This week in our ways to alleviate stress we turn our attention to books and how the written word can be a source of comfort to anyone suffering from stress during before or even after work. The following titles are good reads for anyone with a spare fifteen minutes or a lunch hours or even on public transport. The written word helps focus the mind and can engage our brains creatively. Here are some titles to consider:
Counselling For Toads: A Psychological Adventure, Robert de Board, 1998
This is a really interesting book. It’s a pastiche of Wind in the Willows, the classic children’s tale of Rat, Mole, Toad and Badger and their adventures. In this book Toad is severely depressed and requires counselling from a new character, Heron. The book itself isn’t quite a novel but more a self-help book and an ingenious way to get people to engage with counselling techniques and gently gets readers to ask questions of themselves emotionally through the vivid world of Kenneth Grahame’s classic work. A relaxing and simplistic read to grow your emotional intelligence and alleviate stress during a trying day.
The Warlock of Firetop Mountain, Ian Livingstone and Steve Jackson, 1986
This one requires some dice and paper or an app for both on a qualified smart phone. The Warlock of Firetop Mountain is the first in a series of game books that require you to make choices and be the hero of your own story. Mostly for kids it’s a very good way to engage your brain in a more active sense and experience the giddy thrill of a kid’s adventure. You make choices and it subtly imbues you with confidence even if you are simply doing it for a laugh.
Siddhartha, Hermann Hesse, 1922
The first and only novel on this list, well, novella really; Hermann Hesse’s Siddhartha is the titular characters journey to spiritual enlightenment in Nepal. It is written in light, elegant prose and the book itself is very slim. It isn’t going to confuse you with too many ideas and plot threads but will get you into the head space to relax. It is the ultimate stress-buster book. The un-embellished style and spiritual message will clear your brain and you’ll remember to breathe.
Cash: The Autobiography, Johnny Cash, 1997
An autobiography is often one of the most powerful forms of book. It’s the real story of a real person in their own real words. Any autobiography would have done due to their inspirational qualities coupled with relatability. Johnny Cash’s story is particularly arresting because of his personal hardships and his frank discussion and often assassination of his own character. It’s pulpy and thrilling as his life tended to be but ultimately it’s a message of hope to anyone who currently thinks they cant achieve greatness. A good read for those stuck in a rut.
Brief Answers to The Big Questions, Stephen Hawking, 2018
This book was actually published this year, the same year Hawking himself passed away. The book is the last we will ever hear from the smartest man ever to live and would be an interesting read for anyone who was ever interested in anything. This isn’t a sizeable beast off a university reading list; it’s an accessible piece of science non-fiction that answers basic questions in cogent and clear English. Reading about the universe almost makes one seem insignificant and you’ll quickly realise the tasks you have been stressing over to be mere nanoseconds in your life when you start reading and get an idea of the scope of humanity and its place in the grand scheme of things.