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Sometimes you just can’t beat curling up in bed with a good book, whether that’s your old tattered copy of Bridget Jones's Diary that you’ve had since you were a teen or a shiny new copy of the latest best-selling thriller.

Reading is good for the soul, and it looks like it may actually be good for our health too with one study revealing that people who read live longer than those you don’t.

According to a team of researchers at the Yale School of Public Health, bookworms tend to live longer lives.

Their study looked at the reading habits of over 3,000 adults. The team discovered that people who read for over three hours each week lived two years more than those who didn't.

Of the 3,600 participants, those who read frequently had higher life expectancies.

Lead author of the study, Anvi Bavishi said: “We believe that reading books engages the brain more than magazines or newspapers, and it's cognitive engagement that extends your life.”

Reading has a plethora of benefits, from boosting intelligence to improving your sleeping habits.

It can also help lower your stress levels, which will boost your health. Experts believe that stress plays a part in up to 60 percent of health issues, like stroke and anxiety.

However, reading a book can help lower your stress levels dramatically. One study found that picking up a book can reduce stress by a whopping 68 percent. In the study conducted by the University of Sussex, researchers found that reading worked as a form of escapism from reality and your worries.

“This is more than merely a distraction but an active engaging of the imagination, as the words on the printed page stimulate your creativity and cause you to enter what is essentially an altered state of consciousness,” said Dr. David Lewis.

If anyone needs us we’ll be in the library!

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Eleanor Oliphant Is Completely Fine is the one book you have to add to your reading list. This unusual heroine’s story will teach you the most valuable life lesson.

The best-selling novel by Gail Honeyman has captured the hearts of people around the world. Eleanor’s strange sense of humour, her dark past and blossoming friendship with Raymond the computer guy will make this book an addictive read.

Eleanor is a hopeless and lonely soul, who you can’t help but feel sorry for. The quirky protagonist is a welcome change from the stereotypical female characters.

She’s no girl boss or hopeless romantic, and that’s what we love about her. Eleanor lives a mundane and quiet life but you can’t help but want to find out more about this odd character.

The story follows the 30-year-old as she grapples with her troubled past, an obsessive crush and her hope for a brighter and ‘normal’ life

What keeps you reading is the mystery surrounding Eleanor’s past. From the get-go, Eleanor is portrayed as an odd individual, who is clearly dealing with the ghosts of her past. Gail Honeyman trickles hints about Eleanor’s history and her relationship with her mother in the early pages of this book, and as time goes by we learn more and more about her disturbing family life.

Despite the drama, what keeps you turning the pages is the main theme of the book, and that is the importance of being kind to others.

 

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Eleanor is often singled out by her office co-workers, who like to mock her and point out her flaws, but along the way, this glorious character meets people who only want the best for her like Sammy, Raymond and Laura.

The book shows us that no matter how many battles life throws at you, you will get your happy ending one day, even if it does take longer than you hoped.

Eleanor Oliphant Is Completely Fine published by Harper Collins is available to buy now. 

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Talking to loved ones about your mental health issues can help, sharing your worries and thoughts with friends or family often makes you feel better, but many people struggle with opening up, and that is perfectly fine.

There are many ways to ease the symptoms of disorders like anxiety and depression. In an ideal world, we could just click our fingers and the constant panicking, the constant feeling of sadness and the loss of energy would all fade away.

Luckily, there are many ways to ease these symptoms, so they don’t consume you. Many people turn to counselling or seek help from their GP. Others practice mindfulness or feel that exercise is the best way to manage their disorder.

However, there is one thing you can do that will help, and it’s something we’ve been doing since the age of five.

Studies have found that reading has a positive impact on your mental health. Natalie Phillips, who is an English scholar, teamed up with Stanford neurobiologists and radiologists to look at the benefits reading has on our mental health.

They found that reading increases the blood flow to certain parts of the brain. They asked participants to read a chapter of Jane Austen’s Mansfield Park– both leisurely and analytically- as the participants read their brain was scanned by an MRI machine.

The team found that reading “requires the coordination of multiple complex cognitive functions”, meaning reading exercises underworked parts of your brain.

