What do you do when reality gets too heavy? When you feel like your mind is being pounded by a constant barrage of negative information and your mental health is faltering? I'll go first. I turn to a time-tested sanctuary: books. There I can find refuge and a safe haven where the weight of the world's troubles can be temporarily set aside.
Books have always been a source of relaxation and an escape from the disturbance of the outside world for me. Depending on what I need at any given time, you will find me diving into various subjects, seemingly unrelated to each other, but very relevant to my current mood. However when shit hits the fan, there are two categories I go for. Those I call comfort books that help me find some light and restore my faith in the world, and fantasy books for all the magic they make my mind create.
Today I'm here to talk about the first category and share with you 5 books that have offered me mental refuge in times of need, hoping they might do the same for you."Humankind: A Hopeful History" by Rutger Bregman
"Most people, deep down, are honest and decent", says Rutger Bregman and through his research he proves it. He does so by breaking stereotypes, and challenging popular research results on which entire theories have been based on. You wouldn’t guess it's a comfort book, I definitely didn't. But it turns out it is. If your faith in humankind and the world as a whole is shaking I invite you to offer yourself the gift of reading it. You will reconsider and most importantly you will take a deep breath. And please don't let its size or scientific status scare you. It’s surprisingly easy to read. Simply written and so beautifully laid out that anyone can understand it. If you have to read one book this year, let it be this one. In turbulent times, this book is a reassuring reminder of the potential for positive change.
"The Midnight Library", by Matt Haig,
How many times have you thought about what would have happened if you had made a different choice? And what if you could explore all those what-ifs? This is a beautifully crafted story that explores the multitude of lives we could have lived and the profound impact of the choices we make. But most of all it's a wonderful reminder of the power of second chances and the infinite possibilities that life holds. It exudes warmth and is the definition of comfort.
“Calypso” by David Sedaris
This is not a novel but a collection of short stories. Which means you don't have to commit to it. You can read one today, one tomorrow and so on. That is, if you manage to put it down. I avoided this book for a long time mainly because of its description which states that here Sedaris deals with some serious losses. Apparently I forgot who I was dealing with. Sedaris is above all else a comedian and brings his humor and wit to all moments of life. From family dynamics, to the misadventures of his beach house and his personal losses. In his own unique way, he is a living reminder that humor is one of the best ways to face life's challenges. It's impossible not to laugh.
"The Little Paris Bookshop" by Nina George
Mr. Perdu, the book’s main character, is a "literary pharmacist." He writes novel prescriptions to his clients to heal their broken hearts and souls. This is a book that takes you to a place where you can enjoy the scent of French lavender and the warmth of human connection. Two things are for sure, you will want to travel to the South of France and you will have a long list of further readings, since it’s full of references to other works that intrigue you to read them all! Extra tip. For non-French speakers (like myself) Perdu (the character's name) means lost...I learned that after reading it and it made so much sense.
"The Consolation of Philosophy" by Alain de Botton
In this book this modern philosopher returns to the classics and reaches for the core and and all-time purpose of philosophy which is to make our lives better. This book delves into the wisdom of philosophy to provide comfort in life's most challenging moments. It's a reminder that the great thinkers of history can offer solace and guidance in our daily lives.
So, as you navigate the turbulent waters of this world, I invite you to consider your own comfort books, the ones that have always been there to provide solace and strength. They are not mere words on pages; they are your companions, your anchors, and your allies in the quest for inner peace. Take a moment to open one, and let it be your refuge in these trying times.
In a world suffocatingly full of ready-made images, often shocking and violent (because that's what sells) it is almost revolutionary to shut down all digital screens and open the windows of your mind to create your own.
Be a rebel!
Originally Published in MagicMe