With all but essential workers on lockdown, and our social lives on hold, the time seems ripe for a (lockdown) reading revolution. But this is no holiday; anxiety will skew what and how we read. Perhaps you want to escape to another world where there’s no fear of contagion; while others will seek out stories that echo our turbulent times. Some will relish a challenge to alleviate the boredom; others, their concentration reduced to a minimum, might need to read something short. When feeling low, we might find solace in personal accounts of depression, to know that others have been there and got through. Whatever your mood, wherever you’re living through lockdown, we have reading recommendations for you.
Sales are said to have soared of Albert Camus’ 1947 novel The Plague (La Peste) since the pandemic. Fiction provides the means to process difficult experiences by engaging with stories which parallel our own. We can vicariously explore our emotions through discovering how the characters cope. We do this effortlessly, unconsciously, and – unlike our own predicament – if it gets too hairy, we can simply close the book.
Inspired Quill offers you a choice of three dystopian novels; Mark Cantrell has written two. Citizen Zero is about an actual virus, albeit one in a virtual reality world. The action takes place in a bitterly divided nation where security trumps civil liberty, and a destitute underclass numbers millions.
In his other novel, Silas Morlock, Mark imagines a world potentially more terrifying for book lovers: a future where the printed word is dead. The excuse? That paperback books carried a plague-like virus and so needed to be destroyed for the sake of humanity.
Dystopia meets sci-fi meets fantasy in Australian author Shel Calopa’s Letters from the Light. Join her and celebrate diversity, explore the corrupting influence of power, and ask whether it’s truly possible to break free of your upbringing.
Escape into fantasy
Fiction can serve as a retreat from painful reality by transporting us to worlds different to our own. Inspired Quill has published fourteen novels classed as fantasy suitable for readers from early teens to adult.
Four of our titles are particularly suitable for younger readers, although their parents and grandparents can enjoy them just as much. Hugo Jackson’s anthropomorphic furry fiction Resonance Tetralogy series begins with Legacy, and continues with Fracture, with Ruin’s Dawn, the third novel in the series available for preorder now. Dorothy A Winsor’s The Wind Reader is about a street kid in a city far from home, who fakes telling fortunes so he can earn a few coins to feed himself and his friends.
Triumph over adversity
Those who prefer fiction rooted in the real world can find solace in character-based novels about people who suffer adversity and survive to tell the tale. Inspired Quill’s literary fiction shelf has 11 novels and short story collections to console and inspire.
Clare Stevens’ debut, Blue Tide Rising, is about a young woman on the run from her troubled past and controlling older (ex) lover, who starts to rebuild her life on a Welsh eco farm, grounded by the earth and healed by the salt air.
Shortlisted for the Polari First Book Prize, Sugar and Snails by Anne Goodwin, is a triumphant mid-life coming-of-age story about a woman who kept her past identity a secret for thirty years, and explores how we bridge the gap between who we are and who we feel we ought to be.
Short reads for overloaded brains
Spending day after day with a backing track of anxiety can drain our mental capacities such that, even if we love reading, we’re daunted by the prospect of a whole book. Fortunately, Inspired Quill has seven books of short fiction to choose from, ranging from the five longer stories which comprise Craig Hallam’s epic Steampunk The Adventures of Alan Shaw to the 52 very short stories, that make up James William Purcell Webster’s celebration of the heroine’s place at the heart of science fiction, fantasy, and reality, Heroine Chic.
For fans of literary fiction, there are two collections available: Anne Goodwin’s 42 stories on the theme of identity, Becoming Someone, and EJ Runyon’s 17 short stories linked by a theme of flight or denial, Claiming One.
Practice your writing
For some, lockdown means having the time, and perhaps the focus, to practice and hone a skill. If you want to use this time to improve your own writing, then Tell Me (How To Write) A Story by EJ Runyon weaves tasks and anecdotes to draw the reader/writer along a brilliant journey of creative self-discovery.
Anxious? You’re not alone
For every reader whose lockdown is a hive of hyperactivity, there’s another who struggles to get out of bed. For you, Craig Hallam’s highly personal Down Days, an Amazon bestseller, is filled with pop culture references and dark humour: an essential read whether you live with mental health issues or love someone who does.
If money worries are adding to all the other stresses of lockdown, be reassured that, as a social enterprise, Inspired Quill has social responsibility at its heart. You can download a free copy of Down Days in e-book form through most online retailers. Some of our other titles might also be free in the near future; follow IQ on Twitter or Facebook to be sure you don’t miss out.
For readers willing and able to support a small business through troubling times, note that we can supply digital copies suitable for all types of e-reader and, if you buy books from our website, we can put a larger percentage of the purchase price into giving back to the community.
Other Inspired Quill Books for Reading During Lockdown
Highlighted here are fewer than half of Inspired Quill’s published titles; if you browse our virtual shelves, you’re bound to find something you like.