We all have those days, those weeks or (unfortunately) those months. They’re certain. Nothing can stop them from cropping up and the only thing that we can be sure of is that we all have our own ways of getting through them (or just waiting for them to pass).
I have my own little arsenal of dealing with the down days and sometimes that includes picking up an inspiring book (or three), running myself a bath and searching for nuggets of wisdom and truth amongst the pages. Now, I’m not always in the mood for a read, sometimes I don’t want to be talked at and the idea of reading about someone else’s struggles makes me feel as if I’m not the only one in the world who has emotions – which of course I’m not, but sometimes it’s nice to feel that way.
Since I tend to have quite a few down days, I’ve read a lot of self-help/motivational/memoir books – and by now, I know which ones to re-read.
Today I’m sharing with you my 5 favourite books to flip through, dive into or just remember on a bad day. They span a reasonably wide range of styles and each and everyone has lifted me out of a dark place, even if by just a few levels. They’ve given me hope, made me laugh, helped me realise I’m not alone and most importantly, given me something to get up for (or wake up for) when things are downright bad.
Check out my selection below and then leave me the name of your favourite book to read when you’re down – because reviews on Amazon only count for so much.
Becoming by Laura Jane Williams
Becoming, was the first book I read in a long time that wasn’t just a bunch of worldly tips packaged into a disguised self-help book. LJW’s debut is her memoir of her first years of adulthood, adventures in relationships and the highs and lows of her decision making – and by George, does it pack a punch. The mistakes Laura made feel echoed from the life of most 20-somethings and they certainly settled my racing, anxiety-ridden mind. Yes, my heart did ache a little at times and I did shed a tear or two, but the overwhelming skill of Laura’s to turn life into poetry (metaphorically) translates so well across whats whens, whys and where.
The Year of Living Danishly by Helen Russell
Maybe Russell’s account of her first year living in a Danish seaside town isn’t what you’d think to pick up during a crisis, but you’ve probably heard about Denmark being one of the happiest countries and that’s not just because it’s the way it is. The Danish have brilliant ideas about life, traditionally their priorities are in line with living a balanced and honest life and Russell’s account of these traditions and habits are wonderful. Again, it’s always a little more digestible to receive life advice in the form of someone else’s experience, which makes The Year of Living Danishly pretty apt for most.
Reasons to Stay Alive by Matt Haig
When I first picked up this book I honestly didn’t want to shout from the rooftops about it. Not because it’s not insightful, honest and hopeful, but because it’s a completely raw account of Haig’s experience of depression, anxiety and suicidal thoughts – and that can be so hard to admit that you relate to these feelings. Reasons to Stay Alive isn’t a happy-go-lucky look at mental health, it’s a real-life example of how serious it can all get, but how it’s survivable and writing off months and years doesn’t equal writing off your whole life. Matt Haig’s honesty is beautiful and heart-wrenching at times, but I’ll thank him anyway.
How to be a Grown Up by Daisy Buchanan
Stepping away from the memoir-style suggestions, How to be a Grown Up explores the essential building blocks of growing up – think work, sex, body image, relationships and more. It’s a perfect mix of personal experience and transferable advice, with the added bonus of being able to flick through the chapters, dip in and out and cherry pick what to read when you need it. I love Daisy’s honesty and openness about her career and relationship with her body. There are two topics that need more discussion because we’ve literally all been there, and this book helps reassure you that it’s all happening as part of the journey – a necessary journey, too.
It’s Not How Good You Are, It’s How Good You Want to Be by Paul Arden
This one is kind of the wildcard of my little roundup. You’ve probably heard of it or seen it in a flat lay, but it’s more than just a prop when you get into it. Packed full of problems and solutions, it’s straight to the point, impersonal writing – no fluff. If you need a stern talking to, then this is probably what you need to pick up – when you’re down and feeling too sorry for yourself, Arden will drag you back up to a place where you can at least see the light and understand that knowing you can get back up there is at least still an option.