What’s on Signe Johansen’s April reading list? When asked the journalist and author, she came back with a glorious selection of books, both old and new, that are sure to lift your spirits during lockdown. There’s a little bit of everything in this eclectic list; whether you’re looking for a spirited and original cookbook, a meaty Booker Prize shortlisted novel or a guide to how to garden, read on and take your pick:

Falastin – Sami Tamimi and Tara Wigley

Of the 110 recipes in this cookbook I’ve bookmarked a precise 11 to try in the coming weeks. The breakfast sesame crumble accompanying a simple fruit and yoghurt dish on page 25 immediately caught my eye as a fresh alternative to daily porridge. Cauliflower and cumin fritters with mint yoghurt will take care of lunches now and then, and roasted cod with a coriander crust, given a little extra richness from a drizzle of tahini sauce, is on the menu for our next Date Night At Home. Arguably all nights at home are date nights now, but this dish is closer to restaurant quality than I usually cook! I love the recipes Sami and Tara have shared in this book, along with atmospheric photos of life in Palestine and profiles of inspiring people like Vivien Sansour, founder of the Palestinian Seed Library project – Falastin is a transporting and illuminating read in lockdown. (Ebury)

The Comfort Food Diaries: My Quest For The Perfect Dish To Mend A Broken Heart – Emily Nunn

I’m currently halfway trough The Comfort Food Diaries, a food memoir by former New Yorker editor Emily Nunn and one I’d been meaning to read for ages, now seemed as good a time as any. Her wit and candour in telling the story of how she embarked on a comfort food road trip after a period of heart ache makes for an enriching and often uplifting read.  As someone who has never been to the southern states of the USA I’ve found her descriptions of the food and culture of that part of America completely fascinating.  Am also mildly fixated by her Ezra Pound Cake recipe which requires seven (!) eggs, and double cream. One to bookmark for when we eventually emerge out of quarantine and hopefully food supplies normalise again. (Atria Books)

The Five Minute Garden: How To Garden In Next To No Time – Laetitia Maklouf

A recent addition to the gardening book stack is Laetitia Maklouf’s wonderful companion for the ‘horticulturally overwhelmed’ – I confess I’m a recent convert to the joy of seeds, cuttings and compost, whiling away more hours on sites such as Otter Farm and Higgledy Garden than is perhaps strictly speaking healthy, scribbling notes about which seeds will work best in the limited pots we own and dreaming of owning dozens of prize-winning hydrangeas. Laetitia breaks down each month of the year into manageable tasks – Spruce, Chop, Nurture, Fuss and Project.  This is a terrific investment for any novice gardener, and would make a thoughtful gift too. (National Trust Books/Pavilion)

The Enlightenment of The Greengage Tree’ – Shokoofeh Azar

Iranian-born author Shokoofeh Azar’s The Enlightenment of The Greengage Tree’ was recently shortlisted for the International Booker Prize and despite being banned in her native Iran, Azar’s first novel translated into English has become an underground bestseller there, selling 5,000 copies. Europa Editions also publish Elena Ferrante, whose eagerly anticipated new novel The Lying Life of Adults is out this June. (Europa)

You People – Nikita Lalwani

‘In a world where the law is against you, how far would you be willing to lie for a chance to live?’ – when Nikita Lalwani’s new novel, You People, garnered praise from avid readers online and writers such as Tessa Hadley I knew I had to add it to the already teetering book stack. This is one I plan to dive into next Sunday afternoon, and not emerge until I’ve finished it in the wee hours of Monday morning. (Penguin)

Wine Girl: The Obstacles, Humiliations, And Triumphs of America’s Youngest Sommelier – Victoria James

This caught my eye when it was reviewed in the Sunday Times a few weeks ago. Ace sommelier Victoria James’s shares her account of what it’s like to excel in the wine world, working hard to achieve all the requisite qualifications and still be treated disparagingly, having to put up with constant taunts of ‘wine girl’ (and worse) by men who should know better. With this riveting and widely acclaimed memoir, however, one rather suspects she’s having the last laugh. (Fleet)

The Summer Book – Tove Jansson

Finally,  despite growing up in Norway and completely obsessed with the Moomins as a child, somehow their creator Tove Jansson’s Scandinavian classic The Summer Book had completely passed me by. Now is the time to rectify that, and what more magical a setting than a tiny island in a wild archipelago of Finland to escape to in these challenging times? (Sort Of Books)

Signe Johansen is the author of Spirited: How to Create Easy, Fun Drinks at Home (Bluebird Books For Life). You can find her on social media @SigneSJohansen

You can find more lockdown reading inspiration from About Time here.