12 absorbing, apolitical reads for people who desperately want an election distraction
First things first: It’s important to think about the election. It’s important to educate yourself on the issues, and most of all, it’s important to vote. But the election is stressful. Vox culture writer Constance Grady created a list of compulsively readable books to help get you through the next few days. Happy reading! http://bit.ly/2fyHiR6
- •Miss Pym DisposesHave you ever read Josephine Tey? She was a golden age mystery writer who wrote from the 1920s into the ’50s, and she is immensely comforting. Her detectives are always bluff, no-nonsense types who solve the case through highly unscientific generalizations about appearances (people with slate-blue eyes are always oversexed, according to one of them), and who always make sure to pause for a proper English tea no matter how pressing a case might be.
- •And Then There Were NoneThere is also, of course, Agatha Christie, who’s famous for crafting beautiful, bloodless, intricate stories.
- •Murder on the Orient ExpressAnother good Agatha Christie one to start with.
- •The TrespasserIf you want some more modern mysteries, try Tana French and her gorgeous, mind-bending Dublin Murder Squad series. French’s books are loosely connected, but you don’t have to read them in order. Her latest, The Trespasser, is a good introduction to her work.
- •The Girl Who Circumnavigated Fairyland in a Ship of Her Own MakingFor sheer weirdness, you won’t do better than Catherynne Valente. Valente always writes with a kind of stylized, rococo voice, but her register shifts from book to book — sometimes from chapter to chapter — and half the fun of reading her work is trying to guess which register she’ll give you next.
- •RadianceCatherynne Valente's adult sci-fi novel, Radiance, goes from fairy tale to Gothic horror to noir to documentary without a single false step.
- •Fire and HemlockDiana Wynne Jones is one of the great fantasy writers of the 20th century, and all of her books are complex and multi-layered and very, very beautiful.
- •Howl’s Moving CastleThis is Diana Wynne Jones’s warmest and most inviting work. You might have seen the Miyazaki movie of the same title, so keep in mind that the book is very different: It’s extremely British in flavor, where the movie feels Japanese, and the movie’s anti-war element isn’t there at all.
- •American GodsA good Neil Gaiman book will keep you distracted through most things. You could start with American Gods, a weird and shaggy and delightful apocalyptic road trip novel that’s being adapted into a TV show next year. Or you could start with Neverwhere, which takes place in the London Tube system and is peopled with all kinds of charismatic fairy tale characters.
- •Heather Wells MysteriesSometimes you just need pure froth to take your mind off whatever is bothering you — but well-crafted froth. Don’t worry, I got you. Do you want to read about a Britney Spears analogue who retires from professional singing to solve murders? Of course you do, which is why Meg Cabot gave us the Heather Wells Mysteries.
- •Little Lady AgencyPerhaps you’re in the kind of mood where you just want to hang out with women who are really pulled together and badass. (I myself am often in this mood.) In that case, you might read Hester Browne’s Little Lady Agency, about a woman who monetizes the emotional labor most women are asked to do for free and wears a fabulous blonde wig to do it in.
- •High WagesFinally, Dorothy Whipple wrote bourgeois British domestic novels in the mid-20th century, and she is a delight. Start with High Wages, in which a small-town shop girl opens her own shop and rises to glory, and then go from there.