This morning, I am combing the shelves of the reading room, looking for a book that will grab me from the first sentence and pull me in. I’m looking for a book to help me escape some relatively minor soul dissonance, to pull me out of my mind just a bit.

I want to step into a world for which I am not at all responsible. I want to witness stories, not be a part of them, to experience the vicarious rise and fall of life – pain, joy and all – and have it not be mine . . . and still be very much so.

Escapist reading, for me, does not mean setting aside the things I’m challenged by in my walking life.  It just means I get space to think, to breath, to not get whipped down into the cycle of “what if.”

I don’t have many criteria for what books work for me in this way, but I can tell you that the books that help me breath more deeply are typically plot-driven, often involve a journey of some sort, and are rib-cage wide open honest.  Strayed’s Wild, French’s In the Woods, and McCrumb’s Appalachian Ballad novels come to mind.

I read lots more character-driven, idea-propelled books, too, but when I just need to step back, I like movement in big sweeps. Those large motions calm my mind and help me find my way.

What do you read to escape? What do you think about the idea of “escapist” literature? Any books you’d recommend I check out in this vein?