When I feel anxious, I know I need to step back and take stock but the truth is, I don’t have ability to do that straight away. My strategy is to pick up a book, take a little time and gain some perspective.
Here are 15 that I recommend:
1. Don’t Let Me Be Lonely: an American Lyric by Claudia Rankine
E.M. Forster wrote, “Only connect.” That sentiment underpins Rankine’s essays and imagery, she tells us that, in recognizing and connecting with others, we come to know ourselves.
2. Essays of E.B. White by E.B. White
A calming collection of essays on everyday life from the writer of Charlotte’s Web. As comforting as hot chocolate on a cold, drab afternoon.
3. Hyperbole and a Half by Allie Brosh
Allie Brosh’s graphic novel/memoir will make you laugh and sigh in recognition at how messy life really is.
4. Is Everyone Hanging Out Without Me? (And Other Concerns) by Mindy Kaling
Reading Mindy Kaling’s memoir is like being best friends with one of the funniest women on the planet. She also happens to have a great way of putting things into perspective.
5. It’s All Absolutely Fine: Life Is Complicated So I’ve Drawn It Instead by Ruby Elliot
Ruby Elliot makes me laugh and cringe – her cartoons are so truthful. I mean who hasn’t said, “It’s fine, it’s all absolutely fine” when it clearly wasn’t?
6. Letter to My Daughter by Maya Angelou
Wondrous, generous Maya Angelou – we are all her daughters – so this is for all of us. Her essays are full to the brim with the art of living.
7. The Antidote: Happiness for people who can’t stand positive thinking by Oliver Burkeman
Oliver Burkeman takes us on a witty journey through the joys of not thinking positively. That might sound odd but it does makes sense and when you read about John Keats’ concept of ‘negative capability,’ I guarantee your heart will sing.
8. The Art of Asking How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Let People Help by Amanda Palmer
Generosity and honesty run through Amanda Palmer’s work, whether she’s on stage or on the page. She is also an astonishingly talented writer.
9. The Bell Jar by Sylvia Plath
You might think this a strange choice, especially as the opening references the execution of the Rosenbergs. Set in the age of Mad Men, and presaging the age of Sex and the City, Plath’s masterpiece is honest, and raw and ultimately uplifting.
10. The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy by Douglas Adams
Books about journeys always free my mind, and what better journey than a road trip through the Galaxy, with Douglas Adams as guide?
11. The Lion and the Peacock: How I Conquered Anxiety by Jennifer Peacock-Smith
Jennifer Peacock-Smith sought help for her anxiety with an open mind and an open heart and this short book details her struggle towards understanding and ultimately managing her attacks.
12. The Old Ways: A Journey on Foot by Robert Macfarlane
For me, walking is a good way to deal with anxiety, even if it’s just a turn around the block. Macfarlane goes further afield to places such as Palestine, Tibet and the northern-most reaches of the Scottish Isles. This book is as much an inner journey as an outer one by a traveler who has a keen eye and a way with words.
13. The Princess Bride by William Goldman
Sometimes escape is my only option, and where better than Florin where my friends Buttercup, Wesley and Inigo Montoya are waiting to wrap me up in love, laughter and lots of swashbuckling silliness?
14. Tiny Beautiful Things: Advice on Love and Life from Dear Sugar by Cheryl Strayed
Cheryl Strayed, aka Sugar, is the advice columnist we all need in our lives. In Tiny Beautiful Things, she reminds us what is really important.
The thought of talking to strangers has always made feel a little sick. Kia Stark inspires bravery. At first, she explains, you don’t need to say anything – a smile is recognition, enough to tell the other person you know they exist. Next step: strike up a conversation and connect.
When you feel anxious, it’s hard to think straight. Sometimes you shouldn’t even try. Instead, pick up a book — you’ll find empathy, inspiration and a few precious moments to catch your breath.
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Featured image via Seohyeon’s Blog