Escape Reality Through Reading
The great thing about reading is that for a couple of hours, we get to escape. At the time of writing this, I’m desperate to escape. Because, along with most of the planet, I’m in lockdown thanks to COVID-19. Right now, reality seems over-rated.
Here’s a list of 17 of my favorite reads: these are books I’ve read and re-read. The reason I love them so much is that they take me to another place and time. It’s like travel, but without the inconvenience or danger.
(I’ve put links to other blog posts here too, so if you’re not finding here an escape that’s your flavor, then scroll down – I’m sure you’ll find something you love.)
P.S. This post contains Amazon Affiliate links. I receive a small payment if you purchase after clicking on these links.
Arabella – Georgette Heyer
Arabella, the daughter of an impoverished country parson, dreams of a new life in London. But her beauty and charm will only get her so far – and when Arabella embarks on her first London season armed with nothing but a benevolent godmother and her own notoriously short temper, she quickly runs afoul of Robert Beaumaris, Regency London’s most wealthy and eligible bachelor.
Anybody Out There? – Marian Keyes
Anna Walsh needs her old life back: her home, her glamorous career and above all the love of her life, her husband Aidan. But can things ever return to the way they were?
Always a brilliant observer of humanity, this tale is one of Keyes’ best. A bittersweet tale of love and letting go, this is Romance at its finest. If you enjoy this story, I recommend the rest of the Walsh family novels for snarky, smart, sheer Irish good fun.
The Time Traveller’s Wife – by Audrey Niffenegger
Henry DeTamble, a dashing librarian inadvertently travels through time and meets Clare Abshire, an artist whose life takes a natural sequential course. Henry and Clare’s passionate affair endures across a sea of time and captures them in an impossibly romantic trap that tests the strength of fate and basks in the bonds of love.
The movie’s pretty awesome too!
Need more Romance?
Check out these blog posts here:
- True Love and Book Boyfriends: 7 Great Romance Novels
- Love Pride and Prejudice? Here are 4 Books To Read
- Books to Read if You Love Downton Abbey
Out of This World – the Best of Science Fiction
The Peripheral – William Gibson
Set in the near future, Flynne Fisher lives in a rural America where jobs are scarce unless you count illegal drug manufacture, which she’s trying to avoid.
Gibson is known for his foretelling ability, so in some ways, this novel is kind of scary. But it’s a fantastic escape.
Snow Crash – Neal Stephenson
In reality, Hiro Protagonist delivers pizza for Uncle Enzo’s CosoNostra Pizza Inc., but in the Metaverse he’s a warrior prince. Plunging headlong into the enigma of a new computer virus that’s striking down hackers everywhere, he races along the neon-lit streets on a search-and-destroy mission for the shadowy virtual villain threatening to bring about infocalypse.
This novel is cyber-punk at its absolute best. It’s also the only book of Stephenson’s that I actually recommend. They got too long and complicated after this. Snow Crash is being made into T.V. by HBO – this will be either brilliant or disappointing – we’ll just have to wait and see.
Grass – Sheri S Tepper
Generations ago, humans fled to the cosmic anomaly known as Grass. But before humanity arrived, another species had already claimed Grass for its own. It too had developed a culture. Now, a deadly plague is spreading across the stars, leaving no planet untouched, save for Grass. But the secret of the planet’s immunity hides a truth so shattering it could mean the end of life itself.
Grass was nominated for both Hugo and Locus awards and remains a definitive work of classic Sci-Fi. It’s also a bloody great read.
Hyperion – Dan Simmons
On the eve of disaster, with the entire galaxy at war, seven pilgrims set forth to the legendary Time Tombs on Hyperion, home to the Shrike, a lethal creature, part god and part killing machine, whose powers transcend the limits of time and space.
Winner of the Hugo Award, Hyperion is immersive Sci-fi at its finest. Personally, I didn’t enjoy the rest of the series, but this one novel is well worth reading.
Dune – Frank Herbert
The best sci-fi series EVER. Read it.
Chocky – by John Wyndham
It’s not terribly unusual for a boy to have an imaginary friend, but Matthew’s parents have to agree that his—nicknamed Chocky—is anything but ordinary.
Almost all of Wyndham’s books make for great escapes. I think this is his best story: it’s short but perfect.
More reality-bending sci-fi here
Excitement, Adventure, and Real-Life
About A Boy – Nick Hornby
12 year old Marcus is looking for a grown-up. But Will Lightman refuses to grow up. Together they discover what it means to be a family.
The Broker – John Grisham
In his final hours in the Oval Office, the outgoing President grants a full pardon to Joel Backman, a notorious Washington power broker who has spent the last six years in a federal prison. Smuggled out of the country in a military cargo plane, Backman is given a new identity and a new home in Italy. He thinks he’s out. But the CIA will soon leak his whereabouts to the Israelis, the Russians, the Chinese and the Saudis, and then sit back and watch. The question is not whether Backman will survive – there’s no chance of that. The question the CIA needs answered is: who will kill him?
Set in Italy, this novel is less thriller than pure gastronomy. Read it, and eat pasta. (Grisham apparently put on 10 kg while writing this :))
The Little Drummer Girl – John Le Carre
One of Le Carre’s best, this is the story of actress Charlie, dragged into a world of espionage and terrorism. Highly recommended.
The Number One Ladies’ Detective Agency – by Alexander McCall Smith
Precious Ramotswe is drawn to her profession to “help people with problems in their lives.” Immediately upon setting up shop in a small storefront in Gaborone, she is hired to track down a missing husband, uncover a con man, and follow a wayward daughter. But the case that tugs at her heart, and lands her in danger, is a missing eleven-year-old boy, who may have been snatched by witchdoctors.
The first in a fabulous series.
The Belgariad – David Eddings
This is an oldie but a goodie: the adventures of scullery-boy Garion and his mysterious Aunt Polgara. If you’re sharing lockdown with kids, try reading this series aloud.
The Rivers of London – Ben Aaronovitch
Peter Grant, probationary constable, discovers an unexpected talent for magic. The entire series is outstanding, full of black English humor.
American Gods – Neil Gaiman
Gods never disappear. They just … change.
The Witcher Series – Andrzej Sapkowski
For over a century, humans, dwarves, gnomes, and elves have lived together in relative peace. But times have changed, the uneasy peace is over, and now the races are fighting once again. The only good elf, it seems, is a dead elf.
I’m totally in love with this series. If you’re looking for a long(ish) read to take you away from reality, this is definitely a must-try.
Want More Fantasy?
- If you loved reading American Gods, here are 6 books (plus T.V.) to try
- Love Stranger Things? Here are some books you’ll love
- Book Review(s): 4 Unusually Good Fairytale Retellings
- What can I read on holiday? Here are some great books for all ages.
- 3 Intriguing Books That Made Great Holiday Reading
Reality is Over-Rated
This list is just a taster – there are heaps of other books I recommend. But each story (or series) here is a guaranteed escape.
I hope you enjoy – and stay safe.