Everyone wants an escape. While thrilling vacations and adventures to new places are great, sometimes a mental escape is all we crave, and that can come with the right piece of fiction literature. Fiction, by definition, is literature that describes imaginary events and people; invention or fabrication. Fiction literature, therefore, is literature that is made up. But often the most compelling fiction literature shares with its readers truths, however unassuming or poignant, that transform their mind in some way. Sometimes that transformation is purely adventurous, and other times it causes you to pause.
Each of the following reads can transform your mind in different ways. Some are haunting and eerie and may cause you to reflect on your character. Others enlighten you and unearth new ways of seeing the world around you while still entertaining. And still others alter your perception of humanity in ways you cannot undo. Whatever you are looking for, the following five fiction literature reads will transform your mind.
The Water Cure
If you’re looking for a subtly eerie reflection of modern feminism, The Water Cure by Sophie Mackintosh may entice you. This debut novel tells the tale of three sisters, Grace, Lia, and Sky, and their carefully curated life on an island outside the parameters of modern society. A life, they are told, that protects them from men and atmospheric toxins. But on a summer day like any other, the absence of their father, King, presents an upset in their world that gradually evolves as they devolve, and the actions they take become, in the words of Margaret Atwood, sinister.
This novel is gritty and rife with the different flavors of revenge and will have you holding your breath as the characters, quite literally, submerge themselves underwater and push the limits of their existence.
Another stunning debut novel (though not her first book), Swamplandia! by Karen Russell offers a haunting journey into magic realism. Set off the coast of Florida, this piece of fiction literature unravels the story of the Bigtree family, a family of alligator wrestlers living in the ruins of an old theme park. As the characters struggle to grasp their identity in a rapidly changing environment, Russell draws on the reader’s imagination with surreal elements, giving the story a dreamlike quality at times.
Family death, insanity, ghosts and the occult, suspicious visitors, and a wilderness that rivals the wild west occupy the minds of the Chief and his three children, Kiwi, Osceola, and Ava. You’ll find yourself tasting the swamp marshes and reveling in the world of the Bigtrees as they splash, crash, and disappear into their next steps in life.
Where the Crawdads Sing
If you find yourself seeking a classic whodunit book, Where the Crawdads Sing by Delia Owens is a spectacular piece of fiction literature that fits that description. A tale of murder, coming of age, and a tragically beautiful ode to the natural world, this novel is set in the marshes of North Carolina, where the protagonist, Kya survives on her own into adulthood. Her coming of age is accompanied by an exquisite chronicling of the native landscape she inhabits and the complications of first romance. All at once, Owens delivers a classic murder plot wrapped in the finest trappings of beloved characters and a setting that will stick in your head long after you’ve finished the story.
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A Thousand Splendid Suns
A Thousand Splendid Suns by Khaled Hosseini offers a deeply moving story with historical context, culture, and relevance. Though entirely fiction literature, this novel is rooted in the painful truths of life in Afghanistan in the last thirty years. Miriam and Laila are the two protagonists in this novel—two strong women from two different generations and two very different social classes whose lives connect in the most unexpected and tragic of ways. Theirs is a fight both for freedom and survival and embodies the hard truth that love comes in many forms and makes many sacrifices.
It is at once a love story, described also by Hosseini as a mother-daughter story, an unveiling of history and culture, and will tie you in knots again and again. It’s impossible to read this novel without it wrecking you, so be prepared for an emotional, but immensely worthwhile journey.
This last recommendation is a bit of a trick, as MaddAddam by Margaret Atwood, author of The Handmaid’s Tale, is a trilogy rather than a single book, comprised of Oryx & Crake, The Year of the Flood, and MaddAddam. But don’t let that deter you. You’ll want to make time for this series, which falls in the genre of speculative fiction literature. Though speculative, the series demands something of a strong stomach as it follows the story of Snowman, also known as Jimmy, through an all too real and impossibly uncanny catastrophe that dangerously mirrors many details of our current society.
As Jimmy pieces together the past that exploded into this dystopian apocalypse, Toby, Ren, and Amanda, all women from Jimmy’s past, cross paths in the aftermath of a global disaster smeared with genetically spliced hybrid animals, ecological crisis, and civilization on the brink of extinction. The bewildering adventures of these characters may ring a little too close to home as the characters recall and unearth conspiracies and affairs beyond their imagination. Be forewarned, you’ll likely see the world in a different light after reading this series, often described as the height of Atwood’s literary magic.
Whether you’re seeking romance, coming of age, mystery, explorations of feminism, adventure, or a hypothetical look at the fall of humanity, these reads in fiction literature won’t disappoint. They’ll leave you shuddering, crying, excited, exasperated, and on the edge of your seat. They may leave you unsettled and restless, but all the best stories do. But what better way to challenge yourself with new ideas, perceptions, and ways of thinking. Whatever you’re looking for and whatever you feel, these five reads will undoubtedly transform your mind in ways you cannot imagine. And that is the point of good fiction literature.
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Check out Daily Mom’s Finds section for more fiction literature suggestions.
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