Josh's top 3 books to help you unwind
Have you’ve been bogged down with the sheer amount of reading this academic year, struggling to keep your eyes open through another soul-destroying, humdrum textbook?
The last thing you probably want to do is read MORE books, but it could actually help you relieve stress levels, improve your sleep quality, and help broaden your vocabulary and knowledge base outside of your university subject.
So in the spirit of relaxation, dim the lights, put some classical music on, brew the tea, and nestle into your favourite sofa or comfy bed…
In no particular order, here are my three all-time favourite books to relax to.
- All The Light We Cannot See – Anthony Doerr
Simply put, this is my favourite fiction of all time. All the Light We Cannot See won the Pulitzer Prize for Fiction in 2015, and it’s not hard to see why. The plot follows two children – Marie (a French blind girl) and Werner (a young German boy) growing up in WW2, and how their paths eventually collide. But it’s not the plot that grips the reader – it’s the poignant, searing use of prose and vocabulary to paint the most powerful images in the readers' mind. If you’re looking for a masterclass in writing…Look no further
“..then a piano comes on, playing a lonely song that sounds to Werner like a golden boat traveling a dark river, a progression of harmonies that transfigures Zollverein: the houses turned to mist, the mines filled in, the smokestacks fallen, an ancient sea spilling through the streets, the air streaming with possibility.”
- The Book Thief – Marcus Zusak
Hauntingly beautiful, devastatingly tragic. This book was more than a tear-jerker, it’s the kind of book that evokes in its reader a reflective, sombre silence long after the last page has been turned.
Marcus Zusak, the author of this novel, won a sweep of 8 awards for this work alone, and it’s easy to see why. Death plays the narrator in this story, following the life of a girl called Liesel in WW2 Germany whom it affectionately dubs “the book thief”. To see the war through the eyes of a child and through the eyes of death will give you a new perspective so vivid, it’ll be hard to lose.
“I carried [Rudy] softly through the broken street...with him, I tried a little harder [at comforting]. I watched the contents of his soul for a moment and saw a black-painted boy calling the name Jesse Owens as he ran through an imaginary tape. I saw him hip-deep in some icy water, chasing a book, and I saw a boy lying in bed, imagining how a kiss would taste from his glorious next-door neighbour. He does something to me, that boy. Every time. It's his only detriment. He steps on my heart. He makes me cry.”
- The Kite Runner – Khaled Hosseini
A harrowing novel on the subject of guilt. Set in Afghanistan, the plot follows a young boy and his friend growing up in Kabul, divided by socio-economic circumstances, but united in friendship. Throughout the story, Hosseini probes the readers understanding of friendship, guilt, and time. Much like the Kite Runner, this book left an impact on me for days after finally putting it down.
“I want to tear myself from this place, from this reality, rise up like a cloud and float away, melt into this humid summer night and dissolve somewhere far, over the hills. But I am here, my legs blocks of concrete, my lungs empty of air, my throat burning. There will be no floating away.”
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