Books to Boost your Mood

Did you know that research shows reading can reduce stress, and improves mental well-being? It’s yet another reason to love your library!

The Reading Agency Reading Well Mood-boosting Books scheme is a national promotion of uplifting novels, non-fiction and poetry selected by readers and reading groups from across the country. If you are feeling stressed or just want a bit of a pick-me-up, boost your mood with a recommended read. Our top ten below have been chosen by Hampshire Libraries, and our reading groups.

All the titles available for free with your Hampshire Library membership, and remember you can reserve these online for pick up at your chosen branch, just click on the title.

10 Mood Boosting Books

  1. Bee journal, Sean Borodale

Bee Journal is a poem-journal of bee-keeping kept over two years, when the author took up beekeeping for the first time. The poems chronicle the life and work of the bees, sketching a relationship between keeper and kept, exploring paradoxes and some moments of revelation.

2. Dart, Alice Oswald

Over the past three years Alice Oswald has been recording conversations with people who live and work on the River Dart in Devon. Using these records and voices as a sort of poetic census, she creates a narrative of the river, tracking its life from source to sea. The voices are wonderfully varied and idiomatic – they include a poacher, a ferryman, a sewage worker and milk worker, a forester, swimmers and canoeists – and are interlinked with historic and mythic voices: drowned voices, dreaming voices and marginal notes which act as markers along the way.

3. The enchanted April, Elizabeth Von Arnim

A notice in The Times addressed to ‘Those who Appreciate Wistaria and Sunshine’ advertises a ‘small mediaeval Italian Castle on the shores of the Mediterranean to be let furnished for the month of April’. Four very different women take up the offer, escaping dreary London for the sunshine of Italy. Among the party are Mrs Wilkins and Mrs Arthuthnot, both fleeing unappreciative husbands; beautiful Lady Caroline, sick of being ‘grabbed’ by lovestruck men; and the imperious Mrs Fisher, who spends her time remembering the bearded ‘great men’ she knew in her Victorian childhood. By the end of their holiday, all the women will fall completely under the spell of Italy.

4. A cat called Norton, Peter Gethers

Peter was a confirmed loner and cat hater, until he was given a small, grey (and impeccably handsome) kitten with folded ears by his then girlfriend. The girlfriend went but Norton stayed – in fact, he and Peter became inseparable. Trotting along beside him down the street, having his own chair in restaurants or sitting on Peter’s lap on plane journeys, Norton made his presence felt and Peter was a loner no more. But, after learning how to love his cat, would Peter now learn how to love another human too?

5. The green road into the trees, Hugh Thomson

Walking right across England, along ancient track ways and green grass roads, Hugh explores the way the country was and the way it is today: the legends, literature and natural world that define us, and the undercurrent of regret running throughout our history; what he calls ‘the unicorn disappearing into the trees’. From coast-to-coast and through the heart of the countryside, he shows how old, forgotten cultures like the Celts, Saxons and Vikings lie much closer to the surface than we may think. It is a journey enriched and partly told by the characters he meets along the way.

6. Artichoke hearts, Sita Brachmachari

Twelve-year-old Mira comes from a chaotic, artistic and outspoken family where it’s not always easy to be heard. As her beloved Nana Josie’s health declines, Mira begins to discover the secrets of those around her, and also starts to keep some of her own. She is drawn to mysterious Jide, a boy who is clearly hiding a troubled past and has grown hardened layers – like those of an artichoke – around his heart. As Mira is experiencing grief for the first time, she is also discovering the wondrous and often mystical world around her. An incredibly insightful, honest novel exploring the delicate balance, and often injustice, of life and death – but at its heart is a celebration of friendship, culture – and life.

