9 Escapist Novels From 2018 That Will Take Your Mind Off Your Worries
When there's a lot going on in the world or your life, it can give you the urge to escape. To close your laptop, walk out of your office/flat/entire life and into the sunset. It's a pretty drastic option and while, yeah, it might seem plausible when you're tagging your friends in existential crisis memes, unfortunately that's just not what being a big grown up looks like. So, short of figuratively burning everything to the ground, what can you do when your brain needs a break? I’ve selective nine excellent escapist novels to take your mind off your worries.
Reading can provide you with a change of scenery and time away from troublesome thoughts. But it's not just a distraction, taking a break from your universe and plunging headfirst into someone else's can do wonders for your mental health. A 2009 study by the University of Sussex found that reading reduced participants' stress levels by 68 percent, and was the most effective method of stress-reduction when compared with listening to music, having a cup of tea, or walking. Dr David Lewis who conducted the research told The Telegraph, "By losing yourself in a thoroughly engrossing book you can escape from the worries and stresses of the everyday world and spend a while exploring the domain of the author's imagination."
And it makes sense that reading something especially far removed from your own life could help heighten that sense of relaxation. So whether it's an easy read set in a romantic location, a fantasy series from another planet, or a sci-fi novel that sends you flying into the future, here are some of the best new escapist releases that will transport you to an entirely different place or time.
If you like your fantasy eerily plausible with a subtle magical edge then "The Mermaid And Mrs Hancock" is for you. While yes it's about mermaids, it's also about our not-so-supernatural urges, and the desire to be successful, loved, and looked after. Set in London in the 1780s, it follows two characters from different worlds brought together by the otherworldly creature and explores the unexpected impact it has on their lives.
If you haven't read "The Essex Serpent": then put that at the top of your reading list. If you have and missed Sarah Perry's gothic musings on pain and pleasure ever since, then you'll be delighted to hear that the author's third novel "Melmoth" is out this October and delves into similar themes in a different setting. Instead of 1890s London, the reader starts in the present day and journeys back through time. Yep, there's nothing to make you forget your worries like a bit of time travel. Just ask Jodie Whittaker.
Although there are definitely some parallels between this tale of Queen Briseis' fall from power (she loses her kingdom and ends up enslaved to the man who killed her family) and the very modern injustices done to women that happen everyday, it's set far back enough in time, I'm talking 1180 BC, that its lessons feel poignant without being overbearing. Especially if you're in a fragile state of mind. It's a retelling of one of the best-known Greek myths, but if you're not a classics fan, don't let that put you off. Barker has adapted the tale specifically to give its forgotten women a voice and the chance to forge their own paths, which makes for seriously inspiring reading.
There's nothing quite like the relationship you have with your nan is there? And Natasha Lester's latest novel has the same soothing effect as a visit to your grandparents, (although you'll have to provide the cups of tea and slices of cake yourself). It focuses on the relationship between a grandmother and a granddaughter, telling their own stories in their own times with sparks of connection across the generations. In the 1940s seamstress Estella Bissette flees France to escape the German invasion, determined to make it as a designer and establish her own atelier in America. Fast forward to 2015 and Fabienne Bissette travels from Sydney to New York to learn more about her grandmother's work, but quickly finds herself wrapped up in the mystery of Estella's past.
If you ever dream of giving up all your worldly possessions and going to live in the mountains, Killing Commendatore is probably about as close as you can get without having to learn how to start a campfire. Murakami's latest novel follows down on his luck artist Tomohiko Amada who escapes to his wealthy friend's mountain retreat after his wife abandons him. Ok, so maybe it's a little more glam than your average hiking trip. While there, Tomohiko discovers a painting in the attic that sets in motion a series of intriguing circumstances.
LL McKinney's fantasy novel reimagines the classic "Alice In Wonderland" story for a modern young adult audience. Instead of a largely helpless wanderer through Wonderland, here Alice is a warrior trained to fight the monstrous creatures of the world beyond the looking glass by night. By day the reader joins her in real-world Atlanta where her battles take a different form — school struggles, an overbearing mum, and a best friend who just doesn't get it. But these aren't the author's only updates for Lewis Caroll's fable — in McKinney's version Alice is black, which gives the book's politics an interesting edge, not to mention fills it to the brim with black girl magic.
If you're the kind of person who likes to take their mind off their cares by getting well and truly spooked, then you won't want to put "Fever Dream" down. It tells the story of Amanda and David who seem to share no connection other then the fact that they're both patients at the same hospital. But as Amanda begins to recount the events that led to her hospitalisation, things take a turn for the creepy and an eerie bond begins to develop between the pair.
The second in Marie Lu's epic sci-fi series, "Wildcard" rejoins heroine Emika Chen as she struggles to recover from the Warcross Championships. But she doesn't have much time to bounce back from her close brush with death as she discovers someone has put a bounty on her head. To save her life and stop evil billionaire Hideo's potentially devastating plans, she must work together with the Phoenix Riders to forge an unexpected and dangerous alliance.
If you haven't already read Philip Pullman's prequel/sequel series to the legendary trilogy "His Dark Materials" then you're in for a treat. The book first came out last year and was filled with just as much adventure, magic, and mysterious occurrences as the original series, but it's only just been released in paperback. So not only will snapping it up now save you some money, you'll have less time to wait until the follow up arrives in a few months' time than everyone who read it last year. I think that's what you call a win.