Best Books To Read In Lockdown To Get You Through 2021

For many of us here in the UK it feels like we’ve in lockdown forever. You’ve baked banana bread, ruined the sourdough, you’ve bought your workout weights, everything on Netflix seems uninspiring, so what can you do now? Lockdown reading is the next step. Here are our top ten (I actually chose eleven) books to read in lockdown to help you get through 2021 sanely.

Books To Read In Lockdown

Books To Read In Lockdown

Must-Read Books For 2021

We love to read but let’s face it, life is usually so busy that despite our best intentions we don’t read as much as we probably should do. So, what are the best new books of 2021 to help the UK survive lockdown?

I scoured the bookshelves in November when we were actually allowed into bookshops, & I added these to my (2021) reading list.  If you’re looking for non-fiction, some self-help and a whole lot of learning and humour, these are the books for you.

Books To Read In Lockdown

Books To Read In Lockdown

Our Top Ten Books For 2021

Here are our top ten (although I chose eleven) books for 2021.

Mark Thomas: Extreme Rambling

If you want to know more about the division between Palestine and Israel and what it is like to live and walk on both sides of the wall, this is a great book that introduces serious topics with a bit of light humour and some walking injuries too.

Mark Thomas is a British comedian who raises awareness of political issues through light comedy. This book will challenge you and raise awareness of life for the Palestinians as survivors of Israel’s genocide.

You can also buy this book independently through:

Michael Palin: North Korea Journal

Although I’m not a huge fan of Palin, this book gives us an insight into what it is like to visit North Korea and without doubt, how to behave. Palin describes his experiences of travelling North Korea and how not to interact with the local tour guides.

I’m fascinated by North Korea and would love to visit someday. This book is really a short introduction into what that opportunity is like. If you’re looking for short books to read in lockdown, this one took me a day to finish. The images are a little on the small side but the descriptions are good.

You can also buy this book independently through:

David Jason: A Del Of A Life

For us Brits of a certain age, Only Fools And Horses was a right of British passage and a key moment in British comedy. Sir David Jason who stared in it and other UK comedy golds such as Porridge, The Darling Buds Of May, Danger Mouse, Count Duckula and Open All Hours writes about the things he’s learned through life which, much to my disappointment, do not include green smoothies, yoga or personal trainers!

This is an easy to read book with a simple humour and some awesome photos. It encapsulates his time on-screen & stage, his struggles and friendships along the way.

You can buy these independently through:

John Kampfner: Why The Germans Do It Better

Over the last few years, I’ve become increasingly envious of countries that thrive with great female leaders. New Zealand, Finland, Iceland, Scotland and of course Germany. We’ve often considered going to live in Germany and I always ask myself, why does Germany seem to always get it so right?

Germany is, of course, a left-leaning country which seems to seek compromise and work for the greater good absolutely not like our awful English government. Overall this clearly written book outlines real German life and thinking which does make it different from so many other western European countries.

It does challenge our British perspective of German stereotypes and is a good contrast between why Germany seems to succeed and why the UK seems to be sinking.

You can buy these independently through:

Tina Turner: Happiness Becomes You

Did you know that Tina Turner is a Buddhist and lives in a commune in Switzerland? I am only halfway through this book which is a combination of intimate glimpses into her life alongside lessons we could learn on improving our own lives.

It’s an easy book to dip in and out of sporadically without feeling that you’ve forgotten or missed parts of it. I am not a Tina Turner music fan at all and knew very little about her before this. For some reason, her book spoke to me in the shop and so far I am not disappointed.

You can buy these independently through:

Kate Clanchy: Some Kids I Taught And What They Taught Me

Kate is a teacher in the UK and this book is a reflection of thoughts and experiences from the classroom. It dates back to her earliest teaching memories and to almost present day.

My favourite part of the book is an exert from when she was teaching in rural Scotland. Having taught some very unstreetwise kids the difference between hetero and homosexual, a young boy announces that, as it seems easier, he will just stick to his dog!

You can buy these independently through:

Chidera Eggerue: What a Time To Be Alone

What a time to be alone is actually Chidera’s 2018 book. Her 2020 book, which I haven’t read is entitled ‘How to get over a boy & self-love‘.  I’ve included this 2018 book because I think it’s more relevant now than it was two years ago and also because I feel that she’s a largely unknown & underrated writer.

‘What a time to be alone’ is written by a lady from Peckham who has Nigerian roots and those are evident in the proverbs she details here. Most I’d never heard of and in some parts, she even writes in her mother tongue. What I really liked were the little doodles and pictures she drew to make the book come alive.

Some of the lessons from this book include self-care, self-love, respect, relationship boundaries, the value of being content in yourself and not looking for external validation. Something we could all learn more about in this time on instant ‘likes’.

You can buy these independently through:

Florence Given: Women Don’t Owe You Pretty

Florence Given is currently being accused (by Chidera Eggerue) of profiting from her works and to some degree plagiarism. However, that doesn’t make it any less of a book to read, although I do recommend that you read them both.

Florence writes about feminism, obviously, from a millennial perspective and her writing challenges us to think differently and question the messages that have been passed down to us through the patriarchy.

If you ever ask yourself ‘why did I say that?’ ‘how did I not realise that was oppressive’ or ‘why are the things I say a representation of a patriarchal system’, this will challenge you further to think deeper about the unwritten rules passed to women, often by other women.

You can buy these independently through:

Jay Shetty: Think Like a Monk

Released in 2020’s second British lockdown (although third for those of us in Merseyside), ‘Think like a monk’ provides a narrative of how to live in the modern world and incorporate practicalities of mindfulness.  It’s not a book on how to overcome depression or negative thoughts, instead, Jay introduces life stories that show us how he changed his way of thinking and how we can too.

You can buy these independently through:

Philippa Perry: The Book You Wish Your Parents Had Read (and Your Children Will Be Glad That You Did)

If you’re the type of parent who thinks their parenting is good enough and that the one size fits all approach is fine, this book is not going to sit well with you, I’m afraid.

If, on the other hand, you’re open-minded and want to challenge damaging perceptions of generational-parenting that are handed down to us then you’ll find this book stimulating and thought-provoking.

You can buy these independently through:

Nimsdai Purja: Beyond Possible

My upmost hero at the moment is Nims; a Nepalese Gurkha who joined the British Specialist Forces and who set himself a challenge. That challenge is phenomenal and he has now conquered all 8,000 ft mountains around the world in less than a year.  The previous challenger took nearly a decade to complete.

What makes Nims’s journey more incredible is his determination to complete most of these mountain ascents without sponsorship. It’s unheard of for a professional mountaineer to not attract a sponsor and Nims mostly crowdfunded his way up those mountains through social media. A testament to his character but also the overwhelming white & western privilege that the majority of mountaineers benefit from.

It’s a staggering achievement and this book really challenges us to see how much of an advantage white westerners have. Did you know that these huge mountains are conquered repeatedly by national Sherpas who ascend on a plethora of occasions throughout the year to check the route and ropes but that the glory of ‘first winter ascent’ or ‘first ascent without oxygen’ is given to the westerner that follows?

Anyway, learn about the death zone of these enormous mountains and what it’s like to climb them from Nims. He’s a great guy!

You can buy these independently through:

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As a small child my favourite book was 'People of the World' which featured Inuits from Alaska, children from China and farmers from Peru. It was a glimpse into another world that would inspire me to wander the globe in search of something special.


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