Reading as self-care

Juliette Bowen 17 November 2016

Sometimes, you just need to curl up with a good book and escape the world for a little while. It's definitely got to that point in term , with deadlines piling up and the days getting ever colder – so take a break from that textbook, and indulge in some reading just for fun. Here are some suggestions to get you started.

The Northern Lights: When you’re feeling rough as a Cambridge student, Philip Pullman's novel might not seem like the most obvious choice for a comfort read, what with it being set in an alternate universe’s Oxford. It’s riddled with references to the things we’d probably rather not think about: colleges, masters, traditions, and angry porters. But it is also a story that romanticises these things back into our good books — I find it especially gratifying to read about the main character scrambling about on her college’s roof.

Good Omens: As we all know, there’s nothing like sassy angels and a dash of the Antichrist to cheer you up when you’re feeling down. Luckily, this book has both! Get hold of a copy and allow yourself to be sent stumbling down a road that’s potholed with hilarious footnotes, alive with adventure, and paved by two of the best storytellers known to story-telling, Terry Pratchett and Neil Gaiman.

And Still I Rise: I bought Maya Angelou's book of poetry in Week Five of last year and, as its title promises, it continues to lift me up whenever I’m in a slump. These aren’t all happy poems, but they’re bracing ones: rhythmic and playful and with the ability to set your soul thrumming with renewed determination. Definitely pop into Fopp the next time you’re walking past, on the off chance that this collection is still being sold for a couple of quid.

I Want My Hat Back: Another Week Five purchase: a picture book I found in the kids’ section of Waterstones. There was no way I was going to leave the shop until it was very much in my possession. I have absolutely no regrets, especially as it has been passed around my staircase multiple times, bringing somewhat perplexed joy to various people. If you have a wicked sense of humour, a love of slightly expressionless bears, and a spare ten minutes, then Jon Klassen's book for you.

Wicked Autumn: In my opinion, there’s little that’s more comforting than a good detective novel — especially when it’s one set in a cosy village, where the detective in question is an MI5 agent-turned-vicar, who is frequently described as looking like Hugh Grant. This is the first in G. M. Malliet's series, which is jam-packed with the quaint and funny, the sweet and sinister. And, as they progress with the seasons (Wicked Autumn is followed by A Fatal Winter), now is the perfect time to snuggle up with a copy and soothe away the stress.