What makes a good tub read?
I don’t know about you, but when I read in the tub I am looking to get away from my life for a little while. I want to relax and forget about everything buzzing around in my head from the day. And since I have a huge spa tub in my home, it is the fastest way I can think of to slip away.
As such, books for the tub should be transporting. They should immerse you in other worlds and times.
- Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children, Ransom Riggs: The third in this trilogy is coming out in September, so if you have not read the other two, now might be time to get cracking. The last piece of the trilogy, Library of Souls likes to pop up on my Facebook feed to remind me of its coming. This book is complete with weird old time trick photography that is part of the story to really make one feel that one is somewhere else. This book and its sequel, Hollow City, dabble in alternative worlds and times and children with abilities that impede their assimilation into the larger world. These abilities have conversely filled their lives with danger. Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children is a refuge on many levels and you will forget your own troubles.
2. A Tale for the Time Being, Ruth Ozeki: A Japanese teenage girl who does not fit in decides to chronicle the life of her great grandmother, a Buddhist nun over 100 years old, before she plans to commit suicide. Her research about her great grandmother and diary connect her with people far away and leads her to her own spiritual retreat and journey. The spiritual retreat and self discovery was my favorite part of the book. Magical and supernatural events and unusual settings make this book enchanting. I read this in the dead of winter in Upstate New York and it was a welcome refuge.
3. Snow Flower and the Secret Fan, Lisa See: This sucked me in over the course of a weekend. Two 19th century Chinese women are made to be lifelong friends throughout the hardship of their own lives. This book is sad and makes me grateful for what I have. I have a fascination with women’s lives unlike my own, but this book reminded me about how our friendships are the same regardless of time and place.
4.The Golem and the Jinni, Helene Wecker: Two spiritual beings of two different religions come together in turn of the century Manhattan. Both tell the backstories of their creation in their old worlds, the Golem in Jewish lore and the Jinni in the hot deserts of Arabia. In addition to the premise just being cool in and of itself, this is a well-researched and well done book. I do not know if golems are meant to have personalities and I am assuming they are not, but the one Wecker creates is what I would have imagined for one. They are not meant to find happily ever after with each other but to learn peace and happiness with themselves in all the challenges that they must face of being out of place spiritual beings. If you want to forget your mundane problems and want to get absorbed in a whole different level of complication, this one is for you.
5. The Thirteenth Tale, Diane Setterfield: So, when I fell in love with this book, I did not realize that it is a modern Gothic novel. I wasn’t reading Gothic novels back then because I was treading in the reading and writing of my graduate school work. I was not reading much of anything for fun, save for the occasional Nero Wolfe novel and some New Yorker articles while floating in my then-boyfriend’s family’s pool during breaks. This book is dark, atmospheric, keeps you guessing, and I loved the twist at the end. It has a ghosts, family secrets, and tragedy, true to the genre. Amazon says that people who buy this book often also pick up The Woman in White by Wilkie Collins, which I love as well. The fact that this book was read at a time when I had very little time or attention for fiction means that it has something special and compelling beyond my, at that time unknown, love of Gothic and Sensation novels. I have not read Bellman and Black yet and I am reserved about it because people do not seem to love it as they did this book. It is sitting on my kindle and telling me that I need to not worry so much about what others think and give it a whirl.
All five of these novels are atmospheric and drop the reader in its world. A world with troubles of its own, but not the one in which the reader lives.