I would never have thought reading a tattered copy of F. Scott Fitzgerald’s novel The Great Gatsby would keep my anxious thoughts away, but it did. Reading is one of the things that has helped ease my symptoms the most.

Pick up a book and dive into a new world, meet new characters and learn about their lives. Reading is a great way to push the anxiety away. It eases your mind when it is full of doubt and fear.

It is the perfect form of escapism. Pop into your local bookshop or to the college library and pick up any book that tickles your fancy; whether it’s a classic like Wuthering Heights or the latest Louise O’Neill novel.

It may not work for everyone, but something as simple as channelling your inner Matilda may keep those dreaded symptoms at bay.

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Easter break is here and we have welcomed it with open arms.

You may be a lucky college student with weeks off from lectures, or a girl boss who is constantly dreaming about bank holiday Monday.

Even though we love having a busy schedule we adore the thought of curling up with a book with an Easter egg to our left and a cup of tea to our right.

We’ve conjured up a list of the books you just have to delve into this Easter. Bookworms, enjoy these joyous tales.

The Bestseller: Letters To My Daughters by Emma Hannigan.

 

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This novel is jam-packed with excitement, heartache, and shocking twists. There is so much going on in Emma Hannigan’s Letters To My Daughters you won’t be able to put it down. The book follows the lives of the Brady sisters who are all living drastically different lives, from the wild sister who lives in LA, to the sister whose husband and daughter gang up on her, making her life miserable, and the eldest sister who owns a string of successful bridal shops, but can’t help but feel like something is missing from her life, despite her booming business. The tale looks at the strained relationship between the sisters and their busy mum Martha.

This book is ideal for those of you who love a drama-filled tale stocked full of family drama.

The Old Favourite: Bridget Jones’s Diary by Helen Fielding

The classic chick-lit novel stole the hearts of many women back in the 90s, and it is still one of the most loved novels today. The tale is written in the style of the personal diary making it extremely easy to read. You’ll gobble this novel up in one sitting. If you’re unfamiliar with the legend that is Bridget Jones, she is a thirty-year-old singleton living in London, who has set new year resolutions that every girl will relate to- lose weight, improve career, stop drinking and find a boyfriend.

This book is the perfect antidote if you’re feeling a little bit glum. Bridget Jones’s Diary will leave you crying with laughter and the diary-style makes the story that little bit more heartwarming.

The Biography: Is Everyone Hanging Out Without Me? (And Other Concerns) by Mindy Kaling

She may be busy starring alongside Oprah and Reese Witherspoon in A Wrinkle In Time, but prior to that role, Mindy Kaling penned one of the best biographies in a long time.

 

The actress opens up about her fears and worries and the doubts that fill many of our minds on a daily basis. Mindy’s honest words are so refreshing and endearing. The Office star shares her opinions on friendship, Hollywood and romance in this genius book.

This witty biography is bound to bring a smile to your face, even if you’re not a fan Mindy. She discusses the anxieties and worries we are often too afraid to talk about, and her openness is a real breath of fresh air.

The One Everyone Is Talking About: Almost Love by Louise O’Neill

 

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Louise O’Neill’s poignant and moving stories have won the hearts of many women around the world. She has featured such important and touching topics in her work. Almost Love follows the complicated story of Sarah who falls for a man and sacrifices everything else in her life to be with him, even her job. Sarah and Matthew’s toxic relationship makes this a raw and gritty read.

This book will open your eyes to the scary reality of falling for the wrong person.

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January is always the move where you can move for ads flogging fitness teas or gym discounts. 

However, some of us may not be interested in making resolutions that only involve diet and exercise.

Here are five other avenues of health to consider when deciding what rules you want to set for 2018: 

Embark on a proper skin care regimen

Whether it's spots, dry patches or the first few wrinkles coming in, your skin changes on the regular. 

Make 2018 the year that you finally invest in skincare and crate a legit, multi step night time routine, instead of scrubbing your face with a makeup wipe and slapping on some Sudacreme. 

Some routines can include up to ten steps, but we're good with just six: First cleanse, second cleanse with hot cloth, gentle exfoliation, toner, serum, moisturiser and, if necessary, spot or acne treatment like Sudacreme or a drying potion. 

Focus on your sleep schedule

Not getting enough good quality, regular sleep can be a nightmare for our bodies. 

