The best books to help you stop doomscrolling

Mary Sisson Author Of The Weirld
By Mary Sisson

Who am I?

I’m Mary Sisson, award-winning writer blah-blah-blah, and when I need to pry myself off the feeds before my head explodes, I reach for a particular sort of book: story-driven with a lot of adventure, a dash of humor, another of romance, and set in a well-developed, immersive fictional world. While all of these titles can be read alone (I hate books that were clearly written to sell a sequel—600 pages of filler ending with a cliffhanger? No thank you!) they all also form parts of series, because when my head is about to shoot right off my neck, it helps me to know that I have the remedy at hand. Enjoy!

I wrote...

The Weirld

By Mary Sisson,

Book cover of The Weirld

What is my book about?

Treenie is seven years old and loves her doll Bear. She also loves her oldest sister and her brother, Violet and Dougie, who are always sweet and kind—at least on the weekends when they are home. Treenie feels somewhat less love for Becky, her surly, makeup-wearing, bug-fearing, 14-year-old sister who—like it or not—is home all the time.

But Violet, Dougie, Becky, and even Bear have secrets—lots of secrets. An entire world of secrets, as Treenie is about to discover in this young-adult novel. A spell goes wrong, and Treenie finds herself in the magical, strange, and dangerous land her siblings have dubbed The Weirld!

The books I picked & why

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Penric's Demon

By Lois McMaster Bujold,

Book cover of Penric's Demon

Why this book?

While Bujold is famous for her science fiction Vorkosigan Saga, she has taken a welcome turn to fantasy in recent years with her Penric & Desdemona series, starting with Penric’s Demon. The book focuses on the accidental sorcerer Penric and the demon who possesses him and gives him power, Desdemona. Theirs is a complicated relationship, in no small part because Desdemona retains the memories and personalities of the many people—and animals!—she has possessed before. While having magical powers obviously has its advantages for Penric, demonic possession is not without its dangers, and quite a few people in the world of the Five Gods believe that sorcerers and their demons are best drowned at sea. The book features exciting adventures in an exotic world—but also touching mediations on death, fate, and destiny.


By Lindsay Buroker,

Book cover of Encrypted

Why this book?

Tikaya Komitopis is a linguist on the Kyatt Islands, a small, isolated country that is targeted for conquest by the much larger Turgonian Empire. By breaking Turgonian codes, Tikaya foils the conquest and forces the Turgonians into an unfavorable truce with its rival great power, the Nurian Empire. After the war, the Turgonians kidnap Tikaya, she believes in order to execute her. But while the Turgonians certainly do plan to do that, they first want her to translate something—something extremely strange, which turns out to be connected to something extremely dangerous. Along with being a thrilling read, Encrypted is an excellent entry into Buroker’s sprawling universe of books about the Turgonians, Nurians, and Kyattese.

Enchanted, Inc.

By Shanna Swendson,

Book cover of Enchanted, Inc.

Why this book?

Katie Chandler has moved to New York City hoping for a life of glamour and excitement, only to find herself lonely, frustrated, and deeply baffled that those jaded New Yorkers keep ignoring all the weird things that keep happening. Then she discovers that the average New Yorker can’t see what she sees—she is the rare true mundane, completely unaffected by all magic, including magical camouflage. Her special abilities lead her to a new job for a magical company, and the book leads the reader into a delightful series of adventures that hilariously combine wizardry and enchantment with corporate intrigue and the tropes of Chick Lit.

The Lotus Palace

By Jeannie Lin,

Book cover of The Lotus Palace

Why this book?

Lin is well-known among romance aficionados for her groundbreaking Tang Dynasty historical romances. With The Lotus Palace, the first novel in her Pingkang Li Mysteries series, she expands into crime and political intrigue. This is the only non-fantasy or science fiction title on this list, and it’s here because Lin not only crafts an engaging story of murder and romance, she also handles the historical setting like an absolute master. The world of the 9th century Tang capital Changan—from the seedy gambling dens and bars of the Pingkang Li red-light district to the luxurious family compounds of the exclusive northeast quarter—feels familiar and lived-in, rich and complete, fully detailed without reading like a history textbook.

The Final Formula

By Becca Andre,

Book cover of The Final Formula

Why this book?

Magic has appeared on Earth, and Addie doesn’t know what to make of it. In fact, she’s not quite sure what to make of anything—she has no recollection of who she is. What she does know is alchemy: While some people are magical, alchemists make magic using potions and powders. The magical don’t like the alchemists, and the New Magical don’t like the Old Magical, the creepy, secretive necromancers who run funeral homes and turn people into ghouls and zombies. The Final Formula has excitement, scares, and some mind-blowing twists—just know that, if you continue with the series, you cannot skip the “in-between” books.

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