These books take you to other worlds and make you feel different from ours. (Photo: Amazon)
Looking for sweet, sweet escapism? There’s nothing like getting lost in a book so immersive that when you turn the last page, it takes you a moment to adjust to your own reality. Books so captivating you’ll be daydreaming about them long after you’ve recommended them to everyone you meet.
All the books here are otherworldly in some way. Some feature fantastical worlds full of high-stakes adventures, others are set in a world similar to ours but where something is out of order, and there are a few on this list that explore themes so deep they can only be described as transcendental.
Whether you’re looking to travel to Italy, Japan, or another world or time, each of these reads transports you to another place entirely. There are some that will make you laugh, others that will make you cry. One thing is for sure, each read on this list will make you look at our own world differently.
So what are you waiting for? Dive in and find your next favorite read.
Paper Girls by Brian K Vaughan
Do you like weird things? Then you’ll love this comic from the bestselling writer behind the Saga and Y The Last Man comics. The story follows four 12-year-old “paper girls” – Erin, Mac, KJ and Tiff – who set out on a journey in the early hours after Halloween 1988. Amidst the chaos of the night, our protagonists are thrown into an adventure of mischief. of time travel. The series was recently adapted for TV by Amazon Studios, but for those looking to experience the magic of the books first, there’s no better time to devour this mind-blowing comic book.
queen of mermaids by Nghi Vo
Were you mesmerized by the enchantment of Erin Morgenstern’s The Night Circus and the glamor of Taylor Jenkins Reid’s The Seven Husbands Of Evelyn Hugo? Then you will fall in love with it. Siren Queen transports readers to reimagined old Hollywood, a place where bargains can be made in blood and monsters are real. We follow Luli Wei, a Chinese-American girl who comes of age, yearning for stardom. But at what cost? While Luli wants to be immortalized on the big screen, this riveting tale ensures she will forever live on in readers’ minds.
If cats disappeared from the world of Genki Kawamura
An essential addition to the bookshelf of anyone who loves fiction in translation. Our narrator is a 30-year-old Japanese postman who discovers that his days are numbered. But then the Devil appears and makes a special offer: he will grant you an extra day of life in exchange for making one thing disappear from the world. This short but powerful book is the kind that offers something new to the reader every time they pick it up. But it will always make you question – and appreciate – the things that make life worth living.
Legendborn by Tracy Deonn
Filled with Black Girl Magic, this urban fantasy for young adults offers a modern retelling of the legend of King Arthur. Mourning the loss of her mother, our protagonist, Bree, discovers a secret society of ‘Legendborn’ that hunts demons that feed on human energies. There begins an epic quest as a magical war rages. This fast-paced book is full of exciting twists and world-building, all while managing to explore themes of love, grief, and ancestral pain. With the highly anticipated sequel Bloodmarked due out in November, there’s no better time to pick this one.
(Photo: AscentXmedia via Getty Images)
Exit West by Mohsin Hamid
This is a love story that follows Nadia and Saeed, who are opposites in almost every way but find each other as their country teeters on the brink of war and disaster. As the violence escalates, mysterious doors begin to appear that can transport people to unknown locations, but come at a price. This moving tale blends reality with fairy tale, offering an unforgettable story of love and hope. If you wish to have your faith in humanity restored, you will definitely want to get this one.
Lakelore by Anna-Marie McLemore
This fantastical tale comes from the award-winning author who brought us The Mirror Season, and is told through the dual perspective of two neurodivergent, non-binary Mexican-American teenagers as they navigate a capable world. Their lives intertwine as they are pulled into a magical realm under a lake. But will they be able to keep their heads above water in the world outside the lake? This is a stunning read about friendship, love and self-acceptance.
From Scratch: A Memoir of Love, Sicily, and Finding Home by Tembi Locke
Get your tissues ready. This memoir follows the love-at-first-sight romance between Tembi and her future husband Saro on a street in Florence and the life they build together with their daughter (despite her Sicilian family’s disapproval of their interracial relationship). We follow Tembi from Tuscany to Los Angeles and on to Sicily – the latter is where she unexpectedly finds healing at her mother-in-law’s dinner table. This story proves that love, pain and food are languages that transcend barriers and remind us to savor the taste of life.
Bitter by Akwaeke Emezi
If you’ve fallen in love with Emezi’s YA hit debut novel, Pet, or dropped under their radar, you’ll want to pick up its prequel Bitter. In this novel, we follow our title character trying to survive in the city of Lucille, a place that has many parallels to ours, but with a touch of magical realism. It is full of injustice – where young people are dying in the fight for a better world. As an artist, Bitter doesn’t think he has a role to play in the revolution, but art can also be a form of resistance.
The Fifth Season of NK Jemisin
This is the first book in The Broken Earth trilogy, which has won the Hugo Award for three years in a row. It’s a perfect read for fans of Octavia E Butler and Ursula K Le Guin. We follow Essun, a mother in search of her daughter as the world crumbles. Through masterful world-building and an unreliable second-person narrator, Jemisin weaves a postapocalyptic sci-fi/fantasy novel that transports readers to The Stillness. This is a world that always meets catastrophic endings. A page-turner from start to finish.
Wonderbook: The Illustrated Guide to Creating Imaginative Fiction by Jeff Vandermeer
This one is for any aspiring authors reading. Instead of typical writing guides that are mired with rigid formulas, this book is filled with maps, illustrations, and exercises that spark the reader’s imagination and provide the tools to create their own worlds from scratch. Vandermeer also shares examples of his own fiction in draft and finished versions. This guide stays practical, while keeping things fun – making it an essential companion for anyone looking to nurture their own love of writing.
This article was originally published on HuffPost UK and has been updated.