News Editor, Izzie Naish, tells us about the books she fell in love from lockdown

If you’re like me, in the days before the coronavirus I always seemed too busy to read, so getting the time to be able to sit down and get lost in a book was one of the only welcome changes that lockdown brought.

The first book that I picked off my shelf was André Aciman’s Call Me by Your Name. The novel focuses on the evolving relationship between it’s narrator Elio and the enigmatic American scholar Oliver. I found that Aciman’s words captured the vivid intensity of infatuation and all-consuming love perfectly, despite the significant age gap which did, at times, present an uncomfortable read that shadowed over the dynamic of their relationship. However, its setting of 1980s rural Italy and Aciman’s evocative descriptions of the beautiful and serene countryside made me feel as though I was there at the Italian coast, providing the perfect escape from the uncertainty which was unfolding rapidly in the present day.

Another novel which I read was Normal People by Sally Rooney. After enjoying the television series and being persuaded to read it after seeing many positive online reviews, I had high hopes for the book. Fortunately, it did not disappoint – I read it cover to cover in one day and ordered Rooney’s other novel Conversations with Friends as soon as I put Normal People down. Similar to Call Me by Your Name, the novel revolves around the relationship between two Irish teenagers named Connell and Marianne; however the recognisable settings of a school and Trinity College Dublin gave the story a more relatable and grounded feel than Aciman’s – even if their university experience was arguably much more sophisticated than mine. Rooney’s writing style was one that I was immediately drawn to since the attraction between the two protagonists just radiated off the page, compelling me to wonder what would become of the pair’s on-and-off relationship. Tackling issues such as mental health and the voices of others about your relationship, the novel offered a fresh perspective on the peaks and troughs of modern relationships and the complexity of first love. It was for this reason that I enjoyed it so much.

However, perhaps the favourite text that I read over the whole of lockdown was the feminist narrative Women Don’t Owe You Pretty. Throughout the book, 21-year-old Florence Given provides an honest and observant insight into contemporary feminist conversation. Educating the reader on important topics such as the male gaze, internalized misogyny, gender identity and exploring your sexuality, through her novel she teaches the reader how to tackle the patriarchy and its limitations to become the love of your own life. At times I found it a difficult read since Given forces you to confront the negative behaviours you may have through her chapters on accountability, however her accessible and relatable tone made this feel as though you were learning constructively rather than being lectured. In my opinion the best books are those which you can learn from – and since I implement these lessons into my daily life, I’d say Women Don’t Owe You Pretty falls into that category.

Header by Label’s Head of Design, Frankie Stevens

Edited By Sophie Alexander – Entertainment Editor


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