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Books to help you feel better

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Books to help you feel better

Books can mean many different things to different people. A study by the University of Sussex* in 2009 showed that reading could reduce stress, so here is a sample list of titles that may help YOU to reduce the stresses of life.

A sample list of inspiring and comforting books:
Books that make you feel good

Books that help us accept ourselves

Books about coping in difficult times

Books to escape into

Books that make you smile

Books that make you feel hopeful
*Dr David Lewis -Mindlab Report – University of Sussex, 2009
All the listed books are available from Leicestershire Library Services. Click here to go to our online catalogue.

Books to make you feel good

1. Talking Myself Home - Ian McMillan

The story of a place where coal-pits once dominated the skyline, with its milk floats and jumble sales, municipal library and church halls, it is a small corner of the world. Yet it’s a corner that sings.

2. Anne of Green Gables – L.M. Montgomery

A childhood favourite – which is great to re-read as an adult. When the Cuthberts ask an orphanage for a boy to help them at Green Gables, their farm in Canada, they are astonished when a talkative little girl steps off the train.
3. Cold Comfort Farm - Stella Gibbons

When sensible, sophisticated Flora Poste is orphaned at nineteen, she decides her only choice is to descend upon relatives in deepest Sussex. At Cold Comfort Farm, she meets the Starkadders - and sets out to organize this extraordinary family.

4. Toast – Nigel Slater

Much loved chef and food writer gives a powerful account of his childhood and sexual awakening, and the importance of food in family life. It is a poignant and moving story, which still manages to cheer you up.

5. Cider with Rosie - Laurie Lee

The reader can virtually smell the Cotswold countryside from Lee's prose in this memoir of the authors' childhood and growing up in Gloucestershire in the early part of the 20th century.

6. Moab is My Washpot - Stephen Fry

This autobiography of his first twenty years is a pleasure to read, mixing outrageous acts with sensible opinions in bewildering extraordinary account of a boy and man both charming and boorish.

7. Love In The Time Of Cholera - Gabriel Garcia Marquez
An old man and his childhood sweetheart are united for the first time resulting in the consummation of an interrupted love that spans half a century. This uplifting love story is set on the Colombian coast in the early 20th century.

This Book Will Save Your Life - A.M. Homes
Richard is a middle-aged divorcee trading stock out of his home in Los Angeles. He has done such a good job getting his life under control that he needs no one, until two incidents conspire to hurl him back into the world.

9. High Fidelity - Nick Hornby

Hornby’s narrator is a thirty-something who runs a London Record Store. He sells albums recorded the old-fashioned way – on vinyl – and is having a tough time making other transitions as well, specifically to adulthood.


Whatever Makes You Happy - William Sutcliffe
Matt works for a lads mag and dates girls half his age. Paul is an old hand at lying and evasion to keep his life choices a secret from his mother. Daniel spends his Saturday nights alone in his flat reading novels. Their mothers arrive, without warning, to stay with their sons for one week intent on getting them back onto the right path.

Books that help us accept ourselves
1. House Rules - Jodi Picoult

This is a sensitive and hugely illuminating exploration of the autism and its impact on the families affected by it. As ever, the narrative unfolds at a cracking pace, with all the cliffhangers and twists and turns in the plot that Picoult's readers have come to expect

2. Young Wives Tales - Adele Parks
Lucy stole Rose's 'happily ever after' because she wanted Rose's husband, Peter. But as Peter's interest diminishes and Lucy's domestic responsibilities increase, Lucy wonders if the 'happily ever after' is all a big con.

3. Anita and Me - Meera Syal

The story of nine-year-old Meena, the daughter of the only Punjabi family in the Midlands' mining village of Tollington. The novel provides a vision of British childhood in the 1960s, a childhood caught between two cultures, each on the brink of enormous change.
Forgive and Forget - Patricia Scanlan

It's left to Connie - mother of the bride - to smooth things out and get everything sorted. But few weddings go as planned especially when there is tension between families. The events that occur at Debbie and Bryan's wedding will have far reaching repercussions that will leave their mark for years to come.

5. Jonathan Livingstone Seagull - Richard Bach
Jonathan Livingston Seagull, the most celebrated inspirational fable of our time, tells the story of a bird determined to be more than just ordinary.

6. The Little Prince - Antoine de Saint-Exupery

A complex story containing lots of ambiguities about a child with golden hair. These are all eruditely discussed before the actual story begins, in a section entitled "How It All Began". The Little Prince is a story written for children and a meditation intended for adults.
7. The Boy with the Topknot: A memoir of love, secrets and lies in Wolverhampton - Sathnam Sanghera

Heartbreaking and wonderful, his words seem to have the power to capture your imagination while occasionally making you laugh out loud. Get a coffee, beer, tea, whatever, curl up and enjoy.

8. Aim High - Tanni Grey-Thompson

A “Quick Read” memoir by this multi-gold medal winning paralympian, revealing what has motivated her through the best and worst of times.

