Events over the past few years have led many to feel that we've been living out the plot of a science fiction novel, a political satire or...a black comedy?

Lockdowns, 'partygate', a merry-go-round of prime ministers - "it's beyond  belief", "you couldn't make it up"...

It's no wonder book sales soared as we all looked for an escape from real life. And fiction is a great way for stepping into other times and places, challenging our prejudices and preconceptions.  

The titles I've picked up by chance recently have all been entertaining and escapist, but they have at times felt frighteningly real and rather unsettling!

First there was 'Lemons, Lemons, Lemons, Lemons, Lemons' which I mentioned last week. Though beautifully done, it challenges us to think about how we use our words and what we might do if they were restricted.

Then I read a recently published novel called 'The Library Suicides' (not the greatest title, but I'm often drawn to stories about libraries or bookshops!). This is an odd and bleak thriller, set in an imagined near-future in the National Library of Wales. It's rather intriguing in that it explores how we assess and value literature, and the written word in general.

But I also read 'End of Story' by Louise Swanson, due out in March. A bestselling writer is effectively under house arrest as a new regime has declared that all storytelling is banned. Novels have to be destroyed and the only books that are acceptable are those which present facts, the 'truth'. It's a gripping and thought-provoking thriller, with a brilliant twist. 

All well and good, then - some great entertainment with interesting, provocative themes. But in the New Yorker this week there was an article about schools in Florida where they are banning books, clearing the bookshelves and papering them over. 

These are strange times. How do we respond to such actions? At the least, let's keep supporting our bookshops, our libraries and our school reading programmes. And as our own bookshelves groan, let's not take books for granted!

Thank you for reading.