Books: The Escapism We All Need Right Now

by | Jan 17, 2022 | Art, blog, Content Marketing, writing

As we roll into the third year of the Matrix simulation that we seem to be a part of, many people are wondering how to handle themselves. While pajama meetings and afternoon White Claws were novel and fun for a while, we’ve reached a point where it’s no longer sustainable to drink away the afternoon. Workplaces are summoning employees back, raising their standards, and we all have to find new ways to cope with our reality.

Though you can certainly roll out some sourdough starter or reactivate your TikTok account, we have a rather novel suggestion that may provide a healthy and less infuriating alternative: why not read a book?

Some truly incredible titles have been released in recent years, many of which can whisk you away to far-off places so efficiently that you find yourself forgetting about the panorama for an entire afternoon. Truly, there is no modern bliss quite like temporary amnesia.

To jumpstart your year of reading, might we suggest a few titles that we’ve enjoyed over the past year or so. Though we may be behind the times on a few of these (aka these titles weren’t all published in 2021), we can guarantee that they’re worth your time whenever you decide to pick them up.

Anxious People by Fredrik Backman

This Swedish-born author has a unique talent for making readers sob uncontrollably at least once in each of his books (or maybe that’s just me), and Anxious People is no different. An honest, tender portrayal of how anxiety, stress, and life changes affect everyone differently, this book re-infuses strangers with a sense of humanity. In a time when we’re all arguing online and pointing fingers at our anti-vax neighbors, reminding ourselves how to empathize can only be a good thing.

The House in the Cerulean Sea by T.J. Klune

If you’re looking for a heartfelt read that will charm you through and through, this is the novel to do it. Focusing on an orphanage for magical children, this is an adorable tale full of magic and innocence. The author, T.J. Klune, is a proud member of the LGBTQ+ community and does a fantastic job of writing Queer characters that are realistic and well-rounded. The perfect book for when you’re feeling a little discouraged or lonely.

The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo by Taylor Jenkins Reid

This is a book steeped in the glamor of 1950s Hollywood with a plotline that I’ve never seen before. As starlet Evelyn Hugo recounts her life story, she breaks up her story based on who her husband was at the time. I had to keep myself from reading this one too quickly because I simply didn’t want it to end. Bonus points for some truly heartwarming Queer characters and a very accurate portrayal of LGBTQ+ oppression in the 50s.

Behind Closed Doors by B.A. Paris

If the world around you doesn’t sufficiently scare the bejesus out of you, this book will do the trick. A twisted, juicy psychological thriller, this tome will cause your jaw to drop more than once or twice; TMJ sufferers beware. As someone who reads a lot of psychological thrillers, I can say that this is easily one of the most shocking and messed-up stories I have ever encountered. Read at your own risk (and with your therapist on speed dial).

Hood Feminism by Mikki Kendall

Though the term “feminist” has become mainstream in recent years, this book points out how the gender equality movement often leaves behind women of color. While white women fight against catcalling and microaggressions, many women of color are still dealing with more basic survival issues. Housing security, food security, and education are all feminist issues, Kendall argues because these are the issues that Black women need to face before they can think about breaking the glass ceiling. This book is truly an eye-opener for anyone who considers themselves a champion of gender equality and feminist ideals.

Circe by Madeline Miller

You don’t need to be familiar with the Odyssey to thoroughly enjoy this retelling of the classic tale. Focusing on one of Helios’s daughters, this book shows the wide world of Greek Mythology from the perspective of a woman. A refreshing, heartwarming, empowering story fit for anyone who feels as though they want to disappear to a remote island and never return.

Under the Whispering Door by T.J. Klune

I know, I know, T.J. Klune has already made the list, but his books are just so incredibly heartwarming it’s hard not to fall in love with them. This one focuses on what happens after we die, from the perspective of a man who lived out his life as an attorney and took advantage of those around him. After the last few years of rampant death and despair, this book made me feel a little better about the afterlife and where our loved ones end up when they leave us here alone.

The Huntress by Kate Quinn

If you’re enraptured by World War II fiction, the Huntress will have you pulling all-nighters until you finish. Told from multiple perspectives, this story focuses on a few vigilantes who seek to arrest Nazi criminals who slipped into anonymity after the war. The book is fast-paced and expertly woven, while the twists will have you gasping for breath. Truly an enthralling read for anyone who wants to be consumed by a cast of characters.

There you have it, dear reader (yes, I’m quoting Bridgerton). These books are certainly worth your time in the new year, but ultimately all that’s important is that you pick up books you love. If you don’t like a book after a few chapters, stop reading. If you feel obligated to read a classic because it’s part of the literary canon, release the pressure. Reading is supposed to be fun, so do whatever you need to do to make it enjoyable. While I don’t want to tell you how to live your life, cracking open a book in the bath with a glass of red wine is a great place to start. Happy reading!


Gabby Vandenavond