Book Recommendations

Non – Fiction Mental Health Books – Book Recommendations

So a while ago I shared a post with some recommendations with fiction books that deal with mental health, which you can read here.

So this post is some recommendations of some non-fiction mental health books. I know reading these books is not for everyone and some books may resonate more than others so I am going to share a few that I have read and found beneficial and some that have been recommended to me.

1 Reasons to Stay Alive & Notes on a Nervous Planet by Matt Haig – I really loved these books and I also enjoy reading his social media posts. I met him last year at a book event which was really insightful.

2 Looking After Your Mental Health by Alice James & Louie Stowell – This book is for young teens and preteens and I found it really helpful in helping to talk to my younger cousins about mental health and she also found it helpful

3 It’s All in your Head by Rae Earl – This book is for older teens and young adults and I thought that it was written really well dealing with topics that that are actually relevant to them.

4 Happy by Fearne Cotton – I bought this recently when it was recommended to me so I am hoping to read it soon.

5 You’re Crushing It by Lex Croucher – This was a really great book and one you can dip in and out of again and again.

6 The Self Care Project by Jayne Hardy – This is another book I picked up because I really love The Blurt Foundation’s work and Jayne is the founder so I had to pick up her book. PS. Check out their buddy boxes, they’re so good for anyone struggling with any mental health problems.

7 Reclaim Your Heart by Yasmin Mogahed – This is an Islamic book dealing with mental health and I wanted to include it because this is the one book that I repeatedly go to when I am struggling. It’s helped me in some of my most difficult times and I highly recommend it.

So here’s some of my recommendations! Let me know if you have read any that you have found beneficial!

Fiction Books, YA Books

Fangirl by Rainbow Rowell – Book Review

I reread this recently and I just fell in love all over again! I hadn’t read it since I read it for the first time in 2016 so I thought it was time for a reread and it honestly one of the best contemporaries I’ve read!


Rating: 5/5

Synopsis from Goodreads:

Cath is a Simon Snow fan.
Okay, the whole world is a Simon Snow fan..
But for Cath, being a fan is her life—and she’s really good at it. She and her twin sister, Wren, ensconced themselves in the Simon Snow series when they were just kids; it’s what got them through their mother leaving. Reading. Rereading. Hanging out in Simon Snow forums, writing Simon Snow fan fiction, dressing up like the characters for every movie premiere.
Cath’s sister has mostly grown away from fandom, but Cath can’t let go. She doesn’t want to.
Now that they’re going to college, Wren has told Cath she doesn’t want to be roommates. Cath is on her own, completely outside of her comfort zone. She’s got a surly roommate with a charming, always-around boyfriend, a fiction-writing professor who thinks fan fiction is the end of the civilized world, a handsome classmate who only wants to talk about words… And she can’t stop worrying about her dad, who’s loving and fragile and has never really been alone.
For Cath, the question is: Can she do this? Can she make it without Wren holding her hand? Is she ready to start living her own life? Writing her own stories?
And does she even want to move on if it means leaving Simon Snow behind?

This book is what convinced me to read contemporaries. Before reading Fangirl I always thought contemporaries weren’t for me and although it’s still not my favourite genre, I still try reading some depending on what the book is about and that is thanks to Fangirl.
One of the main reasons I fell in love with Fangirl was because of how absolutely relatable Cath was! She is a total fangirl, struggles with change and has social anxiety.

She reminded me of my teenage self when I was about to start university and how absolutely terrified I was. I loved how real her anxiety felt. It was really well represented. How she manages to get to class but can’t bring herself to go to the social events, because class is a necessity so it can be managed. Just how she felt in different situations was so relatable.

“Underneath this veneer of slightly crazy and mildly socially retarded, I’m a complete disaster”

Cath is the socially awkward fangirl that I could relate to in so many ways. Her love for Simon Snow was like my love for Harry Potter growing up and how I would go to the midnight launches to get my copy as soon as it released. I loved seeing her character develop throughout the story but I loved that she wasn’t suddenly “cured” of her anxiety by the end, just that she was learning to try new things and take more chances. But she didn’t leave her childhood love behind, the love of Simon Snow shaped who she was and it was a nice change to see that both Cath and Wren continued that love as they grew older. Because let’s face it, us adults in our twenties still love our childhood favourites, you know a certain golden trio, and it is still very much a part of who we are.

“To really be a nerd, she’d decided, you had to prefer fictional worlds to the real one”

I adored Levi, he is my favourite cinnamon roll character ever! He was so sweet and kind and funny and I fell in love. I loved how respectful he was of Cath and made sure she was okay with everything in every step as their relationship developed. And even though he made a mistake, he owned up to it and did his best to make up for it.

I really enjoyed seeing Cath and Levi’s relationship develop and they are so damn adorable my heart can’t take it. How Levi asks Cath to read to him and how they just hang out and that was so wonderful to see. Their romance is still my favourite because it was cute and sweet and they took it slow and it wasn’t a happily ever after, more of a new beginning and they would see where it would take them, yet they were still falling hard for each other. And I just want more cutesy, feel good (and sometimes awkward) romances like theirs in YA books.

