Ten Fireplace Book Curl-ups for Your Wintry Staycation

Fire in Fireplace (2006, public domain).

Fire in Fireplace (2006, public domain).


My regular self-care behavior also includes mindfulness meditation … yoga at least twice a week … going on retreats/holidays … going for walks around the block, looking for beauty to connect with, and breathing deeply. Oh, and eating dark chocolate with a cup of hot tea and only doing that. No multitasking, just enjoying that. – Kim Boivin, registered clinical counselor, Vancouver


Whether you’re re-reading one of the world’s great classics or cracking open the season’s newest releases, winter staycations are the perfect time to practice self-care while also catching up on your reading. Research has shown that not only can reading increase a person’s empathy, but it has the power to keep brains healthy. Time spent with a good book is so beneficial, in fact, that it is a stress buster that may also help you ward off Alzheimer’s Disease.

In 2009, researchers from Sussex University and Mindlab International demonstrated that reading “works better and faster than other methods to calm frazzled nerves such as listening to music, going for a walk or settling down with a cup of tea,” according to an article in The Telegraph. “Psychologists believe this is because the human mind has to concentrate on reading and the distraction of being taken into a literary world eases the tensions in muscles and the heart.”

Study participants who read for just six minutes or listened to music were able to reduce muscle tension and heart rates by a whopping 68 and 61 percent, respectively, while those lingering over a cup of tea saw improvements of up to 54 percent. Surprisingly, walkers were only able to achieve a reduction of 42 percent.

And video gamers? Well, let’s just say, “Step away from the console. Your hearts will thank you.”

So stop feeling guilty for taking time out of your busy life to enjoy your favorite pastime. Throw a log on the fire, uncork that bottle of wine, and grab your warm, soft blankie and a plateful of chocolate truffles, because it’s time for a bit of self-care.

Pick the Opening Lines Which Most Intrigue You, Then Grab the Book

  • “Call me Ishmael.”: Herman Melville’s 1851 classic, Moby Dick, is the perfect vessel for contemplating the consequences of anger and revenge.
  • “Days before our field trip to the science center, Mrs. Bermudez tells our class the sun is actually hundreds of times larger than the earth. We move around it. We’re nothing zooming through dark space, she says, matter-of-factly, as if it didn’t matter that we were no longer the center of our own little worlds.”: Richard Blanco’s 2013 memoir, For All of Us, One Today: An Inaugural Poet’s Journey, reminds readers the world over of the common ground they share.
  • “It’s freezing – an extraordinary 0° Fahrenheit – and it’s snowing, and in the language that is no longer mine, the snow is qanik – big, almost weightless crystals falling in clumps and covering the ground with a layer of pulverized white frost.”: Smilla’s Sense of Snow, Farrar, Straus and Giroux’s 1993 translation of Danish writer Peter Høeg’s novel, Miss Smilla’s Feeling for Snow, guides readers into dark subject matter, accompanied by the lamp of exquisite prose.
  • “It was a bright and cold day in April, and the clocks were striking thirteen.”: George Orwell’s 1949 prescient classic, 1984, remains fresh and relevant for today’s troubled world.
  • “Marley was dead: to begin with. There is no doubt whatever about that. The register of his burial was signed by the clergyman, the clerk, the undertaker, and the chief mourner. Scrooge signed it: and Scrooge’s name was good upon ’Change, for anything he chose to put his hand to. Old Marley was as dead as a door-nail.”: Charles Dickens’ A Christmas Carol, has been a guide for readers of all ages to what really matters most in life since its release in 1843.
  • “On the ferry from Hyannis to Alice Island, Amelia Loman paints her nails yellow and, while waiting for them to dry, skims her predecessor’s notes. ‘Island Books, approximately $350,000.00 per annum in sales, the better portion of that in the summer months to folks on holiday…. Six hundred square feet of selling space. No full-time employees other than the owner. Very small children’s section. Fledgling online presence. Poor community outreach. Inventory emphasizes the literary…. Luckily for him, Island’s the only game in town.’ Amelia yawns – she’s nursing a slight hangover – and wonders if one persnickety little bookstore will be worth such a long trip.”: Gabrielle Zevin’s 2014 The Storied Life of A. J. Fikry has been described as a tale of redemption and a love letter to bibliophiles and bookstore owners everywhere.
  • “The first thing everyone notices is the dog.”: Luis Carlos Montalvan’s 2011 bestseller, Until Tuesday: A Wounded Warrior and the Golden Retriever Who Saved Him, is an inspiring, true story of love, devotion and hope, and is a must read for anyone needing a morale boost and everyone who love animals.
  • “The great gray beast February had eaten Harvey Swick alive.”: Clive Barker’s 1992 The Thief of Always needs to be at the top of the reading list for anyone who has ever bemoaned boredom.
  • “Until I began to build and launch rockets, I didn’t know my hometown was at war with itself over its children and that my parents were locked in a kind of bloodless combat over how my brother and I would live our lives.”: Homer Hickam’s 1998 coming of age bestseller, Rocket Boys, captures life in America’s declining coal mining communities of the 1950s, and sets those joys and hardships against the backdrop of the globe’s greatest space race, creating one of those rare books worth sharing with friends and family.
  • “You better not never tell nobody but God.”: Alice Walker’s Pulitzer Prize winning, The Color Purple, shines a powerful light on the best and worst of human behaviors, delivering a timeless meditation on hope and the capacity of women to triumph over adversity.


* Excerpt from How Clinicians Practice Self-Care & 9 Tips for Readers.



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