We all need to take a break now and then. No matter what your particular stressors are, it's always helpful to take a deep breath, drink some water, and scream senselessly into the void until you lose consciousness. Or, alternatively, you could pick up a book. Books are cheaper than most vacations, and they're helpful when it comes to relieving stress and pretending that you are literally anywhere else right now. So if life is starting to get to you, here are a few books to read when you need a serious break from reality.
I mean... there are just so many reasons to need a break right now. The American political system is a steadily growing trash fire that threatens to engulf our entire nation. The job market is tough, romance is dead, and student debt is sky high. They're taking Bob's Burgers off of Netflix. I don't suggest sticking your head in the sand and ignoring all of the world's problems, but I do think you need a break. A nice, long, luxurious break in which you actually sit down and read a book for fun. Reading is one of the best ways to unwind, after all. And all your problems will still be there when you come back. I promise.
1'If This Isn't Nice, What Is?' by Kurt Vonnegut
Call me sentimental, but I'm a sucker for an inspiring commencement address. If you need to take a minute to step back and focus on the positive things going on in your life, Kurt Vonnegut's graduation speeches are an absolute must read. Don't let his pessimistic sci-fi fool you: Vonnegut has a lot of encouraging words for people of every age and stage of life.
2'Good Omens' by Terry Pratchett and Neil Gaiman
Alternatively, you could take a time out with an absurdist book about the apocalypse. Good Omens is the hysterically funny tale of a very cool demon, a very anxious angel, and an entirely misplaced Antichrist, all trying to navigate the End of Times. There are also some horsemen and witches in the mix. It's sure to pull you out of your own life, and into a wonderfully weird world of theological mayhem.
3'Why Not Me?' by Mindy Kaling
Of course, not everyone likes to unwind with fantasy. Some people prefer to cackle to themselves over a hilarious showbiz memoir. Mindy Kaling is witty and frank, whether she's talking about Hollywood's unrealistic standards of beauty, cupcakes, or her soulmate style of friendship with B. J. Novak. Read her second memoir for inspiration, behind the scenes television secrets, and a whole lot of wickedly smart humor.
4'Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe' by Benjamin Alire Sáenz
Loners and romance and all the secrets of the universe. This isn't a book that'll whisk you off into a world full of elves and magic, but it will give you a lovely break in the form of two confused teenage boys forging a very particular friendship. The writing is beautifully captivating, and you'll find yourself laughing and crying too hard to worry about all those work emails you need to send.
5'What Is Not Yours Is Not Yours' by Helen Oyeyemi
Puppeteering school students, locked doors, and mystical diaries make up the strange and beautiful world of What Is Not Yours Is Not Yours. Each story in this collection stretches reality ever so slightly to explore love, grief and identity. This is a breathtaking collection of tales, and just magical enough to bring you out of the humdrum day-to-day.
6'The Princess Bride' by William Goldman
Sword fights! True love! Miracles! Rhymes! The Princess Bride is pure joy, from beginning to end. It manages to be a wry, humorous send up of the fantasy genre and a fun, swashbuckling fantasy adventure in its own right. Reading The Princess Bride is guaranteed to make you forget all about your own problems, in exchange for sword fights with pirates and daring escapes from rodents of unusual size.
7'The No. 1 Ladies' Detective Agency' by Alexander McCall Smith
There's nothing like a cozy mystery novel to help you forget all about your work drama and/or passive aggressive roommates. The No. 1 Ladies' Detective Agency introduces us to the the lovable and razor sharp Precious Ramotswe, Botswana’s premier lady detective. She's the ideal sleuth: perceptive, cheerful, and always in the mood for a cup of tea. This is a mystery perfectly suited to your favorite armchair.
8'The Eyre Affair' by Jasper Fforde
For an entirely different kind of mystery novel, how about the adventures of Thursday Next, literary detective? This is about as escapist as escapist fiction can get: a woman in an alternate version of England who has the ability to jump into books and hang out with literary characters. It's sort of like Douglas Adams meets Charlotte Brontë, in the best possible way.
9'Hark! A Vagrant' by Kate Beaton
For fans of history, literature, or just adorable drawings of Napoleon, Hark! A Vagrant is the book for you. You can read a couple pages on your study break, or lock yourself in the basement and read the whole thing when you need a serious pick-me-up. Either way, Kate Beaton delivers hilarity in her own, off-kilter style, riffing on history and art and Nancy Drew covers along the way.