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Books for the Soul

I find the start of the year is a really nice time to read something a little more stirring or soothing than other times. The idea of a self-help book can feel a bit icky and have a bit of a morose, self-absorbed stereotype surrounding them at times but they don’t have to. Equally, a book that’s good for helping you grow inwardly doesn’t have to be a self-help book as such. Fiction and poetry can get to the core of you much quicker than an emotional instruction manual can at times. Last year I read quite a few of this sort of thing amongst the novels I picked out for FMN Book club and wanted to share the reads I loved for adding a bit of extra perspective, making me nod along, making me smile and making me remember their stories ever since.

Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine by Gail Honeyman – Man, this book made me weep. Such a lovely, heart-warming, heart-breaking tale of depression, damage, friendship and the light at the end of the tunnel. That makes it sound like a real downer but it’s the total opposite. It reminded me in tone of The Rosie Project thanks to its protagonist’s slightly alternative perspective on day to day life. I read this in the Maldives and laughed and cried my way through it in 24 hours. If you need picking up or are just up for a really great new read, you can’t go wrong with it.

The Sun and her Flowers by Rupi Kaur – If you haven’t read any of Kaur’s poetry before, where have you been? And if you’re saying ‘nah, I’m not really a poetry person’, this is even more for you… I love Kaur’s words about relationships, sex, sadness and body image. I might not be able to relate to all of her experiences but I can most definitely feel her pain with a lot of them. There’s something cathartic about knowing someone else feels exactly what you feel too. And if the beautiful words and writing isn’t enough, the front cover and illustrations are so lovely.

Rising Strong by Brene Brown – I was struggling to know which Brene Brown book to feature because, well, I’ve read most of them. I love this woman. If you’re not familiar with her, watch her Ted Talk and you’ll quickly get a fee for what she’s about. Essentially she writes a lot of shame and vulnerability and bringing people together by sharing stories we would normally keep under wraps. I love her lessons and musings and the way she writes is very down to earth. I loved Daring Greatly too and her original book, I Thought It Was Just Me But It Isn’t is really great too and you can get a real sense of how her own journey has evolved as she writes.

The Anxiety Solution by Chloe Brotheridge – I think it’s a great thing we’re all so much more aware of anxiety these days, and the fact it can be so much more than just a vague feeling of butterflies in your stomach. I for one definitely have moments of struggling with anxiety, normally when I’m stressed, tired or rundown. This book is a pretty good starting place in terms of tackling anxiety in women with physical and mental exercises and ideas to help with everything from decision anxiety to social media comparison-itis.

The Life Changing Magic of Not Giving a F*ck by Sarah Knight – I know this is an oldie but it’s still something I think about now and again when I’m stressing about not being able to be perfect at everything, or even half of everything. The idea of having a ‘fuck budget’ and knowing you can’t care about/do everything so it’s ok to well, not to, has really stuck with me. It’s a pretty liberating read and unsurprisingly, zero fucks given in the way it’s written. If you stress the small stuff and feel like you’re failing at the big and small stuff from time to time, this is for you. And it will make you laugh while also being pretty enlightening which is always a nice combination.

Have you read anything lately that felt like the literary equivalent of soul food?