you reimagine the world and your place in it.
Selected by Sophie Hardcastle, author of Below Deck
The Rutshire Chronicles by Jilly Cooper
For me, they are total delicious escapism where everyone spends their days punning, having great sex and stopping for drinks. Love, usually, prevails and justice is served. They are a world with order, humour, lust and romance which are personally, all the things lacking in my life right now.
They lift my spirits by taking me out of reality for a delicious little while and I have read them all so many times the characters feel like friends. They are the literary equivalent of your absolutely favourite old t-shirt that you could never part with and feel instantly better when you put it on.
Selected by Daniela Elser
Scandinavian authors are perhaps better known for their thrillers and crime noir best-sellers, but I think that’s a real shame: their comedy is what truly shines. The One-Hundred-Year Old Man Who Climbed Out The Window And Disappeared is a delightful romp around the world and across a lifetime, following the adventures of a centenarian who (as the title suggests) jumps out the window of his dreary nursing home and goes on an adventure. It’s my ultimate go-to cheer-up read, a must-read for fans of A Man Called Ove, and the book I buy for any friend who’s having a hard time.
Selected by PRIMER book reviewer Sheree Strange