10 Quick Ways to Feel Better With a Book

Reading fiction is my first port of call when I’m feeling a bit stressed or low; it calms me down, grounds me when my mind is wandering, and helps me gain a wider perspective.

Whether you’re facing a stressful interview, experiencing trouble sleeping, or if you’re just in need of a mood-boosting book, here are ten ways to use bibliotherapy on a day-to-day basis. How do you use books to feel better?

Dedications in books, as in Definitely, Maybe
A dedication in a lovely edition of Jane Eyre, from the film Definitely, Maybe.

1. Pop a book in your bag

Carry a book with you and you’ll be prepared to deal with unexpected waiting, nervous feelings before a big event, or anything that leaves you wanting to be cheered up.

2. Memorise one or two lines from poetry, a sentence from a favourite book, or a great quotation

Reinforce your mental fortress with words you know will bring you strength and tranquility when you most need it. Tennyson’s “Ulysses” has helped me out on many an occasion, but here are some favourite lines from “If” by Rudyard Kipling that we’d all do well to remember:

If you can keep your head when all about you
Are losing theirs and blaming it on you,
If you can trust yourself when all men doubt you,
But make allowance for their doubting too;
If you can wait and not be tired by waiting,
Or being lied about, don’t deal in lies,
Or being hated, don’t give way to hating,
And yet don’t look too good, nor talk too wise…

3. Buy a reading journal and scribble down some thoughts on what you’re reading

There’s just something about writing in a personal reading journal that Goodreads can’t ever compete with. Moleskine book journals are my favourite.

Moleskine reading journal to fee better with fiction
The wonderful Moleskine Passion Book Journal (I must share a photo of my own in a future post!)

4. When in a difficult situation, ask yourself what a character or author would do

Whether you look up to Mr. Bennett or Charles Dickens, Jane Eyre or Zadie Smith, get in touch with your inner literary guides and ask what they would do.

5. Buy a friend a book and leave a note or dedication in it

After being pleasantly surprised by Definitely, Maybe, a film which praises dedications in books, I’ve remembered how much I truly appreciate receiving a book with a few personal words in its inlay.

6. Spend an hour in a library or bookshop

Because being surrounded by the wisdom of thousands of years and the ingenuity of humankind’s best minds is surely a great thing.

7. Flick through a book of quotes

Whether you choose an anthology of quotations (I use the Penguin New Dictionary of Quotations), or a little quotes bible of your own making, you’ll be sure to find some reassuring guidance to uplift your mood.

Reading a quotations book to cheer you up

8. Re-read a favourite novel

Reading a book that you’ve enjoyed before allows you to experience the positive feelings all over again. How good is that?

9. Prescribe yourself a brilliant novel you’re yet to read (but sure to love)

If you keep hearing about a book that seems too good to be true, go out and treat yourself to it.

10. Put down everything and read for ten minutes!


    Retreat Into The Sanctuary & Find Your Way With Comforting, Gentle Wisdom

    Love books, feeling a little lost right now, and looking for some comfort and guidance forwards? I made The Sanctuary exactly for this.

    It's good to meet you! I started Tolstoy Therapy back in 2012 to share my healing journey through anxiety and PTSD with books. I also climb mountains, go on solo adventures, and write over at livewildly.co.

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