In response to Russ Marshalek’s excellent post on devastatingly sad books last week, we’ve decided to try and lift your spirits a little during this rainy week by suggesting books that are great escapes from the incessant grind of daily existence.
Last year, Wayne Gooderham wrote a thoughtful piece in the Guardian about emerging from the fog of depression by reading Saul Bellow’s 1964 epistolary tale of Moses E. Herzog — a brilliant but broken intellectual who is constantly writing letters, many which are never sent. Gooderham writes that Bellow renders “a potentially bleak topic in such a poignant and gently humorous way” in Herzog, which is the mark of a very good book. Since we’ve always been suckers for a love story, many of the selections on our list involve affairs of the heart, although we are also inspired by political nonfiction and comedy when they are done well. As always, we realize that any list made will be contentious, so please feel free to suggest alternatives in the comments section below.
Still Life With Woodpecker by Tom Robbins
This post modern fairy tale recounts the love story between Leigh-Cheri, an impassioned environmentalist who is also, ahem, a princess, and an outlaw by the name of Bernard Mickey Wrangle, AKA “the Woodpecker.” This is Tom Robbins’ third novel, and it explores the difficult terrain of modern relationships while also questioning if redheads are indeed supernatural. (The answer is yes.) But the ten-million-dollar question is: “Who knows how to make love stay?” If you read this novel, you’ll be certain to find out, which, we have to admit, is pretty life-affirming.