Matador Network Editors Matt Hershberger, Ana Bulnes, and Morgane Croissant selected 9 books (fiction and non-fiction) that will make you forget about the flow of terrifying, sad, and infuriating news currently inundating us. Put down your phone, switch off you TV, shut your laptop close and grab one of these books to escape the weariness of these past few weeks. Reading always help.
Chew by John Layman and Rob Guillory
Tony Chu has a superpower: he can see the past of anything he bites into. So naturally, he’s recruited as a detective, where he must bite into the flesh of murder victims to find out who killed them. That’s the premise of the comic book series Chew, and it only gets stranger from there. It’s set in a world where chicken has been banned due to an avian flu outbreak, where the FDA is the planet’s most powerful law enforcement agency, and where the world’s biggest badass is a murderous half-robot rooster named Poyo. It’s hilarious and weird and is all the escape you need for these dark times.
The Name of the Wind by Patrick Rothfuss
Want to get ahead of the curve and read the next Game of Thrones or Harry Potter before its adaptation is released? Pick up the first book in Patrick Rothfuss’s Kingkiller Chronicle. It follows a young traveling musician named Kvothe who becomes the most powerful wizard in the world. It’s not as well known outside of fantasy circles just yet, but it will go down in history as another Harry Potter or Lord of the Rings. It’s gripping, exciting, and it’s way less bleak than GoT. And the adaptation is being produced by Lin-Manuel Miranda, so you know it’s going to be awesome.
The Princess Bride by William Goldman
Okay, so you’ve seen the movie. Give the book a read. It’s written in a similar style — the writer (Goldman) is adapting “the good bits” of a medieval satire, The Princess Bride, by fictional author S. Morgenstern. He writes it as his grandfather read it to him — with all the long and boring commentary on the excesses of medieval Europe left out, and with all the fun stuff about Inigo Montoya, The Dread Pirate Roberts, and Rodents of Unusual Size left in. It’s one of the funniest books you’ll ever read.
You’ll Grow Out of It by Jessi Klein
Jessi Klein’s first book is the funniest collection of personal essays I have ever read. It had me laughing out loud on the bus, on the recumbent bike at the gym, and in bed while my partner was trying to focus on Mario Run. I chose it randomly at the library when I had no idea who Jessi Klein was. It turns out she’s a comedy writer for Inside Amy Schumer and worked at Comedy Central and SNL — that explains why she had me in tears. You’ll Grow Out of It is a brilliant account of what it means to be a woman nowadays (breakups, infertility, difficult career choices, terrible relationships, insecurity while at the gym, etc.) and I wholeheartedly agree with The New York Magazine, “it’s better than therapy.”
Where’d you go, Bernadette? by Maria Semple
When Bee, an incredibly smart teenager, comes home from school with an excellent report card, she asks her parents to take her on a family trip to Antarctica. Having made a promise to their daughter, Bernadette, a former architect, and her husband, a Microsoft bighead, have no choice but to organize a trip to the end of the world. The problem is…Bernadette suffers from serious agoraphobia and hates people, so she’s not looking forward to this trip.
Before writing this novel, Maria Semple was a television writer for shows including Arrested Development, so that explains why Where’d you go, Bernadette? is so witty it will give you belly laughs. It’s the perfect escape from the news-fueled desperation you’ve been experiencing.
The Rosie Project by Graeme Simsion
Don is a professor of genetics with Asperger syndrome who decides to find the perfect partner via The Wife Project, a scientific questionnaire that he designed to assess the suitability of female candidates. As he weeds out potential partners, Don meets Rosie, a woman who does not meet any of his criteria but towards whom he is inexplicably drawn.
This is the best love story I’ve read in years. It isn’t mushy and filled with clichés, instead, it’s humorous, intelligent, and very endearing.
Harry Potter (all 7 books!), by J.K. Rowling
J.K. Rowling once said the whole Harry Potter series was ultimately about growing up in a world at war. The good part? This is fiction, so the good guys win in the end (I don’t think this is a spoiler at this point). It won’t be an easy road though — there will be blood, tears, and some of your favorite characters won’t make it to the end. Things will get darker and darker, especially during the last three volumes. But you will also laugh (a lot), fall in love, believe you’re a wizard, not a muggle, and finish the series a better, more tolerant person, a bit happier and with a deep knowledge of magic spells you’ll hope will be useful at some point in your life.
Jane Eyre, by Charlotte Brontë
Everything about Jane Eyre is revolutionary. From the idea that sparked Charlotte Brontë’s imagination (she wanted to show her sisters that heroines could be interesting without being beautiful), to Jane Eyre’s persistent obsession with independence and equality, you’ll be constantly amazed at the fact that the book was written in the 1840s. Life wasn’t easy back then, and Eyre’s was no exception, but you’ll be happy to know Charlotte Brontë designed a world where karma exists and pays for all your sufferings when you least expect it. What’s better than seeing our ‘plain and little’ heroine achieve her well-deserved happiness in the end?
The Baron in the Trees, by Italo Calvino
Have you ever felt like climbing up a tree and never come down again? This is the book about what would happen if you did — and it’s kind of an appealing way of life! Cosimo is 12 when, in an act of rebellion against his tyrannical family (he didn’t want snails for dinner!), gets out of the house, climbs up a tree in the garden, and vows his feet will never touch the ground again. This is the story of what happens after — crazy adventures, philosophical musings, and Viola, the love of his life and such an unconventional character. If this book doesn’t make you feel good, nothing will.