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Margaret Atwood shares book recommendations for your time in self-isolation

As the world is scrambling with the global coronavirus pandemic, people are increasingly turning to books to entertain and inform themselves while stuck at home.

NPD BookScan recently announced that sales of adult non-fiction books on contagious diseases increased by 52% in the first eight weeks of 2020 compared with the same period in 2019.

margaret atwood
Margaret Atwood. Image: AFP/Daniel Roland via AFP Relaxnews

While readers are increasingly intrigued by novels on deadly viruses, Canadian author Margaret Atwood took to Twitter to recommend several books that she deemed essential in these times of crisis.

“OK Twitterpals, as I crouch in my burrow, what would you like the most? a) comforting book reccos b) plague book reccos c) poetry book reccos d) stupid/weird/mundane things I have done to pass the time, which would have passed anyway…,” she asked her fans.

When actress Mia Farrow asked for “a plague book” recommendation, Atwood cited non-fiction books like Hans Zinnser’s “Rats, Lice, and History”; Jared Diamond’s “Guns, Germs, and Steel: The Fates of Human Societies”; as well as Charles Mann’s “1491: New Revelations of the Americas Before Columbus”.

Ahead of World Poetry Day on March 21, “The Handmaid’s Tale” author recommended Carolyn Forché’s “In the Lateness of the World”.

“In the Lateness of the World” marks Forché’s first new collection of poetry in 17 years, with Atwood teasing that the 96-page title “gives us some perspective.”

American novelist Gail Godwin was also mentioned by the Canadian bestselling author, who advised her fans to pre-order “Old Lovegood Girls”.

This forthcoming novel, set for release on May 5, chronicles the complex and decades-long friendship between Feron Hood and Merry Jellicoe.

“If you remember the 50s, here they are! Plus a looong winding female friendship taking us through the (can it be 6?) decades since. As always, wry, beady-eyed, acute. You think you think; but think again,” Atwood wrote on Twitter.

While in self-isolation, Atwood also recommended to take the time to rediscover all-time favorites like Edith Wharton’s “The Age of Innocence”; Georges Simenon’s crime novels featuring Commissaire Maigret; as well as Agatha Christie’s “Miss Marple” and “Hercule Poirot” series.

“For love stories that work out, you can’t beat Jane Austen,” the novelist added.

She also gave a shout-out to various comic artists and illustrators, including Kate Beaton for “Hark, A Vagrant” and Tom Gauld’s “The Snooty Bookshop”. JB


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