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Need a rest from the stress? Try one of these calming reads!

With deadlines looming around the corner, it can be really hard to find the time to read for fun at this time of the year. However, reading remains one of the best ways to relax and unwind and take some time off from that essay or revision, so here’s a list of my top ten recommendations of the best books to help you combat essay stress.

  1. Calm – Michael Acton Smith

Not quite a self-help book, not quite a journal, Calm is a beautiful mixture of both. If you can’t find the time to read, this is the place to start. It’s filled with prompts, inspiration and opportunities for you to take back five minutes of peace in your day – and there’s a free app to go with it too!

  1. The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy – Douglas Adams

If you’re feeling the stress, laughter is the perfect remedy – and you don’t get much more absurd than this. If you’ve ever heard of that weird joke ‘the answer to the ultimate question of life, the universe and everything is 42’ but don’t know where it’s from, this is the book for you.

If you’re feeling the stress, laughter is the perfect remedy

  1. Runaway – Alice Munro

If a whole book seems like too daunting a prospect, try reading some short stories instead. Munro is my personal favourite – and she’s the winner of the 2013 Nobel Prize for Literature, so what more could you want?

  1. Tom’s Midnight Garden – Philippa Pearce

There is no shame in reading a children’s book. This was one of my favourites as a child and it’s still a book I turn to if I want to forget all about the realities of adult life.

  1. A Monster Calls – Patrick Ness

Everything about this book is incredible: the inspiration behind it, the illustrations which complete it, and of course the story itself which describes a young boy struggling to come to terms with his mother’s terminal cancer. Technically, this is also a children’s book – but it is brilliant nonetheless.

Tom’s Midnight Garden is a book I turn to if I want to forget all about the realities of adult life

  1. The Handmaid’s Tale – Margaret Atwood

Set in a world where women are forced into slavery to bear children for the infertile elite, Atwood’s most famous novel is a modern classic which is both intellectual and easy to read – and no matter how much stress you are under, it’s bound to make you feel better about your own life.

  1. American Gods – Neil Gaiman

Centering on the mysterious Shadow, Gaiman’s novel blends fantasy, mythology and American culture to create a story which brings together both the Old Gods of ancient mythology and the New Gods of modern culture which manifest concepts such as technology and the media.

  1. The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes – Arthur Conan Doyle

These are the perfect length to dip in and out of during revision breaks and will keep you entertained for hours as you strive to solve the mysteries alongside the famous detective. No amount of adaptations will ever live up to the original.

No matter how much stress you are under, The Handmaid’s Tale is bound to make you feel better about your own life

  1. The Man Who Mistook his Wife for a Hat and Other Clinical Tales – Oliver Sacks

If you’re bored of fiction, try something new with some non-fiction. Neurologist Sacks details some of his most unusual cases, including the case of a patient with visual agnosia, a condition which renders him unable to recognise visual objects and – as the title suggests – leading to a whole lot of confusion!

  1. So You’ve Been Publicly Shamed – Jon Ronson

This is a non-fiction book that I’ve read recently which takes a closer look at the concept of public shaming as an internet phenomenon, and the effects it has had on several individuals who have been at the receiving end of it. In a world so absorbed in social media, it’s interesting to take a step back and see the long-term effects just one quick tweet can have.


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