7. The Rosie project, Graeme Simsion

The art of love is never a science: Meet Don Tillman, a brilliant yet socially inept professor of genetics, who’s decided it’s time he found a wife. In the orderly, evidence-based manner with which Don approaches all things, he designs the Wife Project to find his perfect partner: a sixteen-page, scientifically valid survey to filter out the drinkers, the smokers, the late arrivers. Rosie Jarman possesses all these qualities. Don easily disqualifies her as a candidate for The Wife Project (even if she is “quite intelligent for a barmaid”). But Don is intrigued by Rosie’s own quest to identify her biological father. When an unlikely relationship develops as they collaborate on The Father Project, Don is forced to confront the spontaneous whirlwind that is Rosie―and the realization that, despite your best scientific efforts, you don’t find love, it finds you.

8. The secret diary of Adrian Mole aged 13 ¾, Sue Townsend

Friday January 2nd
I felt rotten today. It’s my mother’s fault for singing ‘My Way’ at two o’clock in the morning at the top of the stairs. Just my luck to have a mother like her. There is a chance my parents could be alcoholics. Next year I could be in a children’s home.

Meet Adrian Mole, a hapless teenager providing an unabashed, pimples-and-all glimpse into adolescent life. Writing candidly about his parents’ marital troubles, the dog, his life as a tortured poet and ‘misunderstood intellectual’, Adrian’s painfully honest diary is still hilarious and compelling reading thirty years after it first appeared.

9. Soul music, Terry Pratchett

Being sixteen is always difficult, even more so when there’s a Death in the family. After all, it’s hard to grow up normally when Grandfather rides a white horse and wields a scythe. Especially if he decides to take a well-earned moment to uncover the meaning of life and discover himself in the process, so that you have to take over the family business, and everyone mistakes you for the Tooth Fairy. And especially when you have to face the new and addictive music that has entered Discworld. It’s lawless. It changes people. It’s got a beat and you can dance to it. It’s called Music With Rocks In. And it won’t fade away.

10. The unlikely pilgrimage of Harold Fry, Rachel Joyce

When Harold Fry nips out one morning to post a letter, leaving his wife hoovering upstairs, he has no idea that he is about to walk from one end of the country to the other. He has no hiking boots or map, let alone a compass, waterproof or mobile phone. All he knows is that he must keep walking. To save someone else’s life.

Do you have a go-to mood boosting read? Let us know in the comments below, share the good mood around!

12 from 2015

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There is nothing nicer than snuggling up with your favourite small person to share a story with pictures. There have been some wonderful picture books published in 2015. Here are twelve of our favourites – all of which can be borrowed from your local Hampshire Library.

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15 things NOT to do with a baby – Margaret McAllister & Holly Sterling

This is a fun, cautionary guide to living with a new baby.  Definitely NOT a ‘how to’ guide!

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A Great Big Cuddle – Michael Rosen & Chris Riddell

A lovely selection of poems for very young children, written and illustrated by two of our Children’s Laureates.

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Babies don’t walk they ride! – Kathy Henderson & Lauren Tobia

This is a joyous celebration of babies and families in their every day lives.

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Betsy Visits her Grandparents – Helen Stephens

A gentle book about the first time a little girl has a sleepover at her grandparent’s house.  This is part of a series about first experiences.

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Big Digger abc – Margaret Mayo & Alex Ayliffe

An alphabet of transport – including some unusual vehicles – told in verse and with lovely bright illustrations.

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Daddy’s Sandwich – Pip Jones & Laura Hughes

A little girl decides to make her Dad the perfect sandwich.  She wants to include all his favourite things – but eating it might be a bit of a tall order.

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Dinosaur Rocket – Penny Dale

Three dinosaurs zoom into space.  Some nice repetition and detailed pictures to share with young fans of Tim Peake.

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Funny Face Sunny Face – Sally Symes & Rosalind Beardshaw

A fun book, written in rhyme, following toddlers through their day.

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Lion Practice – Emma Carlisle

Laura loves to practise. Today she’s practising being a lion and that involves lots of leaping, jumping and roaring.

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Please, Mr Panda – Steve Antony

Mr Panda has some doughnuts to share with other animals, but is anyone worthy to have one of his treats?

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Shark in the Park on a Windy Day! – Nick Sharratt

The latest book in this popular series has, as you might expect, rhyming, repetition, exciting cut away pages and – possibly – a shark!

