Stories have an almost unique ability to make people feel real, sometimes life changing emotions about things that have no impact on the reader or may never have happened at all. Everyone has some tale that makes them feel warm and fuzzy or makes them cry – one that unlocks something inside them that allows them to let go of the real world and feel some pure, unadulterated emotion.
That freedom just to feel, to empathise with someone else without it actually impacting your life, is wonderful. It allows you to explore the entire scope of the human condition from the comfort of your bed. Or living room. Or coffee shop. Or the bus.
While reading is a great emotional and intellectual exercise no matter where or when or how often you find the time, but it can also be a valuable source of comfort.
Connecting to your deepest feelings because a fictional character has inspired them can give you an unrivalled sense of emotional relief.
Sometimes, you don’t want to let your own problems get on top of you, but you do want an excuse to vent how you’re feeling. Laughing or crying along with your favourite fictional friend can allow you that freedom when it seems like the real world is forcing you to choke back how you really feel.
Stories can transport you to someone else’s life, to a completely different world if that’s where you to want to go.
But your favourite story doesn’t have to have won that place because of its content. Sometimes, it just has to have pleasant memories for you. It can be something you read as a child. It might be the first story you ever really fell in love with. It might be one a beloved friend introduced you to.
You might now even know why you love it. It might make you feel fuzzy inside without you ever really knowing why.
But if you do have a story like that, keep it close. Have it to hand whenever you need something to comfort you.
There are times when you want to escape into a whole other world, but don’t have the time or energy to browse bookshop shelves. Or, if you do, you might end up picking something that is far less engaging than you’d hoped. It might not make you feel any better at all.
When you find a tale that can transport you out of your problems to somewhere that you love being – even if it’s because the problems there are different and exciting – hold onto it. Keep it close.
Build up a collection.
Set aside a shelf just for them, a space you can go to when you need something to cheer you up. Then, when you need a moment to forget about the real world, you always have them there.
Even if you rarely go back to visit them, it’s not like a handful of books is going to take up too much space. You’re not really sacrificing anything having them there.
So the only thing that remains to worry about is what you’re going to put on it.
Author Bio – Kirstie Summers is journalist whose day job takes her to all the most interesting places and events in South London. She also freelances for a number of sites and publications, from gaming and literature reviews to creative fiction. She lives in London and spends as much of her free time as possible making the most of being in such a diverse city. She keeps one day a week to herself to swim, relax and keep the stress of the world at bay.