I may be a bit biased in saying this, but reading is awesome. It makes me feel good, it makes me feel calm and, most importantly, it makes me feel happy. There are times, though, when I can sit staring at a page for what feels like hours and barely make it past the first word, or I can read an entire chapter and realise that I spent the whole time stuck in my head and not taking in a single sentence. Sound familiar?
There can be nothing worse than thinking that the activity you turn to for comfort no longer has that power. But I'm pretty certain that books and reading will never lose that power entirely and all it takes is a few little adjustments (and perhaps a little slack) to experience the full mood-boosting affects of a good book.
If your mood is causing you to lose your faith in reading then here are my tried and tested tips to lift your spirits with a book:
Re-read an old favourite
I have two books that I always turn to when my mood dips: To the Lighthouse by Virginia Woolf (which I wrote about here) and The Woman in White by Wilkie Collins. Sinking into familiar favourites can feel like you're curling up with an old friend and has the added bonus that you don't have to concentrate as hard as you would on a new read.
Choose something absorbing
If you're feeling restless or your mind is in overdrive then give it something to focus on. Read that 'difficult' book you've had on your shelf for years, sink into that fantasy series you've heard so much about, or perhaps pick up a mystery novel that's full of twists, turns and red herrings (I'd recommend Dorothy L Sayers).
Choose something simple
If even the thought of reading something mentally taxing leaves you feeling drained, then go for the opposite. Novels that focus on plot and character can carry you along with very little effort so you can rest and still reap the benefits of a good book. Alice Hoffman is my go-to when I feel like this, but I'd also recommend authors such as Kate Morton or Diane Setterfield.
Read something entirely different
My reading tastes generally have me leaning towards the classics, literary fiction and the occasional bit of non-fiction. As much as I know these genres make me happy 99% of the time, I'm aware that there are moments when a change is necessary. If, like me, you stick to literary fiction, why not try a bit of YA? Or, if you generally read crime novels, how about giving some historical fiction a go? Sometimes reading something different can be just the boost you need.
Try a graphic novel
When the darkness rolls in your ability to concentrate can be the first thing to go. Inevitably this leads to a mean cycle of low mood followed by frustration followed by low mood, which can feel impossible to break. Graphic novels can be great for this and can give your mind something to think about without exhausting you completely. One of my favourite graphic novels is Suffragette, but I've also heard such wonderful things about Lucy Knisley's work.
If the weather is clear, grab a few layers (or SPF if you're lucky), your book and some water and head outside. Whether it's warm or chilly the fresh air will refresh and invigorate you. Even if you're not up to reading, just relaxing and taking a few deep breaths can do wonders for your mood.
Use the community
One of my favourite things about the blogging world is all the support, encouragement and general good feelings spread by the community. Feeling low can so easily lead to loneliness or isolation so, if you're feeling up to it, use the people around you (online or offline). You could reach out on social media to ask about recommendations for a genre you've never tried, or perhaps you're not sure where on earth you'd start choosing a graphic novel. If jumping on twitter seems a little much right now why not try reaching out to someone individually - you never know, you may just make their day too.
Do you have any tips for lifting your mood through reading?