How Reading Can Really Help In Times Of Stress

mental heatlh week

Just to quickly preface this article to say that I’m not, in any way, a doctor or therapist. I know about mental health only what I have experienced, and read in the course of trying to manage my own issues. Please don’t give up on medication or specific treatment plans based on any articles you read this Mental Health Awareness Week, not even one from someone as awesome as me!

However, if you’re looking for a means to de-stress, or an activity that will help you in times of bad mental health, then reading could be your answer, and this is a topic on which I excel. I am an avid reader, and I’ve found over the years that reading is a great activity for when my mental health is bad, I’m stressed, feeling strong anxiety or just really struggling.

It’s a great excuse to be alone, for one thing. It’s also a great reason to curl up and snuggle down under blankets and warm clothes. Reading is an activity that is all about being comfortable, a factor which really helps when you’re struggling mentally.

Another great thing about reading is that it’s a repetitive activity that doesn’t involve any outside factors that could increase stress or anxiety. Re-reading old favourites can be a great way to ensure you know that there are no trigger factors in a text, and make you feel really comfortable and calm in times of unease.

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My own anecdotal evidence is backed by new research showing that creative activities are considered good for mental health. The study references reading as one such activity, and whilst it isn’t technically a creative activity in the sense that you’re not actually creating anything, you are using your imagination. As such, reading can be a morale boost at times and offer a solace that perhaps other activities cannot.

So in all, reading is a great hobby for anyone out there who doesn’t currently do it regularly but is looking for an activity that may offer a positive impact on their mental health. I’m not saying it’s guaranteed to improve your mental wellbeing, but it’s not likely to harm it either, and with so many people turning to books to help them, it might work for you too.


Cosy Crime Fiction: It’s Still Literature

hands of woman reading book by fireplace

Crime fiction has often been thought of as less literary than other genres of writing. As someone who has been researching and writing about crime fiction for many years, I know this as well as anyone else.

Personally, I’ve found it hard to get people to think that crime fiction is more than just a silly, fun genre. My friend once said something similar about fantasy fiction, when he went into a bookshop and asked about the fantasy section and the bookseller said it was just for kids.

Crime fiction is pretty similar; many people think it’s the book equivalent of Midsomer Murders with its formulaic plots and reputation for being something you can watch easily without having to do much thinking or paying masses of attention.

However, in my mind most crime fiction is much more than that. There are always bad examples in any genre, but some of the world’s greatest crime fiction is truly amazing.

From Agatha Christie through to Raymond Chandler, Ruth Rendell to Peter James, there are some incredibly talented writers across the genre and their work is more than just something to check through; it’s true literature. It goes over the full plethora of human emotion, morality and social issues. They often showcase the challenges of the period in question and make for a great study of the ways in which people behave and interact with one another.

Cosy crime fiction is one of the sub-genres of crime fiction that gets the most flack. Often dismissed as the Mills and Boon of the crime fiction space, the style doesn’t have the gravitas of police procedurals nor the selling power of gritty, gore filled thrillers.

What it does have is the insight into human emotion and behaviour that many genres lack. Cosy crime fiction, from Agatha Raisin to the Number One Ladies’ Detective Agency series, is designed specifically to lull readers into thinking that they are about to read something easy and uncomplicated. What these novels create instead is a complicated allegory of human emotion and life in general.

One of the best examples of this is Kerry Greenwood’s Miss Fisher series, which expertly combines convoluted plots and sweet romances with darker discussions on such topics as rape, the 1920’s justice system and racism. Greenwood’s novels show how twee, cosy crime fiction can hit home as succinctly as any grittier examples of the genre can.

So next time you think of crime fiction, don’t dismiss it completely offhand. No matter the sub-genre or style, there is something great to be found among the tales of grizzly murder and mayhem.

Five Great Chocolate Treats To Eat While Reading This Easter!

reading and eating chocolate

Happy Easter! A fun one for you today as I check out five eggcellent chocolatey treats you can indulge in over the holiday period as you delve into your favourite book.

After all, not all chocs are alike, and some are better suited to reading than others. There’s the issue of dropping chocolate on your book, or chocolates that require you to touch them with your hands, and as such leave you running the risk of covering your book pages in smears. What you really want is a chocolate that won’t crumble too much, or can be popped into your mouth whole, and which, on a holiday such as Easter, evokes childhood memories. Take a look at the below and see what you think!

