When I was growing up, I would read for hours at a stretch. My parents would limit my internet time to an hour a day, leaving me with no option but to turn to books for entertainment. But today, with the number of options to choose from when it comes to streaming shows and movies, most people (including myself) are dedicating less time to the joy of reading.
But did you know that reading regularly has several physical and mental health benefits? It provides mental stimulation, relieves stress, improves memory, builds your vocabulary, improves focus and concentration, aids sleep and alleviates depression—to name a few! Plus given that we are currently dealing with a deadly pandemic, we need all the stress relief that we can get. So take this as a sign to put down your TV remote, curl up on your couch and start reading. Confused about which book to pick? Fret not, we’re here to help!
This one’s an oldie but a goldie. You may be a big fan of the Harry Potter movies or you may have never seen them—whatever the case, you should still read the books! That’s because the books will do a much better job of transporting you into the magical world of Hogwarts and give you greater detail and deeper insights into the characters. All in all, these books will teach you about courage, resilience and friendship, and we think they should be mandatory reading for everyone!
This book is not fictional, so it won’t transport you to a fantasy land, but it is just the book to reach for on a cosy, rainy day. It explains in detail the Danish concept for Hygge (pronounced hoo-ga), which can be loosely translated to a sense of comfort, togetherness, and well-being. Hygge is being cuddled up with your bed on the couch, reading your favourite novel. It is catching up with a close friend at your favourite cafe while you relish your favourite dessert. It is slowing down and enjoying the little happy moments of life. And the book has been written by the CEO of the Happiness Research Institute, so you can trust that they know what they’re talking about!
When you’re in the mood for reading something intense but eye-opening, you should reach out for Sylvia Plath’s only novel, The Bell Jar. The book is semi-autobiographical, and provides a beautiful insight into the mind of someone dealing with depression, mental illness and suicidal thoughts. This is an important read, because it provides you with an excellent understanding of mental health struggles, which in turn will help you or someone you know cope better with such illnesses. Oh, and it’s also one of BBC’s 100 Most Inspiring Novels—need we say more?
If you are a fan of the hit HBO series by the same name, you need to pick up the books asap! Imagine the same gripping storyline and intriguing characters, but in a much, much more detailed setting. Also, if you are one of the many fans who was dissatisfied with how the show ended, we have some interesting information for you. The author, George R R Martin, is yet to write the final book in the series, so for all you know, you might actually get your perfect ending!
If you are looking for a book that is fast, gripping and yet beautiful and insightful, you’ve got to pick up a copy of The Midnight Library. Dealing with themes of mental health and magical realism, it’s a book that will leave you feeling moved and hopeful by the time you finish it. Plus the premise is super intriguing—the protagonist finds herself at a magical library that lets her get an insight into all the different versions of the life she could have lived. The book will help you decide what is truly fulfilling in life, and what makes it worth living in the first place.
When you need a break from intense (but fulfilling) books like The Midnight Library or The Bell Jar, we suggest you turn to ultimate masala fiction. Case in point: the Crazy Rich Asians series. Yes, you’ve probably already seen the movie, but let me assure you—the book is 1000 times more enjoyable! And the best part? It’s a series! So you can immerse yourself in the world of obscene wealth, insane parties, nosy relatives and bitchy social climbers. It’s a guilty pleasure, but you won’t be able to put it down
So now that you’ve got a solid list of recommendations—grab a warm cup of coffee and get ready to escape into another world!
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This article is part of a social initiative called #KhayalRakhna by Philips. We hope to provide you with some comfort, relief and guidance as we power through these tough times. If you are finding it hard to cope, we encourage you to get in touch with a mental health professional.