“You’ve read the books?”
“I’ve seen the movies.”
Cath rolled her eyes so hard, it hurt. “So you haven’t read the books.”
“I’m not really a book person.”
“That might be the most idiotic thing you’ve ever said to me”

I loved Reagan and her friendship with Cath, I loved how they understood how each other’s personalities were and even though they were so different they got along so well. She was a wonderful friend to Cath, helping her get out of her shell and being there for her.

“I feel sorry for you, and I’m going to be your friend.”
“I don’t want to be your friend,” Cath said as sternly as she could. “I like that we’re not friends.”
“Me, too. I’m sorry you ruined it by being so pathetic.”

I think you can tell by now that I adore all the characters, Wren and their father were so great too. It was nice seeing how different Wren and Cath were yet how much they still looked out for each other and for their dad. The characters seemed so real and normal, like you could actually bump into them on the street. I loved how Cath and Wren knew each other so well, and even though their differences threatened to distance them, they still managed to come back stronger than ever. I loved how sarcastic they were with each other and their fandom references, it reminded me of me and my sisters.

The story itself is one that most teenagers could relate to. Going away to university and being an adult (or pretending to adult) and trying to figure out who you are and who you want to be, what you want to do in life. And still dealing with whatever baggage they went there with. I

I could gush about this book for ages. And how much of a feel good book it is, even though it deals with lots of serious topics, and how Levi is pure sunshine but I will stop there.

I also reread via audiobook and I highly recommend it. I really loved listening to it.
Have you read this book? Did you love it?

Fiction Books, YA Books

The Disasters by M.K. England – Book Review

I saw this book on social media and the cover was so pretty so I was instantly drawn to the book and I just had to read it! I really loved the book and read it over two evenings because I just couldn’t put it down!


Rating: 4/5

Synopsis from Goodreads:

Hotshot pilot Nax Hall has a history of making poor life choices. So it’s not exactly a surprise when he’s kicked out of the elite Ellis Station Academy in less than twenty-four hours.
But Nax’s one-way trip back to Earth is cut short when a terrorist group attacks the Academy. Nax and three other washouts escape—barely—but they’re also the sole witnesses to the biggest crime in the history of space colonization. And the perfect scapegoats.
On the run and framed for atrocities they didn’t commit, Nax and his fellow failures execute a dangerous heist to spread the truth about what happened at the Academy.
They may not be “Academy material,” and they may not get along, but they’re the only ones left to step up and fight.

This book surprised me but in a good way! I honestly had no idea what to expect going into it but I loved it so much! What I was most surprised about was that there was Muslim characters! Nax, the main character is a Muslim and Pakistani. Another main character, Asra is also Muslim and Bengali. Can I just say how much I loved the Muslim rep! I also adored the way Pakistani and Bengali culture was incorporated into the story without it seeming like it was forced. Mentions of women in salwar kameez and that there’s halal food places and that shops close at prayer times. I loved it!

Nax calls his mum, ammi and talks about Eid and speaking Pashto. Asra wears a hijab! Seeing a hijabi in a science fiction book made me so happy! The adhaan (call to prayer) is mentioned and Asra prays her five daily prayers and it was incorporated so well into the story! I loved her mention how it’s difficult to figure out prayer times in space. It made me giggle and then spend several minutes trying to figure out how exactly that would work!

“Asra snorts. ‘Try figuring out how to pray at the right times. Fortunately, there’s an app for that.’”

It was so nice seeing a Muslim wearing a hijab character praying like it’s just part of her normal routine and a part of her life but that it doesn’t define her. I also loved that Nax may not pray but it doesn’t mean Asra looks down on him or vice versa. They get along really well and it was so refreshing to see that. I’m sick of seeing Muslims who pray portrayed as condescending and judgemental.

There is also really great mental health rep in the book. Case and Nax both have anxiety and it does affect them. Even in vital moments when they are under pressure, they suffer from panic attacks. Which made it more realistic for me. That they are affected by it and they know it does, they don’t try to hide it but that they don’t allow it to define them. I also loved how supportive the other characters were when they had a panic attack. There is also LGBT rep in this book and I thought it was done well. Nax is bisexual and Zee is transgender. There’s some discussion about the discrimination that Zee faces and I really liked that Nax was supportive.

Okay so I know I spent ages talking about the great rep that was in the book but I don’t often get to see good Muslim/South Asian rep in science fiction books. I wish there was more!

The story is such a fun read despite the darker themes in the book. It’s action packed and a really fast paced read. It kept me reading well into the night because I just wanted to read one more chapter. We are told the story from Nax’s point of view and I do wish we could have seen the other characters point of view too. I think it would have helped to develop the other characters too.

I really loved that all three female characters were smart and independent. Asra is a genius hacker, Zee is a great medic and actual badass and Case is, well an all round genius. Asra and Zee were my favourite characters and I wish we got to see more of them. I loved how much they all grew throughout the story and how each of the five characters grew closer together and learned to work with each other despite their differences.

