10 incredible novels that are perfect for escaping reality

August 03, 2023

When you’re having a bad day, how do you escape and relax? A novel could be the perfect way to forget about your troubles and explore a whole new world.

According to the Guardian, 1 in 3 people say books offer the best form of escapism, second only to watching TV. Picking up a book and losing yourself in the pages can provide a great way to escape from everyday routines and challenges.

So, if you’re looking for your next read, here are 10 incredible novels to consider.

1. Victory City by Salman Rushdie

Former Booker Prize winner Salman Rushdie returned to bestseller lists with his latest novel Victory City. The epic combines his usual magical realism and historical context, this time the setting is 15th-century India. After witnessing the death of her mother, nine-year-old Pampa Kampana becomes a vessel for a goddess and is granted powers beyond her comprehension. She’s told she’ll be instrumental in the rise of a great city, Bisnaga.

2. The Seven Moons of Maali Almeida by Shehan Karunatilaka

Winner of the 2022 Booker Prize, The Seven Moons of Maali Almeida is a unique novel that will give you a glimpse into the recent history of Sri Lanka. The titular character is a dead photographer who sets out to solve the mystery of his own death in just a week. Karunatilaka brilliantly combines satire and humour with thoughts on the after-life and the brutal civil war of Sri Lanka.

3. Lessons in Chemistry by Bonnie Garmus

Bonnie Garmus won Waterstones’ Author of the Year in 2022 after her debut novel, Lessons in Chemistry, became a bestseller. The smart and funny novel follows unconventional chemist Elizbeth Zott in the early 1960s as she navigates working in a male-dominated environment and becomes the reluctant star of a beloved cooking show. While teaching housewives to cook, she dares them to change the status quo too.

4. The Whalebone Theatre by Joanna Quinn

This coming-of-age story set in the shadow of the oncoming second world war will transport you to another era. When a whale washes up on a beach in Dorset, a twelve-year-old girl with a vivid imagination claims the bones. As the children living in an old English manor house grow up, they find themselves cast into roles they never expected to play as war takes centre stage.

5. A Stroke of the Pen by Terry Pratchett

The creator of the successful Discworld series, Terry Pratchett delighted readers with his imagination and satirical fantasy. The Stroke of the Pen is a final collection of short stories from the award-winning author. These stories are from Pratchett’s early career when he wrote under a pseudonym for newspapers in the 1970s and 1980s, and they hint towards the world he would later build in his novels.

6. Old Babes in the Wood by Margaret Atwood

This collection of short stories from acclaimed author Margaret Atwood is perfect for when you want a complete tale in one sitting. Old Babes in the Wood features a great cast of characters you’ll want to learn more about, from the author of Animal Farm George Orwell to an alien tasked with retelling human fairy tales.

7. In Memoriam by Alice Winn

In Memoriam tells the love story of two soldiers in the first world war. Two friends sign up to fight in the war, one to protect his mother from anti-German attacks, and the other spurred on by a love of Greek heroes and romantic ideas about war. In the trenches together, they share fleeting moments of solace as the fighting takes its toll and claims their classmates.

8. Demon Copperhead by Barbara Kingsolver

Demon Copperhead is a retelling of Charles Dicken’s David Copperfield set in Appalachia, US, in the 1990s. It tells the story of a boy born to a single mother in a trailer as he battles loss, addiction, success, and love. The unflinching look at modern perils will leave you wishing you could guide Demon through the hardships he faces. This novel was shortlisted for a host of awards and won the Pulitzer Prize for Fiction 2023.

9. Holly by Stephen King

One of Stephen King’s most resourceful characters is back. Holly Gibney is on a thrilling ride to solve the gruesome truth behind multiple disappearances in a Midwestern town. When Penny Dahl calls the Finders Keepers detective agency, Holly is reluctant to accept the case, but something desperate in Penny’s voice makes it impossible for Holly to turn her down. She soon needs all of her talents to outwit two professors that are hiding a secret in their well-kept home.

10. The Passenger by Cormac McCarthy

Renowned for his stark novels, The Passenger is one of Cormac McCarthy’s last stories to be published after the author passed away in 2022. Bobby Western’s father developed the atomic bomb, and he’s haunted by this and his inability to save his sister, Alicia, from suicide. As an adult, Bobby is a salvage diver that’s sent to recover any survivors from a submerged plane, which leads to him being engulfed in a mystery. A companion novel, Stella Maris, tells the story of Alicia.