Nicola Morgan

Author, Speaker, Supporter

Understanding and Supporting Your Teenagers – few spaces left and I’m not doing it again!

Reading to reduce anxiety: a book list

Books can do a brilliant job of reducing anxiety. I’m not only talking about information-rich books like mine that set out explicitly to help you manage your body’s and brain’s reaction to fears and stresses. I’m also talking about the power that reading for pleasure has to reduce anxiety either by transporting you away from it for a while or by reassuring you with the stories you read.

‘This is how I could be’

‘This is what I could do’

‘They got through and so can I’

And, most importantly, ‘I am not alone’.

I’m just finishing writing a non-fiction book on anxiety, in other words a book in the first category – information-rich, explicitly to help – called No Worries. In that, I include some words and ideas about the power of reading for pleasure to reduce anxiety. I thought of adding a small list of suggested fiction to the resources section. But then I had a better idea.

I thought I’d put the list here. Then I can grow it organically, even after the book is published in 2023. And you can add to it, too.

Below is my starting list. I haven’t read all these books but I’ve used recommendations from people I trust and have scoured the reviews to get a true sense of what kind of reaction the book has. Sometimes what a publisher says about a book is only one side of the story and sometimes that leaves out really important information. Also, the word ‘heart-warming’ can be a euphemism for ‘will make you cry’ and I don’t really want this list to be books that make you cry! So I’ve listened most to readers, including expert readers such as booksellers and librarians.

Please add any other ideas in the comments and I’ll take a look before deciding whether to add them to my lists. Even if I don’t, thank you for your suggestions!

These were my criteria:

Please note that I also believe that dark and edgy books can have the desired effect of helping someone feel less anxious about a situation, by taking the reader to the edge of fear and then safely back again, but this is not what I’m looking for for this list. You might choose to read something very scary, sad, dark, emotional, and that’s wonderful, but this is a list for people who do not want to do that at this moment. This is meant to be a comfortable list.

  • Fiction – as I say above, non-fiction can do a great job (otherwise why would I write it?!) but here I’m looking for fiction
  • Books to relax with and be reassured by; books to make you feel good; books to hold you in their arms
  • No very dark themes – no edge of the seat tension
  • Likely to feature anxiety/worry as a theme, but lightly handled
  • Escapism is fine as long as it’s not dark and scary escapism

Fiction aimed at 7-12s – though you’re never too old for a comfort read!

Fiction aimed at secondary school ages – but readers in upper primary should also take a look at the younger list

I definitely need more books for this list! It’s really hard because teenagers are seen as wanting dark, edge-of-the-seat stuff and often they do – but not always.

Poetry

These lists are not long enough! What would you like me to add? Please re-read the criteria first! I’m especially looking for books for the older category but it’s quite hard to find genuinely feel-good novels that don’t also cover quite dark topics. This is absolutely not a criticism of the authors: when I write fiction it’s very dark, which is why none of my own novels feature on these lists!

2 Responses

  1. Poetry: These are the words – Nikkita Gill [especially brilliant for girls]
    Novels: older teens
    Sense and sensibility – Jane Austen
    Green dolphin country – Elizabeth Goudge
    The Hitch-Hiker’s Guide to the Galaxy – Douglas Adams
    The Eyre Affair—Jasper Fforde
    The Inimitable Jeeves – P G Wodehouse
    younger teens
    Howl’s Moving Castle – Diana Wynne Jones
    Anne of Green Gables – L.M Montgomery
    Cogheart – Peter Bunzl
    The White Giraffe – Lauren St John

Do comment but please remember that this site is for all ages.

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