Books to Help You Escape Reality

“Did You Know I’m Italian?” is a transportive collection of travel essays by the actor Stanley Tucci. With mouthwatering descriptions of Italian cuisine, and also a pop-up guide on how to roll your shirtsleeves to achieve Tucci’s signature “I sip Negronis and hunt wild boar with my bare hands” look, these essays will make you feel like you’re on the Amalfi Coast and not in your studio apartment, where the only Italian food you’re consuming is a Newman’s Own pizza and the closest thing to a seaside view is the pile of garbage bags resembling beached orcas outside your window.


Dan Brown, the author of “The Da Vinci Code,” gives us another heart-pounding thriller in “The Pollock Puzzle.” Brown’s latest book follows an art-history professor named Harrison Capricorn as he races against the clock to decipher clues hidden in Jackson Pollock’s iconic drip paintings. Capricorn discovers that Pollock was a member of the Freemasons (they offered him cheap studio space) and was trying to uncover the location of Peggy Guggenheim’s money. In one gripping scene, Capricorn studies Pollock’s splotches and deduces that Lee Krasner was a direct descendant of Mary Magdalene. Readers will love the mystery and suspense, and also the thrill of escaping to a time when artists got paid for their work.


Who doesn’t love a celebrity tell-all? The beloved culinary icon Ina Garten dishes on her most salacious experiences in her new memoir, “The Topless Contessa.” Memorable chapters include “Doing Ayahuasca with Jeffrey,” “That Time I Got Kicked Out of Le Bernardin for Punching Alec Baldwin in the Face,” and “All My Tattoos.” This is the perfect book to distract you from your neighbor, who’s now on the fourth hour of his daily trombone practice.


Tana French’s latest crime novel, “Gruesome Murder of a Young Woman in a Stunning Coastal Town in Ireland,” has it all: suspense, twists and turns, and enough images of corpses turning up on craggy cliffs and in lush green fields that you’ll be left wondering, Should I just move to Ireland?


“You Have Friends” is the début novel by the actor and former “Reading Rainbow” host LeVar Burton. Burton encourages readers to believe that it’s easy to make friends as an adult. Characters run into one another on the street and don’t pretend to be rushing to an appointment to avoid small talk. It takes only a couple of text messages for them to make plans. And they maintain healthy boundaries, never making one another feel guilty for wanting to stay home because they already took the subway once today and don’t have the energy to go out again. This is the highest-rated book on Goodreads.


In the gothic tale “House with a Back Yard and Washer/Dryer,” a young married couple stumbles upon a house that is within their price range. But soon our protagonists begin to experience unexplained phenomena, such as their house being within walking distance of good schools and a Trader Joe’s, and strange encounters with endless job opportunities for creatives. You won’t see the ending coming because you’ll get sucked in and transported to this alternative world of affordable three-bedroom homes with decks and fireplaces, where neighbors are not only friendly and inviting but not a single one of them plays an instrument after-hours. Written by Stephen King.


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