In a summer film season filled with duds and needless sequels, the best exception by far has to be Kubo and the Two Strings. This stop-motion animated standout was expertly produced by Laika Studios, released through Focus Features, a subsidiary of Universal, and is currently still in theaters—which is good for you. Kubo could put a nice finish on a lackluster season’s doldrums.

Neil Gaiman, my favorite author, turns 55 today, and as luck would have it, he has a new book out! Okay, it’s been slowly published in single-issue installments for nearly the past two years, but if you didn’t pick those up at the comic-book store, now’s your chance to get the whole new story in one volume. If you’re a fan of Gaiman’s work, reading The Sandman: Overture today is like attending the coolest birthday party in the universe. 

This week we wrap up our National Book Month recommendations with some exemplary titles to take you away from the everyday. Whether you’re reading science fiction, fantasy or mystery, put your life into relief by, say, exploring a desert planet, or being stuck on a train with a murderer, or running from vengeful warlocks! And we hope you’ve been planning ahead—’cause every month should be National Book Month.