While the first few months of the New Year may be filled with earnest resolutions that may or may not be unrealistic, self-care, and self improvement are important. I’m not going to give you advice on how to go about showing yourself love, and how to make a "better you." But I am going to share four books that have helped me.
Are You There God? It’s me, Margaret. by Judy Blume
Published 51 years ago, Blume’s YA novel tackles boys, periods, bra shopping, masturbation, and going on the transition from girl to woman. Arguably as revolutionary now as it was then, Blume’s coming of age novel is impactful for readers of all ages. By tackling “taboo” topics such as female puberty, Blume gave generations of young women a relatable, realistic cast of characters to learn from.
The Midnight Library by Matt Haig
Content Warning: mentions and descriptions of self-harm, severe depression, suicide, death.
Leave it to Matt Haig to take a whimsical idea, a library where every book is a life you could have lived if you made a different decision, and turn it into an honest, frank, and hard to look at life with depression. If you are currently struggling with depression, self-harm, or suicide-related thoughts/urges, I advise caution reading this book. When I started reading it, unknowing of the mental health aspects that are a large part of the plot, the first few chapters were difficult for me to get through.
Haig explores the isolating, overwhelming chaos that depression can bring without coming across as patronizing, or unsympathetic.
The Upward Spiral by Alex Korb, PhD
This surprisingly thin and easy to read book provides readers with a way to cope with and get out of depressive episodes (sometimes called downward spirals.) By using neuroscience, Korb explains simple yet effective strategies in order to get yourself to stop spiraling downwards, and take control of your mental health in a way that makes handling daily stress and emotional ups and downs easier. This book isn’t going to cure depression, but it will help you get out of bed some mornings.
Seizure the Day: Living a Happy Life Despite Illness by Brian Orend
When Brian Orend suddenly went from able-bodied and healthy to having debilitating seizures that doctors couldn’t explain, he realized he was unhappy. Thus began Orend’s quest to become happier. While reading books on happiness, Orend realized that a lot of the advice that is labeled as essential, can’t apply to people who have chronic illnesses, pain or conditions. Going outside, exercising, being around people and becoming financially stable are all reasonable ways to become less stressed, or happier, but what about someone who is bedridden? Or someone who can’t work due to an illness?
Orend explores happiness philosophically, and translates it to an accessible guide for people with chronic illness, pain, and conditions/injuries. Orend takes the complexities out of the pursuit of happiness so anyone and everyone can work towards a satisfying and doable happier life.