Sometimes you just need to forget about everything and escape the real world. There are countless ways to do this, but, personally, I love reading amazing books to get lost in if I need to get my mind off of something. There are a lot of stresses and pressures on modern adults these days, especially for us 20-somethings, who are still trying to figure out this whole "being an adult" thing.
If everything is overwhelming and you feel like you can't deal, don't worry — you don't have to right this second. Fiction is here to help. Novels can help you overcome a lot of what life has to throw at you — from breakups to stressful jobs to even that horrible sense of, "I don't know what I'm doing with my life and I'm halfway to 50!" Fiction can help you remember the good times by reminding you of the magical moments that can be found in everyday life. Books can also help you step outside of yourself so that you can see your situation with a new pair of eyes and gain a different perspective on it.
Leave your troubles behind and become someone else for a while with awesomely immersive fiction.
This is my most favorite book of all time. I read it in times when I need the comforting blanket of nostalgia to wrap me up and cradle me like a child. The story follows the Stoopling Brog who must embark on an adventure to save his realm from the encroaching darkness which brings with it a terrifying enemy: The bloodthirsty Gork. This is a true coming of age story that proves if we believe in ourselves we can accomplish incredible things.
The Book of Lost Things is another novel that will remain eternally on my list of favorite books. This book is a twisted fairytale of sorts. The plot follows David, whose father is seemingly moving on with his life after the death of David's mother. David's father re-marries and they soon have a baby, while David cannot let go of his grief. His sorrow becomes all encompassing and he retreats into his imagination in an effort to cope with his loss. However, things start to take a strange turn as David's reality and imagination appear to meld into one. Much like The Wizard of Oz, this is a metaphor-heavy tale, and David learns many lessons throughout his adventure. Depending on what freaks you out, this may not be a good book to read before bed, but having said that, it will definitely help you forget your troubles.
I was instantly immersed in A Clockwork Orange in a way in which I had never experienced thanks entirely to the novel's use of language. Author Anthony Burgess has invented an incredibly realistic, yet initially cryptic slang which his protagonists use throughout. As a lover of language and quite a curious person, it drew me right in. Set in a not too distant dystopian future, this gang of teens go on a rampage, attacking and pillaging anything and anyone they desire. However main man Alex is imprisoned and is forced to undergo the Ludovico Technique in an attempt to turn him into a law-abiding citizen. A Clockwork Orange made me change the way I saw the world and is a truly compelling read.
4. One Day
To be honest, I'm not usually a fan of romantic novels, but One Day hooked me in right from the start. The story follows Dexter and Emma, who meet at university and after their graduation ceremony and end up spending the night together. At the beginning it appears that they go their separate ways, but the book follows an unusual style in that each chapter peeks into the same day (July 15) of their lives and follows them for 20 consecutive years. As with a lot of relationships, they appear in each others' lives as friends, then as lovers, and as the reader you are constantly guessing if they will end up together at the end. This is an awesome book to forget about whatever's going on in your life, as you're too busy getting wrapped up in the character's lives.
I am currently reading Talon, and finding it really difficult to put down. This book follows Ember Hill and her brother Dante who are dragons in hiding. They grew up under the influence of the Talon organization, which is comprised of dragons, who wish to take over the world by masquerading as humans and infiltrating themselves into positions of power and authority. Yes, it sounds a little out there, but it's a great story that fuses together secret agent themes, fantasy threads, and realistic romances with endearing characters to top it all off. It's a perfect book to get lost in for an afternoon or two.
I would never have entertained this book if I hadn't been forced to read it for a university assignment. My class was learning about investigative journalism and were assigned In Cold Blood as a reading assignment. My overactive imagination and easily spooked self were not keen on the fact that this book centered around the murder of a family and more importantly, that it was a journalistic reconstruction of real life events. However, I began to read it and I found that instead of being too horrified to turn the pages, I simply couldn't put it down. In Cold Blood is, IMO, a literary work of art.
7. Deep Blue
This book was not what I was expecting at all, which just goes to show you should never judge a book by its cover, which at first seemed a little cheesy to me. I was blown away by the descriptive writing and the way in which Donnelly managed to weave a world which seemed so real I felt I could dive right in. Deep Blue follows mermaid Serafina, the next in line to the throne of Miromara, who is about to marry her childhood sweetheart, who is a prince of a neighboring underwater realm. However, things take a disastrous turn when her city falls under attack. This is a great take on a mermaid tale, and I love the feminist roles undertaken by the gang of (mer)girls taking action and transforming into heroines.
8. Black Hole
Black Hole is technically a graphic novel, but nonetheless still an excellent novel to get lost in. Black Hole is set in the '70s and follows a bunch of suburban teenagers who seem normal until they realize a sexually transmitted disease is causing them to change. The disease affects each teen differently, in extremely unusual ways and it forces many of them to feel outcast from society. The entire book, aside from the cover, is illustrated in a monochrome palette which I think helps the emphasis to stay on the storyline and the occasional symbolic, metaphorical illustration therein. Black Hole is a gripping, sci-fi style story that allows the reader to read between the lines so to speak.
As a huge fan of Neil Gaiman since reading Coraline — if you've not read the book or seen the movie, I highly recommend both — I was really excited to get my paws on Neverwhere. It is only now that I have realized this was Gaiman's debut novel, and what a debut it was. The story surrounds Richard, a young man living in London who, in an Alice in Wonderland type fashion, ends up being spirited away to London Below, an odd parallel realm that is very different to the real London Above. Richard meets an array of intriguing characters on his quest through this dark world that mirrors the true London as he tries to find his way back to reality. It is one of the most magical and gripping books I've ever read.
Whether you're having a tough day or just need to unwind, reading is an excellent way to relax in a healthy, peaceful, and pretty much totally free way. It's hard to beat, especially when you choose from one of these books to take your mind off of things.