9. Engage: The Fall and Rise of Matt Hampson - Paul Kimmage

It doesn't matter if you don't like rugby, it doesn't matter if you've never heard of Matt Hampson -this is a moving account of how a young man has overcome a devastating accident to become an inspiration for everyone.

Books about coping in difficult times
1. Taxi Driver's Daughter - Julia Darling
The effects on an ordinary family of the sudden and unexpected arrest of the mother. A straightforward story, told with care and delicacy.
2. Half of A Yellow Sun – Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie

Set in Nigeria during the 1960s, the narrative alternates between the optimistic early years of the decade and the civil war period at the end of it -

With strong imagery and beautiful language this is a modern classic.
3. The Bookseller of Kabul - Anne Seierstad

This is an excellent insight into life in Kabul and neighbouring areas. Culturally enlightening in its day to day look at ordinary lives in a world where women are secondary to men, it pulls no punches about the plight of living in a war zone.

4. The Lovely Bones - Alice Sebold
A huge bestseller in America, this is a novel about life and death, forgiveness and vengeance, memory and forgetting. 14-year-old Susie Salmon, now dead, looks down on her family and friends from heaven.

5. The Rain Before It Falls - Jonathan Coe

Rosamund lies dying in her remote Shropshire home. But before she does so, she has one last task: to put on tape not just her own story but the story of a young blind girl, her cousin's granddaughter, who turned up mysteriously at a party many years ago. This is a story of generations, and of the relationships within a family.
6. Somewhere Towards the End - Diana Athill

This book tells the story of what it means to be old – The pleasure of sex goes, the pleasure of gardening grows, and there is much to remember, regret, forgive and forget.

7. A Thousand Splendid Suns - Khaled Hosseini
A chronicle of Afghan history, and a deeply moving story of family, friendship, and the salvation to be found in love.
8. The

Horse Whisperer - Nicholas Evans
In the still of a snow-covered morning in upstate New York, a girl out riding her horse is hit by a 40-ton truck. Part love story, part adventure, the book is above all a story of self knowledge, healing and redemption.
9. Tenth circle - Jodi Picoult
When Daniel Stone was a child, he was teased mercilessly, but he fought back and became a 'bad kid', full of anger, until he got a girl pregnant and reinvented himself. However, fifteen years later when his daughter is date raped, Daniel finds himself struggling with a rage that could destroy him and his family.
10. The Help - Kathryn Stockett

Enter a vanished and unjust world: Jackson, Mississippi, 1962. Where black maids raise white children, but aren't trusted not to steal the silver...

Books to escape into – just great stories, brilliantly told…..
1. Any Human Heart - Willam Boyd

Only the very best novels make you look at your own life and imagine your own future with fresh eyes. Logan Gonzago Mountstuart lived through most of the 20th century his life is entertaining and informative, wise and moving

2. Past Caring - Robert Goddard

A classic mystery linking Edwardian politics and present day intrigue, with believable characters and a great plot.

3. Room - Emma Donogue

This is a truly remarkable novel. It presents an utterly unique way to talk about love, all the while giving us a fresh, expansive eye on the world in which we live.

4. The Shadow of the Wind - Carlos Ruiz Zafon
Hidden in the heart of the old city of Barcelona is a labyrinthine library of obscure and forgotten titles that have long gone out of print. A man brings his 10-year-old son to the library and allows him to choose one book to keep. But as he grows up, several people seem inordinately interested in his find.
5. Pillars of the Earth

- Ken Follett

This is a timeless story of passion and idealism, about a group of men and women whose destinies are fatefully linked with the building of a cathedral. An epic drama from the author of The Needle and On Wings of Eagles.
6. The Time Traveller’s Wife - Audrey Niffenegger
The story of Henry and Clare, who have known each other since Clare was six and Henry was 36, and were married when Clare was 20 and Henry was 28. This is possible only because Henry is one of the first people diagnosed with chrono-displacement-disorder.
7. Birdsong - Sebastian Faulks

Powerful historical story set in trenches of the First World War, following the life of Stephen Wraysford, who carries memories of a doomed pre-war affair with a French girl into the carnage of mud and blood that France had become.

8. Jonathan Strange and Mr Norrell - Susanna Clarke
Long ago when magic still existed in England, the greatest magician of all was the Raven King. Now at the start of the 19th century, the Raven King is only a myth and England no longer believes in magicians. But then Mr Norrell makes his incredible talents known.
9. The Book Thief – Marcus Zusak

Unsettling, thought-provoking, life-affirming, triumphant and tragic, this is a novel of breath-taking scope, masterfully told...A wonderful page-turner.

10. The Boy in The Striped Pyjamas - John Boyne

This is a fantastic novel a novel which can affect both children and adults equally; a worthy successor, in fact, to such masterpieces as To Kill a Mockingbird and The Catcher in the Rye.

