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Quarantine Reading Recommendations: Nicola Torch

While we know lots of people are struggling to read at the moment, books offer a much needed escape from day-to-day life for others. We asked each member of the Sandstone team to suggest some reading material they've loved for the coming weeks.

Today we have ten recommendations from Publishing Assistant Nicola Torch - we hope you'll love them as much as she did!

While there aren’t many positives about the world seemingly coming to a complete stand-still, it does mean that we can all finally make a dent in that TBR pile, or simply revisit some old favourites without feeling those well-known pangs of guilt. Here’s what I shall be grabbing to get me through these crazy times:

The Marrying of Chani Kaufman, Eve Harris

Longlisted for the Man Booker Prize in 2013, The Marrying of Chani Kaufman is fun, compassionate and a real page-turner. It is a layered story which explores marriage within the Orthodox Jewish community and is a great example of how sympathetic characters try to navigate through societal expectations.

Jane Eyre, Charlotte Brontë

Jane Eyre is my classic go-to read whenever the weather is dreary and I have a large cup of tea to hand. The quintessential Victorian novel follows an orphaned Jane as she leaves the unsavory and cruel Lowood school for Thornhill where she has been hired as a governess. Jane is fierce, passionate and resilient but will that be enough to see her through the biggest challenge of all – the throes of love.

Hotel Du Jack, Dan Brotzel

Hotel Du Jack is one of those books that you can start on any page and immediately become immersed. Dan Brotzel’s witty and topical title is packed full of short stories that are certain to make you laugh and cry in equal measure.

Jane and Dorothy, Marian Veevers

As a huge Jane Austen fan, Jane and Dorothy: A True Tale of Sense and Sensibility immediately caught my eye – to start with, it has a beautiful cover! Veevers expertly interweaves the lives of Jane Austen and Dorothy Wordsworth – two women who never met but who shared so many startling similarities – and sheds new light on these two fascinating figures from literary history.

Kafka on the Shore, Haruki Murakami

Kafka on the Shore by Japanese writer Haruki Murakami is perhaps one of the most magical, bizarre and entertaining books I have ever read. An oddity from start to finish, this book will leave you mesmerized, inspired and slightly flummoxed. With fish falling from the sky and cats who can communicate with humans, what more could you possibly want?

The Health of Strangers, Lesley Kelly

Fernando Pessoa once said that ‘literature is the most agreeable way of ignoring life’, and while this does hold true, I still find comfort in literature which exactly replicates life. This is why The Health of Strangers – the first in Lesley Kelly’s crime/thriller series about a deadly virus which is ravaging the streets of Edinburgh is the perfect companion in this global pandemic.

Ham on Rye, Charles Bukowski

Charles Bukowski’s coming-of-age tale, Ham on Rye, is that perfect mix of brutal humour and crude honesty. Bukowski writes as his rude alter ego Henry Chinaski and details the struggles of living through a heart-breaking childhood with an abusive father and the hilarity which ensues when a high-school outcast discovers alcohol and the female kind.

Sense and Sensibility, Jane Austen

As a strong Austen advocate, I found it extremely difficult to limit myself to just one for this list! Sense and Sensibility is, in my humble opinion, Austen at her best. Full of wit, charm and biting satire, the story of the Dashwood sisters will leave you entertained from start to finish. You can never go wrong with the 1995 film adaptation either!

The Keeper of the Bees, Gene Stratton-Porter

I first heard of Gene Stratton-Porter during my fourth year at university when I read The Keeper of the Bees for my American Fiction module. Following the story of Jamie, a Scottish WW1 veteran who finds refuge in a beekeeper’s Californian garden, Gene Stratton-Porter delights with rich, sensory descriptions of sandy beaches, fresh salty air and the beekeeper’s beautifully kept beehives and flowers. A charming and heart-warming story which left me with a newfound appreciation for the outdoors.

Harry Potter series, J.K Rowling

No recommended reading list from me would be complete without a reference to the Harry Potter series. The boy wizard is beloved by many, myself most definitely included, and any return to this magical series always fills me with both nostalgia and immense comfort a perfect read to ease any coronavirus anxiety! My favourite of the 7? Order of the Phoenix, but that’s a debate for another time…

Eve Harris

Eve Harris

Dan Brotzel

Dan Brotzel

Marian Veevers

Marian Veevers

Lesley Kelly

Lesley Kelly