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Monday, November 8, 2010

escapism literature

Mommies need to read books. And I am not talking about parenting books. Totally doesn’t count.

I am talking fiction.

Good stories that make you daydream. Or think. Or just take you somewhere else. Someplace where there are no Cheerios on the floor or kids squabbling over who gets the green Matchbox car. (I swear my children, we HAVE TWO GREEN CARS. Good GRIEF!)


I think I have read more fiction literature since becoming a mother than I did in all my college/graduate school years. Well, with all the academic reading during that phase of life reading for fun loses its appeal I guess.

But, I will contend that reading is significant as a mother for two reasons.

1) There is something about being able to curl up with a nursing/sleeping baby and a good book.
2) Escapism, pure and simple.

This last point has made me, over the years, come to think of a new genre of literature, pertaining to mommies.

Escapism literature.

Books qualify in the following way:

-Most importantly, there can’t be any relation to my real life AT ALL. That is, no children, no babies, no home-life scenarios (like where girl marries the billionaire husband and goes on to hire a nanny and housekeeper, etc.) Also, I don’t really like romance in these books. Why? Too easy for comparison. Not that my romantic life is lacking per se but, well, children do sap it out of you… ‘Nuf said.

-The story needs to be fast paced. I am impatient. Get to the point already people.

-It needs to make me think a little. I do have a brain. I miss using it.

-It can’t be too politically charged. Too reality based. I don’t want to read about how f-d up our society is. It’s depressing. And that is not the point of escapism literature. I want to ESCAPE somewhere pleasant, or interesting, or compelling. Not somewhere depressing.

Here is the way I often choose books:

Go to the library. Pick out 3-6 children’s titles, some educational, some of their choosing. Go to adult fiction aisles. Plop children in chair with books. “DON’T MOVE.” Browse book aisles until children start running away and I get mean looks from other library-goers. “Can't you control your wild children lady?" "No, no I CANNOT.” Pick book out based on above criteria in addition to the prettiness/appealing-ness of the book cover (I am not kidding, I totally choose books based on the cover. I also used to do this with wine before being schooled a bit on wine by Mr. Fancypants Dada. Ooo. That bottle has pretty vines and birds. Let’s get that! This is how I do it with books too. Ooo. I like that font. And a pretty sunset on the cover too. Looks like a historical novel about Cuba. SOLD. Let’s get that book!)

So what are some prime escapism books? Well, you can go a lot of ways. Perhaps there are sub-categories.

Escapism Lit/Young Adult Fantasy literature

Although I would contend that books in this “junior” category are some of the best fiction books to come around in years, nevertheless, this is where a bookstore might put them.
The prime example here is the Harry Potter series of course. Here are some others:
Harry Potter
The Hunger Games trilogy
Inkspell trilogy
Twilight (although the romance part is quite, er, heavy in this series the witty banter and smart writing makes up for it)

Escapism Lit/The Classics: Adventure

Then you have the classic adventure stories from over the years.
Lord of the Rings
And I suppose you could add Narnia books, Swiss Family Robinson, 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea, Etc. (Although those books really don’t do it for me lately. I mean, I love them and cant WAIT to read them to my kids but, more nostalgia for reading them at 10.)

Escapism Lit/Classics

In this category I would add some of my favorites
Midnights Children, by Rushdie
Haroun and the Sea of Stories, by Rushdie
One Hundred Years of Solitude, by Gabriel Garcia Marquez
The God of Small Things, by Arundhati Roy

Escapism Lit/Historical dramas

Thirteen Moons, by Charles Frazier (guy who wrote Cold Mountain)
Tender is the Night, by Fitzgerald (okay, this has kids and romance but it is in such an exotic locale and lifestyle that it is very escapism to me)
I have read more in this category lately but I cant remember the titles.

Escapism Lit/Science Fiction

Lear’s Daughters - I read this series when Ayla was a newborn. Cuddled up with tea and a brand new baby in the cold Midwestern March. It was kinda perfect.

That is all I can think of that I have read in this subcategory, although I just googled and found this list and I TOTALLY am gonna check some of these titles out.

Escapism Lit/Academic Adventure/Mystery/Detective

Da Vinci Code – of course the key book in this category
Anything else by Dan Brown
The Sign by Raymond Khoury
Anything else with historical conspiracy theories, particularly involving Knight Templar or Freemasonary or such. I love that shit.
The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo trilogy – this is what I am currently reading. It’s a little heavy. But I am loving the whole Swedish backdrop to the story. It makes me want to wear chunky wool sweaters and Doc Marten boots and go shop at Ikea (Hmmm. Meatballs. Must go eat meatballs.)

So, help a mama out. What are some of your favorite escapism books?


  1. another to add to the "academic adventure/mystery/detective is "the historian". so good!

  2. ooh. thanks for the title! will do.

    anyone else?? seriously, save me from browsing books with children on my ankles!

  3. reckless by cornelia funke,or hood by stephen lawhead... allthough his books are not very fast paced, but still very good!

  4. I agree with Rebekah and Molly...I love The Historian as well as the Hood trilogy. Stephen Lawhead is a writerly genius!

    Some of my very tried and true favorites to escape away with are cozy mysteries...anything by Agatha Christie or Dorothy Sayers. And of course, along a different thread, Baroness Orczy's The Scarlet Pimpernel!

    Love your title "escapism literature." Brilliant.

  5. In the Juvie Lit category, try the Gemma Doyle Trilogy by Libby Bray. I've only read the first one (A Great and Terrible Beauty), but I really liked it.

    In the fluffy adult lit category, try anything by Sophie Kinsella. (They have a Bridget Jones feel to them.) I especially like her stuff on audiobook bc they're read by British actresses, and that makes it even better in my world. (This is the most painfree method for me to do housework--audiobook on my Shuffle!) OH--and Cecelia Ahearn has some pretty good stuff (wrote PS I Love You).

    In my complete brain candy/total guilty pleasure category is anything by Nora Roberts. Bad, I know, but it's so fabulously predictable and always happy and kinda sexy too. Mary Kay Andrews does funny, catty Southern Belle novels.

    On your suggestion, I put a hold on The Hunger Games at the library, but I'm #24 on the list, so I might get to read it by the time we move again! LOL!

    [And I'm SO glad to hear that smart, educated, cerebrally-capable women read for escape, too!]

  6. ooh. yay. totally going to the library soon!
    thanks all!


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