14 Books To Read When You Want (Or Need) To Escape Your Family

Soon we will all carve a giant turkey — or duck or chicken or Soylent “meat” patty — and begin the time-long tradition of eating too much, drinking a little more and yelling at your cousin Cheryl about how you will certainly defect from this great country of ours if anyone at the table votes for Donald Trump. Thanksgiving and the looming holiday season is great, because even though you’re supremely busy — parties and cookies and wrapping things and awkward work Secret Santas — the tiny bits of time that you get are great for sitting down and reading a good book,

This year, when you find yourself stuck at home wearing a sweatshirt you unearthed from the back of your closet, wishing that you didn’t have to talk to your family anymore than is necessary, instead of losing yourself to a marathon of “Property Brothers At Home”(not a bad way to go, tbh), read these books instead.

China Rich Girlfriend and Crazy Rich Asians by Kevin Kwan

Sure, your family’s fucked up, but at least(?) you’re not super, crazy, stupid rich and living a life worthy of a soap opera in Shanghai, right? If you aren’t, please read these books, they’re like a telenovela but with Chinese people and you will tear through them in a day, if not less.

Beyonce: The Untold Story by J. Randy Tarraborreli

A dedicated member of the Beygency will know all of this already, but it’s a big ol’ book and you can lose a fair amount of time in there mining for nuggets that you didn’t already know about Bey, which is a good activity for any time of the year, not just the holidays.

Purity by Jonathan Franzen


The Visiting Privileges by Joy Williams

Short stories from a master of the form, she’s perfect if you’ve tried Ann Beattie numerous times and could never quite do it. Don’t feel guilty about that — she’s not for everyone. Joy Williams is.

Hold Still by Sally Mann

A provocative photographer and a beautiful writer, Sally Mann’s memoir features her own photography and a deep exploration of her family.

St. Marks Is Dead: The Many Lives Of America’s Hippest Street by Ada Calhoun

“Yeah, I live in New York City, you suburban lames and this septum piercing is definitely real, so don’t try and pull on it, I definitely didn’t get it at TopShop,” you think to yourself as you bury yourself in Calhoun’s thoroughly well-researched love letter to the street where she was raised.

South Towards Home by Margaret Eby

Alabama girl Margaret Eby travels through the small Southern hometowns of writers like Harper Lee, Harry Crews and Truman Capote to explore the notion of “home” and how it informs and inspires writers, while looking at her own notions of the South and home along the way.

Negroland by Margot Jefferson

This lacks the sort of zippy quality you look for in an escapist read, but it’s worth it. Jefferson tackles her childhood growing up as the black elite in Chicago through a blend of cultural criticism and deeply affecting personal writing.

Animals by Emma Jane Unsworth

If you can’t hang out with your girls throwing back tequila shooters and dancing on the bar at Hogs and Heifers and you’re bummed about it, please let this story about two best friends who spend a lot of time doing things just like that in England serve as a cautionary tale as to why that’s not the best idea, anymore.

Love Me Back by Merritt Tierce

Tierce brings perfect honesty to the hole you can sink into when working in the sometimes destructive landscape of the service industry, in this debut novel. I read it in one day, so make sure you bring more than one book or else you’ll have to listen to your drunk uncle’s stories instead.

Pétronille by Amélie Nothomb

Japanese-born Belgian author, Amélie Nothomb is so perfectly funny it almost feels like an over-indulgence. The well-known author of the acclaimed novel Fear and Trembling, this semi-autobiographical work takes our successful writer on a journey throughout Paris to find the
perfect champagne drinking partner, but she gets a lot more than she asked for including a lasting friendship. This book pairs well with or without champagne but successfully drowns out noise, either
way.Transport yourself to modern literary Paris and tell everyone to GTFO.

Veronica by Mary Gaitskill

This book is from 2005, but it could have been written yesterday, that is how timely and even prescient Gaitskill’s writing is. Veronica is a novel about a woman, now in old age, who is stuck on her glitzy and depraved past modeling career. There is enough disturbing sex and disquieting debauchery to get you through a couple days with the in-laws. If they ask what you’re reading, tell them it’s a biography of Veronica from the Archie comics while you titter away.

The Mare by Mary Gaitskill

After you finish Veronica, move on to Gatiskill’s newest, a story about a girl named Velvet, a horse, the Fresh Air Fund and two well-meaning adults living somewhere beautiful upstate.