Escaping Reality: My 10 Favorite Books

Life is not only about OCD. This is one of the things that one has to learn to overcome this terrifying mental disorder. I have been suffering from Obsessive Compulsive Disorder for over a decade and this global panic over the novel coronavirus has made my everyday life significantly more difficult. And do not get me wrong, I’m not scared to death and I do not spend my days googling symptoms and reading the news, however let’s be honest: the mainstream media is not necessarily OCD friendly.

At the moment I really do not want to think too much about my OCD and that’s why I have decided to talk about something totally different in today’s post: my favorite books.

Broken April – Ismail Kadare

Country: Albania

Gjorgj’s brother is murdered by a neighbor and he has no choice: the code of Kanun requires him to kill his brother’s murderer but as a result of this killing, his own death is sealed. He is to be killed by a member of the opposing family but according to the law of the Albanian highlands, he is entitled to thirty days’ grace (besa) to prepare for his death. He could easily run away, but does he want to? Could he find a way out of the circle of vendetta or is the centuries-old code of blood feuds something that he is just unable to break?

Why do I love this book?

Honestly, this is pretty hard to explain without giving you a spoiler. But one of the things that I love about this novel is that it perfectly describes how hard it is for an individual to break the rules of their society. And another reason why this book is one of my favorites is because I have always been fascinated by Albanian language and culture – and I was actually studying it at university!

What is Kanun?

Revulsion – LΓ‘szlΓ³ NΓ©meth

Country: Hungary

Would you marry someone that you are not in love with? Well, if you lived in the Hungarian countryside at the beginning of the 20th century, you would not really have a choice as arranged marriages were pretty common back then. This novel is about Nelli, an introvert woman who is forced to marry a man that she does not love. And she tries everything to make her marriage as endurable as possible, but her indifference towards her husband will soon turn into another feeling: disgust (and that would be the actual translation of the Hungarian title). And because of this terrible feeling of disgust, she will soon start looking for a way out from her failed marriage. But how could she get away?

Why do I love this book?

As many of my readers may know, I am from Hungary. Which means that I have obviously read a lot of Hungarian novels. And I can say that Revulsion has been my favorite ever since I read it. I do not have too many things in common with the novel’s heroine, Nelli, however, I can totally relate to her thanks to the way this amazing book describes her emotions. In our modern society, you’re not forced to live with someone that you do not love. But just imagine what it would feel like to share your whole life with a person you’re not in love with. Don’t you think your indifference would turn into disgust? And how far would you go to escape from this terrible situation?

The old and the new parvenus – Nicolae Filimon

Country: Romania

The story is set in Bucharest at the beginning of the 19th century. Wallachia, a province of the declining Ottoman Empire (now part of Romania) is ruled by phanariots – a ruling class that consists of prominent families from Istanbul – who throw all their money for lavish and expensive parties, while the rest of the country lives in unthinkable poverty. One day, Dinu Paturica – a wannabe phanariote – knocks on the door of a rich lord. And he has a hidden agenda: he wants to become a lord himself. But what does it take to achieve his dreams?

Why do I love this book?

One of the reasons why this novel has become one of my favorites is definitely its oriental atmosphere and the way it depicts the 19th century Bucharest and the life of its ruling class. And another reason why I just love it is that I come from a phanariote background. But do not think of anything fancy: my family’s far from being rich – probably because our ancestors were spending all their wealth on those lavish parties.

Who were the phanariots?

Sentimental Education – Gustave Flaubert

Country: France

A beautiful story about love at first sight. This novel describes the life of a young man, Frederic Moreau who falls in love with Mme Arnoux – a beautiful woman several years older than himself. He even befriends her husband, an influential businessman, and as their paths cross and re-cross over the years, Mme Arnoux remains the constant, unattainable love of Frederic’s life.

Why do I love this book?

I have always been a hopeless romantic person so it is not a surprise that this novel about platonic love has become one of my favorites.

Crooked House – Agatha Christie

Country: UK

The billionaire Aristide Leonides dies. He was murdered with a fatal barbiturate injection. But who was the murderer? And why was the rich man killed? Hm…And I guess it’s better if I do not give you any other details because it’s pretty difficult to write about an Agatha Christie novel without giving you any spoilers.

Why do I love this book?

