I’ve always had a passion for books. Reading is one of my favorite ways to step away from the stresses of daily life and leave it all behind – even better if accompanied by a glass of chardonnay. I’m calling this list Books to Escape With not because they’re all light-hearted – quite on the contrary in some cases – but because these are books that I wanted to read so badly once I got into them, that when they were in my hand I wasn’t worried about much else. So if you’re looking for a good read, check some of these out.
Books to Escape With
Oh – and if you know of a really good, laugh-out-loud book will you let me know in the comments? I’ve been looking for one of those for a while – Chelsea Handler isn’t cutting it.
1. Pillars of the Earth, Ken Follett
This book is amazing. It’s sent in the 12th century in England, and follows two generations of families, all centered around the building of a cathedral. There are poor families traveling from town to town looking for work, young men battling for earldom and trying to satisfy their manipulative families, kings and queens battling to rule, and crooked monks, priests, bishops, etc. who had a lot of power at a time when everyone took their religion seriously. And there is Jack, probably my all time favorite character – doesn’t hurt that Eddie Redmaybe plays him in the miniseries (wait a long time after reading the book to watch the miniseries, so you won’t be pissed off about all the stuff they leave out).
2. Plain Truth, Jodi Picoult
In this book, a dead newborn is discovered on an Amish farm. In a setting where people choose to remain stationary while the world progresses around them, a lawyer tries to discover the truth among people who don’t want to talk. Who gave birth, in a community where premarital sex does not happen? Who is the father? Who moved the baby? How did no one notice a pregnancy?
I’ve read a lot of books by this author – Plain Truth was my first one. At times i have to take a break from her, because they seem to follow a common path – but I always come back. Salem Falls is another of hers that sucked me in.
3. Sarah’s Key, Tatiana De Rosnay and Winter Garden, Kristin Hannah
I’ve put these two together because they’re kind of similar – both feature a middle-aged woman questioning how satisfied she is with her marriage and life in general, and both flash back to significant moments in world history (both WW2) – the holocaust for Sarah’s and the siege on Leningrad for Winter. Both feature some pretty serious secrets, one hidden in a house and one hidden in a person.
I wasn’t familiar with the siege (maybe I wasn’t paying attention in history class?) – apparently all communication, supplies, etc. were cut off by Hitler for two and a half years. People in Leningrad starved – they ate rats, birds, their pets, bread that was made mostly of sawdust. And they froze. One and a half million people in that city died. Insane.
Both of these books are really good. Both have some pretty disturbing parts. Writing this list is making me want to read them all again. Anyway…
4. Water for Elephants, Sara Gruen
I considered this book my favorite for a long time. You follow the main character as he tries to find a place to belong in a traveling circus after losing both his parents – the relationships and experiences he has with both humans and animals take you on a roller coaster of emotions – I remember being so mad I wanted to throw the book across the room. If you’ve seen the movie already, hopefully it hasn’t ruined the book – I heart Reese and Robert as much as the next person, but their onscreen chemistry didn’t do the book justice. And the story is so much deeper than the movie portrays, which is how it goes with books turned film.
5. Harry Potter and the Prisioner of Azkaban (and the rest of the series), JK Rowling
I don’t think it’s a surprise to most people that I’m a Harry Potter fanatic. Out of all, this is my favorite. I was traveling around Europe with a friend after college, and we arrived in Paris when I was at the climax of this book – it was so good, I wanted to stay in our hostel and read. I didn’t want to go out. In Paris.
JK Rowling is a genius – the way a character will appear in one book and not show up again till two books later, and then have a very significan roll that was referenced in the earlier book is amazing. I would love to know how she kept everything straight across seven books. If you haven’t read them, you should.
I’m going to have to do this more than once – I just looked through my goodreads list, and realized I didn’t talk about The Help or Deception Point. Loved both of those as well. Or A Long Way Gone! So many good ones. If you’re looking for something a little less intense, here are some of my faves: The Devil Wears Prada, Something Borrowed, On the Island, Mariana (just finished this one – thanks for the reco Morgan!).
I’m always looking for good recos – if you have them, please send my way!