The best books to read in bed when it’s raining outside

Why am I passionate about this?

I’m an outdoors-loving person but I'm writing this in the last gasps of winter and I'm done with being cold. The best answer to a long winter has always been curling up somewhere warm with a book that makes me forget about the rest of the world. My books – it was pointed out to me recently – are usually set in the middle of summer because I think deep down I will always love a long summer holiday. (As I write this, I also realise there’s a lot of Famous Five in my DNA too.) Books you read as a kid do stick with you your whole life and can really form your personality.


I wrote...

Opie Jones Talks to Animals

By Nat Luurtsema, Fay Austin (illustrator),

Book cover of Opie Jones Talks to Animals

What is my book about?

Opie Jones is a superhero, but please don’t get over-excited. She can talk to animals and, again I cannot stress this enough, you have no idea how boring a worm is until he moans at you about work. So yes, it is an adventure book full of action, peril, and unwilling sidekicks with Main Character Energy, but I warn you sometimes ladybirds are moody and I won’t sugarcoat the truth.

Aimed at 8-12-year-old readers but my aim is broad and older readers have been known to have a good time.

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The books I picked & why

Book cover of World War Z: An Oral History of the Zombie War

Nat Luurtsema Why did I love this book?

A globe-spanning story of a zombie apocalypse.

One journalist travels the world in the aftermath and interviews the heroes, villains, and ordinary people who survived. It was made into a film with Brad Pitt, which is quite different, but I love anything with a fast zombie. The whole book makes you glad to live in a non-apocalypse.

(If the apocalypse has broken out between me writing this and you reading it, I’m not surprised, but I am sorry. Seriously, find a copy of WWZ as it’s full of good tips for your current predicament.) 

By Max Brooks,

Why should I read it?

21 authors picked World War Z as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

It began with rumours from China about another pandemic. Then the cases started to multiply and what had looked like the stirrings of a criminal underclass, even the beginning of a revolution, soon revealed itself to be much, much worse.

Faced with a future of mindless man-eating horror, humanity was forced to accept the logic of world government and face events that tested our sanity and our sense of reality. Based on extensive interviews with survivors and key players in the ten-year fight against the horde, World War Z brings the finest traditions of journalism to bear on what is…


Book cover of The Dark Portal

Nat Luurtsema Why did I love this book?

Robin Jarvis scared the living snot out of me as a kid and when I reread his books as an adult…. Same thing happens.

The Deptford Mice trilogy is a wonderfully scary series, with characters you love and root for and completely forget that they’re smaller than a baby potato. He is a brilliant storyteller and I recommend all his books to you if you’re over nine years old.

(Says the person who gifted them to an eight-year-old and caused nightmares.)

By Robin Jarvis,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked The Dark Portal as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.


Book cover of If On A Winter's Night A Traveler

Nat Luurtsema Why did I love this book?

This book is a gift to anyone with writer’s block.

It’s a book full of first chapters and leaves you constantly thinking, “what happens next?!” which is the perfect prompt to make you write stories of your own. Plus, who wants to be a lonely traveler on a winter’s night?

So chilly and dark out. Stay in bed.

By Italo Calvino, William Weaver (translator),

Why should I read it?

3 authors picked If On A Winter's Night A Traveler as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

"You are about to begin reading Italo Calvino's new novel...Relax. Concentrate. Dispel every other thought. Let the world around you fade." —from If On A Winter's Night a Traveler

Italo Calvino's stunning classic imagines a novel capable of endless possibilities in an intricately crafted, spellbinding story about writing and reading.

If on a Winter's Night a Traveler is a feat of striking ingenuity and intelligence, exploring how our reading choices can shape and transform our lives. Originally published in 1979, Italo Calvino's singular novel crafted a postmodern narrative like never seen before—offering not one novel but ten, each with a…


Book cover of Dolores Claiborne

Nat Luurtsema Why did I love this book?

Now look, Stephen hardly needs the bump in sales but I do love this book.

I read it in one sitting one night as a kid and was engrossed. I read it for too young for the adult themes, but I feel like that is an official stage of most peoples’ adolescence and should be in textbooks. 

By Stephen King,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Dolores Claiborne as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.


Book cover of Are You Awake?

Nat Luurtsema Why did I love this book?

This is my friend Claire and her books are so beautifully written, while their plots grip me like a vice!

This one is about spying on your neighbours, and whether you can always believe what you see… and I will say no more as you don’t need spoilers from me.

By Claire McGowan,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Are You Awake? as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.


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Medical Hostages

By Shawn Jennings,

Book cover of Medical Hostages

Shawn Jennings Author Of Locked In Locked Out: Surviving a Brainstem Stroke

New book alert!

Why am I passionate about this?

The five recommended nonfiction books on my list profoundly affected my life in my time of need. I struggled when a minor accident led to a brainstem stroke and being locked in at 45. How would I find happiness now? How can I go on? These five books gave me the strength to work hard, accept what couldn’t be improved, and be grateful for each day of good health. I hope the recommended books will help you prepare for the day your life will change...and it will.

Shawn's book list on accepting and moving on from a tragedy

What is my book about?

Duke, the leader of a bike gang, is in custody for murder. He plans an escape by feigning illness and hospitalization. But an unexpected turn of events results in two gang members and Duke holding a medical floor of patients hostage. Patients will die if the police don't meet their demands within hours.
The drama follows Duke and Drs. Mindy Fletch, director of the Intensive Care Unit, and Craig Russell, a family medicine resident, in this tense hostage stand-off.

Will the bikers find freedom? Will hostages die? Can Mindy and Craig survive and prevent deaths? In times of stress, people often discover new directions and strengths.

Medical Hostages

By Shawn Jennings,

What is this book about?

Duke, the leader of a bike gang, is in custody for murder. He plans an escape by feigning illness and hospitalization. But an unexpected turn of events results in two gang members and Duke holding a medical floor of patients hostage.


Patients will die if the police don't meet their demands within hours.


The drama follows Duke and Drs. Mindy Fletch, director of the Intensive Care Unit; and Craig Russell, a family medicine resident; in this tense hostage stand-off.


Will the bikers find freedom? Will hostages die? Can Mindy and Craig survive and prevent deaths?


In times of stress, people…


5 book lists we think you will like!

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