Reading. It sounds like the complete opposite of what you should do to de-stress. After all, it is finals season for most students! Most of us already have our noses buried in school books, anyway. Why read for fun? The answer is: you gotta. Keep reading for the top 10 books to read if you’re stressed out. Trust us, it’ll help.
1. Secret Garden: An Inky Treasure Hunt and Coloring Book
For my non-readers and anybody who wants to de-stress in a quick and easy way–it’s time to break out your crayons or fancy colored pencils. Someone with a brilliant idea decided that people of all ages deserve a good coloring book. So, they replaced the average ones with these gorgeous creations. The best part? There are a myriad of themes to choose from including Enchanted Forest and Lost Ocean. It is no secret that I want them all.
Of course, there is nothing wrong with simply picking up a classic coloring book from childhood and breaking out the 64 pack of Crayolas! Sometimes, you just need to color outside the lines on a Little Mermaid pic.
I know I do.
This one seems to go against the idea of staying away from school books. After all, there is a good number of us that have read the source of this book. If not, we have at least seen one of the dozens of movie adaptions (Hello, almost six hours of Colin Firth)! But, if we step it down a notch, we arrive here to Prom and Prejudice by Elizabeth Eulberg.
It is the classic story we all know and love with a modern twist. Miss Eulberg introduces readers to the famous Elizabeth “Lizzie” Bennet and the mysterious “Mr. Darcy” (better known as Darcy) in a setting ever-so fitting for this contemporary retelling: boarding school. It is all the fluff of the famous classic without the stress of 19th Century English (and the vagueness of SparkNotes).
3. Rebel Belle
One of the most obvious methods of procrastination (sorry– “de-stressing”) during finals season is the tried-and-true practice of Netflix binges. I don’t know about you, but my binges tend to include a lot of the ‘90s cult favorite, Buffy the Vampire Slayer. Hot guys? Kick ass girls? Magic? Sign me up!
This book is for you guys–the ones who are Team Spike or Team Angel (Edward and Jacob, WHO?). Rebel Belle by Rachel Hawkins is a hilariously sweet book focusing on Homecoming Queen Harper Price. After a fated trip to the bathroom to apply lip gloss, she ends up a Paladin. That’s right. The girl who thought her biggest problem was dealing with homecoming and Cotillion now has to protect the one guy she loves to hate.
Good thing he’s hot, right?
Next up is actually a big favorite of mine. Fangirl by Rainbow Rowell is the story of Cath, who, along with her twin sister, Wren, embarks on a new adventure called college. This is one of the best books to read if you need something light and stress-free. Wren, her twin sister, is very excited to go and live the university lifestyle–Cath, not so much. She is the shy, cardigan-wearing fan fiction author majoring in Creative Writing. Petrified of the future, all she wants to do is write fanfic and worry about her dad. Of course, life doesn’t always turn out the way you want it to, least of all in college.
Rainbow Rowell creates such a lovely story about the idiosyncrasies of college life: the fear, the excitement, the anxiety. And, all the characters are so vastly different and unique in their own way, while still fitting into this scheme of a college university.
It is a story that helps you de-stress, because so much of what Cath goes through is something we all face in college: fear. If not, there is surely something else you can identify with.
Speaking of stories that make your heart swell five times larger (no, not the Grinch)…can we talk about Neil Gailman’s Stardust? Maybe, you are familiar with the movie starring Charlie Cox (Matt Murdok in Netflix’s Daredevil) and Claire Danes (the ever-lovely Juliet from the delightfully funny Romeo+ Juliet). But, honestly, this book is perfect for de-stressing and winding yourself down from classes.
Fantasy, romance, faeries, pirates, and witches? All wrapped up in one? What more can you ask for (I mean, besides the book suddenly giving you straight A’s)? When you finish the last page, the only thing you will be wanting is a few more hours in a day, so you can go read it again.
