A common reason for burying yourself in a good book is to escape the daily grind, even for a few minutes. Whether you prefer books that travel to other country or those that blast off to completely different planets, there are plenty of titles that will help you leave behind the room you’re sitting in.
“Salt Houses” by Hala Alyan
Here in the U.S., you frequently hear news stories about the violence in the Middle East through a narrow window. Author Hala Alyan takes you to the other side of the conflicts in her book “Salt Houses,” which just won the Dayton Literary Peace Prize and the Arab American Book Award. Follow generations of a Palestinian family from the 1960s to the present day as war and terrorism move them from Palestine during the formation of Israel to Kuwait, Jordan, Lebanon and the United States. Step out of your American comfort zone and learn more about both the beauty and strife of this contentious region.
“Pachinko” by Min Jin Lee
In the same vein as “Salt Houses,” “Pachinko” by Min Jin Lee follows four generations of a Korean family as they try to thrive in Japan. Conditions during the Japanese occupation of Korea forces Sunja, a young woman pregnant out of wedlock, to flee her home country for Japan. When she arrives, her family’s status as Korean immigrants makes adjustment difficult, yet they flourish. This story will teach you about how the politics of the region affect average lives, inspire you with the characters’ ambitions and even break your heart.
“Spinning Silver” by Naomi Novik
If you prefer to completely leave the world as we know it and its problems behind, consider “Spinning Silver” by Naomi Novik. This book blends themes and creatures from Russian fairy tales to retell the traditionally German story of Rumpelstiltskin. Meet Miryem, a moneylender’s daughter who takes control of her family business when her father can’t collect what he’s owed. Her ability to grow her family’s fortunes and literally turn silver to gold catches the attention of cold creatures that lord over her country and threaten it with endless winter. If you enjoy this book, the author’s previous work, “Uprooted,” should go on your list of books to read.
“Sabriel” by Garth Nix
For a fantasy series you can really dive into, consider Garth Nix’s Abhorsen series. It currently has five full-length books and several short stories, but you can enjoy the first title, “Sabriel,” as a stand-alone book. The land of this series is split into two parts: The Old Kingdom in the north, where magic lives, and Ancelstierre to the south, ruled by technology and without magic. Sabriel, unaware she’s heir to the Old Kingdom’s Abhorsen title, is raised in Ancelstierre for her safety. Now she must take up her father’s mantle to keep the dead buried and the evil they bring asleep – for the sake of both worlds
Your local bookstore and library are full of new locations to explore, whether they’re in our world or somewhere only in the imagination. Consider asking a librarian or bookseller for help finding your next great read.