10 Books for Escaping Reality

Reading as an escape from reality

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No matter what is going on, it never fails that the realities of life can drive every person a little bonkers. Then throw something like a global pandemic into the mix and most people are struggling a little bit right now.

Some people throw themselves into work while others tirelessly volunteer and help fill needs in the community during times of crisis. I really try focusing on being the latter, but I will be honest: during times like these, I kind of struggle to put one foot in front of the other within the day-to-day activities of my own life.

Global pandemic aside, life issues typically have a way of rearing their ugly head. Be it an unusually stressful time at work, suffering through a breakup, or even something like the death of a loved one, there are always going to be events in our lives that are difficult and require some grit and toughness to power through.

Bookworms tend to be more on the introverted side in the first place so they know quite well the benefits of picking up a book and escaping into a foreign land by way of an entertaining book.

We can’t live in these imaginary worlds 24/7 (unfortunately) but we can take little breaks from reality by way of the page. So, it’s during these times of stress that I reach for my little escape hatches: books.

From new releases to older, back list titles and from thrillers to romance (with a side of snarky-toned memoirs) here are 10 books from several different genres that are all perfect for escape reading.

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The Bookish Life of Nina Hill by Abbi Waxman (2019, Berkley)

Bookish LIfe of Nina Hill book cover

This is the book I was reading when things really started getting worrisome in our little community (read: the toilet paper crisis of 2020). Luckily, I had this book to escape into. Nina Hill is an introverted bookish woman in her 20s who loves her quiet life with her cat and her job as a book seller. Then her estranged father passes away and she is thrust into a family she did not even know she had. Quirky and funny and completely delightful, you will relish every moment spent as a fly on the wall observing the Bookish Life of Nina Hill.

Let’s Pretend this Never Happened by Jenny Lawson (2012, Putnam)

I read this one years ago as a new mom who never had read a blog before. This book introduced me to that world and soon thereafter, I was reading Lawson’s blog (“The Bloggess”) as well as many other similar ones on the regular. Lawson grew up in rural Texas, the daughter of a taxidermist so her childhood was a little, shall we say: odd. Add to that her signature wit and no holds barred observations of life and you will LOL your way through this one. I did.

The Room on Rue Amelie by Kristin Harmel (2018, Gallery Books)

This is a WW2 historical fiction about a young RAF pilot, a little Jewish girl and a newly married woman who are all trying to survive the war in occupied Paris. They way their lives intersect is exciting, touching and even a little surprising. It is lovely to escape into the past and this is just a gorgeous story of love, loss and fighting for what is right.

Well Met by Jen DeLuca (2019, Berkley)

Well Met book cover

I don’t typically read romance books so it might not be faire (see what I did there?) to suggest them here. Still, I absolutely loved this really cute (and even a little steamy) friends to enemies tale told against the backdrop of a Renaissance Faire in Maryland. Emily is helping her sister recover from an accident and while she is staying with her, gets pulled into volunteering at a Renaissance Faire. It’s maybe a bit predictable but I found it surprisingly sweet, funny and a very efficient way to avoid the real world.

According to a Source by Abby Stern (2017, Thomas Dunne Books)

This is one of only a few books on this list I have not read myself but it comes highly recommended, and it’s on my list to read. About a young reporter whose beat is the glitzy and glamorous Hollywood elite, this one is said to be perfect for lovers of celebrity gossip and looking behind the curtain at the lives of the rich and famous. Sometimes getting lost in a glamorous world that is untouchable for us is just the ticket for finding a little relief from real life.

The Spellman Files by Lisa Lutz (2007, Recorded Books)

Spellman Files book cover

If you follow this blog regularly, you will see this book listed in several places, including on my favorite books of all time list. For me, this is a rare book that is funny and entertaining while also including some other very interesting and thought-provoking messages. Izzy Spellman is a private investigator in a quirky and hysterical family. I struggle to even summarize this one except to say it’s a snarky mystery, and I adore the fact that it can’t be put into a box.

Where’d You Go Bernadette by Maria Semple (2012, Little, Brown & Co)

Where'd You Go Bernadette book cover

After a disaster having to do with a school fundraiser, an overwhelmed Mrs. Fox disappears and her daughter is left to pick up the pieces. Through emails, letters and other correspondence, Bee pieces together where her mother has gone to and exactly what happened to make her leave. I remember it being a funny and irreverant look at motherhood and fulfulling one’s potential, and it’s so perfect for right now.

The Unhoneymooners by Christina Lauren (2019, Gallery Books)

The Unhoneymooners book cover

Olive is spectacularly unlucky which is in stark contrast to her twin sister, Amy, who gets everything she wants in life, and more. At perfect sister Amy’s wedding, Olive and the best man, Ethan (who Olive not so conveniently hates), are the only ones not to come down with a case of food poisoning and end up traveling together on the bride and groom’s all-expense paid honeymoon to Hawaii. A witty and at times hilarious romantic comedy, this one combines the familiar enemies to lovers trope with some pretty witty and snarky dialogue and characters to make a really fun and successful novel that even the staunchest romance hater (me!) will love.

Jane Doe by Victoria Helen Stone (2018, Lake Union Publishing)

I have not read this one and it only very recently came to my attention when the sequel (out at the end of March 2020) was reviewed on Instagram by one of my fellow book lovers. Jane blends in well and has inserted herself into Steven’s life, making him believe she is just his type of woman: meek and mild and always willing to do what he says. She has a secret, though, and she aims to use her place (in his bed) to her advantage for revenge. Bonus: As of the publishing of this post, this one is free to read with an Amazon Prime membership.

My Lovely Wife by Samantha Downing (2019, Berkley)

My Lovely Wife book cover

In a similar vein and tone to the one above, this one is about your typical suburban couple. They have all the things they could want in life and more: a great marriage, jobs, kids and a seemingly perfect existence. The only trouble is, they have a secret. They just might be getting away with murder. I have had a copy of this book for at least a year and it seems like just the right fun thriller to escape into right now.

What are your favorite escape reads?

If you like this post, check out these book lists: 10 Books to Read if You Think Classic Books are Boring; 4 Books to Read if You (Think You) Hate Romance; 6 Most Recommended Audiobooks; Best Books of 2019: New Releases; 8 Must-Read Fall New Releases

3 thoughts on “10 Books for Escaping Reality

  1. Isn’t Jenny Lawson hilarious?! You’re right about her upbringing- when I wasn’t laughing I was appalled.

    Thank you for this list- you have several books I haven’t read so am adding to my TBR.

    One of my favorite series for comfort reading is Sophie Kinsella’s The Shopaholic books. They are light and breezy and simple fun.

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