The best books that take you to another world (and make you forget the one you live in)

Who am I?

I am a sucker for a good setting, and enjoy spending time outdoors and in natural environments. I often feel like I enter another world when surrounded by nature, the tall buildings of Manhattan, or any place that has an immersive effect. I feel strongly that a good story should have escapism burned into its very fabric. People read to get away from everyday life, to learn something new, and hopefully gain some sort of insight into themselves that will allow them to grow in a positive direction. I am routinely enchanted by books that accomplish this and am reminded of just how powerful the pen is when I encounter one. 


I wrote...

Evening in the Yellow Wood

By Laura Kemp,

Book cover of Evening in the Yellow Wood

What is my book about?

Abandoned by an eccentric father on the eve of her twelfth birthday, Justine Cook has lived with her fair share of unanswered questions. Now, ten years later, she heads north to the mysterious town of Lantern Creek to find him. Once there, she meets the half brother she never knew, a boy who is mute but able to read her mind. When girls who look like Justine begin to die, she joins forces with sheriff’s deputy Dylan Locke to capture the killer. But the more the dig for clues to the past, the closer they come to uncovering a secret someone would kill to protect. 

The books I picked & why

Shepherd is reader supported. We may earn an affiliate commission when you buy through links on our website. This is how we fund this project for readers and authors (learn more).

The Thorn Birds

By Colleen McCullough,

Book cover of The Thorn Birds

Why this book?

The first book that will take you to another world is McCullough’s The Thorn Birds. I read this book when I was in my teens, and it made such an impression that I can still vividly remember details to this day. The rich sense of setting in rural Australia, the hardships of the family, the forbidden love between Meg and Father Ralph, it all remains burned in my mind. I love a sweeping saga that involves family, and The Thorn Birds does not disappoint. The reader invests in these characters, and struggles beside them, and to me, that is the mark of a great story. 

The Thorn Birds

By Colleen McCullough,

Why should I read it?

4 authors picked The Thorn Birds as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

A phenomenal worldwide bestseller since 1977 THE THORN BIRDS is a robust, romantic saga of three generations. It begins in the early years of this century when Paddy Cleary moves his wife and seven children to Drogheda, an Australian sheep station, owned by his autocratic and childless older sister. For more than half a century we follow their fates, particularly those of Meggie, the only Cleary daughter, and the one man she truly loves, Ralph de Bricassart - stunningly handsome, ambitious, and a priest. As background to the Cleary family's lives there is the land itself: relentless in its demands,…


Lord of the Flies

By William Golding,

Book cover of Lord of the Flies

Why this book?

Taking you to another (maybe not so nice) world is Lord of the Flies. Once again, I read this when I was in school and Wow! did it scare me. I was so involved in the intricate lives of these boys, left without any adults to supervise them, and this strange, almost primeval society they construct from the very jungle itself. I could put myself in their shoes, imagining this classmate being Ralph, Jack, Piggy, or Simon. I saw myself in their struggle to maintain their last ties to humanity, and realized we are all just a hair’s breadth away from becoming savages. Truly a book that will rock your world. If you allow it to. And you must.  

Lord of the Flies

By William Golding,

Why should I read it?

9 authors picked Lord of the Flies as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

A plane crashes on a desert island and the only survivors, a group of schoolboys, assemble on the beach and wait to be rescued. By day they inhabit a land of bright fantastic birds and dark blue seas, but at night their dreams are haunted by the image of a terrifying beast. As the boys' delicate sense of order fades, so their childish dreams are transformed into something more primitive, and their behaviour starts to take on a murderous, savage significance.

First published in 1954, Lord of the Flies is one of the most celebrated and widely read of modern…


The Widow of the South

By Robert Hicks,

Book cover of The Widow of the South

Why this book?