Books that make you smile
1. Notes from a Small Island – Bill Bryson

Bryson takes a wry look at England from an outsider’s point of view, and despite all its failings falls in love with the place we call home.

2. The Essential Spike Milligan - Spike Milligan

Classic Milligan in all forms – poetry, prose and scripts by one of the comic geniuses of the 20th century.

3. The Inimitable Jeeves - P G Wodehouse

One of many brilliant stories featuring the inimitable Jeeves and Wooster – if you have a funny bone then Jeeves will find it.

4. A Short History of Tractors in Ukranian - Marina Lewycka
For years, Nadezhda and Vera have had as little as possible to do with each other. But now they find they'd better learn how to get along, because since their mother's death their ageing father has been sliding into his second childhood, and an alarming new woman has just entered his life.
5. Friends Like These - Danny Wallace

Danny sets out to find all his old childhood mates, to find out how they have coped with growing up. This is one of those books that will make you sigh with satisfaction when you've turned the last page, and maybe feel a little warm inside too!

6. The Unbearable Lightness of Scones - Alexander McCall Smith
The story of Bertie and his dysfunctional family continues in this fifth installment alongside the familiar cast of favourites - Big Lou, Domenica, Angus Lordie, Cyril and others - in their daily pursuit of a little happiness.
7. The Uncommon Reader - Alan Bennett
The uncommon reader is none other that HM The Queen who drifts accidentally into reading when her corgis stray into a mobile library parked at Buckingham Palace.
8. Barking - Tom Holt
Duncan's boss doesn't think that he's cut out to be a lawyer. He isn't a pack animal. He lacks the killer instinct. But when his best friend from school barges his way back into Duncan's life, with a full supporting cast of lawyers, ex-wives, zombies and snow-white unicorns, it's not long before things become distinctly unsettling.
9. Snuff - Terry Pratchett

Can it really be the 39th Discworld novel? Full of all Pratchett’s trademark humour it features such unlikely characters as Commander Vimes, the “poo-lady” and a chief constable who is an expert in Bhangbhangduc

10. Cider with Roadies - Stuart Maconie

Stuart Maconie is the best thing to come out of Wigan since the A58 to Bolton - a thoroughly enjoyable read about a true rock fan's journey through the music that moved him: from late 60s and early 70s progressive rock to Northern soul, punk, 80s new wave, indie and Brit rock.

Books that make you feel hopeful

1. A Winter Book - Tove Jansson

Short stories from Finland by the creator of the Moomins, which explore, in beautiful prose, how we make sense of the world. They are stories for adults which children will also enjoy.
2. The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time - Mark Haddon
A teenage boy with Asperger’s syndrome tries to make sense of the messy world of adult emotions around him. A detective story which lays bare our frailties, and instructs us how to care for one another.
3. PS I Love You - Cecelia Ahern
Holly and Gerry have a running joke - that she'd never cope without him. When Gerry dies of a brain tumour, Holly's life falls apart. She cannot see how to go on. But then she receives a package from Gerry - a letter, with a pile of envelopes. Each envelope contains 'to do' lists for each month.
4. Michael Tolliver lives - Armistead Maupin
Having survived the plague that took so many of his friends and lovers, Michael Tolliver has learned to embrace the sacred dailiness of life, the loving connections that sustain him in the hardest of times.
5. Surgically Enhanced – Pam Ayres

Engrossing and wonderfully evocative – this is Pam at her best. With echoes of John Betjeman, she is humorous, observant, gently mocking and always thought-provoking.

6. For One More Day - Mitch Albom
Charley loses his job, leaves his family, and decided, one night, to end his life. Somewhere between this world and the next, he encounters his mother, who died years ago, and he spends one last day with her - a day he never had on earth.
7. The Spare Room - Helen Garner
Sceptical of the medical establishment, placing all her faith in an alternative health centre, Nicola is determined to find her own way to deal with her cancer. In the weeks that follow, her battle against the disease will turn not only her own life upside down but also those of every one around her.
8. A Spring Affair - Milly Johnson

This is a lovely, sweet, funny and clever story with a brilliant, feel-good ending. Lou Winter used to be a dynamic, fun-loving woman, but since her marriage, life has dragged her down. But everything changes when Lou decides to start spring cleaning her life.

9. The Diving Bell and the Butterfly - Jean-Dominique Bauby

On December 8, 1995, Jean-Dominique Bauby's life was forever altered when a part of his body he'd never heard of--his brain stem--was rendered inactive. This is his exquisitely painful memoir - neither a triumphant account of recovery nor a journey into the abyss of self-pity. Instead, it is a tender testament to the power of language and love.

10. The Silver-Linings Playbook - Matthew Quick

There is no doubt that the book is well-plotted, charming, touching and funny. The main character is Pat Peoples who has returned home to his family having been released from a secure hospital following a breakdown. This is Pat's chance to start his life afresh following the breakdown of his marriage and life.

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