Spending hours curled up with a book may seem like a long-forgotten childhood hobby, but making the effort to set aside an hour or three to curl up with a mug of tea (or glass of wine) this weekend can be more than enough to help you unwind. With this in mind, leave your worries on the shelf as you delve into a world you'd forgotten could be so easily enjoyed.
All-Rounder : Captain Corelli's Mandolin - Louis de Bernieres
It's hard to categorise de Bernieres' work - a writer whose understanding of relationships becomes a life lesson on human psychology, and whose humour and love of life never fails to shine through. Captain Corelli's Mandolin is a classic, and with good reason. Hilarious and heart-breaking in one fell swoop, with an ensemble cast of characters that follows the romance of star-crossed lovers on a Greek island during World War Two. De Bernieres doesn't shy away from the atrocities of war, but equally gives attention to the small acts of kindness that make us human. Don't let the film adaptation starring Nicholas Cage put you off - Corelli is one of the best books ever written (if we do say so ourselves) and deserves a place on your bookshelf.
Fantasy : Game of Thrones - George R. R. Martin
If you can spend 10 years of your life waiting for the series to conclude, then you can treat yourself to a few hours reading the books. Written in such a way that you don't even realise you're reading anymore, Martin transports you into Westeros and beyond to enjoy the characters and the setting in a depth that is beyond the imagination. Discover story-lines you didn't know existed, characters you had no idea played such a crucial role, and lands you haven't yet heard of for the treat of a lifetime. And if you weren't a fan of the TV show, or never even watched it all, all the more reason to pick up this brilliant series of books - unlike the finale of GoT, Martin's novels absolutely live up to their potential.
Romance : Jane Eyre - Charlotte Bronte
Time to get classical. If you were never really into old-timey books, Jane Eyre is bound to change your mind. It peels away the whimsical story-lines of traditional love stories, and presents its readers with an unexpected heroine - smart, clever, witty - all traits you wouldn't expect of a woman in a 19th Century novel. Jane Eyre is a little darker than most romances, touching on issues that reach far beyond the relationship between two people - leaving you not only with lessons on love, but life too.
Extra reading: Wide Sargasso Sea by Jean Rhys. Rhys wrote Wide Sargasso Sea as a post-colonial response to Jane Eyre, and whilst this novel is definitely not a romance, it is a fascinating read nonetheless.
Factual : Why We Sleep - Matthew Walker
We're all well aware that we should be getting 7 to 8 hour of sleep a night, but it's likely we're not 100% up to date on the why. Walker - a professor of neuroscience and psychology - is here to take you through every. single. detail. And it's a good thing he does - Why We Sleep covers how crucial it is to get our 40 winks in not only for short-term functioning in the day to day, but for long term physical health, memory, and wellness. Getting enough sleep can be life-changing, and life-saving, so hunker down on the sofa this weekend to find out exactly why it is.
Young Adult (to be enjoyed by Big Adults too) : His Dark Materials - Phillip Pullman
It's wonderful to feel like a child again, but we so rarely get the chance. Pullman does an excellent job of drawing in both younger as well as adult readers (guilty) - a world of magic and mysticism, where each human has a soul that takes the shape of an animal by their side. His Dark Materials will have you glued to the sofa for hours as you leaf through the pages to find out what happens next - and the good news is that he's now in the process of completing a trilogy of prequels if you just can't get enough.
Short Reads : Herland - Charlotte Perkins Gilman
It won't take you long to read Herland (around 2.5 hours(!) for the average reader), but it will stay in your mind for quite some time. The story follows three male explorers who stumble upon a fabled land - a country made up only of women. They are shocked to find that the women live in a utopia: there is no conflict, they've mastered agriculture and architecture, construction and social care, they create things, and govern each other as equals. Gilman grapples with social norms, and the message from the writer is as relevant now as it was in 1915 (unfortunately); perhaps our genders shouldn't be so divided, and our roles in society rethought.
We'd love to hear about the books that help you unwind; email us with your thoughts at firstname.lastname@example.org to share your favourite reads, genres, and authors.