In the grand scheme of things, we're moving in the right direction: Covid cases are down, things are opening up, and slowly but surely, our community is grooving into a new normal, a little older, a little wiser, and a lot more appreciative of the people working to hard every day to make life feel "normal." Yet even in the most optimistic of times, I need the occasional pause. My mom describes the feeling as "stop the world, I want to get off for awhile."
It's a good description and a nice idea, but I can't find the brakes. Instead, I "stop the world" by taking a break from this one and going into someone else's: a place so vivid with characters so engaging that going to their world feels like getting away from ours. With that in mind, here are a few of my favorites for you to check out.
I Capture the Castle: Cassandra Mortmain is one of my favorite characters of all time. She is primarily an intelligent observer in her world until she is pushed to discover that she has feelings and desires of her own that go beyond simply existing.
The Thirteenth Tale: There is something special about the way Diane Setterfield writes. This book is technically a mystery, but I became so absorbed in her lyrical writing that I nearly forgot. I simply wanted to stay in the world she had spun out so beautifully.
Rules of Civility: Prior to getting on everyone's reading list with A Gentleman in Moscow, Amor Towles wrote this gem that remains my favorite of his. His ability to turn a phrase led to me underlining at least two-thirds of this book and I kept turning pages because I loved how he described experiencing the world.
The House in the Cerulean Sea: If you haven't read it yet, check this one out for a nearly perfect escape. TJ Klune combines absorbing writing with characters that are absolutely delightful. Moments of hilarity abound, intermixed with moments of genuinely loving care.
Circe: I don't know if there's anything I can say about the brilliant Madeline Miller that hasn't been said before. Suffice it to say that I have never wanted so badly to live in Ancient Greece as I do when I am fully submerged in her vivid worlds, laced with everything you could want in a book: adventure, love, honest flaws, characters you love to love and characters you love to hate.