17 Books That Will Transport You to Another World

Let these beguiling novels help you travel back in time, around the globe or straight into the fantastic.
Flyover Lives

Flyover Lives

288 pages; Viking Adult
"So I suppose this is really a travel book," writes Diane Johnson—known for Le Divorce and her other novels set in Paris—in her breezy memoir, which moves from contemporary France to the 18th-century Illinois frontier. Prompted by a French friend's comment about Americans' "indifference to history," Johnson reconstructs the lives of her Midwestern ancestors and her own small-town upbringing, drawing connections between the two, such as her rustic childhood summers on Lake Huron, where her parents "loved living the life of forbearers." Johnson's admirers will be hooked on her candid reports of her own adult life, so different from her great-great-grandmother in her log cabin: the summer internship at Mademoiselle with Sylvia Plath, working with Kubrick writing The Shining, escaping an unhappy marriage by taking her four young children to live in London. But it's her insights that will delight any reader, on subjects as varied as the redeeming qualities of gossip to the worldview of petite women and how "the lives of people long ago are so unlike and so like ours." In the tradition of her pioneering ancestors, Johnson is a seeker, including in that most risky of all places, the blank page.
— Amy Shearn