12 books for when you need to escape reality
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After a long day staring at a computer screen, nothing sends me into a true escape like a really good book. Especially with everything going on in the world (read: coping with a pandemic for over two years), a gripping romance, a charming fantasy or a hilarious comedy told through the written word may be just what you need. . Reading about fantastical distant lands and worlds away from the horrors of dating apps makes me forget about everything that used to stress me out, while still indulging in a great story. Of course, finding books that truly feel like an escape is easier said than done.
However, reflecting on the books I’ve recently read, I’ve found a few hidden gems that provide the perfect escape from reality. So grab a cozy blanket and kick back with one of these 12 books, perfect for taking a break from real life.
In my book – pun perfectly intended – Casey McQuiston can’t be wrong. And their second novel turned out to be the hard-hitting romance I didn’t even know I was missing. August, a girl with only a dream and practically no money, arrives in New York in her twenties “I find myself”. Her roommates are weird in the best possible way, and the creperie she works at helps fund her college tuition, and all is well in the world. But then she meets Jane, a beautiful girl, amazing and beautiful inside and out, on the train. In what has to be one of the cutest exchanges of banter and heart-to-heart, August soon discovers that Jane has actually been stuck in a time warp on the train since the 70s. Determined to fight for love , August, with the help of his roommates and some pretty cool drag queens, decides to help Jane get out of this time warp once and for all. With a mix of science fiction and touching story, you never get bored in this book.
This book was everything I wanted and more. Knowing that Emily Henry’s work is a favorite among my bookish friends, I entered this story expecting to be swept away and charmed by the love interest. Well, my expectations were exceeded. This novel follows January, a once romantic novelist whose affair with her father shattered her belief in true romance. When she moves into a small house near a beach and realizes that her neighbor is her old nemesis from college, Augustus Everett, she quickly believes this “getaway” couldn’t get any worse. A classic tale of the enemies-lovers trope, this book was predictable and sweet, but sometimes that’s exactly what I want from a romantic comedy.
Taylor Jenkins Reid
Written by beloved #BookTok author Taylor Jenkins Reid, Daisy Jones and the six is a real atmospheric step into the world of 70s rock. Not that I would have any idea what it was, but with this book, I really felt like I was there and doing part of the story. In this interview-style narrative, we follow Daisy, an aspiring musician, as she joins rock band The Six and thus enters into a whirlwind romance with band member Billy Dunne. Jenkins’ ability to write beautiful works of fiction based on historical figures –Daisy Jones and the six is loosely based on the real-life band Fleetwood Mac – was one of the reasons I was so drawn to this novel in the first place. And if reading about sex, drugs and rock ‘n’ roll isn’t enough, a self-titled TV show based on this book is likely to hit our screens later this year.
Normally a book that is just a reminder of office dramas and career matters would stress me out, but The Hate Game did everything but that. Maybe it’s because the characters are so quirky and funny (or maybe it’s because the “work” they do is barely mentioned), but it was a great read to help me unwind from the work at the end of the day. The story follows Lucy, an ambitious “nice girl”, whose office colleague, the intolerable but so beautiful Joshua Templeman, is absolutely insufferable. As assistants to their company’s CEOs, Lucy and Josh are sworn enemies. However, when the two engage in a steamy elevator moment that reminded me of a little sweeter 50 shades of gray scene, Lucy begins to realize that she may have confused lust with hate. Every chapter of this book made me laugh or “aw” out loud, making it the perfect romantic comedy to spend the evening with.
It was one of those books I picked up because I had nothing else to read, so I was pleasantly surprised that it quickly became a favorite. The story follows Nora, whose grossly mundane life is itself boring. However, her life becomes much more interesting when she stumbles upon the Midnight Library, a place where she can see all the other lives she could have had had she made just one different decision. From various lives as a professional swimmer, expedition researcher and wife of the love of her life, Nora sees what it would have been like to have everything she wanted – or what she thinks she wanted. By revisiting the choices she could have made differently, this book tackles serious topics like suicide and mental health. However, watching Nora win these battles showed me that every story has some sort of uplifting takeaway. It’s a heavy story, but it’s also an ode to the phenomenon of living and persevering.
