I’m sure many people will now be aware of the terrible ordeal* of David Willis, the Texan who just popped into Waterstones Trafalgar Square, at around 8.50pm yesterday, to “use the wifi”. He was upstairs, engrossed in whatever was on his phone (!), for “about 15 minutes”, and when he went back to the ground floor he found the lights were out, the doors locked and the shutters closed for the night. He alerted the world to his appalling predicament** through Instagram and Twitter, and was released at around midnight from his dreadful prison***. This got me thinking – what if I snuck into, sorry, I mean, what if I were locked in a bookshop? What would be my top five books to read and songs to listen to while I waited to be thrown out, sorry, I mean freed…
Now, you might not be able to read a whole book in two hours but you’d be able to get a good flavour of something – but what mood would you be in? Here are my top picks, each with a different mood, of what to read while locked in a bookshop.
1. The fight for freedom: The Hunger Games trilogy by Suzanne Collins
Hopefully you’re familiar with these books already. I raced through the trilogy, reading the first one to try it, then going straight back to my local bookshop (without mishap) to purchase the following two. These books centre around Katniss, who volunteers to take her little sister’s place in the annual Hunger Games, in which young people are forced to fight to the death in order to survive and win their District essential supplies for the year ahead. Along the way, she becomes an unlikely figurehead in the secret struggle against the tyranny of the Capitol. Perhaps Katniss’s grit and determination might help get you through your incarceration.
2. The illustrated option: Persepolis by Marjane Satrapi
Persepolis tells the story of Marjane’s early life, growing up in Iran then having to leave due to the changing political climate in the country of her birth. Instead, she finds freedom in Europe, and gradually moves towards an understanding of her identity as a migrant and as a woman. The black and white drawings are simple but immediately engaging, and belie the complex situations which Marjane must negotiate as she carves out her niche in the world.
3. The funny one: The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy (a trilogy in five parts) by Douglas Adams
If you want a good laugh while you’re stuck, these books would be where I’d head. Each part of The Hitchhiker’s Guide is quite short, which would be convenient. It’s a fantastic, irreverent send-up of the science fiction genre that is also an SFF epic in its own right, peopled with a bizarre and hilarious cast of two-headed ex-Galactic-Presidents, depressed robots, giant bats, evil mice and one very puzzled whale. You couldn’t help but be distracted from your unfortunate situation by these classic stories.
4. The book about books: The Shadow of the Wind by Carlos Ruiz Zafon
You’re locked in a bookshop; you’re surrounded by books. Why not explore the romantic possibilities of your new setting? In The Shadow of the Wind, a boy, Daniel, works with his father in their bookshop in post-civil-war Barcelona, still feeling the effects of the conflict, and is drawn into a strange mystery centring on a novel he chooses from the mysterious Cemetery of Forgotten Books, hidden somewhere in the city’s Old Town. Gradually, what is plot and what is real start to merge…
5. A real-life incredible journey: The Hare with the Amber Eyes by Edmund De Waal
So perhaps what you need is to escape vicariously on an incredible journey through time and around the world, in which case, can I recommend The Hare with the Amber Eyes? Edmund De Waal takes us through his family history, and further, as we follow the journey of some tiny but beautiful netsuke, Japanese carvings made to adorn a rope-belt. This is a true story, a kind of biography with social history thrown in, and takes us around Europe and to Japan too, along with the charming little sculptures. You might not finish the whole book, but it’ll definitely whisk you away and start an interest in things you may have never even heard of before.
And what if you wanted some songs to listen to? – maybe the lights are out… Here’s my five picks to start your #LockedInABookshop playlist:
- Chains by Tina Arena
- Freedom by George Michael
- I’m Free by The Soup Dragons
- Free Fallin’ by John Mayer (covering Tom Petty – sorry Tom but John’s a much better singer!)
- Heaven Is A Place On Earth by Belinda Carlisle (because, let’s be honest, who wouldn’t be in heaven locked in a bookshop?)
What about you – what would you read and listen to if you were #LockedInABookshop? Leave a comment or tweet us @wordadventures and let us know!
* amazing stroke of luck
** fantastic opportunity
*** room of wonderment