1. The Wonderful Wizard of Oz by L. Frank Baum
The quintessential otherworldly book, young Dorothy is picked up by a tornado (and her little dog, too) and set down in the land of Oz. For most of us, the ruby slippers are synonymous with Judy Garland and the classic 1939 film but, in book form, the Oz series ran and ran, then ran some more. Baum went on to write thirteen more Oz books, but the cast of characters in The Wonderful Wizard of Oz remain the most well-loved.
2. The Princess Bride by William Goldman
William Goldman is the writer behind such films as Butch Cassidy and The Sundance Kid, The Stepford Wives and Misery which, if anything, showcase his versatility and morbid interest in how men and women interact with each other. The totally true folk tale of Westley and Buttercup (set in the allegedly real lands of Florin and Guilder) are intercut with Goldman trying to find a copy of the original story for his son and his efforts to bring it to the big screen. Utterly convincing – even the parts about love.
3. The Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood
Again, this book is set on Earth – but not as we know it. In a terrifyingly plausible America, women are treated as chattel. Their only purpose is to be either a wife or a concubine to well-off men, with the purpose of churning out children to strengthen the current population. In this ultra conservative atmosphere, the narrator looks back on her previously normal life, and tries to determine some sort of freedom therein.
4. World War Z by Max Brooks
For zombie purists everywhere (and we do exist) the film adaptation of this book starring Brad Pitt is going to be unforgivably unfaithful to the original text – but hey, it’s still got Brad in it. Again, set on a parallel version of Earth and again, with a nerve-shatteringly plausible plot, World War Z is an essential read even for those who don’t like a bit of creeping dread in their reading material. Told in the form of an oral history, the survivors of a worldwide war against the undead (spoiler alert – we kinda won!) tell tales of human bravery and political deviancy, mistakes made and small victories. Despite the gory details, it’s a true story of humanity and what we are all capable of becoming.
5. A Game of Thrones by George R.R Martin
A Game of Thrones is the first book in the Song of Fire and Ice series and unless you’ve been hiding your head under some sort of big soundproof boulder, you’ll also know it as an incredibly popular TV series. Populated with (incredibly) strong female characters and more feats of valor than you could wave a pointy stick at, the continents of Westoros and Essos are where I’m going next time I need to find someone to tell the noisy neighbours to pipe down with that techno music at 4am.
Sarah Waldron is the Licentiate @The_Licentiate