The best books to escape reality

Nadine Wild-Palmer Author Of The Tunnels Below
By Nadine Wild-Palmer

The Books I Picked & Why

Amari and the Night Brothers

By B.B. Alston

Book cover of Amari and the Night Brothers

Why this book?

With Amari as the feisty young underdog driving this story, in a world where the real collides with magic in an everyday setting, it’s hard not to love this book. It’s a reminder of the possibility that lives in the impossible and a heart-warming, racy fantasy adventure that is at once empowering and enthralling. I don’t want to give too much away but it doffs its hat at the magical world of Harry Potter with a twist of the uncanny undercover agents in the film Men in Black and it does it beautifully. B.B. Alston reminds us that there’s a richness to life even though Amari is growing up coming from a disadvantaged background. The message is clear, you can do anything you put your mind to as long as you never let others define you. And this sentiment is portrayed through beautiful, witty, and imaginative prose. A must-read

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By Malorie Blackman

Book cover of Whizziwig

Why this book?

I loved this book for many reasons growing up but I think first and foremost because it was one of the first books I had ever seen with an illustration of a black child on the front cover aimed at children around my age. It was also turned into a TV series and I remember realising at this point in my early teens that there are so many ways that a book can be interpreted. Not just in the minds of their readers but through different creative mediums and this really excited my imagination as I have been acting since I was small and very involved in many different forms of music. This made Whizziwig, a story about possibility at every turn as the subject matter is also about chancing upon an alien life form in your backyard with whom the protagonist becomes friends. Plus, it was the first Malorie Blackman book I ever read!

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The Hobbit

By J.R.R. Tolkien

Book cover of The Hobbit

Why this book?

The Hobbit was the first book I could not put down. I have always been a slow reader and I found it hard to focus on chapter books and was quite embarrassed by this, so I tended to stick to learning and reciting poetry, writing, and singing songs. I found out later at University that I was dyslexic and dyspraxic although by then I had become so determined to at least keep up with my peers that I hadn’t let it stop me. However, I digress.

The Hobbit marks a pivotal moment on my journey into reading. Given to me by my year seven English teacher Ms. Antony, I read it over one weekend which for me was unheard of. I have loved fantasy adventure stories ever since. It taught me that reading is very personal to each individual and to stop trying to race through books and make it a competition. The whole point of reading a book after this became about going on an adventure, immersing myself in the unknown, and enjoying the power that comes with being engulfed in an imaginary lived experience. For that, I am forever grateful!

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Oh, the Places You'll Go!

By Dr. Seuss

Book cover of Oh, the Places You'll Go!

Why this book?

This book has been part of my life since I was a small child and its words have resonated with me all through my life. A story about the ups and downs of life set in a weird and whacky parallel world and told in rhyme with colourful witty illustrations as its backdrop, it is a real one of a kind that sticks with you on your passage through life. There have been many times when a line or phrase from this quirky and emotionally intelligent book will come back to me that aptly describes exactly how I am feeling or where I am at. It is more than a book, it is a self-reflective tool too. It is also a book that I have gifted to both children and adults all through my life and it is likely that I will continue to do so.  

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The Murderer's Ape

By Jakob Wegelius

Book cover of The Murderer's Ape

Why this book?

A real tour de force that for me was reminiscent of Phileas Fogg's adventures in Around the World in 80 Days. The story follows the life of an intelligent gorilla who although lacking the power of speech is an extraordinary, loveable protagonist. It is accompanied by black and white illustrations that feel like etchings and that only enhance the wistful and nostalgic window through which we observe this gorilla’s world and life experience. It's a lengthy book and so at first may seem like a big commitment especially as it is aimed at children (it also have some grown-up themes) but once you begin the journey I defy anyone to try and get off as the mystery and magic unfold alongside a powerful story of friendship and love. Another brilliant example of how to escape the reality of the every day and be whisked into a world of mystery, mayhem, and magic!

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