I’m a big historical fiction fan, and hold a degree in history, so anything that has a bend in that direction will get my attention. This one takes the reader directly into the life of Carrie McGavock and her role as owner of Carnton plantation in Tennessee. During the battle of Franklin, Carnton became a field hospital, and Carrie worked tirelessly to help wounded soldiers. Her family even dedicated some of the ground on their plantation as a Confederate cemetery. From the first sentence I forgot where I was, what I was doing and what time it was. All that existed was this time and place so long ago, written so beautifully I could have reached out my window here in Michigan and touched the hills of Tennessee. 

The Widow of the South

By Robert Hicks,

Why should I read it?

3 authors picked The Widow of the South as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Tennessee, 1864. On a late autumn day, near a little town called Franklin, 10,000 men will soon lie dead or dying in a battle that will change many lives for ever. None will be more changed than Carrie McGavock, who finds her home taken over by the Confederate army and turned into a field hospital. Taking charge, she finds the courage to face up to the horrors around her and, in doing so, finds a cause.

Out on the battlefield, a tired young Southern soldier drops his guns and charges forward into Yankee territory, holding only the flag of his…


The Alienist

By Caleb Carr,

Book cover of The Alienist

Why this book?

I cannot say enough to praise this book. It was also my late father’s favorite, and we used to sit around and talk about it into the wee hours. The storyline follows one of the first forensic detectives (called Alienists back in the day… 1898) and his search for a Jack the Ripper type killer through Gilded Age Manhattan. The setting is superbly researched, the characters jump to life from the page and the plot is so intricately woven that I found myself not breathing while I was reading some of the passages. The world these characters inhabit is splendid and sordid and indicative of a time long past, and you will never want to let it go.  

The Alienist

By Caleb Carr,

Why should I read it?

5 authors picked The Alienist as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

The internationally bestselling historical thriller, now a major Netflix series starring Luke Evans, Dakota Fanning and Daniel Bruhl.

Some things never change.

New York City, 1896. Hypocrisy in high places is rife, police corruption commonplace, and a brutal killer is terrorising young male prostitutes.

Unfortunately for Police Commissioner Theodore Roosevelt, the psychological profiling of murderers is a practice still in its infancy, struggling to make headway against the prejudices of those who prefer the mentally ill - and the 'alienists' who treat them - to be out of sight as well as out of mind.

But as the body count…


Wuthering Heights

By Emily Bronte,

Book cover of Wuthering Heights

Why this book?

I read this when I was young and it made such an impression on me. I could see the wind-swept moors, feel the intensity of the love between Cathy and Heathcliff, and his subsequent descent into madness and revenge. The characters go through so many incarnations that it almost feels like you are reading several novels instead of one. I really became completely immersed in how the story would unfold, loving Heathcliff one minute and hating him the next. He was my first introduction to the anti-hero, and I still remember my confusion as to how I was supposed to feel about him. Bronte’s novel has stood the test of time, and completely absorbs the reader until the very last page as they hope for that happy ending Cathy’s descendants deserve. 

Wuthering Heights

By Emily Bronte,

Why should I read it?

6 authors picked Wuthering Heights as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

One of the great novels of the nineteenth century, Emily Bronte's haunting tale of passion and greed remains unsurpassed in its depiction of destructive love. Her tragically short life is brilliantly imagined in the major new movie, Emily, starring Emma Mackey in the title role.

Part of the Macmillan Collector's Library; a series of stunning, clothbound, pocket-sized classics with gold foiled edges and ribbon markers. These beautiful books make perfect gifts or a treat for any book lover. This edition of Wuthering Heights features an afterword by David Pinching.

One wild, snowy night on the Yorkshire moors, a gentleman asks…


5 book lists we think you will like!

Interested in love triangle, serial killers, and romantic love?

7,000+ authors have recommended their favorite books and what they love about them. Browse their picks for the best books about love triangle, serial killers, and romantic love.

Love Triangle Explore 49 books about love triangle
Serial Killers Explore 184 books about serial killers
Romantic Love Explore 510 books about romantic love

And, 3 books we think you will enjoy!

We think you will like The Alchemist, Cold Mountain, and The Invention of Wings if you like this list.