Tom Walker, The Folio Society’s Publishing Director, takes his pick of books to read in lockdown.

Oh how we love The Folio Society. Its exceptional typography; its exquisite illustrations; and its sheer unrivalled taste in books, from the canonical classic to the contemporary masterpiece: few things bring us such joy as a bookshelf full of Folios beckoning us in to an afternoon’s reading. And since we all need some pleasure right now, it’s a good moment to begin amassing your favourites in sublime editions and actually devote the time to re-reading them. Equally, you may be on the look out for books reflective of our collective current lockdown mood. Thanks to Tom Walker, Publishing Director at The Folio Society, you need look no further.

For over 70 years, The Folio Society has been publishing beautifully illustrated editions of the world’s greatest fiction books as well as thoroughly picture-researched non-fiction books. Here, Tom takes his pick of his top eleven titles that are perfectly suited to self-isolation.

The Tenant of Wildfell Hall

Anne Bronte
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Being stuck at home and only allowed out to go to the shops seems a good time to read about feminism, and this is arguably the first feminist novel. Wildly surprising in its modern sensibility, Brontë rages against a society that held women shackled to men and the home. £39.95

The Little Prince

Antoine de Saint-Exupéry
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I can’t help thinking of how the Little Prince would respond to our world right now. An enigmatic, compassionate but sad creature of the stars, I sometimes imagine the weight of his judgement on us all for the job we’re doing of keeping our little planet safe. £49.95

The World Turned Upside Down

Christopher Hill
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The English Civil War of the 1640s shook the nation to its core, and in the process out scattered a legion of radical ideas and philosophies which have formed the national identity ever since. One wonders how our current upheaval will reshape us. £42.95

Doctor Zhivago

Boris Pasternak
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What better time to re-engage with this great Russian epic? The recent translation by Boris Pasternak’s nephew returns the lyricism and colour to this beautiful novel of love, war and the Russian soul. Limited edition; £395

Moby-Dick

Herman Melville
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What an opportunity, if you never have, to read this bulking leviathan of a novel. From the first pages in Nantucket, where Ishmael befriends trusty Queequeg, Melville loops his crazed tale of ambition and revenge, culminating in scenes of terror on the high seas. This book features Rockwell Kent’s extraordinary original illustrations. £79.95

His Dark Materials

Philip Pullman
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Pullman might be the purest storyteller of our times, and His Dark Materials is his masterpiece: a truly addictive adventure story which leads us into other worlds. Trilogy, £140

Handmaid’s Tale

Margaret Atwood
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Turning to Margaret Atwood in times of trouble is always a good decision. Prophetic or not she is wise and compassionate, and laces those qualities with a killer wit. £42.95

Maigret

Georges Simenon
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If all else fails, pick up a Maigret. With plots as light as a feather and a stripped-down style, Simenon’s thrillers are beautifully evocative of the underground tensions of a mid-century Paris. £79.95 for each set.

Persuasion

Jane Austen
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It’s always a good time to re-read Austen, to get lost in that luscious prose and arch wit. Persuasion is her last-completed, and perhaps her most mature novel, and a joy to revisit. £39.95

I am Legend

Richard Matheson
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In the current circumstances this is not a book for the faint-hearted: Matheson’s vision of a post pandemic future doesn’t contain many people, and even fewer who are not zombie-vampires, but there is a glimmer of hope at its end... £42.95

Mirror & The Light

Hilary Mantel
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My eleventh choice is not yet available as a Folio Society edition, but I do hope that it will be one day. This is my current quarantine reading. A nine-hundred-page masterwork of astonishing delicacy and intelligence which draws one back through the eyes of Cromwell to a Tudor London infested with plague and political instability. £12.50

April 2020
By Tom Walker

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