The Right Book at the Right Time
Sometimes, there is nothing we would like more than to pick up a book to escape from the hustle and bustle of real world and all of the emotional baggage that comes with it. Of course, this doesn’t always quite go to plan. You may wish to relieve a sense of claustrophobia, which prompts you to open the first book to hand – Stephen King’s Misery. Inevitably, you only find yourself feeling more panicked than ever as you are trapped, along with Paul, in Annie Wilkes’ oppressive home. Or perhaps you’re feeling unmotivated and want an inspirational book to kick you back into drive. But you only end up feeling even more indolent than you did before, having somehow found yourself reading Samuel Beckett’s Murphy, in which the protagonist’s only desire in life is to do absolutely nothing. Clearly you are doing something wrong.
But never fear. Below are some examples of the perfect book to suit each specific mood. With any luck, you might just find the right book to get you through the tough times and to help you enjoy the better ones.
When you’re feeling unmotivated…
Read Wild: From Lost to Found on the Pacific Crest Trail, by Cheryl Strayed.
After the death of her mother, the distancing of her stepfather and siblings, the collapse of her marriage and a descent into the world of heroin, one could certainly say Cheryl Strayed had hit rock bottom. The large majority of us, given a similar situation, would quite possibly lie down and refuse to get up again, the huge obstacles ahead sapping any potential drive right out of us. Of course, this is not what Cheryl does. Instead, she picks herself up, takes the first step forward (literally) and keeps taking them for another 1,100 miles. Struggling through temperatures of 100 degrees, record snow, as well as rattlesnakes and bears, it would be an understatement to say that Cheryl lacks motivation as she continues on her epic hike to pull herself out of her misery – “in order to save myself”, she confesses. While the answer to revitalising your sense of motivation may not necessarily be the Pacific Crest Trail, perhaps reading about someone else doing it will be just the kick you need to get your own life in order.
When you’re feeling blue…
Read Live and Laughing: My Story, by Michael McIntyre.
It might be too simplistic to suggest you read the autobiography of one of Britain’s funniest comedians to raise your spirits, but with very little doubt, it will do the trick. With his usual light-hearted observations of the small but hilarious things in life, Michael McIntyre takes you from his birth, right through his childhood, and up until he found fame. With stories commenting on his scrabble-cheating Grandma (“KERRITZ” is, of course, a legitimate substitute for “carrots”) and his failed attempts with the opposite sex, in which he advises that ‘Girls’ should be added to the curriculum as a subject (“What’s your timetable today, McIntyre?” “Maths, Geography, and then double Girls”), you will soon find yourself forgetting why you were feeling miserable in the first place.
When you want to relax…
Read Captain Corelli’s Mandolin, by Louis de Bernières.
With summer fast-approaching, it is likely that a period of relaxation is also on the horizon, preferably facilitated by a beach and a good book. Set on the stunning Greek island of Cephalonia, Captain Corelli’s Mandolin will transport you to an idyllic village full of music and love, ensuring that even if you aren’t planning to jet off to an enchanting island, you can at least pretend that you have. Despite being set against the backdrop of the tragedies of WWII, with this creating a deeply heartrending core within the novel, this doesn’t prevent it from being one to relax with, a light-hearted humour and a cast of colourful characters making this one of the most uplifting and enjoyable reads for the summer.
When you’re feeling stressed…
Read Mrs. Dalloway, by Virginia Woolf.
We are all familiar with that tightening of our muscles, the rapid pulsing of our heart, the weight that is ever increasing on our chests and just the overall sense that time is moving too quickly. This is stress and most of us feel it on a regular basis. Essentially, all you really need is the first few pages of Mrs Dalloway to slow that beating heart and to force yourself to take that ever-important pause to make everything else come back into focus. Follow Clarissa Dalloway’s train of thought as it wanders through the streets of London, pausing upon the many characters it passes over, until yourself soothed to a point of musing contemplation. Nothing enormously exciting happens, and the book only lasts the duration of a day, but perhaps this is exactly what you need.
When you’re in love…
Read The Fault in Our Stars, by John Green.
At first glance, it seems strange that a book about teenagers with terminal chancer would be a fitting read for this particular emotion, but as anybody who has read this book knows, it is chiefly a love story. As the protagonist, Hazel, recognises, “I fell in love the way you fall asleep: slowly, then all at once”. John Green manoeuvres the book away from becoming a clichéd romance chick lit to instead make it a very honest telling of what love is really like. While you may shed a few tears, the novel is one with a heart that will make you appreciate just how in love you are truly are.