My favorite calming books
How are things going for the rest of the ADHD world? For me, my sleep problems have actually gotten a bit better, and I’m currently experimenting with positive affirmations in the morning, so things are interesting. I’m, thankfully, no longer feeling like a zombie 100% of the time. But I’m still struggling a lot with lacking motivation and lots of stress in several areas of my life. And the affirmation thing has so far gone 50-50 (I only started it yesterday, where it worked surprisingly well – affirmation was: Be the sun – and today it’s not working all that well – affirmation was: I am lucky). I might post about that next week, if I find it helpful in getting on top of my current jumble of ADHD and non-ADHD problems.
Anyways. One reason my sleep has gotten better are books. You see, I always (or at least always when the next day is a work day) read before going to sleep. This has helped me get away from staring at my phone once I’m in bed. I probably don’t need to tell you, that that is a very unhealthy habit. But I also know that the kind of book you read makes a big difference.
Something I think we can all understand, is that some books don’t lend themselves very well to reading before bedtime. Thrillers, horror books, and the like, just keep stimulating us, so I don’t think they would be very helpful in calming down. Same goes for books I get overly invested in. There, the “just one more chaper!!!”-phenomenon kicks in, and I end up not really falling asleep all night, while my brain fantasizes about what’s going to happen next!
So in trying to figure out what kinds of books to read before bed, I’ve found that some genres work particularly well for me: scientific books can work, but they don’t have a story, which means that they don’t work all that well for me. Apparently, my brain needs a story to get invested in a book enough for the stress of the day to drop away. I’ve recently found that children’s books can be great. Also, some classics are nice reads for before bed time, but not all of them. I’m currently reading North and South, and that’s strangely doing nothing to help me sleep. Also great are autobiographies, if they aren’t too turbulent.
I actually have a few books that I have found to be fantastic in helping me calm down and get into a mental state of relaxation. So, if you want to try reading as a tool to calm down, here are my suggestions:
- “The Guardians of Childhood” books, by William Joyce: I just started the series, after having seen the movie and loving it. And I can honestly say, that these books are perfect for adult readers who want to calm down. That doesn’t mean that they’re boring. What I like so much about them, is that the tension they build is built for young readers, so it doesn’t stress me out, and that these books just have a kind of magic about them. They feel really warm and welcoming and homey, if that makes sense. As someone who grew up with Harry Potter, reading these books now, as an adult, takes me back a bit, to times when I couldn’t go to sleep, because I would be reading one of the HP books and just needed to know how they ended so, so badly, that I would be up until 1 in the morning (unbeknownst to my parents, of course). The excitement isn’t that high, but the magic these stories had is there. And I really enjoy that, because not a lot of books can actually do that for me anymore.
- “Walden”, by Henry David Thoreau: This one isn’t a super easy read for ADHD brains in terms of stimulation, but I still enjoyed it a lot. It takes a bit of getting into, but once I did, the description of the landscape, the cabin, the way of life, just drew me in. And, funily enough, I felt a lot like I had actually been outside, in a massive, basically untouched forest, by a beautiful lake, watching the seasons turn and the garden grow. It was nice, and it helped me calm down, and disconect from all the things that had me feeling stressed all day. It also put the idea in my head, that I definitely want to live that way, too. But, oh well, that’s not really going to happen. It’s still nice to dream about, and maybe even inspire my dreams at night.
- “Emma” by Jane Austen: First I need to say: I would recommend anything by Jane Austen, but Emma is my favorite. Jane Austen is one of the “classic” (as in canonically accepted as a great, classic author who made significant contributions to literature) authors I can read anytime. But I’ve discovered, that if I read her books before bed, they help me calm down. Emma is my favorite Jane Austen book for a few reasons. First of all, I just love Emma Woodhouse. She’s such a great, strong character, and so well rounded. Second, Emma isn’t a more or less passive player who is being tossed around by the partiarchy. None of Austen’s heroines are. And that makes reading her a lot of fun, whereas, for example, Emily Bronte (don’t know how to get the dots on the “e”), had me constantly worrying about the women in “Wuthering Heights”. Which is fine, really, but when I am in bed, reading, wanting to get ready to go to sleep, it’s not exactely helping.
- “The Secret Garden”, by Frances Hodgson Burnett: This one is both a kids book, strictly speaking, and a classic. How do I know that? I got it for free on amazon. I know, I shouldn’t be buying there, but honestly, I also by at local book stores, if I can find something there. So shush. Back to the book: This tale also has the kind of magic the “Guardians” have, but a little different. I loved this book so much, and honestly, it makes for the perfect good night story. I will definitely need to teach my kid(s) english someday (if I have any), just so I can read them some of the lovely english children’s books out there. “The Secret Garden” is such a lovely piece. The story is great, and the way it is told makes it feel very personal. It’s a great book to read before going to bed.
- “A Place of One’s Own”, by Virginia Woolf: I have to say, I find Virginia Woolf kind of hard to read. Her style of writing and telling her stories is a bit confusing to me. However, “A Place of One’s Own” really got me. I bought this book at a lovely little foreign language book store in Heidelberg, and it’s one of the books I didn’t intend to buy. But it was just so pretty, with it’s light green linen cover, that I got it anyway. And it was so worth it. This isn’t exactely a fictional book, or a non-fiction book, it sits somewhere in between these two categories. It doesn’t tell a real story, in my opinion. But the way the non-story is told is very visual. It was easy for me to get into the scenes, and see the vibrant fall colors or the old buildings. That’s what made it such an enjoyable read. It’s also highly educational, but that’s beside the point here. I love the way this book helped me calm down and get away from the days stress.
Those are some of the more recent books I’ve read and enjoyed. I’ve been reading a lot for the past two years, so there are a lot more books I could recommend, but not all of them are great for relaxing and calming down. So this list is really just a start. I’m quite sure that not all the books in there are for everyone. As you can see, I’ve been reading lots of books of a similar type recently, which is definitely reflected here. I’m sure, if I dug around in my brain a bit more, and maybe in my book case (although I try to sort my books out regularly, even though I haven’t found out what to do with the ones I don’t want to keep…), I could come up with some more suggestions. But I think that reading before bed is a really personal thing, that is different for everyone. So I guess I want to encourage you to try some things and find what works for you. I mean, honestly, something that also works for me are murder mysteries like “And Then There Were None”, which I would have never expected. Just give it a try. Finding the right kinds of books to read has really been incredibly helpful to me, in terms of having something to fall back on, when I really, really, really need to relax.
And I guess that’s it for today. I still have a lot of stuff to do, which is ironic, because it’s already 3 pm here, and I can’t really remember what I did so far. I do remeber that I spent some time looking for the duster, that I can’t find, and am now convinced has somehow vanished from the earth’s surface completely. Oh well.
Have a great week everyone!