It’s summer time, and that means escapist books time. Let me explain my reasoning.

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Escapist Books

Original photo by Wil Stewart
Even though I’m a grown up and I work during the summer (mostly, I’m a college instructor so I do get a whole month off), I still like to read books that offer up an escape from my daily life just like I did when I was a kid. I have so many vivid memories of curling up on my bed under the air conditioning vent and just reading all day. Or trying to read out in the backyard to tan my legs a little before the Oklahoma summer heat became too oppressive.

But regardless of where I was, I was always reading books that took me way the hell out of Oklahoma. These were books that I could get lost in. They were the sort of books that make you feel like you’re somewhere else.

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So, it’s with that in mind that I give you my list of escapist books. May these tomes find their way into your beach bag.

Escapist Books

Mr. Penumbra’s 24-Hour Bookstore by Robin Sloan

This book was a joy, and I think it will be a joy for anyone who loves quirky used book stores. I remember reading this one in a day, and just really enjoying it. The book follows Clay, a web designer in San Francisco who loses his job in the Great Recession. He takes the night shift at Mr. Penumbra’s 24-Hour Bookstore to make ends meet, and discovers something weird about the behavior of Mr. Penumbra’s customers. I won’t say anything else, but if you like a fast-paced story unraveling before you, I can’t recommend this one enough.

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The Savior’s Champion by Jenna Moreci

I got to read this book for free as a member of Jenna Moreci’s street team, and I’m so glad I did. If you’re looking for a refreshing take on dark fantasy, this is it. The relationships are healthy and the setting and premise feel so fresh and intriguing. If you want to add some indie authors to your list of escapist books for the summer, this is the book you need to add.

Jonathan Strange and Mr Norrell by Susanna Clark

If you enjoyed Harry Potter and His Majesty’s Dragon, I think this book is like the halfway point between those two ideas. This story combines elements of history and fairy stories, and just general Britishness. It’s also a delightful BBC miniseries, so you can read this and then binge the miniseries.

You by Caroline Kepnes

Have you ever wanted to get inside the head of a killer? If no, then this is not your book. You follows Joe Goldberg, a bookstore employee in New York City. When a cute, young MFA student shows up in his store, he immediately falls in love with her. What follows is Joe’s attempts to woo this young writer, and make her his forever. The pacing is great, and your desire to see where the story will lead makes it the sort of story you can get lost in.

In a Dark, Dark Wood by Ruth Ware

I have read so many reviews of this book that complain about how they knew what was going to happen all along. And while I can say that the motives were clear from the get go, I was so interested to see how the writer would achieve it. The story centers around a hen night (bachelorette party) at a cabin in the woods. The tension builds while you slowly learn the backstory of the characters’ friendship, and everything explodes with a very action-packed climax.

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Everything I Never Told You by Celeste Ng

I’m hesitant to put this book on the list, simply because it’s a very quiet sort of story. It follows a family as they navigate life after the middle daughter commits suicide. But the way the story unfolds reminds me of a whodunit, only you know all along. The way the writer releases information to the reader will keep you turning pages, and if you’re looking for an escape that doesn’t use thriller or fantasy elements, this one is for you.

A Discovery of Witches by Deborah Harkness

This book is book one in a series, and each book in the series is very long. But I haven’t felt so immersed in a story in such a long time. I recommend this one to any fan of the Outlander series, or to anyone who believes in witches. Also, if you daydream about spending hours in the Bodleian Library at Oxford University, this is the book that will take you there.

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(Hey! Looking for some nonfiction books instead? Don’t forget about these books for creatives, these habit building books, or these self-care books!)

Tell Me Your Favorite Escapist Books

Which books are you taking with you to the beach this year? What would you recommend for reading on a patio while sipping some sangria? Is there a book that really enables you to get an even tan on your legs while you read it in the backyard? What sort of book do you like to read while you’re soaking up the air conditioning? Let me know in the comments!

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