If you enjoy fun sci-fi books with lots of action then I definitely recommend this book!

Booksish Discussions

World Mental Health Day – Self Care Tips

Today is World Mental Health Day and although speaking about mental health should be done regularly I am glad that we can use this day to highlight how important mental health is.

On this post I want to discuss some tips for self-care. It’s something I am incredibly bad at but I am working on that and so I thought that I would share some things that I will try my best to do and hopefully encourage all of you too!

But first, what is self-care? I know it’s taken me a long time to figure out what self-care actually is but what I’ve worked it out to be is the acts of caring for yourself both inside and out. I also think that creating boundaries so that you are not exerting yourself to the point of you burning out. And that self-care can be different for each person depending on what works for them. It can also vary depending on any other health conditions you have, I suffer from chronic pain due to 3 prolapsed discs and it has a big impact on my mental health.

So here are some things that I do and some that I’ve been recommended to try

1 Daily maintenance – brushing your hair, washing your face and getting changed out of your pyjamas may seem like something small but I find it really helps.

2 Go for a walk – especially when the weather is good I like to go out even for a short while. Fresh air and just getting out of the house can be really helpful

3 Exercise – I have a love hate relationship with exercise. I grew up playing netball but I just can’t cope with that level of sport anymore but I still do stretches and exercise at home. Exercise releases serotonin and helps keep my pain in control which helps improve my mental health

4 For me reading is my ultimate way to take a step back from the world. Making a cup of tea, lighting a candle and grabbing my blanket as I curl up on the sofa is one of my favourite ways to help me relax

5 Aside from reading there’s lots of other ways in which you can relax from colouring, drawing, painting, journaling any hobby that helps you relax

6 Meditation or relaxation exercises – there’s lots of different relaxation exercises you can try to find one that works for you or doing some deep breathing exercises which I find very effective in helping me stop a panic attack before it fully starts.

7 Mindfulness – this is something I first heard about last year during my counselling sessions and there’s lots of ways to practice mindfulness which I find really helpful

8 Spending time with my cat, Sherlock, who just knows when I need to be comforted and will come and lie down with me. Petting and cuddling is just so therapeutic! My panic attacks have gotten significantly less since adopting him

9 A relaxing bath or shower – when my depression is bad convincing myself to shower is incredibly hard but once I do I feel so much better. I know some people find baths very relaxing, add a bath bomb and light some candles and you can sit and read or listen to something

10 Take a step back from social media – although it’s a great way to connect with each other, it’s also something that can cause a lot of stress. I find not going on my social media so much or limiting my time on there helps to improve my mental health

So here my top tips! There’s lots more ways to practice self-care but I didn’t want the post to get overwhelming. If there’s anything you do to practice self-care then do let me know in the comments!


The Big Blurtathon – We All Have A Story

Today is The Blurt Foundation’s first Big Blurtathon. The aim of The Big Blurtathon is to raise awareness of mental health and the impact it has on people and to help raise funds for The Blurt Foundation. The theme this year is “we all have a story”.

But first let me tell you who The Blurt Foundation are. They are a social enterprise which exists to help people who are affected by depression. They are dedicated to making a positive social change and increase awareness and provide support for those affected by depression.

So lets get back to the theme of this post. Today I want to share my story with you all. It’s something I’ve been debating about doing since I heard about the blurtathon as I was kind of nervous about sharing what is a difficult topic for me. But I am going to share what I can with you all today.

So I was diagnosed with anxiety and depression 2 years ago but I know that I’ve had it for much longer than that. It just took me a very long time to actually seek help. I hid it for many years and I think I got so good at hiding it that it just became my “normal”. But eventually it got so bad that I couldn’t cope with anything anymore and I knew I had to seek help.

I kept it so well hidden that no-one even realised I had anxiety or depression. Everyone just thought I had mood swings and even I didn’t understand what was happening to me until I was about 18. But I was 25 when I first decided that I need to get help. It was probably the most scariest and stressful thing I’ve ever done. But I am proud of myself for finally taking that step.

I have good days and bad days and my mental health is also affected by how I am doing physically. I have 3 prolapsed discs in my lumbar spine and suffer from chronic pain. So one can make the other worse.

I think one of the most difficult things for me was that I had to stop working as physiotherapist, more due to my physical health but I think that’s one of the things that made my mental health deteriorate a lot more too. I’ve slowly come to terms with this now and I’ve started blogging and finding new things to keep me busy and joining the book community. It has helped me to start recovering and I am in a much better place now. It’s been a long road but I am proud of how far I have come.

I have started tentatively speaking to some of my family and friends about my anxiety and depression. I am hoping that as I get more used to speaking about it, it will help break the stigma which was one of the main reasons that I found it difficult to speak about it and seek help.

Even though I’ve struggled a lot with my condition, it’s helped me to become more resilient and persevere despite the circumstances.

So there you have it, this is my story.

Do go and check out the hashtag #weallhaveastory on social media for all the others who have shared their story today and check out The Blurt Foundation for more of their work on their Website and their social media; Twitter, Instagram and Facebook