Mental health matters: a good book

Coffee image for Film Stories' regular mental health column
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A few words on the benefits of a good book to lose yourself in, as we chat about mental health and wellbeing.

Hello and welcome to the spot on the Film Stories website where we stop every week to natter about mental health, wellbeing, and things that may be affecting you, or people around you. We run these articles every Wednesday, and have done for years. Not every one is going to be much use to everyone, but hopefully there’s something across the archive that’s of help.

A fairly straightforward article this week, though, and not a sign of anything radical. It’s a piece about reading books.

I can’t be the only one out there who struggles with sleep, and who finds themselves suddenly awake in the middle of the night, a head awash with thoughts. It’s not a foolproof plan, but my go-to response to that after ten minutes or so is to pick a book up.

It has to be a good, long book ideally, something I can lose myself in. With a bit of luck, I doze off eventually. If I don’t, at least I’ve read some book, something to console myself with as I sleepwalk through the next day.

I use reading too to help with mental health. Obviously the choice of book is paramount, but oftentimes I find myself surrounded by screens all day and into the night, and a book feels different. Even if I’m reading it on a dimly-lit e-reader, it feels slower, more relaxed, and different to the rest of the day. I love that. If a day is getting to me, I’ll stop and read.

Just to cheer myself up, I tend to read non-fiction, but – as we occasionally do on this site – I just thought it might be worth stopping and seeing what we’re all reading, to pass on recommendations.

Recently, I’ve been reading, or am about to read:

Hits, Flops and Other Illusions: My Fortysomething Years In Hollywood by Ed Zwick

The Year Of The Locust by Terry Hayes

I’m Not As Well As I Thought I Was by Ruby Wax

The Autobiography of Cubby Broccoli by Albert R Broccoli and Donald Zec

City Of Dreams by Don Winslow (that’s lined up next)

And It Was Beautiful: Marcelo Bielsa and the Rebirth of Leeds United by Phil Hay

Tell us in the comments what you’ve been reading too. Let’s share a few recommendations around. And here’s to the joy of reading: especially on the difficult days.

This column will return next week. Thanks as always for reading.

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