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There’s a Bear on my Chair – Ross Collins

This rhyming book follows mouse in his efforts to move a very large bear out of mouse’s favourite chair.

The Interpretation of murder by Jed Rubenfeld

About the book

The Interpretation of Murder’ is an inventive tour de force inspired by Sigmund Freud’s 1909 visit to America, accompanied by protege and rival, Carl Jung.

Reviewed by Forest Arts

The group enjoyed the descriptive passages concerning the building of New York. Not many sympathetic characters – plenty of corruption, even the coroner turned out to be crooked!. Some found it overlong – a possibility of a great adaptation for a film!

** 2 stars

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In a dry season by Peter Robinson

About the book

During a hot summer, drought has depleted Thornfield Reservoir, uncovering the remains of a small village called Hobb’s End, hidden from view for over 40 years. A boy finds a human skeleton, and DCI Alan Banks sets out to uncover the murky past.

Reviewed by Shipton Bellinger WI

A detective story with many sub-plots. The descriptions of life in a very rural village during the WW2 are very good but the other sub-plots seem to muddy the waters a bit. Generally enjoyed.

** 2 stars

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Secrets of the tides by Hannah Richell

About the book

The Tides are a family with dark secrets. Haunted by the events of one tragic day ten years ago, they are each, in their own way, struggling to move forwards with their lives. Can long-held secrets ever really be forgiven? And even if you do manage to forgive and forget, how do you ever allow yourself to truly love?

Reviewed by Fareham 5:30

A light, fairly enjoyable read (although one of us stopped because of the sadness). Lots of themes are raised by this book: bereavement, adultery, gay relationships, family dynamics etc and we felt it would have been better if the book had focused on fewer themes in more detail. None of us felt we had taken away anything of depth from this read.

*** 3 stars

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Home by Marilynne Robinson

About the book

Home‘ takes up the story of the wayward son Jack who, after decades away, edgily and uneasily, but finally, returns home. He is the prodigal son and his family believe against all evidence, that if they love him enough, if they welcome him back, he will change and he will stay.

Reviewed by Batnfield Book Club

Thought provoking, very atmospheric, well written, good evocation of life in a 1950s home. Sad.

*** 3 stars

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End in tears by Ruth Rendell

About the book

A lump of concrete dropped deliberately from a little stone bridge over a relatively unfrequented road kills the wrong person. The driver behind is spared. But only for a while.

Reviewed by Mulberry Reading Group

Group very disappointed even Ruth Rendell fans didn’t like it. Too many characters in a convoluted story, too much coincidence in an unbelievable story. Not well written.

*1 star

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All quiet on the Western front by Erich Maria Remarque

About the book

This story is told by a young soldier in the trenches of Flanders during the First World War. Through his eyes we see the realities of war. Incidents are vividly described, but there is no sense of adventure, only the feeling of youth betrayed.

Reviewed by The Page Turners

Everyone should read this book – a beautiful translation of a moving and harrowing WW1 story; an opportunity to delve into history, memoirs and poetry and consider the possible effects of combat particularly on young men.

**** 4 stars

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Bare bones by Kathy Reichs

About the book

It’s a summer of record-breaking heat in Charlotte, North Carolina and Dr Temperance Brennan is looking forward to her first vacation in years. But she’s just out the door when the bones start appearing. Tempe must find the answers by teasing secrets from the bones – if only she can decipher them in time.

Reviewed by The Chocolate Group

Enjoyable, easy read. Good cliff hangers at the end of chapters. Lots of characters but the author does recpa regularly. Probably best read in one chunk. slightly disappointing ending.

*** 3 stars

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Tide of death by Pauline Rowson

About the book

It is DI Andy Horton’s second day back in Portsmouth CID after being suspended for eight months. Whilst out running he trips over the naked and battered body of a man. Beset by personal problems and aided by Sergeant Cantelli, Horton sets out to find a killer who will stop at nothing to cover his tracks.

Reviewed by Emsworth Crime Group

Formulaic, amateur crime novel with nothing new to offer.

*1 star

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