Look, I'm not suggesting that anyone spends the next four years with their head in the sand. If you're terrified and/or wildly depressed by the recent election results, there are many ways to channel your anxiety into positive action. But we can't spend the next four years weeping softly into our Facebook newsfeeds, either. There's nothing wrong with taking some time to take care of yourself. And, if you're a book lover, that starts with reading books to take you out of the real world (because we all know that it's way too much right now).
So-called "escapist" fiction gets a bad rap most of the time. People regard high fantasy, space adventures, and the insultingly titled genre of "chick lit" as silly and somehow less serious than "real" literature. But cheering people up is a perfectly worthy cause. Feeling overwhelmed and defeated by the world's problems rarely leads to positive change. We can't keep fighting if we don't have hope, and we can't have hope if we don't take a few minutes to read about friendly aliens every once in a while.
Take a break. Take a breath. Take a mental vacation to a far-off land for an hour or two, because we all deserve some brain candy right now:
1. Saga by Brian K. Vaughan, art by Fiona Staples
If everyone was reading Saga right now, I truly believe that the world would be a better place. Saga is one part Star Wars, one part Romeo and Juliet, and one part wholly original. With stunning art and inventive world-building, Saga tells the story of one young family traversing a strange and war-torn galaxy in search of a peaceful life.
2. A Knight of the Seven Kingdoms by George R.R. Martin
If A Song of Ice and Fire feels a little too complex and violent for you right now, try A Knight of the Seven Kingdoms. This collection of the three "Dunk and Egg" novellas tells the tale of an unlikely pair of heroes in Westeros, nearly a hundred years before any of that Game of Thrones nonsense. It's pure fantasy adventure, with two of the most likable protagonists GRRM has ever penned.
3. Bridget Jones' Diary by Helen Fielding
Not all escapism has to involve noble knights or inter-galactic warfare. Sometimes it's as simple as stepping inside the head of a wickedly funny British woman who's trying to quit smoking, find love, and learn how to program a VCR (yes, this was back in the simple days when VCRs and love still existed). Times have changed, but Bridget's humor is forever.
4. Howl’s Moving Castle by Diana Wynne Jones
It's quite different from the beautiful Miyazaki film, but it's still a brilliant book. Howl's Moving Castle is the sort of fairy tale that adults can appreciate, too. Young Sophie has accepted her hum drum life as a hat-maker, but when a spell transforms her into an old woman, she must brave the odd world of wizards, fire demons, and moving castles if she ever wants to return to normal.
5. Is Everyone Hanging Out Without Me? And Other Concerns by Mindy Kaling
Sure, it's not strictly fiction, but Mindy Kaling is so delightfully funny that it's impossible to stay sad about the state of the republic while reading her memoir. Kaling shares stories from her comedy career and ruminates on rom-com stereotypes in this cheerful, witty book of essays.
6. Good Omens by Neil Gaiman and Terry Pratchett
A fantastical comedy about the end of the world? It's a lot more fun than it sounds, I promise. As the end of days approaches, and the four horse-people of the apocalypse begin their ride, one very anxious angel and one very cool demon must find the misplaced anti-christ and put a stop to the increasingly ridiculous war between the forces of good and evil.
7. The Princess Bride by William Goldman
Swashbuckling, sword fighting, miracles, revenge, giants, true love, larger than average rodents—what more could you possibly want out of a book? The Princess Bride is a wonderfully tongue-in-cheek send up of the fantasy genre, but it will nonetheless force you to care about Buttercup, Westley, and their gloriously true love.
8. Midnight Robber by Nalo Hopkinson
Tan-tan lives on the Caribbean-colonized planet of Toussaint, and she loves nothing more than to dress up as the mythical Robber Queen for Carnival festivities. But when she and her father are banished to a bleak and brutal new planet, filled with deadly dangers, she must find a way to actually become the fabled Robber Queen of legend... or die trying.
9. The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy by Douglas Adams
Do you kind of, just a little bit, feel like blowing up the Earth and hitchhiking across the galaxy instead? Then join the reluctant Arthur Dent, Marvin the Paranoid Android, and a host of other absurd characters for a deeply silly, utterly inspired trip through the cosmos. Don't forget your towel.
10. A Wrinkle in Time by Madeleine L'Engle
A Wrinkle in Time is one of those books that never really leaves you once you've read it. It's a kid-friendly adventure through space and reality, sure. And Meg Murry is one of the most realistic, most math-positive young women in literature, true. But even beyond all that, A Wrinkle in Time is about the power of love, and the triumph of good over evil, and that's something we could all use some more of in the real world, too.