35 Fantasy Books to Read When Looking for an Escape

35 Fantasy Books to Read When Looking for an Escape

1

Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone

Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone

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Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone

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One of the most iconic novels of the 21st century, the story follows Harry Potter as he discovers his magical powers and begins a long fight to defeating the dark wizard Lord Voldemort.

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2

Outlander, Book 1

Outlander, Book 1

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Outlander, Book 1

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Claire Randall, a WWII-era nurse, finds herself transported back to 1743 Scotland, where the country is war-torn and clans are raiding lands for conquer. Our protagonist, Claire, must decide if she will return to her own time or stay with the man she now loves.

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3

The Hobbit

The Hobbit

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The Hobbit

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Tolkien’s first entrance into the world of Middle Earth, the story follows Bilbo Baggins as he sets off on a quest to win a treasure protected by a dragon called Smaug.

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4

The Fellowship of the Ring

The Fellowship of the Ring

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The Fellowship of the Ring

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Once you finish The Hobbit, continue exploring Tolkien’s created world with the first novel of The Lord of the Rings trilogy. The story explores as Frodo Baggins leaves the Shire (with friends in tow) to protect the ring that can give power to all things good… and evil.

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5

A Game of Thrones (A Song of Ice and Fire, Book 1)

A Game of Thrones (A Song of Ice and Fire, Book 1)

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A Game of Thrones (A Song of Ice and Fire, Book 1)

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The first in the famous book series, Martin’s book follows the beginnings of the noble families of Westeros (Targaryen, Stark, etc.) and their struggle to claim the Iron Throne. You might’ve seen it played out on the hit HBO show, but the book offers a lot more.

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6

The Neverending Story

The Neverending Story

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The Neverending Story

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The book follows a young boy who, after finding his own book, enters the world of a warrior who tries to ward off evil in a magical realm. It’s a children’s book, but who cares. It’s a total fantasy genre staple.

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7

The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe (Chronicles of Narnia)

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The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe (Chronicles of Narnia)

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The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe (Chronicles of Narnia)

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The story follows the Pevensie children as they discover a fictional world, full of talking lions, a war about to strike, and magic everywhere they go… all hidden inside a wardrobe. The book (and its subsequent novels) was adapted by Disney into a 2005 film.

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8

American Gods

American Gods

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American Gods

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Neil Gaiman’s novel follows Shadow, an ex-con, who meets a stranger after the deaths of his wife and best friend. After accepting the stranger’s offer of employment, he discovers he’s been pulled into a dangerous game that can destroy the United States. (No biggie.)

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9

Good Omens

Good Omens

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Good Omens

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Heaven and Hell collide when an angel (Azirophale) and a demon (Crowley) must work together to save the world from the Anti-Christ and the End Times. It’s witty, the characters will make you laugh, and when you’re done, you can watch the book come to life in the Amazon Prime miniseries.

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10

Ballantine Books Interview with the Vampire

Interview with the Vampire

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Ballantine Books Interview with the Vampire

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Anne Rice’s book follows a young reporter as he speaks to a vampire about his life leading up to modern times. If you’re wondering why it sounds familiar, perhaps you should watch the 1994 film (starring Brad Pitt) after finishing the novel, or the AMC series based on the book.

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The Magicians

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The basis for the 2014 television series of the same name, Lev Grossman’s novel follows Quentin Coldwater as he discovers a secret magical college deep in New York. It might sound like the beginnings of a Harry Potter novel, but it has its own unique quirks that are perfect for those looking for the next fantasy read.

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12

Signet A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur’s Court

A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur's Court

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Signet A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur’s Court

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Maybe one of the first modern-day fantasy books, Twain writes about an Engineer from Connecticut who, transporting to the world of King Arthur, tries to modernize the past and create a better future. It might not have all the magical effects of more recent novels, but it’s a fantasy all the same.

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A Wrinkle in Time

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Considered a classic, the story follows three kids (Meg Murry, Charles Wallace Murry, and Calvin O’Keefe) on an adventure to save their father, including traveling through space and bending time itself.

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14

Houghton Mifflin Harcourt The Princess Bride: An Illustrated Edition of S. Morgenstern’s Classic Tale of True Love and High Adventure

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The Princess Bride: An Illustrated Edition of S. Morgenstern's Classic Tale of True Love and High Adventure

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Houghton Mifflin Harcourt The Princess Bride: An Illustrated Edition of S. Morgenstern’s Classic Tale of True Love and High Adventure

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You might know the story from the 1987 film, but if you haven’t, here’s what you need to know: There’s drama, swash-bucking, and romance. What’s not to love?

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15

John Carter: A Princess of Mars

John Carter: A Princess of Mars

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John Carter: A Princess of Mars

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Sure, the 2012 film might’ve been a flop, but the story of a young Confederate soldier transporting to Mars (or “Barsoom,” as it’s called in the books) will draw you in at first glance.

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16

The Lightning Thief (Percy Jackson & the Olympians, Book 1)

The Lightning Thief (Percy Jackson & the Olympians, Book 1)

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The Lightning Thief (Percy Jackson & the Olympians, Book 1)

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A young boy with dyslexia and ADHD discovers he is the son of Poseidon—as he’s being accused for stealing Zeus’ lightning bolt. Teens love it and so do we.

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Cursed

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Now a Netflix series, the story reimagines an Arthurian legend and Nimue, a young witch who’s destined to become the Lady of the Lake. Her story isn’t as known as King Arthur, but she plays a big role in it.

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18

The Golden Compass (His Dark Materials, Book 1)

The Golden Compass (His Dark Materials, Book 1)

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The Golden Compass (His Dark Materials, Book 1)

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The first of a popular trilogy of novels, the book explores Lyra Belacqua’s quest to save her best friend. Once you’re done reading, move onto the HBO-adapted series.

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19

Storm Front (The Dresden Files, Book 1)

Storm Front (The Dresden Files, Book 1)

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Storm Front (The Dresden Files, Book 1)

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Telling the story of a private investigator/wizard as he looks into supernatural investigations in Chicago, the book is part-paranormal, part-true crime.

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20

The Gunslinger (The Dark Tower, Book 1)

The Gunslinger (The Dark Tower, Book 1)

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The Gunslinger (The Dark Tower, Book 1)

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Stephen King is well-known for his horror novels, but he blends fantasy and tales of the Wild West in the first of the Dark Tower novels. As you read through the main character’s adventures in the desert, you can follow up with its 2017 film adaptation.

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Headshot of Adrianna Freedman

Adrianna Freedman

Adrianna Freedman writes all things TV and film for Cosmo. When not binge-watching the latest series on Netflix, she is busy singing along to her favorite artists/showtunes, consuming too many coffees a day and dreaming about penning her next big story.

Headshot of Milan Polk

Milan Polk is an Editorial Assistant for Men’s Health who specializes in entertainment and lifestyle reporting, and has worked for New York Magazine’s Vulture and Chicago Tribune.

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