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I’m reading ‘VOX’ by Christina Dalcher at the moment, and throwing myself into the world of a complex dystopian future actually makes our current situation feel much less overwhelming. Here’s a list of unsettling reads that will make you breathe a sigh of relief when you put the book down – inspiring gratitude for all that we do still have: reading, talking, listening, and a future when everything will go back to normal and our lovely bookshop will be open once again…

In a remote hotel, deep in the forests of North America, our protagonist is chronicling the days and weeks following a worldwide nuclear explosion. Communications have been cut, and nobody knows what they’ll find when they connect back to the rest of the world. As cracks begin to form within the group, characters have to get creative as they begin to run out of food and resources. Surprisingly light-hearted for the subject matter, this book is a quick and gripping read that leaves itself wide open for a sequel…

The classic Orwell novel sees the technology of hyper-surveillance unfold as the driving force of control over its imagined society. Everything that protagonist Winston does is listened to and watched, and the Thought Police are on the watch for the illegal act of independent thinking. Thank goodness we’re still allowed books and the internet!

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‘Never Let Me Go’ by Kazuo Ishaguro will catch you off-hand, charmingly narrating the stories of friends at school, watching games of cricket and playing in the old pavilion during lunchtimes. Soon though, we realise that this is not a normal school and the characters are not normal children. As they grow up and begin to understand their fate, so do we: they are grown with the specific purpose of becoming organ donors.

If you haven’t read The Handmaid’s Tale yet, where have you been!? This is one of my favourite books, exploring a totalitarian dictatorship where religious scriptures are twisted and turned into horrifying new rules. Atwood is more clever than she is shocking, with thought-provoking and well-researched writing which only uses practices which have been used in real history at some time or another. We now also have ‘The Testaments’ – the eagerly awaited sequel to The Handmaid’s Tale which was published in September.