Oh…wait…are we supposed to be studying? *continues reading*
I think one of the easiest ways to de-stress is to simply see the story unfold on the page. It makes picturing what the characters look like in your mind a lot easier. After all–pictures are pretty great. Especially when the artwork is super cute.
Like in Nimona by Noelle Stevenson! This gem started out as a web comic and ended up in a bound graphic novel format that totally swept readers off their feet. In the fashion of stories that put their focus on the “villain,” Nimona focuses on the title character, who along with Classic Bad Guy Lord Ballister Blackheart, is determined to prove that the hero is not always the good guy.
It’s a cute, fun story that I would like to wager will take your mind right off your studies, if only for a little while.
7. Sailor Moon
Maybe, it is just me, but I literally grew up on Sailor Moon by Naoko Takeuchi. Okay, appropriately, I watched the anime when I was 3 and later read the manga (comic). I’m not going to lie. I’m still a huge fan, which is exactly why I go back to this time after time again. When I feel like school is a truck about to run me over, I crack the spine of my well-worn first volume of Sailor Moon.
For those of you who don’t know, Sailor Moon is about a 14 year old klutz who is suddenly realized to be “Pretty Guardian” Sailor Moon. Her sole purpose? Protect the mysterious moon princess and save Tokyo from the evil that has begun to attack.
Almost 25 years old, it is just as iconic today as it was back in 1992. It is a great story about girl power, friendship, and love. The themes get a bit dark midway through–but not like, the darkness that fills your life during finals season. So we’re all good. Good? Good.
8. Stories From Your Childhood
If you want to talk childhood, there is also the option of simply going way back. These are some of the best books to read if you’re stressed. Going back to the Disney Movies that you (still) sing along to. Back to the simplicity of listening to your parents tell you any number of bedtime stories. I mean, if they helped you go to sleep back in yesteryear, it’s sure to help you de-stress now (bonus: you can end up taking a nap which is totally recommended for finals season, let’s be honest).
My favorite childhood story to go back to is Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland by Lewis Carroll with its childish simplicity and overall enjoyability. I can just plop myself down, wrap up in a blanket, and am done with this story within the hour. Or The Little Mermaid by Hans Christian Anderson.
Of course, going back to the original fairy tales that Disney spun for us is usually a great relaxant. But, just a reminder…the classics aren’t exactly what the mouse led us to believe.
Since I gave you guys permission to color earlier, I felt that I should let you in on this beauty (or beauties because there are several editions of these): Harry. Potter. Coloring. Books. Yeah, you read that right. COLORING BOOKS. Inspired by. HARRY POTTER.
Let out your frustrations you pent up studying (or procrastinating like myself) by coloring the mystical creatures and objects that make their appearance over the duration of this bestselling franchise. Color them how you saw them in the movie. Or color ‘em in bright neons (who said Dobby can’t be fuscia? That’s right. Nobody).
So pull out your colored pencils *ahem* wands–and get down to making magic.
SPEAKING OF NOSTALGIA TO DE-STRESS, I couldn’t leave out the highest form of nostalgia! How on earth could I forget the Harry Potter books by the ever-great J.K. Rowling? These are quite possibly some of the best books to read! Stressed or not. (The answer is simply that I had to save the biggest for last!) It is incredibly easy to get your Potter fix with any of the million movie marathons that Freeform (formally ABC Family) hosts–or even The Wizarding World of Harry Potter in California and Florida.
Yet, going back to the books is always another fantastic idea. What could be better? Oh right. The fact that this year, we started getting these REALLY COOL illustrated copies of Harry Potter! The Sorcerer’s Stone is the only one out so far, but there will be a new book in the series once a year with all new illustrations to go along with one of the bestselling stories that we grew up on.
I mean, it’s hard to stay stressed when you have a picture book of one of your favorite stories, no?
Books do not have to cause your stress–instead, they can be the opposite! If you just put that textbook down (who are you kidding? You were never studying in the first place…) and crack open the spine of something to take your mind off of everything–then you’re heading in the right direction.
Just remember that you should probably actually study after your reading break.