As well as wandering around in a haze the day after a late night, it's bad for both your physical and mental health to wander through life on less than six hours per night. 

Seven to nine hours is idea, so turn your phone to night mode, rub on some of Lush's Sleepy body lotion and snuggle that hot water bottle for the required amount of hours. 

Take a social media sabbatical

If you find you're spending way too long on Snapchat, getting FOMO from Instagram and creeping on randoms on Facebook, it might be time to take a break from your smart phone. 

Going offline for one day a week, or just a few hours per day can help self esteem and stress issues hugely, as you are no longer bombarded with the highlight reel of everyone you follows lives. 

Make a deal with yourself that you will only go on social media on your commutes to and from work, or for half an hour after dinner, and prepare to be amazed with how much more grounded you are to the actual world. 

Brush up on book reading

Reading books keeps your brain sharp, and works of fiction can boost your own feelings of creativity. 

Make a list of ten books you'd love to read but have never gotten around to, and get through them over the next 12 months. 

Keep one in your bag to read on the commute or on the sitting room table. That way, when it comes to choosing between watching TV or reading, both are within easy reach. 

Declutter your mind

Make a list of the important things you have been putting off that have been stressing you out, and set a goal to get through one or two of them a week. 

Whether it's that dentist appointment you've reschedule four times, a trip home to see your Granny or arranging a course of counselling sessions for yourself, putting pen to paper and physically seeing the things you want or need to do can motivate you do check them off the list. 

Getting an actual physical planner can also help with organisation issues, so make sure you always have it plus a pen handy in your bag to keep your appointments in order and check things off that list.

 

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Book worms listen up!

It turns out your love of reading could actually have a huge effect on your personality.  

According to Marie Claire, researchers at Kingston University surveyed 123 people and asked whether they preferred reading books, watching TV or going to the theatre before putting their interpersonal skills to the test.

The results revealed that book-lovers came out on top when it came to their ability to express empathy towards others. 

Researchers at the British Psychological Society explained, ‘Exposure to fiction relates to a range of empathetic abilities.’

‘Engaging with fictional prose and comedy in particular could be key to enhancing people’s empathetic abilities.’

But that's not all.

Marie Claire also revealed that a separate study conducted by online dating service, eHarmony, found that users received more messages when mentioned they certain books in their profiles.

Apparently, women are more likely to message men who mention the following:

  1. The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo 

  2. 1984 

  3. World War II 

  4. The Da Vinci Code 

While men showed an increased interest in women you mentioned the following works of fiction:

  1. The Hunger Games 

  2. The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo 

  3. A Game of Thrones 

  4. To Kill a Mockingbird 

  5. Pride and Prejudice 

  6. Harry Potter series 

  7. Lord of the Rings series

Be right back – just digging up our library cards. 

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Whether you're heading up to Donegal or jetting away to Costa Rica, there's nothing better than reading a great book while on holiday.

From thrillers, to love stories and everything in between, we love grabbing a book before we take some much-needed time off.

We have rounded up the best five books from this year so far for you to take along with you on your holliers.

The Rule Don't Apply by Ariel Levy

The book's synopsis reads, "When Ariel Levy left for a reporting trip to Mongolia in 2012, she was pregnant, married, financially secure, and successful on her own terms. A month later, none of that was true.

"Levy picks you up and hurls you through the story of how she built an unconventional life and then watched it fall apart with astonishing speed. Like much of her generation, she was raised to resist traditional rules—about work, about love, and about womanhood."

The deeply moving memoir chronicles adventure, heartbreak and a woman's reinvention of herself.

 

Who Thought This Was a Good Idea? by Alyssa Mastromonaco

Alyssa Mastromonaco worked for Barack Obama long before he began his campaign for president.

"As director of campaign operations, she made Hope and Change happen through blood, sweat, tears, and lots of briefing binders," the review reads.

"Here Alyssa shares the strategies that made her successful in politics and the White House-including the importance of confidence, the value of not being a jerk, and why ultimately everything comes down to hard work (and always carrying a spare tampon)."

 

The Arrangement by Sarah Dunn

"When friends at a wine-soaked dinner party reveal they've made their marriage open, sensible Lucy balks," reads the Amazon synopsis.

