The 5 best books to read your way back to relaxed

12th October 2021 | 4 min read

These are not relaxing times. We’ve all collectively experienced unparalleled changes over the last 18 months; and now, as we’re thrust from our newfound routine behind closed doors and computer screens and back into hustle-and-bustle of increasingly normal day-to-day life, it’s natural to feel some apprehension and the odd tightening pangs of stress.

All of us will have our own go-to activity for when we need to relax and reset – whether that’s a few moments in the garden or an hour in front of Love Island. But research suggests that taking time out with a good book is the best remedy.

A 2009 study by the University of Sussex found that reading is the ultimate stress buster – calming the nerves more effectively than listening to music, heading for a walk, or even taking the traditional tea break. Even snatching a couple of pages between tube stops can make a huge difference, with just six minutes of reading shown to reduce stress by up to 68%.

Researchers found that the concentration required to transport yourself to another world distracts from pressing concerns, slows the heart rate and eases muscle tension. It’s just one of myriad benefits. Regular readers can also settle on the sofa with a bestseller safe in the knowledge that the activity has been shown to increase empathy, fight cognitive decline, and lead to marked improvements in mental health.

As the world opens up and gathers pace, it’s important to remember to carve out those moments to focus purely on yourself. Get lost in a good book and recharge. Here are a few easy reads to boost wellbeing in busy times.

 

Running for My Life by Rachel Ann Cullen (Blink)

The heartfelt and stirring story of one woman’s marathon journey through mental illness, Running for My Life is a testament to the transformative power of putting one foot in front of the other. Ground down by life in the legal profession and struggling with her bipolar disorder, Rachel Cullen decided to buy a pair of trainers and head out on a daily run – a blister-ridden odyssey that led her all the way to the London Marathon. Racking up the miles hurt, but it helped her heal too. Might just inspire you to do a lap or two of Bloomsbury Square. 


Bathe by Suzanne Duckett (Lagom)

A reminder of the meditative ritual of bathing, this beautifully designed book illustrates how the act of bathing is not only a great way to unwind and switch off from the hyper-activity of modern-day life, but also boasts a host of unsung scientific benefits. Duckett explores the act of bathing across the world – from Turkish hammams to the Swedish sauna – and offers a checklist of exercises for your next soak designed to spur problem solving and unleash your creative spirit. An excellent book to dip into.


15 Minutes to Happiness by Richard Nicholls (Lagom)

Psychotherapist and podcaster extraordinaire Richard Nicholls hands over the tools to help unlock your happier self. Discover the science behind what works and why, and learn how small changes can have life-altering consequences. Aiming to inspire, educate, and motivate, this bestseller presents a series of easy quick-fire exercises that slot perfectly into a busy schedule: if you can reduce stress by two-thirds in six minutes, imagine what you can do with fifteen…


My Sh*t Therapist by Michelle Thomas (Lagom)

After suffering her first major depressive episode, Michelle Thomas made sure to study everything she possibly could about mental health in an effort to recover. What she needed was a decent therapist who would listen and offer a wellness strategy catered to her needs. What she got was advice to watch a few dodgy YouTube videos and a flippant reminder that ‘it could be worse’. My Sh*t Therapist is a deeply personal and genuinely hilarious account of living with mental illness, and offers Thomas’ tried and tested advice for caring for your mind and navigating the world when struggling.


Snowflake by Louise Nealon (Manilla)

And – finally – a novel to finish, because sometimes you just need a spot of pure escapism… Louise Nealon’s startling coming-of-age story has been one of the best-received books of the summer, and for good reason. The portrait of a student caught between the bright lights of Dublin and the pull of family and life on her rural Kildare dairy farm, Snowflake will take you back to the heady days of growing up and leaving home, and leave you yearning to escape to the country and listen to the stories of old wrapped in a blanket under an unending bed of stars.

About Bonnier Books UK

Bonnier Books UK is home to 14 adult and children’s imprints, publishing across a wide variety of genres for different ages. From crime to reading group fiction; memoir to self-help; activity to reference – we believe every book matters.

Bonnier Books UK is owned by Bonnier Books, a family-owned company and top-15 world publisher headquartered in Sweden.