This may sound like a holiday-themed book — and essentially, it is. But what can bring you more joy than remembering the days of building a gingerbread house filled with hot chocolate during the holiday season? Caught up in the hustle and bustle of Christmas, Laurie hastily boards a bus, stares out the window, and immediately meets a man she knows will be the love of her life. Unable to get over him, Laurie tells her friends all about her mystery man when he returns, but it seems no one knows who he might be. She ends up seeing him again a year later, when he is introduced as the boyfriend of Laurie’s best friend, Sarah. And all this in just under 100 pages. The story spans a decade or so, with lessons in friendship, aging, and yes, romance. With relatable characters and a moving love story, it’s a heartwarming book you can enjoy any time of year.
There’s a reason this book was voted #1 Thriller Pick on Goodreads. The silent patient might seem like your typical hybrid of psychological thriller and mystery, but with twists and turns when you least expect them, you’ll be eager to solve the mystery at every turn. The story follows Theo, a criminal psychologist, as he tends to his mute patient Alicia Berenson, a once perfect wife turned killer. The story switches between different viewpoints between chapters, so you’re always left guessing and never quite sure which character to trust. I finished this book in a day, so if you’re looking for something to get through in an afternoon, this is the thriller for you.
Sarah J Maas
A novel that everyone and their mothers seem to have read, A court of thorns and roses is a mature take on the classic fantasy genre. The story follows Feyre, whose life changes overnight when she is punished for the murder of a fairy. Imprisoned in a magical kingdom with a captor who hides her face behind a mask of jewels, she soon discovers that this world has its fair share of secrets. In this The beauty and the Beast meets The Phantom of the Opera, Feyre’s hatred for her captor eventually turns to lust. But to keep him alive, she must first break a curse plaguing the fairy lands. If fantasy is your thing, be sure to read the rest of the books in this series.
If you happen to think with your head instead of your heart (good for you!), I’ve found your new favorite main character. Olive, well on her way to obtaining her doctorate, does not believe in love at all. She just has to prove to her best friend that she’s in a relationship. When Adam, a know-it-all biology lab hermit, agrees to be her fake date, Olive thinks she’s about to cheat on everyone. But, as every character in this trope soon realizes, her disdain for romance might not last, and Adam might not be as bad as she originally thought.
If a cute second-chance romance isn’t on your playlist, let me put you on something. Whether you love wedding season or hate to love wedding season, main characters Kian and Hudson are about to attend one of these ceremonies, like each other’s wedding dates. The only problem? Well, they’re separated, but no one in their families knows about it. It’s the perfect recipe for some awkward situations and witty banter, and these two dodge their feelings for each other in ways that are both hilarious and (unfortunately) relatable. If you’re ready to dive into the trope of fake dates and laugh out loud, then pick up this book. The hopeless romantic in me begs you.
Before #BookTok, there was BookTube, and I remember that particular novel was what seemed to be every YouTuber’s favorite. In a world filled with fantasy, two magicians, Celia and Marco, have trained for the magical duel of their lives, in which only one person will emerge unscathed. When the two are drawn into an all-consuming romance, they know much more is at stake than they ever imagined. Set in Victorian London, this book follows the two as they explore the Circus of Dreams, a circus that only appears at night and is home to some pretty fantastical magic of its own. A battle between good and evil intertwined with a tale of deep love like no other, this is the perfect read for anyone looking for a darker fairy tale.
Combine corny romance with a touch of telenovela-esque drama, and I’m here every day. The story follows Jasmine Lin Rodriguez, a leading lady and accomplished soap opera actress, who knows she doesn’t need a man to succeed. However, things are much easier said than done when Ashton Suárez, a Romeo telenovela to his right, is set to co-star. Of course, the two find time alone to rehearse, and of course, the rehearsals turn into kisses, and, well, you can get the rest. With plenty of steamy scenes and an abundance of tension-fueled banter, this book will make you feel like you’re watching a romantic comedy without even lifting the TV remote.
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