Books to Read When You Need to De-Stress

Books. What would I do without them? They allow me to escape. To dream. To hope. And for the past few years, they have provided an outlet for me to reduce my stress and worries.

In 2019, I read 170 books. In 2020, 180. This year? I have probably read about three dozen or so but have stopped counting. I found it too much pressure on me to get through my seemingly never-ending ‘TBR pile’, and led to me not spending the time enjoying the detail that so many talented authors painfully took to make their books the magnificent pieces of work they are.

I’m a re-reader. I have books that I will read every year, or sometimes twice a year, because they give me so much comfort. And in case you are the same, someone who turns to books for comfort and to de-stress, I have put together a list of my favourite comfort reads.

Pride and Prejudice | Jane Austen

I never read Jane Austen in school, can you believe that? So it was only in 2020, when my friend and I decided to change our plans due to rain that I took my first steps in my Jane Austen journey. We decided to watch the 2020 remake of Jane Austen’s Emma, and on that day, my life changed (though fun fact: it didn’t end up raining).

I first devoured Pride and Prejudice as the 2005 movie, then the audiobook, then the 1995 mini-series. I watch the movie monthly, and listen to the soundtrack daily. And now, having read Pride and Prejudice in paperback form, it’s my favourite book of all time.

If like me, you haven’t delved into the world of Jane Austen, Pride and Prejudice is the place to begin. It follows the story of Elizabeth Bennet, our heroine who isn’t prepared to settle down with just everyone. Over the course of the book, we see her relationship with Mr Darcy (*swoons*) develop as she moves past her stubbornness and prejudice; and as does he.

The Little House in the Big Woods | Laura Ingalls Wilder

I vaguely remember watching some Little House on the Prairie episodes as a child, though it could be a figment of my imagination. This is the first of nine books in the series, focusing on the author’s childhood living in a little log cabin on the edge of the Big Woods of Wisconsin. Four-year-old Laura lives in the little house with her Pa, her Ma, her sisters Mary and Carrie, and their trusty dog, Jack.

This book gives all the comfort vibes; we learn about how the family must grow or catch all their own food, how they celebrate Christmas with homemade toys and treats, do the spring planting, bring in the harvest, and make their first trip into town. Technically this is a children’s book, but as (full grown?) adult, I must admit, it’s one of my favourite books of all time.

The Women in Black | Madeleine St John

This book and movie are divine! I love imagining Sydney back in the 1950’s, and this is a feel-good comfort read if there ever was one.

At the very end of the Ladies’ Frocks Departments, past Cocktail Frocks, there was something very special, something quite, quite wonderful; but it wasn’t for everybody: that was the point. Because there, at the very end, there was a lovely arch, on which was written in curly letters Model Gowns.

Women in Black is a fairytale which illuminates the extraordinariness of ordinary lives. The women in black are run off their feet, what with the Christmas rush and the summer sales that follow. But it’s Sydney in the 1950s, and there’s still just enough time left on a hot and frantic day to dream and scheme

Jane Was Here | Nicole Jacobsen, Devon MacLennan, Lexi Nilson

To support my Jane Austen obsession, my partner gave me a copy of Jane Was Here for Christmas, and it has fast become a favourite to escape into. This book is a whimsical, illustrated guide to Jane Austen’s England – from the settings in her novels and the scenes in the wildly popular television and film adaptations, to her homes and other important locations throughout her own life.

The illustrations are simply gorgeous, and this book will make you feel like you can travel, even though that’s currently not possible for us Aussies.