The editorial team share its top lockdown reads, which may just inspire your next literary escape.

Are you reading more, or less, in these troubled times? For some of us, pure escapism is exactly what we’re craving; for others, it’s comforting nostalgia; and then there is the camp that hungers for cool analysis and craves facts and information.

We put our GWG heads together to share some of our current reads with you, which tick a few of these boxes, and may just inspire your next literary escape.

What are you reading right now? We’d love to hear. Let us know

Becky Ladenburg, Features Editor

To escape thoroughly from these baffling times, I am racing through The Duff Cooper Diaries. Set between 1914 and 1951, the rackety diaries of the renowned British politician, diplomat and socialite couldn’t be further removed from a London in lockdown.

Lydia Mansi, Lifestyle Editor

I’m re-reading Invisible Women by Caroline Criado Perez. It’s the book I recommended to clients and friends most frequently last year when it came out and every time I read it, the unconscious male bias that has infiltrated every aspect of our lives, from government policies to urban planning and media coverage, astounds me. A brilliant, analytical read.

On the lighter side, I’m revisiting my 100-plus cookbooks, from vintage Nigel Slater to my new favourite, Saffron Soul from Mira Manek for gorgeous Ayurvedic recipes. Proper soul food.

Nancy Alsop, Editor

I’m not usually one for having several books on the go, but lockdown is messing with my abilities to concentrate on one thing.

I’m just coming to the end of Skylarks War. I’m working on a middle grade children’s novel so I’m always interested to see what other people are writing for a similar age group. As a child, I was obsessed by stories of war and evacuees, secretly (and obviously misguidedly) longing for that kind of thrill in my own life. Skylarks War, by Hilary McKay, reminds me of all those books I loved – Carrie’s War, Goodnight Mister Tom – although it is set in the First World War. It’s tells the story of Clarry, her brother Peter and their idolised older cousin Rupert, and the trio’s ‘skylark summers’ in Cornwall with their grandparents – all before the outside world pulls that blissful idyll apart, the first wrecking ball being boarding school; the second, much more perilous one being war. It’s an evocative tale, chiefly of friendship and hope. I always think that the best children’s novels needn’t be put aside post childhood; they’re often the most imaginative and transporting books, and should be enjoyed at any age.

By total contrast, I am also dipping into Emily Maitlis’ memoir, the brilliant but questionably titled Airhead: The Imperfect Art of Making News. This is not a linear telling of her life, but an episodic one, in which she delves into the most interesting bits, starting – arrestingly and movingly – in Paris when she had to cover the Bataclan tragedy – and then ricochets around her most memorable interviews, from the hilariously self-aware Simon Cowell to the much less so Donald Trump. If only this account hadn’t been published before her never-to-be-forgotten Prince Andrew interview, or her straight-talking response to the pandemic when she slammed politicians’ suggestions that ‘fighters’ survive the virus.

I am also dipping into one of my favourites of all-time: The Pursuit of Love by the inimitable, searingly funny, brutally brilliant Nancy Mitford, which I have in a lovely Folio Society edition.

Lucy Abletshauser, Shopping Editor

The book I'm reading is Lies, Lies, Lies by Adele Parks. It’s pure escapism – exciting and hard to put down. It's about a couple and their much longed-for baby. It becomes evident that the husband has a drinking problem and this results in an awful accident and some jail time. Life is turned upside down for the mother and daughter duo, in more ways than one...

Arabella Dymoke, Director

An easy read which follows the intriguing story of Laura's mother who went missing for a few days as a toddler in the late 20s from a beach in Lincolnshire. Laura weaves her family's story with some art history, her specialism. It's a page turner.

I finished reading Hugo Vickers' The Sphinx, The Life of Gladys Deacon - Duchess of Marlborough as Covid19 was taking over our lives. Reading about her wild life was the perfect antidote to coronavirus times.

April 2020
Compiled by Nancy Alsop


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Nancy is a magpie for the best in design and culture.