Sometimes all you need is a vacation. And sometimes — often, actually — all you need is a vacation but you can’t afford one and don’t have time to take one anyway. At those moments, books are your great escape. We’ve picked out six tomes that will immediately take you somewhere else, even if only for a few sweet, sweet moments.
1) Sweetbitter by Stephanie Danler
Yes, we know this was on every list everywhere last year. It was the book of the summer, it launched Stephanie Danler’s career, and so forth. But if you haven’t read this tale of a young woman’s inauguration to Brooklyn’s just-scraping-by set, here’s an added boon: It’s an easy read. Like, you might finish it in two days. That’s a weekend! That also means you can completely check out with almost no effort whatsoever.
A warning, though: It is about a girl working in a restaurant. The world it paints is vivid, so if that’s your business, this might be more stressful than relaxing.
2) The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao by Junot Diaz
This book will transport you immediately to the Latino neighborhood of 1970s and ‘80s Paterson, New Jersey, thanks to its gripping, colorful language and characters that come to life with one deft sentence. If you missed it when it came out in 2007, don’t miss it again — you’ll fall madly in love with the main character, a nerdy Dominican teenager stuck in a world where he can’t figure out how to belong.
3) Candy Girl by Diablo Cody
Diablo Cody’s 2006 memoir about her year spent stripping in some of Minneapolis’ most dive-y and notorious strip clubs is hilarious, and crackles with stories you’re unlikely to find anywhere else. It’s about as light as a tome about sex work can be, and Cody’s famous flair for clever-to-the-extreme language is inherent throughout.
4) Hell’s Angels by Hunter S. Thompson
What’s that? You want to be wrenched sharply and abruptly out of your living room where you stare at your laptop for 10 hours a day? This should do the trick. Hunter S. Thompson’s famous year spent with California’s Hell’s Angels is documented herein, including plenty of beer and fights and women and run-ins with the law.
This book is not for the faint of heart, and if violence isn’t your thing, you might consider skipping on to the next.
5) Fates and Furies by Lauren Groff
Let’s start with the most important piece of information: This was President Obama’s favorite book of 2015. That should be enough for you right there, but if it isn’t: This is an extremely intimate portrait of a marriage, one that tells both sides and lets you into deep, dark secrets that otherwise never see the light of day. A meticulously crafted novel, you’ll feel by the end that these are two people who you really know — and at the same time, two people you never knew at all.
6) I Was Told There Would Be Cake by Sloane Crosley
If all you need to do is laugh, Sloane Crosley is your jam. This book is full of essays from her time as a 20-something freshly decamped to New York City in the mid-aughts, complete with frequent moves, old friend’s weddings, and mishaps with neighbors. There is little to no effort involved in reading this book; all you have to do is pick it up and not have a full bladder.