Every so often you stumble across the book that whips you right out of reality and pulls you in. I’m talking about the kind of book that leaves you at the very end of the subway line with no memory of how you got there, because you totally missed your stop and didn’t notice. I’m talking about finding you have 67 missed calls because you were reading in bed and forgot to meet your mom for brunch. I’m talking super inconvenient, addictive, exhausting books that mess up your schedule and your social life and leave you bereft and heartbroken when they end. They’re just great, aren’t they? Here are 13 books to get completely, marvelously lost in. Apologies in advance to anyone with whom you made plans. They're screwed.
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'The 100-Year-Old Man Who Climbed Out of the Window and Disappeared' by Jonas Jonasson
This is Sweden’s answer to Forrest Gump, and it’s completely ridiculous. When Allan Karlsson escapes from his nursing home on his 100th birthday and inadvertently steals a suitcase full of drug money, he nonchalantly begins the most charming crime spree since Thelma and Louise.
'Find Me' by Laura van den Berg
Novels about pandemics are as commonplace as films about vampires, but van den Berg still manages to do something new. The post-apocalyptic setting is used as a powerful way to explore memory, loss, and abandonment.
'The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry' by Rachel Joyce
'The Princess Bride' by William Goldman
The film of The Princess Bride has a massive cult following, and there are few people left alive who don’t know how to finish the sentence “Hello, my name is Inigo Montoya”. But trust me when I say (as someone who will proudly admit to having watched The Princess Bride more than 100 times) — the book is even better.
'Treasure Island' by Robert Louis Stevenson
Before Pirates of the Caribbean, there was Treasure Island. The world created by this action-packed children’s book is the reason we think pirates have wooden legs, carry parrots on their shoulders, and mark treasure on maps with an ‘X’.
'Nobody Is Ever Missing' by Catherine Lacey
As Elyria tries, unsuccessfully, to lose herself on a journey through New Zealand, you’ll have much better luck losing yourself into her story. Nobody Is Ever Missing immerses you so totally in the mind of its protagonist that you’ll struggle to emerge back into reality.
'The Uncommon Reader' by Alan Bennett
The Uncommon Reader is a short book, so you can plunge right in without the danger of forgetting to eat for three days. Its adorable premise is that the Queen of England discovers her local library, and gets so hooked on books that she stops attending any royal events. I must say, I can’t blame her.
'Night Film' by Marisha Pessl
You might be forgiven for thinking that Night Film is not a novel at all, but a mystery for you to solve. It refuses to be bound to the page, prompting readers to unlock extra content using an app on their phones. Getting lost in Pessl’s world isn’t a side effect of this book, it’s the only way to read it.
'Peter and Wendy' by J. M. Barrie
When J. M. Barrie adapted his successful play Peter Pan into a book, the results were absolutely enchanting. His writing is poignant but quirkily funny, bringing Neverland to glorious life for you to dive in and explore.
'Apple Tree Yard' by Louise Doughty
'The Magician's Nephew' by C. S. Lewis
Adults are often revisiting the beloved The Lion, The Witch, and the Wardrobe, but there’s no need to stay in Narnia when C. S. Lewis created a whole multiverse to get lost in. The Magician’s Nephew tells the story of Narnia’s creation amongst an infinity of other worlds, 1,000 years before the Pevensie children ever stepped through the magical wardrobe.
'I Capture the Castle' by Dodie Smith
I Capture the Castle tells the story of the Mortmain children, living in romanticized poverty in a crumbling castle. The narrator, Cassandra Mortmain, is so naïvely, selfishly, hopefully real that you can’t help but view her and her whole family as dearest friends.
'The Little House' by Philippa Gregory
The Little House is massively reminiscent of the gothic novella The Yellow Wallpaper that is a staple of so many literature courses, and its portrayal of a woman pushed towards insanity by an unbending enforcement of gender roles is every bit as frightening.
'The Art of Hearing Heartbeats' by Jan-Philipp Sendker
Losing yourself in this love story between a blind young boy and a crippled young girl will give you a whole new way to see the world — one in which heartbeats can be heard. It’s a tragic story, but its view of the world is pretty beautiful.
'S' by Doug Dorst
Everything about S was designed to get lost in; it was even conceived by J. J. Abrams, the guy behind Lost. S is made up of a novel, The Ship of Theseus, designed to look like an old library book with hand-written annotations — and letters, postcards, and maps slipped in between the pages. The story is weaved throughout all of these, as well as scattered over Internet forums; you’ll get so lost in this world, you may never find your way back out.