Midas’ Top Non-Fiction Books in Lockdown

Midas is here to help you get your culture fix during lockdown!

Over the past few months, we’ve been suggesting our favourite culture cures for isolation in a series of blog posts – including books, podcasts, TV shows, virtual museum tours and more. Despite lockdown restrictions beginning to ease, these top tips and recommendations are still a great source of comfort, laughter, or inspiration, whenever you need them. Check out the team’s top fiction books, podcasts, virtual museum/art gallery tours, films, recipes, and albums & playlists for self-isolation, lockdown and beyond…

For so many of us, life under lockdown has created a sense of monotony, as the days all seem to blend together and any form of spontaneity or adventure feels absent, which is just why a good non-fiction book can be so powerful during these tricky times. Wishing you could be transported to another place or era? Looking to enhance your wisdom or gain new inspiration? Then we’ve got you covered with our Top Non-Fiction Books in Lockdown…

Dog is Love: Why and How Your Dog Loves You by Dr Clive D. L. Wynne (Quercus)

During this lockdown period, when everything feels so uncertain and chaotic, my Goldendoodle, Theo, has been my loyal, loving, lockdown companion, keeping me physically and mentally fit whilst also providing a welcome distraction to Twitter or the live news feeds. However, following social distancing, I noticed changes in Theo’s behaviour and it made me reflect on his coping mechanisms. I wanted to understand more about his needs and how I could help him adjust to the changes. I was recommended a book Dog is Love by pioneering canine behaviourist Dr Clive D. L. Wynne. Part memoir, part scientific detective story, and part call to action, it is a fascinating and heart-warming read and a must for anyone who wants to build an even stronger bond with their four-legged friend. With Dr Wynne’s new-found knowledge and a deeper appreciation of dogs enormous capacity for love, I now have a much greater understanding of Theo’s emotional as well as his physical needs, and he is a much happier, less-stressed dog as a result. – Fiona Marsh, Associate Director – New Business

Uncharted by Margaret Heffernan (Simon & Schuster)

Uncharted by Margaret Heffernan – the UK’s most important female thought leader – is THE book to navigate turbulent times, and its publication earlier this year couldn’t have been better timed. Margaret’s voice is wonderfully warm, calm and wise, guiding the reader through the myriad ways that we can embrace uncertainty, rather than fear it. She moves deftly from the perils of prediction of AI and algorithms; explores the wonders of cathedral projects such as CERN and the Sagrada Familia; and writes movingly about the courage of the gay community during the worst suffering of the AIDS pandemic. You’ll never look at the world the same way again once you’ve seen it through Margaret’s eyes. – Amelia Knight, Associate Director

Tibetan Foothold by Dervla Murphy (Eland Books)

For anybody who loves to travel off the beaten track, my top pick for self-isolation would be Dervla Murphy’s book Tibetan Foothold, described by The Observer as written with ‘humour and sturdiness’… In 1963 Dervla Murphy finds herself working in Tibetan refugee camps in Northern India. Using extracts from the diaries she kept, Dervla describes the day-to-day life in the camps where hundreds of children are living in squalor while a handful of dedicated volunteers do their best to care for them with limited resources. Quickly falling in love with the “Tiblets” – cheerful, uncomplaining and affectionate children – Dervla listens to the different stories she is told as she works, going on to meet the Dalai Lama and exploring India’s Tibetan border. Dervla becomes a perceptive witness to the realities of aid work: the corruption and power struggles of the bureaucrats and the dangerous long-term side effects on the recipients. – Sophie Ransom, Deputy Director of Books

Parallel Lives: Five Victorian Marriages by Phyllis Rose (Daunt Books)

There are plenty of amazing non-fiction books out there and I was torn over which to pick (Becoming? Sapiens? One of the Alain de Botton books I reluctantly read because my boyfriend insists they’ll be insightful…). In the end I’ve decided to go with a book I actually read while isolating, which helped rid me of my reader’s block after the initial lockdown. Parallel Lives by Phyllis Rose shines a light on the ups and downs of five famous Victorian marriages to explore gender politics within relationships and the idea of marriage as an institution. Rose walks readers through the fascinating lives and relationships of Victorian literary heavyweights such as Charles Dickens, George Eliot and John Stuart Mill, looking at how their marriages were shaped (for good or bad) by gender expectations, and what we can learn from this. If this sounds like the dullest book on your English Lit syllabus, it really isn’t. While it is the perfect book for anyone who loves books and writing, it’s also an inside look at some of the most scandalous relationships in the Victorian literary set. You’ll egg on Effie Grey as she escapes her cruel husband, cheer George Eliot on as she shuns the gossips to live as her partner’s illegitimate wife, and you’ll come out of it passionately believing that Charles Dickens was a bad dude. It’s like a BBC 4 documentary meets the Victorian version of Heat Magazine, and I couldn’t recommend it enough.  Ben McCluskey, Senior Account Executive

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