Let's be real: the world is pretty stressful right now, and it's easy to feel overwhelmed and burned out. But no matter how bad it gets, we all need to give ourselves a break. Often the best thing you can do for yourself is unplug from life and take a mental break with a great book.
Books have always been there for me in the hardest times. No matter how awful the world is or how hopeless my life seems, I can always count on literature to help me through. The simple act of reading is therapeutic, and books' magical ability to transport you to a faraway land is sometimes exactly what I need. Books provide that perfect (and necessary) balance of comfort, adventure, and companionship, which is part of why reading is so special to me.
Here are eight books that make the perfect companions for when you just need to pull out of the world and relax. From beautiful poetry to hilarious adventures to feel-good stories, these books are sure to help you take it easy.
So give yourself some time to unwind. Laugh a little, think a little, and let yourself heal. Take care of yourself — you deserve it.
1. 'Life on Mars' by Tracy K. Smith
The poems in this Pulitzer Prize-winning collection are literally out of this world. Described in its jacket copy as a "soundtrack to the universe," Life on Mars, envisions a sci-fi future in a wonderfully ethereal way.
2. 'When Dimple Met Rishi' by Sandhya Menon
If you want to fall into a fun, rom-com YA, this is the perfect option. The heartfelt story of two Indian-American teenagers whose parents have arranged for them to be married, you'll absolutely adore the adventure they wind up on. This one isn't out until May 2017, but you can read an exclusive excerpt here at Bustle.
3. 'Pick Me Up' by Adam J. Kurtz
This book is meant to be written in and drawn on, providing uplifting prompts designed for self-care. This has been a big help to me personally on the days when I'm stressed, sad, or just looking for something fulfilling to do.
4. 'Nimona' by Noelle Stevenson
This graphic novel is 110% fun. The story of Nimona, a bloodthirsty teenage shapeshifter, who declares herself the sidekick of (not actually that evil) evil mastermind Lord Blackheart as he tries to take down the (actually evil) government. Filled with board games, science, and wild humor (i.e. shapeshifting into a shark just for the hell of it), this book will have you smiling all the way through.
5. 'Flash Fiction International: Very Short Stories from Around the World' edited by James Thomas, Robert Shapard, and Christopher Merrill
If you don't have the brain power to commit to an entire book, these short, short stories are just the thing! Even though they're little (often less than a page) they can really pack a punch, and this anthology represents some amazing stories from all around the world.
6. 'My Name is Cool: Stories from a Cuban-Irish-American Storyteller' by Antonio Sacre
Professional storyteller Antonio Sacre's infectious personality shines through in this collection of stories about his and his family's lives. An easy and fun read that everyone will find some connection with.
7. 'The Private Life of Mrs. Sharma' by Ratika Kapur
The colorful and brazen narrative voice of Mrs. Sharma will delight you to no end. Mrs. Sharma is a dutiful wife and mother living in Delhi while her husband raises savings in Dubai. But when she falls in with a stranger she meets on a train platform, she finds herself stepping out of the traditions she's always upheld.
8. 'My Lady Jane' by Cynthia Hand, Brodi Ashton, and Jodi Meadows
The collaboration of three superstar authors, My Lady Jane is a fun romp that seems to have nearly everything: comedy, romance, fantasy, and plenty of sass. Mixing fantastical elements with the story of real-life Lady Jane Grey, about to be married off and become the queen of England. A delightful play on history that every reader will adore.