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what to read

This time of year can be extremely dark and troubling for so many people. The post-Christmas comedown can take a major knock on your mental health and leave you feeling extremely low. The lack of daylight, financial woes and quieter social calendars don’t help either.

One thing that has helped me get through dark moments in my life is reading.

There are dozens of books available in both your local library and bookshops that offer helpful advice and fill you with hope during these hard times.

I decided to put together a list of the top books that will hopefully help you beat the January blues. 

As always, we encourage anyone who is suffering with their mental health to reach out to a loved one or a professional. You can call the Samaritans on 116 123.

  1. Notes on a Nervous Planet by Matt Haig

Matt Haig has been praised for how incredibly honest he is about his mental health struggles. The author has encouraged so many people to feel that little bit more comfortable when talking about their personal troubles. In Notes on a Nervous Planet, Matt discusses modern life and the impact it has on our mental health.

  1. Big Magic By Elizabeth Gilbert

Elizabeth Gilbert’s words have been a huge source of comfort to many women around the world. Her book Eat, Pray, Love is one of the most beloved tales that helped so many of us realise that your own company is the most valuable of all. Big Magic is full of Gilbert’s words of wisdom about love, hate and finding the “strange jewels” hidden inside of us.

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  1. It’s Not Ok To Feel Blue and Other Lies by Scarlett Curtis

This collection of essays curated by Scarlett Curtis has got to be one of the warmest (and biggest) books I’ve ever owned. It is full of words of advice, tales of loss, stories about struggle and most importantly, hope. Emma Thompson, Ben Platt, Elizabeth Day, Scarlett Moffatt, Fearne Cotton and more pen essays for this raw and touching book.

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  1. How To Fail by Elizabeth Day

Elizabeth Day has taught me that you can learn from your failures. The journalist’s podcast of the same name has been a massive comfort to me when I feel like I’m not doing good enough. Elizabeth speaks to her guests, all successful in their fields, about three failures in their lives. The book is genuinely one of the most uplifting and refreshing reads. I couldn’t recommend it more.

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  1. Reasons To Stay Alive by Matt Haig

Another book by the fantastic Matt Haig because nobody writes about mental health like he does. This book genuinely saved my life, and I’m not the only one. Matt opens up about the darkest time in his life when he was suicidal and suffering from the most crippling anxiety. The chapters are eye-opening, reassuring and will fill you with so much hope for the future.

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Self-help books have been growing in popularity over the past decade and we can’t help but wonder do they actually work?

The shelves of bookstores are now jampacked with titles about the best ways to improve your life; from diets that will make you happier to ways to cut out toxic people from your life.

It’s safe to say there isn’t a lack of advice out there, but do these books stay true to their promise?

Illustration: Lisk Feng

When it comes to Love For Imperfect Things, the answer is yes.

The second novel by Zen Buddhist Haemin Sunim is the one book you just need to add to your to-read list in 2019.

The uplifting and beautifully-illustrated book is full of nuggets of wisdom that you’ll carry with you long after you’ve finished reading.

You know that feeling when you curl up on the sofa with a cup of warm tea after a long, draining day at work? That’s the feeling you get when you read Love For Imperfect Things.

It lifts you up with positive yet honest advice that is actually easy to incorporate into your day-to-day life.

Each chapter is full of reassuring tales and pages of encouraging quotes that will help you through each day.

Love For Imperfect Things was my companion on dull train journeys to the office for the past week and I found that even reading a mere 10 pages helped boost my spirits on rainy mornings and gloomy evenings.

The words of Haemin Sunim were comforting and heartwarming. The stories he shares are personal which help you accept the advice he shares far easier than your average self-help book.

Love For Imperfect Things shares realistic advice that will truly help you accept the person you are instead of pressuring yourself to be the perfect, flawless person the world expects you to be.

The book doesn’t force you to take up eccentric hobbies or to try obscene diets, it simply encourages you to be kind to yourself. Something we can all admit we neglect at the best of times.

Illustration: Lisk Feng

It is a book you will turn to in times of doubt, worry and fear. It will give you the guidance and reassurance you desperately need on the good and bad days.

Love For Imperfect Things by Haemin Sunim is published by Penguin Life. Treat yourself to a copy for €12.99 from all good bookstores.

Feature Image: Haemin Sunim Instagram

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