2021 Must Read Something During Lockdown books

 by Diana Studer

- gardening for biodiversity

 in Cape Town, South Africa


Happy sigh, fresh library books after lockdown!



February's son


Glasgow in the seventies. (We visited the Tenement House, so it's a little familiar) Detective Harry McCoy. 'Tartan noir'. Warning - gratuitous graphic violence - I skimmed those paragraphs.


Jack & Bet
Jack & Bet



Jack & Bet


The cover with models by Mel Four spelling out the story. Green silk evening dress. Passport to a different life in America. Elephant and Castle housing estate demolished - but, only built in 1974, they remember moving in to shiny new!



Kate Elizabeth RUSSELL

My dark Vanessa


She worked on this book for over 18 years.

It is dark (paedophile grooming) but, reading, I glimpse understanding WHY did she fall for his spiel??




A ladder to the sky


Berlin before and after the wall.

A book where every character is filled out, and holds your sympathy in turn. I will enjoy sinking into that again.




Michelle PAVER



In the Suffolk fens which fill the book. Gothic thriller spanning 5 centuries of history and superstition.



Time opened up to read books from my mother


Cornish Harvest
Cornish Harvest


This book is mine, but bought for my mother's Cornish childhood.

Cornish Harvest, edited by Denys Val BAKER. Includes a folklore story by A. L. Rowse - my mother had his autobiography - a bitter and twisted man.

Good stories linger in the air like flower scents or autumn smoke, about the tongue like wine, about the touch like silk; and shift and struggle before the eyes like the ever-changing patterns and colours seen through a child's kaleidoscope - Frank BAKER The Green Steps


My London born mother in 1937
My London born mother in 1937


Angela HUTH

The Englishwoman's wardrobe - twenty-five Englishwomen talk about their clothes (1986)


I was surprised when my mother told me that after school she worked in a dress-shop - but, as she said, there was nothing else available. Fabric and textiles, I still have a hopeful pile that needs to be made up?!




Uncommon people - a study of England's Elite.


My mother preferred to read biography, social history, memoirs and letters - but I was shocked to discover that this is about eugenics. And now I can't ask...



V. M. FITZROY (Violet Mary 1907-1991)

Down to earth


About early / colonial gardens in Cape Town. Arderne Gardens still exist as an exotic arboretum. Apparently I can blame them in 1847 for the plague of Norfolk Island pines across our city?



Rereading the books I loved as a child, and loved again!


Emma escaping from lockdown
Emma escaping
from lockdown


Dorothy Ann LOVELL (the mystery of DAL)

The strange adventures of Emma.


Emma is a doll - but this book is timeless, as spellbinding as ever.


Pomanders village
Pomanders' village



Mr Pomander


The Pomanders of Little Chipping


As a child I took 'Little Chipping' for an English village, but, it is Lillkoping translated from Swedish.



When I worked in the Central Library in Zurich I bought some books in German.

Only now do I come to read them.


Heidi among Alpine meadow flowers
Heidi among Alpine meadow flowers


Johanna SPYRI



In English, as a child, I read that again and again. Lost in a fantasy world among the flowers on an Alpine meadow. Fast forward to a Swiss husband, a SIL called Heidi, and we have walked alongside those Alpine meadows of flowers. Reading in German I was caught by the black vanilla orchid.

Translation please?


About Heidi, the author

Behind the scenes and A life less ordinary


Gardens of China zigzag bridge
Gardens of China
zigzag bridge



Die Gaerten Chinas.


Reading NON-fiction in German, which was a marathon of persistence, but interesting to read about the Chinese roots of what I thought of as 'Japanese' gardens. Our offset path a tiny homage to their zigzag paths along the lake shore.



An eclectic collection driven by Must Read Something During Lockdown,

 chosen by my mother, our library or charity bookshops.


I invite you to join us at Elephant's Eye on False Bay. Please subscribe as you prefer

via Feedly,

or Bloglovin,

Email with Feedburner,

or Facebook 

Pictures by Diana Studer

of Elephant's Eye on False Bay


Teal blue text is my links.

To read comments if you are in email or a Reader,

first click thru to the blog)


Thanks for comments that add value. Your comment will not appear until I've read it. No Google account? Use Anonymous, then please include a link to your own blog. I welcome comments on posts from the last 2 months.



  1. Thanks for the reviews, Diana. I've "pinned" A Ladder to the Sky for reference when I look for my next book. I've recently been enjoying a couple of Elly Griffiths newer books in the Harbinder Kaur series and just started The Perfect Marriage by Adam Mitzner.

  2. Thanks for the tipps. I read a lot of garden books at the moment und fiction in the evening.

  3. You had a lot of Lockdown reading, dear Diana! I don't know most of these books, most likely I feel addressed by Jack & Bet. It is sometimes good to read books from childhood again, like Heidi, especially if it is in a foreign language. This brings you back to practice.
    Have a happy new week,

  4. Thanks for the recommendations! I'll consider some of these for my book club. We usually meet in person, but we've been meeting virtually for a year now. It will be nice to reconvene at each others' homes for discussions. Happy reading!

  5. An interesting selection. I have Wakenhyrst waiting to be read and I was also looking for a copy of Heidi recently after thinking about our trip to Switzerland a couple of years ago. It's the wildflower meadows of both holiday and book that have stayed with me.

  6. Wow Diana, sounds like really good reading hours. And another and bigger wow for reading a garden book in german. As I'm a constantly reader too I appreciate your advices. One of my "as I was a young woman favorites" are currently on my nightstand - Francoise Sagan, and a true feature about the Italian mafia and for sure garden books. So ... I can switch.
    All my best, big hugs, stay healthy

  7. Oh wow - all 3 of the German (language) bloggers I read have left a comment this time!

  8. I can't wait to get back to our local library Diana! My reading over the last twelve months has either been on my Kindle or some of the books in the never read section of my bookshelves 😂 'Heidi' was a childhood favourite. I grew up just on the edge of the Fens so the Michelle Paver book is most appealing.

  9. Thanks so much for all of the wonderful suggestions. I would love to browse inside my library, but for now I am happy that I can still pick them up after ordering them online. xo Laura

  10. I agree; good books to read have been essential to my sanity for the past year! Libraries here reopened many months ago -- but only for curbside pickup. I really miss being able to just browse the shelves and am looking forward to being able to do that again someday. My favorite pandemic read was Rules for Visiting by Jessica Frances Kane -- a jewel of a book.

  11. I whined bitterly about - order online - then collect in single use plastic bags. But. They are clean, and free, you don't have to return the bags. Sigh.
    Now, I can browse, under safe and careful conditions. Happy sigh!

  12. I enjoyed your book reports. It energizes me to choose books of different genres. My library is open, by appointment only and it is selfish to say, I enjoy "shopping" in the quiet. It is easy to fantasize it is my personal library - a secret selfish desire to own so many books. Anyway, I visit every week but don't linger more than a few minutes to give others a turn. I walk down the shelves, grab whatever and then peruse my choice later at home. It works. It is better than not having access to a library. Anything is better than that.


    1. We are 'allowed 20 minutes' but I have never seen crowds or queues. The joy of browsing is equalled by choosing which of my 10 shall I read next (5 read 5 to go ...)

  13. It's so upsetting when we have questions for our mothers but now we can't ask ...
    Your mother was very beautiful. Interesting list of titles.