"There's a part of her, though- the part that worries she's become too comfortable being invisible – that's intrigued. Why not try a short marital experiment? Six months, clear ground rules, zero questions asked. 

"When an affair with a man in the city begins to seem more enticing than the happily-ever-after she's known for the past nine years, Lucy must decide what truly makes her happy- 'real life', or the 'experiment'?"

 

The Amateurs by Sara Shepard

If you were a fan of the Pretty Little Liars books, then this will be right up your street.

Aerin Kelly loves her older sister, Helena, and they did everything together until one day, Helena disappeared.

"Four years later, Helena's body is found. Wracked with grief and refusing to give up on her sister, Aerin spends months trying to figure out what exactly happened to Helena and who killed her. But the police have no leads," the synopsis reads.

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We: A Amnifesto for Women Everywhere by Gillian Anderson and Jennifer Nadel

Amazon writes, "Actress Gillian Anderson and journalist Jennifer Nadel, friends for more than a decade, have created the road map they wish they’d had for how to live a meaningful life.

"[This book] is an uplifting, inspirational, and intensely practical manual for change, providing nine universal principles that offer a path for dealing with life's inevitable emotional and spiritual challenges. 

"It's for anyone who wants to see her own life and the world around her change for the better."

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Ireland has a range of amazing festivals on the horizon, such as Forbidden Fruit, Electric Picnic and Longitude.

However, there are also some completely amazing festivals going on outside of our emerald isle, and the line-ups are simply class.

Here are a few international festivals that would be worth the flight: 

Creamfields, 24-27 August, Great Britain 

For fans of EDM, Creamfields is not to be missed.

This massive UK music festival plays host to some of the biggest names in electronic music.

The festival is a four-day event, and is set in the pastoral Daresbury countryside. 

Headliners: Tiesto, Alesso,Dimitri Vegas and Like Mike, Galantis, Hardwell, Gorgon City, Martin Garrix, 

 

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Hide Out Festival, 26-30 June, Croatia 

Hide Out consistently lands itself on lists of the best international music festivals.

Another one for fans of dance music and EDM, the Pag island festival is a big hit thanks to the amazing weather, crystal blue waters and epic tunes. 

The first festival was in 2011, and has gone from strength to strength as the years have gone on. 

Headliners: Mazor Lazer, Diplo, Stromzy, MK, The Martinez Brothers

 

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Reading|Leeds Festival, 25-27 August, Great Britain

This festival is perfect for those with a diverse musical interest. 

With everything from chart, indie and EDM on offer, it's a great all-rounder.

Plus, flights to Leeds from Dublin are cheap as chips!

Headliners: Muse, Eminem, Bastille, Major Lazer, Haim, Fatboy Slim

Mad Cool Festival, 6-8 July, Spain

This no-camping festival takes place in the heart of Madrid, and there are plenty of local hostels and Air B&Bs to stay in.

The hot weather and epic line-up are two major pulls for international music fans travelling to this seriously cool fest. 

The festival has more of an edgy vibe, with an indie rock line-up.

Headliners: Foo Fighters, Alt-J, Foals, Kinds of Leon, Green Day, Foster The People

Lollapalooza, 21-23 July. France

This festival is located right in the city of Paris, and tickets are freakishly reasonable.

This festival is playing host to some absolutely massive acts this July, you'd actually be mad to miss it.

Another no-camping festival, accommodation will be pricey in Paris so get booking ASAP. 

Headliners: The Weeknd, Red Hot Chilli Peppers, Lana Del Rey, Alt-J, Imagine Dragons, Skepta

Oh, and while we have you; don't forget to have your say in the inaugural SHEmazing Awards this May! It's time to vote, and you can do it right here!

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Cute kids and adorable dogs will slay us any day of the week, but this scene in a dog shelter in the US is totally breaking our hearts.

Children aged between 6 and 14 are kneeling outside kennels of dogs who are shy and fearful and reading them their favourite books in hope to comfort the canines.

How sweet!

Reading to shelter dogs

Jo Klepacki, the director at the Humane Society in Missouri told The Dodo: "We wanted to help our shy and fearful dog[s] without forcing physical interaction with them to see the positive effect that could have on them."