I have always been a fan of Agatha Christie. So the list of my favorite books wouldn’t have been complete without mentioning at least one of her novels. Now, why exactly this one? Because it’s dark and shocking – exactly the way I like it. And because I would have never guessed who the murderer was.

Image result for it stephen king

IT – Stephen King

Country: US

Derry, Maine. A small town that is pretty similar to your own. But let’s hope that your town is not haunted by an evil entity that exploits the fears of its victims to disguise itself while hunting its prey. It’s been many years since seven teenagers managed to save their town from this evil monster, who’s so scary that it doesn’t even have a name. And they made a promise: if “IT” ever comes back, they will fight it again! But will all of them keep their promise?

Why do I love this book?

Okay, I said I didn’t want to think about my OCD. But the evil monster from Stephen King’s novel has always reminded me to my OCD. It has a lot of different faces, it’s very creative – and it impersonates your biggest fears. But at the end of the day, it’s just a stupid clown that you want to get rid of.

Crime and punishment – Fyodor Dostoievski

Country: Russia

Raskolnikov, a desperate former student, wanders through the slums of St. Petersburg and commits a random murder without any remorse or regret. He imagines himself to be a great man, who stands above the law. Someone who acts for a higher purpose that’s beyond conventional law. But can he get away with murder without any kind of punishment?

Why do I love this book?

Do I really have to give you a reason why this book is on my list? Crime and punishment is a classic, a pure masterpiece that talks about the darkest feelings of a deranged mind. And reading this amazing book will really make you think about many of the most interesting questions of life. How do you know what is right and what is wrong? Can you actually commit a crime without feeling any guilt or will your own mind punish you for the horrible things that you have done?

Eye in the Sky – Philip K. Dick

Country: US

Did you ever want to see the world through the eyes of someone else? Well, this exactly what happened to eight people who were forced into several different alternate universes following an accident. And it can be much scarier than you would imagine. During the course of this novel, a few of these eight people impose their reality on the others, creating a series of bizarre worlds that they need to escape. Just imagine what would it feel like to wake up in the morning in a brand new world where if you want to get something, all you will have to do is to pray for it? Or in a world where everything that you do not like will simply cease to exist!

Why do I love this book?

We all know that everyone sees the world differently. But how differently? I have always been wondering what it would feel like to get stuck in someone else’s mind. And Philip K Dick’s novel gives a perfect depiction

An American Tragedy – Theodore Dreiser

Country: US

Based on an actual crime case, An American Tragedy tells the story of the corruption and destruction of Clyde Griffiths, a man who forfeits his life in desperate pursuit of success. The novel also represents a massive portrayal of a capitalist society whose values shape Clyde’s ambitions and seal his fate.

Why do I love this book?

I guess this may sound pretty shocking to some of you, but I do think that there are a lot of criminals who are not evil: they became the way they are because of our society. And I really do not want to say that an individual is not responsible for their actions and we can blame everything on the society, however, I do think that in a lot of cases, the circumstances are responsible for turning good people into monsters. And the reason why I think Dreiser’s novel is a masterpiece is that it tells the whole story from Clyde’s point of view and

Beware of pity – Stefan Zweig

Country: Austria

Anton Hofmiller, an officer who is stationed in the Hungarian countryside – in the middle of actual nowhere – is invited to a party at the castle of a rich landowner. He asks his host’s daughter for a dance, only to discover that the girl is actually crippled. What follows is an attempt to set everything right again. Anton becomes a daily guest at the castle, befriending the moody, inexperienced girl who misunderstands his acts of pity as an expression of love. Thus the whole story takes a fatal turn.

Why do I love this book?

I will tell you a secret: Beware of pity is my favorite book. And one of the main reasons why I have fallen in love with it is that Stefan Zweig’s heroes are far from being perfect: they are just human beings with their own mistakes. Anton Hofmiller, the main character has a lot of conflicting emotions: he’s haunted by guilt, uncertainty and pity. And while I really do not agree with many of the things he did, Zweig’s ingenious writing allowed me to see the world through his eyes and understand the reasons behind his controversial actions.

Keep calm and read books

I was browsing my blog statistics and I noticed that most of the people who visited my blog in the last couple of days had been looking for articles about “coronavirus and ocd” or “coronavirus and anxiety”. So I guess it’s been a pretty difficult period for people who suffer from mental illnesses (especially anxiety disorders). And reading about coronavirus will definitely not be the solution for our problems – I’ll be honest with you, I’m full uncertainty and I really do not know what to believe . But there’s one thing that I know for sure: reading novels is something that has always helped me a lot. A good novel really helps you escape from the prison of your mind and it allows you to see the world through other people’s eyes. So, keep calm and read books!

