The best books to manage a dystopian ‘new normal’

The Books I Picked & Why

The Handmaid's Tale

By Margaret Atwood

Book cover of The Handmaid's Tale

Why this book?

I first read this incredible blend of page-turning thriller and dystopian vision when I was seventeen, and again several times since. What I find particularly moving, is Margaret Atwood fictionalized real-life scenarios from societies that changed virtually overnight to impose brutal restrictions on women. It’s a story that is in many ways, all too real, and it changed my way of understanding places in the world with strict regimes.

When you buy a book we may earn a small commission.


By Frank Herbert

Book cover of Dune

Why this book?

This is an incredible and inspiring work of fantasy, taking readers to a completely new world. The religion and rituals of the society, the depth of detail – it’s phenomenal and compelling. To me, it’s a great insight into how human beings can be restricted by society, but can also break free.

When you buy a book we may earn a small commission.

Before I Go to Sleep

By S.J. Watson

Book cover of Before I Go to Sleep

Why this book?

For a book I simply couldn’t put down, this was the winner. The author wakes in a world where she has no memory beyond the next 24 hours and must painstakingly piece together who she can trust and how she got where she was right before it’s all wiped again. Following this thrilling journey made me question the power of memory, perception, and reality all at once.

When you buy a book we may earn a small commission.

Lie Beside Me

By Gytha Lodge

Book cover of Lie Beside Me

Why this book?

Another thrilling book where reality is put on hold, when a young woman wakes up next to a corpse, with no recollection of how she got there. I was riveted as the truth was unpicked and facts and possibilities converged. The final ending is a masterclass in a suspenseful twist and you never see it coming.

When you buy a book we may earn a small commission.

The Appeal

By Janice Hallett

Book cover of The Appeal

Why this book?

Who is real and who isn’t? A seemingly provincial body of amateur dramatists are seen only by their email exchanges. An innocent person has been charged with murder, and these correspondences hold the key to their release. And someone isn’t who they say they are. A great book and timely reminder of the power of the written word to obfuscate and mislead.

When you buy a book we may earn a small commission.

Closely Related Book Lists

Distantly Related Book Lists