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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."

Image result for We: A Manifesto for Women Everywhere by Gillian Anderson and Jennifer Nadel

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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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Valentine’s Day is coming up this Saturday and while many people will be donning red from head to toe, many more of us are just not into it for one reason or another.

Don’t worry, we have just the thing for you! Or rather, Dubray Books has just the thing for you. The Irish bookshop, which has eight stores nationwide, has launched their Valentine’s noir collection – a collection of books that are very anti-Valentine’s. Sounds perfect!

Many of the books in the noir collection feature stories of secrets, intrigue, awry love and sometimes even worse…Author of one of the books on the list, bestseller The Girl On The Train Paula Hawkins spoke about why we love stories like these: “I think we’re all fascinated by the dark secrets that lie at the heart of ostensibly happy relationships.”

Also on the noir list is:

  • Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn
  • The Liar’s Chair by Rebecca Whitney
  • The Crooked House by Cristobel Kent
  • You Should Have Known by Jean Hanff Koerlitz

The MD of Dubray, Maria Dickenson spoke about the idea behind the noir collection: “Books are of course a lovely thoughtful gift on Valentine’s Day – what better way to say I love you than to give a romantic tale that your partner will adore? But we’ve all had those Valentine’s Days when we’re thinking dark thoughts about the world of romance, as we want people who aren’t in love or who would like to be in love to have reading options too!”

As Maria said, it’s not only those not interested reading about love Dubray have books for as they also have a collection for those wistful love dreamers too such as:

  • The Music of Love by Kate McCabe
  • The Little Book of Love by Tiddy Rowan
  • Go Get Him by Avril Mulcahy
  • Fifty Shades of Grey by EL James
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Welcome to the SHEmazing! Book Club for February.

We’ve decided to check out three new books that would be perfect for your bedtime reading. Or, you know, anytime really!

Here are the three new releases we’ve chosen for you this month:

I Was Here by Gayle Forman

Meg and Cody are best friends. Which is why when Meg drinks a bottle of industrial-strength cleaner, Cody is left shocked and perplexed. How did this happen? Why did this happen?

Cody goes to Meg’s college room to pack up her things and soon discovers that there is a lot she didn’t know about her best friend. And what’s in the locked file on Meg’s computer?

I Was Here is a tale of friendship, adulthood and heartbreaking loss.

The Ice Twins by S.K. Tremayne

If scary books are what you love then this is for you! Angus and Sarah Moorcraft are left heartbroken after one of their identical twin daughters, Lydia dies. Deciding to rebuild their lives on an isolated Scottish island, things take a turn for the worst when their surviving daughter claims that SHE is Lydia.

The revelation leads to the couple reevaluating what exactly happened on the day their daughter died…

If spooky is what you love, then this is a book you don’t want to miss!

Spill Simmer Falter Wither by Sara Baume

Published by new, independent Irish publishing company, Tramp Press, Sara Baume’s debut novel has already received much praise in the Irish literary circle.

Set in a rural seaside town, an unconventional friendship is formed between an eccentric loner and a one-eyed dog. What plays out can only be described as a ‘wholly different kind of love story’. However, as the seasons change, the pair find themselves pushed further and further from their community.

This is a novel set to make waves in Irish literature circles, so check it out!

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Whether you're a Kindle user or a fan of the real thing, there's no denying the joy of sitting down with a good book.

2015 promises to be a great year for readers – here are some of the books we can't wait to get our hands on!

1. Why Not Me? by Mindy Kaling
Fans of The Mindy Project will have no doubt already devoured the actress' first biographical book, Is Everyone Hanging Out Without Me? (and Other Concerns), which was one of the most critically acclaimed celebrity novels of 2012. Why Not Me? will be another book of essays, and although she has yet to release a cover image or any sneak previews, Mindy says the book's title "has kind of been [her] subconscious motto my whole life".

2. The Girl On A Train by Paula Hawkins
There has been so much buzz about this novel that we feel like we've already read it! This murder-mystery novel tells the story of a young girl who gets caught up in a terrifying crime after seeing something untoward on her daily commute. The Girl On A Train promises to be 2015's "can't put it down" book.

3. The Rosie Effect by Graeme Simsion
This came out just in time for Christmas, so you may have even had a copy of it from Santa! The book's prequel The Rosie Project enjoyed huge success and the movie rights were quickly snapped up, so we're looking forward to checking out the next instalment. After ten months and ten days of marriage, Don Tillman is already finding himself in hot water – and in danger of losing his wife forever. Sounds like it'll be an interesting read!

4. Girls Will Be Girls by Emer O'Toole
Galway native Emer O'Toole is a self-described "hairy feminist" and we reckon her new book will go a long way to re-writing the rules of the female gender. Emer takes us on a funny, charming and thought-provoking journey through her life all the while exploring what it means to be a girl (including singing 'Get Your Pits Out for the Lads' on national TV after growing out her body hair).

5. See How Small by Scott Blackwood
One calm autumn evening in Texas, two people walk into a quiet ice cream shop. The tie up the three teenage girls working behind the serving counter, set the shop on fire and promptly disappear. See How Small follows the aftermath of the horrific events as the girls' families attempt to pick up the pieces and police try to hunt down suspects. All the while, the three teenage girls watch down from above, trying to help those they left behind.

 

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This is just so heartbreaking.

Author of the Harry Potter series, J.K. Rowling, has sent a letter to 15-year-old, Cassidy Stay, in the voice of Dumbledore.

The move comes after the teen’s mum, dad and siblings were all shot dead by her uncle in Texas at the beginning of July.

During a memorial service for her family, the brave girl took to the podium and quoted Dumbledore in her moving and inspirational tribute: “Happiness can be found in the darkest times if one only remembers to turn on the light.”

J.K. Rowling heard of the girl’s words through a social media campaign and sent Cassidy a handwritten letter from Dumbledore, and lots of Harry Potter items such as a wand and a signed book. 

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If you love reading and you love travelling, you are sure to love our pick of the top four travelling books of all time.

These will not only entertain you on long plane rides or keep you company as you relax by the sea, they will also inspire your travelling.

Coasting by Jonathan Raban
If you are looking for adventure inspiration then Jonathan Raban’s Coasting is just for you. The author travels 4,000 miles around Britain in a 32-foot ketch.

Venice for Pleasure by JG Links
If you are heading to Venice then this is the book for you. the book will guide you on the not so touristy places to visit and shows off the beauty of Venice in the beautiful pictures.

The Life of Pi by Yann Martel
This book will help you see that when you put your mind to it you can overcome any obstacle. While the book may put you off travelling by boat, it will certainly open your eyes to the magic of the sea and what leaves there.

The Beach by Alex Garland
You have probably already watched the movie, but there is something inspiring about sitting on a beach reading a book about a couple of backpackers and their journey to escape from the real world.

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