The kids are asked to take a short course that helps them to read the body language of a dog and look out for signs of stress or nervousness. 

After they complete the course, the kids are then encouraged to soothe the pups through reading.

"Hearing a child reading can really calm those animals. It is incredible, the response we've seen in these dogs.

"What this is also doing is to bring the animals to the front in case potential adopters come through.

"They are more likely to get adopted if they are approaching and interacting, rather than hiding in the back or cowering."

We can't deal!

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If you – like millions others – blame your little handheld device for being unable to concentrate on a book for more than ten minutes these days, you may want to try a little bit harder… for the good of your health.

While so many of us can happily devote 12 hours to a Netflix binge, the thoughts of spending an hour alone with a book while our phone charges in another room is enough to bring an embarrassing number of us out in a cold sweat.

But in addition to all the standard benefits associated with reading, experts have recently established that those who read tend to live longer lives than those who don't.

In a study of more than 3,500 individuals over the age of 50, scientists discovered that those who read for up to 3.5 hours a week were 17% less likely to die in the following 12 years while those who read more than that were 23% less likely.

Commenting on the findings, Becca R. Levy, a professor of epidemiology at Yale University said: "People who report as little as a half-hour a day of book reading had a significant survival advantage over those who did not read."

Researchers established that, on average, regular readers tend to live two years longer than those who don't.

Ladies, it's time to attack that book pile by the bed.

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If you’re a bookworm, or your significant other tends to constantly have their nose in a book, then you may have just hit the relationship jackpot.

When it comes to picking their perfect partner those who love to read have an advantage. This is thanks to increased skills in empathy and ‘theory of mind’.

Gregory Currie is a professor of cognitive psychology at the University of Toronto. According to him those that invest their time in reading have a tendency to show greater levels of empathy.

They also possess a greater ‘theory of mind’. This is also known as the ability to hold opinions, beliefs and interests that don’t concern only themselves.

The habit of putting themselves in other people’s positions, which is developed through reading means readers are capable of using their levels of empathy to see things from other people’s perspective.

As well as making you a more considerate partner, it can also make you less likely to completely lose the run of yourself when that row over dirty dishes gets out of hand.

Another psychologist David Comer Kidd has added that:

"The ability to connect with characters they haven’t met makes their understanding of the people around them much easier."

So next time you’re being accused of ignoring them when you get lost in your favourite page-turner, perhaps you should maybe read some this info for them as a bedtime story.

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There are lots of great new releases for you to try out this month! February has been an impressive month with some highly anticipated releases from some very talented authors.

Grab one of these, make a cup of tea and cuddle down with lots of blankets and pillows – perfection!

How Many Letters Are In Goodbye? By Yvonne Cassidy

A new release by Irish writer Yvonne Cassidy, How Many Letters Are In Goodbye? tells the story of Rhea Farrell, who begins to write to her mother eleven years after her last letter. Eleven years since her father told her it was stupid to write to dead people.

Now, alone in New York City, Rhea starts a letter with ‘Dear Mum’ and begins to tell her mum everything she can’t tell anyone else…including her secrets.

The Unfortunate Importance of Beauty: A Novel by Amanda Filipacchi

In today’s society, every woman is painfully aware of the unfortunate importance placed on beauty.

Amanda Filipacchi’s novel, which is due to be released in early March, tells the story of a group of artistic friends in NYC struggling with the weight of society’s beauty standards.

While Barb tries to make herself less pretty to find true love, her friend Lily does everything she can in the beauty department to attract the object of her unrequited desire. Then there’s the murder…

What does it truly mean to allow oneself to be seen?

The Nightingale by Kristin Hannah

Set in France during World War II, The Nightingale presents a beautiful portrayal of the strength and durability of women during a difficult time in history.

First there is Vianne Mauriac, who upon saying goodbye to her husband as he sets off to the Front, is overrun by the Nazis invasion into her small village of Carriveau.

When Vianne is forced to take an enemy into her home, her life and that of her daughter’s are in great risk.

Meanwhile, Vianne’s younger teenage sister, Isabelle falls head over heels in love as only teenagers can. When she is betrayed, her heartbreak leads her into a dark and deadly decision…

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