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March 6th 2021

AS THE 10TH OCTOBER MARKS WORLD MENTAL HEALTH DAY, WE CELEBRATE THE POWER OF BOOKS TO PUT US BACK TOGETHER AGAIN.

Anyone who’s ever curled up with a book on a rainy Sunday morning with a mug of frothy coffee and a duvet will know of the power of books to transport us to all places beautiful.

But there are facts behind why books make us feel good. Did you know that reading puts our brains into the same state as meditation? And that ‘shadow activity’ in the brain can trick our minds into thinking that our bodies are experiencing the same things as the characters we’re reading about? Words are truly powerful: they have the ability to transport us to other worlds, to different times and different communities. And in a year as troubling as 2020, who doesn’t want a spot of escapism?

Speaking of escapism, we are absolutely in love with Jennifer Nansubuga Makumbi’s The First Woman. Set in Uganda, the story follows a girl growing up in a community built on traditional Ugandan feminism and a mythology that places women at the heart of power, way before European feminism had spread its wings. It’s a book of glorious female strength and power and one to nourish any soul lacking in self-confidence. Not to mention that it’s utterly intoxicating and paints a truly vivid picture of place.

Reading is also a brilliant way to build empathy and to combat loneliness. Our brains contain mirror neurons: the parts of our minds which help us find similarity in each other and different situations; so the experience of playing tennis and watching Wimbledon are one and the same thing as far as our brains are concerned. So, every time we pick up a book and meet a new character, we are doing something wonderful for our social needs and can find ourselves feeling less lonely.

A child who picks up a book and sees someone like them, with the same fears, worries, anxieties, hopes and dreams, will find themselves able to rehearse life in a way that isn’t possible in reality, and to see how different scenarios might play out. We can try on different lives when we read and in doing so, grow our empathy, settle our worries and find hope for a better future. Why not try Today I’m Strong by Nadiya Hussein or Gustavo The Shy Ghost by Flavia Z. Drago if your little ones could do with a safe space to read about and think about mental health? After all, The National Literacy Trust have found that kids who read outside of school are three times more likely to have good mental wellbeing.

Bibliotheraphy – the prescription of books to heal the soul – is something we absolutely adore at LoveMyRead. For October, I’d suggest The Windsor Knot if you need to bring some joy into your life; The Illustrated Child for some child-like wonder at the world a book to break and make your heart again; Should We Fall Behind if you’re feeling angry at the world and want to love your neighbour again; A Life On Our Planet if you’re seeking hope and the answers to climate action; or Loud Black Girls if you want to feel educated, empowered and simply kick-ass.

Taking the time out for a book is the ultimate form of self-care. So in honour of World Mental Health Day, we prescribe for you somewhere snuggly – be it bath, bed, fireside – a beverage of your choice, snacks sweet or salty and one of our brilliant books.

Happy reading!

Vicki & The LoveMyRead Team x

Great books change lives

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