Let’s Talk Bookish is a weekly meme, hosted by Rukky @ Eternity Books & Dani @ Literary Lion, where they discuss certain topics, share their opinions, and spread the love by visiting each others’ posts.
APRIL 23: HOW READING AFFECTS MENTAL HEALTH (SUGGESTED BY KRISTIN @ LUKTEN AV TRYKKSVERTE)
Prompts: In what ways does reading affect your mental health? Does it affect your mental health positively or negatively at certain times, and why? How do you find a balance to keep up with reading while being mindful of your mental health? Do triggers, bookish controversies, and things like that affect your health a lot more than you let on?
This is such an interesting topic. I am not sure it really affects my “mental health” in the traditional sense of the word, but reading surely affects my mental state. As it should, right? To be so absorbed into a book where the feelings being elicited by the book are pretty much your own and not the character’s anymore.
I think there’s two ways to think about how it affects me (kind of similar to dreams and nightmares, to be honest): one, the book elicits a bunch of happy fuzzy feelings the same way a dream would, but then after I’m done, may leave me feeling a bit empty. On the other hand, dark and thrilling books always twist my gut and leave me (almost) anxious like a nightmare, but finishing it and waking up to reality is kind of like a refreshing relief. Anybody else know what I mean?
This always made me confused whether I preferred good or bad dreams, since the feeling of waking up and having the illusion dispelled is just a strong a feeling as having the dream in the first place. For what it’s worth, I tend to like reading mysteries and thrillers, so it seems like I value the feeling afterwards more.
Timing definitely matters a lot as well. Isn’t this the whole reason that as readers we’re not always inclined to read the same types of books all the time? There are times for the adventure, the mystery, the suspense. But at other times we also just want to chill with our favourite (possibly guilty) romance/romantic comedy novels. If you’re feeling anxious in real life, you probably aren’t going to want to increase anxiety by reading a scary psychological thriller. I think timing has always been an potent factor in determining whether a book is enjoyable.
To combat this, I think just picking books for what you feel like, and not pushing yourself too far tends to work best. There really isn’t a need to read a book when you don’t feel like it (most of the time). Yes there are probably some times where you have to power through for the sake of a deadline – but even then, pushing yourself too far is never good. Remember to be honest with yourself with how much you can take, mental health is so important to take care of.
Lastly, I think controversial topics that I read about in books do actually affect me a lot. Not to the point where it drastically alters my life or anything, but does sometimes leave me feeling cynical or jaded. While it’s not often that I actively hide such a feeling, I suppose I do not always volunteer these types of emotions either. I wouldn’t say they affect my overall mental health much, but I do admit that my mood can be heavily influenced by something I read.
I feel that in general reading books generally betters mental health though? Or at least I feel like I use books as an escape sometimes, and therefore it offers me reprieve from the harsh realities of the real world. So realistically, books shouldn’t make me feel worse, otherwise I would just not read them! What do you all think?
That’s a wrap for this week! Remember to follow Rukky and Dani on their respective blogs, which is linked above. Feel free to leave your own suggestions for LTB topics as well while you’re over there!