Now that midterms have officially hit and I’ve become swamped with papers and studying, I’ve decided it’s the perfect time to take up a new hobby: procrastination. I’ve finally been catching up on “The Mindy Project” and “New Girl” (Ferguson is easily the highlight of this season so far), and I have been scouring BuzzFeed for pumpkin-anything recipes for Thanksgiving. I made a study schedule on Excel and spent most of an evening making it look pretty. I’ve even gone so far as to draw out my trips to Leo’s to avoid doing work.

When your next few weeks consist of papers, exams, presentations and econ assignments, escapism in any form is practically mandated. And when you’ve made your way through your Netflix queue, when playing the same video game is getting a little old and when you can’t spend another moment sitting at O’Donovan’s on the Waterfront, there’s a lot of merit to a good book. Grab a mug of hot tea (I’m still wondering why eggnog season can’t start in September) and pick up something that will completely distract you from the pile of things you probably should do but really aren’t planning on tackling until a few hours before they’re due.

Ellen DeGeneres’ collection of essays, Seriously … I’m Kidding, is one of those books that you can’t really remember after you’ve read, but it is almost as entertaining as watching her show. If getting Ellen’s insights into day-to-day activities and having her constantly remind you of how perfect you are isn’t enticing enough, she also throws in several haikus and tweets for your reading pleasure. And if that doesn’t take up enough of your time, Tina Fey’s Bossypants and Mindy Kaling’s Is Everyone Hanging Out Without Me? are also great ways to spend your time when being productive just doesn’t sound like that much fun.

Birds of America by award-winner Lorrie Moore is a complete foil to the comedian-penned humor. A book of short stories recognized for its critical analysis of the human condition, Birds of America is great for taking on over a longer period of time, as each story is unrelated to the others, so you can take gaps between reading them. With dark humor, unnervingly accurate insights and chilling, thought-provoking pieces like “People Like That Are the Only People Here,” it may not be the best thing to completely relax with, but it will succeed in getting your mind off of studying.

Although relatively short, Flowers for Algernon by Daniel Keyes is one of those books that you have to read at least once. The story deals with a mentally ill man who has surgery to become a genius, his resulting romantic entanglements and his touching friendship with a mouse named Algernon. Don’t knock it until you’ve read it (there’s no shame in being friends with mice), and be sure to keep a box of tissues on hand.

For a really good story that you’ll be completely unable to put down (that is, until the ending makes you throw the book across the room), go for Salem Falls by Jodi Picoult. Well-written and engaging in the true Picoult style, it’s a modern adaptation of Arthur Miller’s The Crucible in which a group of high-school students accuse one of their teachers of sexual assault. It’s surprisingly chilling, and you’ll be so immersed in the novel that you’ll forget you even have anything else to do.

Kurt Vonnegut is the ultimate in creating escapist novels: Slaughterhouse Five is an investigation of fatalism, war and the meaning of life through a sci-fi lens. It’s a really trippy read, as the main character Billy Pilgrim is “unhinged in time” and continually jumps between years and locations and some of the scenes take place on an alien planet where humans are kept in zoos. It’s weird enough to distract you from your theology paper, although you’ll probably spend the next few weeks quoting “so it goes” if your exams don’t go as you’d hoped.

Kim Bussing is a sophomore in the College. TOP SHELF appears every other Friday in the guide.

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