5. Mini Eggs: If you’re looking for something Easter themed then it can be tough finding the perfect treat to eat while reading. Big eggs tend to crumbles to hell and Crème Eggs suck. There, I said it. They are too sweet and just plain awful. But Mini Eggs are great because they are small enough to chuck straight into your mouth and you won’t get your sticky mitts on the pages of your book because of the sugar shell covering the chocolate. Win win!

4. Cadbury Caramel Eggs: I know I know, I just blasphemed Crème Eggs, but Caramel Eggs are a whole different ball game. They are just so much nicer. The filling isn’t overwhelmingly sweet and they’re the right size to eat quickly, in just one or two bites. Also the foil means you can protect your hands and make sure you don’t get marks on your book. Just make sure you don’t dribble the caramel on it!

3. Malteser Bunnies: Maltesers in general are a great reading chocolate, but at Easter the bunnies make for a lovely way to treat yourself and feel like you’re celebrating. The trick to not getting crumbs all down the spine of your lovely book is to turn your head slightly as you bite into it, then hold it away from your book as you munch and read. Sounds a little laborious, I know, but it’s worth it.

2. Lindt Gold Bunnies: Another great example of a rabbit being used to market chocolate, the Lindt Gold Bunnies have been a staple for many years now, and they’re definitely worth shelling out for. Whilst other brand bunnies tend to be made of super sweet chocolate, the Lindt ones are made of their lovely delicious chocolate, making them well worth the extra. They also hold together exceptionally well, and as such are great for when you’re reading and don’t want to get chocolate all over your precious book!

1. Galaxy Caramel: The Queen of all chocolate treats, Galaxy Caramel is a year round winner. Whatever the celebration or if you just fancy a snack while you read, this is the perfect option. Normally Galaxy is too sweet and shiny, but the caramel offsets this perfectly and makes it a great indulgence to munch on while you use your time off to catch-up on your reading.

So, what’s chocolate treat will you be snacking on this Easter? I’d love to hear your thoughts on my line-up and what you would’ve done differently!

Giveaway! Win A Signed Copy of Nicola Avery’s Within The Silence!

Within the Silence

Following my interview with Nicola Avery I am proud to announce that I have 5 copies of Within the Silence to give away, each personally signed by the author herself!!

To win yourself a signed copy all you need to do is comment on this post letting me know why you want to read this thrilling tale of secrets and the lengths people will go to keep them. The winners will be announced on 23rd April! Good Luck!


New Non-Fiction Bestseller Shows Where Book Industry’s At

pinch of nom

The recent success of a slimming cookbook shows the reading habits of today’s book market and could pave the way for a continued focus on slimming and self-improvement books by publishers in the future.

The book in question, Pinch of Nom by Kate Allinson and Kay Featherstone, went on sale on 21 March and just 72 hours later had sold 210,506 copies according to book sales monitor Nielsen BookScan. This is an incredible success and shows that books on advice and self-improvement are the way to go in today’s market.

Stemming from a popular blog run by a pair of restaurateurs, Pinch of Nom shares recipes that are compatible with a range of diet plans such as Slimming World and Weightwatchers.

Personally I first noticed this book when it repeatedly cropped up on my social media feeds. Friends were posting about how it was the first cookbook they’ve ever bought (we’re in our mid-20s it’s a tad worrying but we’re not really proper adults so I suppose it’s not really surprising) and how it was a revolutionary slimming cookbook because it combines healthy ingredients with indulgent recipes.

There’s been a surge in this type of cookbook over recent months, with many chefs and cookbook writers have been focusing on quick, healthy and uncomplicated recipes such as Mary Berry’s Quick Cooking. There are also a number of self-improvement books on the market currently: not the sort of thing Bridget Jones would gravitate towards which tells you to sling your boyfriend and meditate, but instead books that seek to use theory and education as tools to help readers to improve some aspect of their lives. For example, The Book You Wish Your Parents Had Read (and Your Children Will Be Glad That You Did) is written by psychotherapist Philippa Perry to help parents to better support their children. There’s also How to Fail: Everything I’ve Ever Learned from Things Going Wrong, based on a popular podcast that gives a glimpse into the life lessons to be learned from failure.

In all there are some great self-improvement and change focused non-fiction books on the market at the moment, and Pinch of Nom’s incredible success shows that readers are drawn towards books that will help them achieve their goals. This, in my opinion, is the future of non-fiction book publishing: books that offer readers the knowledge to empower them to change their lives. Also, the noticeable fact that the book is based off a blog shows that readers are increasingly drawn towards reading books which they have previously seen online or in other interactive formats such as podcasts or vlogs.