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Our top 10 quarantine reads (and the books that inspired us to write)

For many writers, there are distinct moments in life when they realized they had a great story that they wanted to tell. Often these moments come through discovering a particular book that excites, shocks and inspires them to keep on reading.

Below, we asked our content writers to share with us the authors that made an impression on them, and the books that inspired them to tell stories of their own. Check out our top 10 quarantine reads at the bottom of this article.


I have so many authors who inspired me to be a writer that it is difficult to mention just one! I studied English Literature, so my university days were filled with reading and analysing great works of literature. Some that really stood out for me were Anaïs Nin, Jack Kerouac, Charlotte Brontë, F. Scott Fitzgerald, Sylvia Plath and Anne Carson.

Which book you would take with you to a desert island?

I would take ‘Eileen’ by Ottessa Moshfegh. It’s cynical, funny and an intricate character study. Every time I pick it up, I get something new from it.


I am stuck between Roald Dahl and Ernest Hemingway. I read a lot of Dahl when I was younger and again as an adult and love his creative style; it always sparked my imagination. Hemingway, because the books he wrote especially around the topic of war, were always very interesting to me. He had a way of really making you feel like you were experiencing the scenes he was describing.

Which book you would take with you to a desert island?

Probably 'The Wonderful Story of Henry Sugar' by Roald Dahl. It is a collection of seven short stories that are very entertaining and intriguing. I think if I was on a desert island it would be nice to have a small collection of stories that would keep me entertained and my spirits high!


Novels never impressed me as much as plays. Aside from William Shakespeare’s ‘Hamlet’, which greatly influenced me in my formative years, I'd say my favourite play is ‘Huis Clos’ by Jean-Paul Sartre (or ‘No Exit’ in the English translation). It's about three people in hell (which is surprisingly lacking fire and instruments of torture) and their slow realisation that it's the combination of their respective personalities that will ensure infinite mutual torture, nicely summarised in the phrase "L'enfer, c'est les autres" ("Hell is other people").

Might be a nice read for anyone who is quarantined with flatmates.

Which book you would take with you to a desert island?

‘Metrofolklore’ by Patricia Hempel. It’s witty, funny, tart, extremely well observed, bold, innovative, and sexy. Sadly, it hasn’t been translated to English yet.


Kafka has had a big influence on me, especially his unfinished novel, Amerika. Clarice Lispector has also been a big influence.

Which book you would take with you to a desert island?

I would take Italo Calvino's ‘Mr. Palomar’. Here is how it begins: "The sea is barely wrinkled, and little waves strike the sandy shore. Mr. Palomar is standing on the shore, looking at a wave. Not that he is lost in contemplation of the waves. He is not lost, because he is quite aware of what he is doing: he wants to look at a wave and he is looking at it."


When I was younger, I was always impressed by Russian literature and I spent half of my youth reading Dostojewski, Tolstoi, Gogol and Bulgakow. I enjoyed the complex stories and word acrobatics of the Russian language. Also I read a lot of poetry of the 19th century, which might be why at age 16, I started to write poetry instead of prose. I wrote them by hand in over 20 books and copied some of them on to paper to sell on the streets. That was my first job, so to say. I can’t think of the exact book which made me become a writer, but one of the most impressive books I read when I was 10 years old was ‘Brother of Sleep’ by Robert Schneider. It had a huge impact on me in many ways. Also the book ‘This House in mine’ by Dörte Hansen is really impressive.

Which book you would take with you to a desert island?

Only one? Hard to answer. I think I would take a book I haven’t read yet to keep it interesting or a book about survival hacks!


10 Great Quarantine reads

As we power through another week of remote work and social isolation, books have proven to be a welcome respite from the Coronavirus pandemic. So with this in mind, we present 10 great quarantine reads as chosen by our 360 Digital Starters team – from the most captivating and distracting books we could think of.

#1 Self Care by Claire Chamberlain

It's a short inspirational book about the importance of finding time for yourself and loving yourself. I enjoyed it a lot! (Recommended by Kseniia)

#2 The Shadow of the Wind by Carlos Ruiz Zafón

I love how vividly the situations are described and how easy is to get caught up by the story. You can feel the author has experience writing scripts for movies. (Recommended by Roger)

#3 Normal People by Sally Rooney

I breezed through this witty and beautiful observation of human anxiety and emotions. It's an easy read to lose yourself in – perfect when you want to forget what’s going on in the real world. (Recommended by Louise)

#4 On the Road by Jack Kerouac

You’ll feel like you’re on the road - a pleasant and forgotten feeling! (Recommended by Barbara)

#5 The Magic Mountain by Thomas Mann

It’s about time, illness, magic, mountains… it’s about life. (Recommended by Ross)

#6 Just kids by Patti Smith

A biographic story of a poor poet, Patty, and her transformation into becoming a great musician. It is a book about how artistic career can be launched, and about her relationship with a New York photographer Robert Mappelthorpe. A very sincere and genuine story. This book brings together all the elements that made New York so exciting in the 1970s. (Recommended by Irina)

#7 McCarthy's Bar by Pete McCarthy

Born in England but with an Irish mother, the travel writer and comedian gives a really good perspective of a man searching for his roots. It is pretty light-hearted, but also manages to portray Ireland in a really authentic manner, while touching on the subject of identity in modern times. (Recommended by Matty)

It's filled with little stories that help you to see your life from different angles. (Recommended by Mandy)

#9 The Pine Islands by Marion Poschmann

Gilbert and Yosa set off on a pilgrimage to see the pine islands of Matsushima, one looking for the perfect end to his life, the other for a fresh start. It’s really well written and brings you to places you have never seen before. Travelling is always the best – even in your imagination, especially during quarantine. (Recommended by Patricia)

#10 1984 by George Orwell

A nightmarish vision of a totalitarian and bureaucratic world that everybody should read it at least once! (Recommended by Kostia)


Liked this? Then head over to our Intellitest site and test your knowledge of the literary classics in our 20 question quiz!


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