Reading for me is, above all, an escape. Not necessarily from this reality, though. I prefer to visit other universes or realms but even a slight change in scenery (a different continent, a different decade) will do just fine.
The following books have stayed in my mind for years. They make me reexamine the art of world-building, both in writing and the kind that unfolds inside thoughts. The world looks different each time I read.
by Richard Adams
The Premise: After Fiver has a vision of his neighborhood in flames, he and his friend, Hazel, try to rally their community to leave before the inevitable tragedy strikes. They have little success, but some choose to follow the pair. Their journey to find a new home is long and full of horror and revelations of what each character is capable of surviving.
The Escape: They’re rabbits. Don’t let that prevent you from reading this classic. I had the luxury of discovering this book as a child, so this fact didn’t bother me or remove the possibility of empathizing with their plight. What the rabbits experience reminded me so much of the Lord of the Rings Trilogy, with memorable characters, a harrowing adventure, and the search for a place that will give them peace.
by Amelia Atwater-Rhodes
The Premise: Danica only wants her family to be happy. And, well, alive. They have been at war for many years and thousands on both sides have lost their lives to what she views as pointless and avoidable death. Zane is on the other side of the conflict but feels the same. They’ll do anything to end the massacres. Anyone familiar with romantic storylines knows where this is going, but the road there is worth traversing.
The Escape: They’re shapeshifters. Danica can morph into a hawk, Zane a cobra. Their species have definitive and negative views on each other, with Avian beings having cold and impenetrable reserve when killing, and the Serpiente being sensual murderers with red eyes. This first chapter in a series lasting five books introduces you fully to another world, and you’ll keep coming back for more.
Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society
by Mary Ann Shaffer
The Premise: When Juliet receives a letter from a stranger who has stumbled upon a copy of a book that she put her address in years before, her life changes. The stranger, Dawsey, would like to know more about the author of the book. But Juliet wants to know more about Dawsey, and more about the curiously named Society. What follows is a whirlwind of mysteries, secrets, and love.
The Escape: They’re in 1940s UK. While this does not seem like such a faraway time or place, the setting comes into play in powerful ways while contrasting their lives before, during, and after Nazi occupation of Guernsey. The war affected Juliet as well, as she lived through the bombings of London. The ways we attempt to heal are explored throughout this novel, and writing itself is shown as a coping mechanism for Juliet when the stories she unearths in Guernsey threaten to tear her apart.