I’m a sucker for a book that completely removes you from your life. One that you can be enamoured with, totally lose yourself in and completely escape with. I’ve been an avid reader for as long as I can remember so I’ve read my fair share and one genre I keep returning to, not matter what age I am, is books that flirt with the supernatural/fantasy/history and the deepest of mysteries.
Sounds like your cup of tea? All of the books on this list I’ve read at least twice and I will read anything these authors throw in my direction. Finding a book that you can have a genuine connection with and find that others love too can be quite tricky but I think these books will allow you to totally escape whilst make excellent discussion points.
My ultimate favourite childhood book, The Hobbit is the perfect escape. It thrusts you into the magical world of Middle Earth to sashay through hobbits, elves, dwarves, wizards, orcs and goblins – not to mention Smaug! I’m a huge fan of J. R. R. Tolkien’s work but The Hobbit continues to be my favourite thanks to the simplicity of it. Whilst The Lord of the Rings is an epic quest of good vs evil, The Hobbit is a good old-fashioned adventure that anyone can get on board with.
I’ve always pondered over what race I would be in the Middle Earth world, my head tells me I’d be a hobbit but my heart screams elf. You can completely immerse yourself in this book – forget about your problems and instead worry about those of Bilbo Baggin’s. This cast of characters is one of my favourites in any book I’ve ever read as there is someone for everyone to relate to – regardless of the fantasy element of the book.
If you read this & love it, The Lord of the Rings should be your next stop and the Peter Jackson movies of LOTR and The Hobbit will both satisfy your thirst for more. The Hobbit tells a courageous tale of one small unsuspecting hobbit being roped into a dazzling quest to recover a lost homeland and treasure by a wizard and band of dwarves from a mighty dragon.
How could I chat about books that help you to escape and not mention the HP series? One of the first series I read that I fell head over in heels with, Harry, Ron and Hermione continue to be sources of relief for me. All of my copies are extremely worn out and exhausted but that shows true love in a book. My Deathly Hallows is held together with cellotape!
If you want taken on the ultimate journey of self-discovery and you have somehow lived with your head under a rock, Harry Potter has to be for you. No matter how many times I read them, I can always go back for me. My personal favourite book is Harry Potter & the Goblet of Fire whilst my favourite chapter is ‘The Flaw In The Plan’ from Harry Potter & the Deathly Hallows. You get to follow titular character on the most magical adventures after he survives an attempted execution by Lord Voldemort – introducing you to the wonder of Hogwarts, friendship, family and good vs. evil.
The Distant Hours
This is probably my favourite book in the world. Very Big Praise, I know. I first came into contact with it in a close reading paper during Standard Grade English – given a two page except and I knew I had to find the book. I then picked up a book off my mum’s bedside tale, read the blurb and the first page and realised it was the one. I haven’t looked back from Kate Morton since.
Whilst all of her books are special due to the intricate mysteries woven through time and place, The Distant Hours holds a special place in my heart as it was my first taste of her world. It follows the journey of Edie investigating the place where her mother was an evacuee, the spooky Milderhurst Castle and her stay with the mysterious sisters Blythe.But the past soon comes forward to reveal its secrets. If you read this & enjoy, Kate Morton’s other books: The Forgotten Garden, The Lake House, The Secret Keeper and The House At Riverton don’t disappoint.
In a similar style to Kate Morton, Kate Mosse’s Labyrinth takes on the same kind of time travelling adventure with the past spiralling into the present. Set in southern France, both in the present and the 1200s during the time of the Albigensian Crusades, Labyrinth weaves an intricate and confusing tale of two heroines bound by the same quest but separated by time. I found the historical aspect of Labyrinth very intriguing as I’ve studied this in a module last semester so felt I was really able to relate to the story.
It also features around one of the most elusive elements of history, the Holy Grail, which embedded a further clause to the secretiveness of the story. Combined with the romantic setting of southern France, Labyrinth is a spell-binding tale. I’ve also read Sepulchre by Kate Mosse which doesn’t disappoint and I picked it up for £1 in a charity shop, an added bonus.
Swallows and Amazons
A children’s book might not be your ideal reading escape but Swallows and Amazons in my opinion is a story that can be enjoyed by anyone. I didn’t actually read it for the first time until 2016 when the film was released – completely overlooking it in my childhood years. I read it whilst lounging on a beach in Spain and was completely enthralled by the idea of outdoor paradise on the lake in the English countryside.
I benefitted from an extremely outdoorsy childhood thanks to growing up on the farm and mischief that the children in Swallows and Amazons get up to made me remember my own adventures with my little sister and our friends. This is a different kind of escape: it let me think childlike for a while and forget about the associated groans of being an adult (well, kind of) for a little while by totally turning back the clock.
Miss Peregrine’s Home For Peculiar Children
I really didn’t think I would enjoy this gorgeous series by Ransom Riggs – stories of ‘peculiar children’ with a collection of disturbing photographs as I was terrified by the rated 12 film trailer of the adaption. However, I was pleasantly surprised and was completely absorbed by this book.
It has a real mystical element – moving from time and magic but still with a sense of reality. I loved the grown up approach to children’s stories and the individual characteristics of each character really shone through. Riggs is a superb storyteller and I found myself completely spellbound by the tale unfolding in front of me. As of writing this, I’ve just picked up the third and final book in the series and I can’t wait to read it.
The Shakespeare Secret
I borrowed this book from my ex-flatmate and I haven’t returned it. Bad of me but that speaks volume for how incredible this book is – I couldn’t bare to part with it.* There is a similar tone to the works of Kate Mosse and Kate Morton in this book by J. L. Carrell as it works with the past and present in a connected setting.
Following the heroine Kate Stanley where the works of Shakespeare are instrumental in solving a mystery – or the reason for the murders to be happening in the first place – this book combines mystery, suspense, romance and history in one beautiful book. It is the beginning of series as well so plenty more of Kate Stanley to sink your teeth into …
*Disclaimer – didn’t intend to steal it, it happened unintentionally.
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