What are your favorite novels?

As you know, there’s one thing that I enjoy more than writing about myself: reading your comments. So please share the titles of your favorite books in the comment section!




29 thoughts on “Escaping Reality: My 10 Favorite Books

      1. I have a lot of favorite books, but right now almost everything I read is about automobiles. (It’s OCD, remember?!)

        One book I read at least once a year is When Pride Still Mattered, David Maraniss’ amazing biography of Vince Lombardi. If you’re not a fan of American football it probably won’t be interesting to you.

        I have never been a fan of fiction. My brain just screams at me, “This isn’t real! It didn’t happen!”

        Liked by 2 people

  1. Hi Mark :
    It is good that you use reading to calm yourself when stressed. That is a good distraction too.
    I love to read too- but mostly non-fiction, psychology books and Christian books. My favourite is a small book called “Jesus Calling”, by Sarah Young.
    An interesting post. Thanks πŸ€—

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Hi Sally,

      Apologies for the late reply. Yes! Reading has always helped me a lot. I am the type of person who always has to do something – like either working, going out or reading.
      Me too I love to read psychology books and Christian books – I’ll definitely read “Jesus Calling” !




      1. Hi Mark. I think you would like this little book. It is a daily devotional, but written with great tenderness and insight for those of us who are kind hearted and sensitive. I’ve been reading this book daily for years. Absolutely helps to give our worries to our creator who made us all uniquely, and longs to help us achieve the calmness and peace of mind that we all deserve. πŸ€—

        Liked by 2 people

    1. I have not read any books from Sydney Sheldon yet – but I love crime fiction so i will definitely start reading his books. Which one would you recommend me to start with?
      Ah and yes! Me too, love Sherlock Holmes stories

      Liked by 1 person

  2. I like Agatha Christie too, I red a lot of her books when I was younger. And I totally forgot about Stephen King, I red IT too along with other of his books.
    My favorite author is Paul Auster, I can lose myself in his books every time.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Ah yes, Agatha Christie is a genius. And it is a weird thing to say but her books will always calm me down -there is something about the atmosphere in her books or something because the stories themselves are far from being comforting πŸ˜€
      At the moment I am reading the Stand from Stephen King aaand I will definitely read a book from Paul Auster ( have not read any yet) which one would you recommend me to read?

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Yes Christie know how to take you back in time and she creates that very special atmosphere. It is really relaxing but also a little exciting.
        I would recommend every book from Paul Auster but I liked ‘the Book of Illusions’ or ‘Oracle Night’
        I would not recommend to start with his short stories as when you start with a ‘real’ novel, you can get ‘immersed’ into it. I’m starting on 4321, his latest.

        Liked by 1 person

  3. I have been reading mostly non-fiction books the past year, but looking at your list, I gather you love suspense–I have recently read “Nine Suitcases” by Bela Zsolt, you might find it interesting. The second part is not published (in English that is), but Ladislaus Lob filled it in by writing his own memoir.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Wow! A Hungarian book – this took me by surprise because I guess the great majority of people outside of Hungary hasn’t really read Hungarian literature. And I haven’t read this one either so thank you for the recommendation! It sounds very interesting.
      It reminds me to another Hungarian book that’s pretty popular – it’s title is “Fatelessness” and it’s written by Imre Kertesz.

      And well πŸ™‚ I remember you’ve mentioned me about your plans to learn Hungarian so maybe you’ll be able to read the second part in the original language sometime in the near future! πŸ™‚

      Liked by 1 person

      1. I was thinking because your English is so good, maybe you’d consider taking a sideline career of translating the second part of BZsolt’s recollections, LOL. I’ve taken note of Imre Kertesz, thank you. Cheers, have a lovely day β˜€

        Liked by 1 person

      2. Well, I have actually been thinking about translating a couple of books to English. The only thing which makes it a little bit tricky is that in Hungary, you need to talk to the author/ their legal heir before you start translating their novel to another language – copyright laws πŸ˜€ Like I guess you could translate it if it was just for yourself but you’d not be able to publish it without their permission

        Have a lovely day πŸ™‚

        Liked by 1 person

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