Adapting to isolation: The Tab’s top picks of books

From Tolkien to Orwell, here are some life-changing reads

We’re back with more ways to entertain yourself during this quarantine. This time, we will be recommending some titles that you may finally have time to read.

1. Lord of the Rings Series – J.R.R. Tolkien

That damn ring (Credit: Pixabay)

Beginning with one of the heavy hitters, we have the Lord of the Rings series. I believe that the vast majority of you don’t need to be reminded of the plot. But for those living under a rock, I will do it anyway. This fantasy epic focuses on a quest of one small Hobbit to eliminate conquering Sauron by destroying the ring that holds his power. The catch – the only way to destroy the ring is to cast it into the fire of Mount Doom on the other end of the continent. Probably the worst description ever. But this series is definitely worth reading, if you haven’t already.

2. Sapiens – Yuval Noah Harari

(Credit: Flickr)

“Where do we come from?”

This is the question that the book answers. Written by a history professor, it details the journey of humans as a species all the way back from primitive times. How did society form? Why are we the only species of humans? How have we become the top of the food chain so quickly? Read to find out!

3. 1984 – George Orwell

(Credit: Pixabay)

The book that everybody has heard of, many know the premise of and only some have read. So use the opportunity of some extra time to read this classic. Join Winston and his resistance to the Party and the elusive Big Brother as he struggles with mundane everyday life in Airstrip One, plagued by war, oppressions and lack of personal freedom. Stepping out of line in this totalitarian state has dire consequences.

4. Wuthering Heights – Emily Brontë

Telling the tale of the peculiar romance of Heathcliff and Catherine, which seemed unlikely to many due to the classic Victorian class difference, this is not your typical “star-crossed lovers” story.  The relationship seems to have a very love-hate spirit and is generally troubled. The narration is amazingly written and is worth your attention.

5. Harry Potter Series – J.K. Rowling

If for some reason you still haven’t read the books, read them now!!! I’ll wait. (And before you ask – no, watching the films does NOT count).

6. Sherlock Holmes Short Stories – Sir Arthur Conan Doyle

(Credit: Flickr)

And now, lets continue with some Victorian literature. This time, we have the adventures of the world-famous detective. While the lengthier novels do exist, the author particularly excels at the short story format. All are self-contained and very easy to read. These would make an excellent lunch time read for those not looking for commitment to long stories.

7. About a Boy – Nick Hornby

(Credit: peakpx)

If you fancy something a bit more lighthearted, check this one out. Some of you may remember it from the early 2000s film featuring Hugh Grant. The book details the lives of Will, a carefree slacker, and Marcus, a bullied 12-year-old. The two seem to develop an unlikely bond. Get prepared for some character growth across the book.

If you enjoy it, check out some more of Hornby’s stuff. High Fidelity is also rather good.

8. A Brief History of Time – Prof. Stephen Hawking

(Credit: Flickr)

For those of you interested in popular science I have the famous book written by a fellow tab. Explaining the main ideas of cosmology, relativity etc., it is sure to educate you at the time when the university may be struggling to do so. So, if you want to feel like a PhysNatsci, give this book a go.

If you’d like something less technical, Hawking’s Brief Answers to Big Questions is also great and covers some topics in a more basic way.

9. The Martian – Andy Weir


And staying in the space theme, we follow the adventures of an astronaut stranded on the Red Planet with nothing with his wit to survive. The majority of the book comprises of his diary entries and reads like an inner monologue. Mark has a great sense of humour and makes surviving in harsh conditions seem like a walk in the park. And even better, it will remind you that your isolation is not as bad as his.

10. Catcher in the Rye – JD Salinger

(Credit: Author)

And lets finish with a modern classic. If some of you want to remember the teenage angst that you used to, or still have, look no further. Holden Caulfield is the walking case of one. Running away to have a wild weekend in New York after being expelled he ends with a bigger adventure that he has ever asked for. Not a pleasant character (all sorts phobic) and hated by many readers he has that very strange antihero charm that makes others love him.

Which side of the fence would you be on? Don’t be a phony and read the book to find out.

Hopefully this list gave you some ideas of what to do with your time in lockdown. Enjoy your reading.

Cover image credit: Author’s Own