If you’re like us, curling up with a riveting book on a winter day is one of the best antidotes to the winter “mehs.” Not only does losing ourselves in an engaging read feel good — it actually is good for us. Studies show that reading can reduce stress, improve brain function, and foster a sense of human connection and empathy.
We know it’s not always easy to carve out downtime, but consider giving yourself a few minutes of reading time when you want to calm down or boost your mood. Not sure what to read? We went straight to our mental health coaches to ask what feel-good books they both love and recommend and we’re sharing all the highlights with you.
Favorite feel-good books
- When Breath Becomes Air — “This non-fiction book focuses on hope, joy, acceptance, and allowing oneself to see the bigger picture that life has to offer. It allowed me to reflect on not only my current circumstances, but also my previous experiences and the things that I was holding onto and just needed to let go.” — Carolyn
- Boundaries: When to Say Yes, How to Say No to Take Control of Your Life — “On a personal level this book has been a necessity. I’ve never struggled with taking my work home with me, but I absolutely tend to give too much of myself to others or I am a little too transparent. At 30-something, I am finally realizing that setting boundaries is me showing myself the kind of love, compassion, and care that I need to thrive. Respecting myself enough to not tolerate certain treatment allows me to give more of myself to the people, activities, and outlets that fill me up rather than deplete me.” — Natalie
- A Grown-Up’s Guide to Kid’s Wiring — “I’m a mom of (soon to be) four boys and they each have their own personality. This book has been one that has really made sense to me, and I find it helpful to understand not only my high energy child, but all my kids for who they are, not who I want them to be. While this is focused on children and has been invaluable as a parent, I think this is a gem for ALL relationships.” — Natalie
- Big Magic: Creative Living Beyond Fear — “This book is all about tapping into the courage to be creative, especially if you are a writer. The author, Elizabeth Gilbert, asks ‘Do you have the courage to bring forth the treasures that are hidden within you?’ and then later shares, ‘I’m talking about living a life that is driven more strongly by curiosity than by fear.’ The book is all about embracing and making space for fear as part of being brave and connecting to a creative and more fulfilling life. I step away from reading this book feeling inspired to look past fears and to be brave!” — Carrie
- Sophie Kinsella books — “I enjoy Sophie Kinsella’s books and it’s actually hard to pick one or two because I like all of them. They make me laugh out loud, are fun to read and help me relax. They usually are a mix of comedy, romance and at times psychological insight.” — Pamela
- Awakening the Buddha Within — “This book talks about the fundamentals of Buddhism and how to start making the journey to enlightenment. He shares, ‘How does a Buddha feel? Completely comfortable, at peace, and at ease in every situation and every circumstance with a sense of true inner freedom, independent of both outer circumstances and internal emotions.’” — Carrie
- Tuesdays with Morrie — “Although this book discusses someone fighting a terminal illness, it was inspirational to me. Sometimes we just need a little perspective and wake-up call and, for that reason, this book is life-changing.” — Carolyn
Our coaches’ self-care reading rituals
- “Reading books allows my mind to focus on something other than my overthinking tendencies. During COVID, I turned to my KINDLE. I can check out books for free via my library,” shares Carolyn. “As I have gotten older and more interested in the world around me I have begun reading memoirs of influential people in history or celebrities that I find interesting, but most often I can be found reading a who-done-it thriller with a solid detective leading the way. Bonus points if the murder mystery has humor included!”
- “Between being a mom, cleaning, cooking, and working full-time, my daytime hours are completely full, so I can’t sneak in my reading until the house is quiet. Reading allows me to escape for a bit and get lost in a world entirely not my own,” says Natalie. “ I take my time when it comes to the more ‘self-help’ style books. I highlight and take notes and then journal about the concepts and how they can make me the best person I can be.”
- “Reading is self-care to me. I love reading before I go to sleep at night. On weekends, you’ll find me reading first thing in the morning, sitting in my chair with a cup of coffee and my cat and dog curled up with me,” says Carrie. “ I take a book with me everywhere so that I can pull it out and read it even just for a few minutes. So I’m reading while I’m waiting to pick up my daughter from ballet or sitting at the doctor’s office, instead of mindlessly scrolling on my phone. If you’re just starting a reading routine, it can be helpful to link this new habit with something you already do in your day without much thought.”
We hope you find something on this list that inspires you to sit down and catch your breath while diving into a soon-to-be-favorite book. If you have recs, we’d love to hear them so please share in our Inspiration Community.
By Katie Nave, Copywriter at Sanvello
Katie is a writer and mental health advocate living in Brooklyn, New York. Her essays have been featured in publications including Newsweek, Elle, Glamour, Business Insider, and Motherly. She has served as a producer for the National Women’s March and worked with organizations like Girls Inc. She is currently the Copywriter at Sanvello and you can follow her on Instagram: @kathryn.e.nave.