Reading is a proven form of self-care. One study found that book readers have a 28% greater likelihood of reporting very good or excellent health compared to non-readers (1). Another reported that reading for as little as six minutes is sufficient to reduce stress levels by 68%, slowing your heart beat, easing muscle tension and altering the state of mind. (2) So why not set yourself a reading challenge to encourage the formation of this positive wellbeing ritual?
One of my aspirations for this year is to read fifty books. So how am I going to start my 2018 reading challenge? I have chosen ten books to welcome in the year and I am going to aim to read them before the end of March.
1. The Self-Care Project by Jayne Hardy
Self-care is a high priority for me this year and this book will be the perfect starting point. Written by Jayne Hardy, Founder and CEO of the Blurt Foundation, The Self-Care Project promises to provide advice on how to chisel out daily space for self-care in a practical, achievable and realistic way.
2. Belle by Cameron Dokey
Belle is a retelling of Beauty and the Beast and, in my opinion, you can never have enough stories that evoke the spirit of fairy tale adventures in your life. I am looking forward to discovering this book in 2018.
3. The Things You Can See Only When You Slow Down by Haemin Sunim
Who wouldn’t want to read a book with this title? I have to say I am intrigued to discover what might become visible to me when I slow down and this seems the perfect companion to welcome in my year offline. I love the front cover too and, if I am honest, that alone would have made me buy The Things You Can See Only When You Slow Down. This is a book that I know I am going to love.
4. The Poetry Pharmacy by William Sieghart
I began to read The Poetry Pharmacy earlier this month but want to revisit it and explore some more of the poems inside. This book has already won my heart though and makes a lovely gift for someone. It offers a collection of poems for heart, mind and soul, allowing the reader to navigate their way through the book according to their mood.
5. Hygge and Kisses by Clara Christensen
How can you go wrong with feel-good fiction based around the loveliness of hygge? I am looking forward to reading Hygge and Kisses immensely and imagine it will be the perfect choice for New Year’s Day.
6. Mythos by Stephen Fry
I haven’t bought this book yet but I am desperate to read it so will reward myself with it once I have read my first five books and ticked off 10% of my challenge! Mythos is Stephen Fry’s retelling of the myths of ancient Greece. I have always felt that my life would be enhanced by getting to know the Greek myths so this seems the perfect introduction! I have to confess that I have stood in the book shop several times already with this in my hands so I had better hurry up and read the first five books on my list before my resolve weakens any further!
7. The Saturated Self by Kenneth J. Gergen
I read The Saturated Self for the first time around ten years ago and it made a strong impression on me so I am going to revisit it. The book explores the way in which the ever-expanding communications technologies force us to relate to more people and institutions than ever before, considering the way we view ourselves and our relationships. In fact, I think it may have planted the seed for my year offline challenge! It will be interesting to see how relevant it remains ten years on.
8. The Art of Writing Fiction by Andrew Cowen
I am aiming to complete a couple of writing projects this year and The Art of Writing Fiction has come highly recommended. I like the idea of reading books that help me achieve my other aspirations. It will be double the reward for my effort!
9. Down to Earth: Gardening Wisdom by Monty Don
Monty Don believes that gardening is the secret to living well. Even if you don’t have a garden, there is usually lots of value to be found in Don’s books. I have two particular favourites. The first is The Jewel Garden, which talks a about Don’s experience of depression and the healing power of gardening, and is illustrated with beautiful photographs. The second contains equally extraordinary images and is called The Sensuous Garden. It takes each sense in turn and examines how our experience of the garden stimulates our senses, moods and emotions. I am looking forward to reading Down to Earth though. Who knows it might complete my top three Monty Don books!
10. The Dynamics of Power in Counselling and Psychotherapy by Gillian Proctor
Counsellors are often keen to talk about the equality of the counselling relationship but it is not a given and such an important subject deserves some time and consideration. Proctor’s book, The Dynamics of Power in Counselling and Psychotherapy, looks to be a worthwhile contribution on the subject and I look forward to reading this second edition, which came out in April 2017.
2018 Reading Challenge: Spring Reads
I would love to hear how many books you hope to read over the coming year and what you have on your to-read pile. You can let me know in the comments below or tweet me.