Self-Care Tips to Keep You Sane: Reading for Pleasure

At the end of January I wrote about the importance of academic self-care for PhD students; I didn’t delve too far into the specifics of what I do in my downtime and a lot of people asked. ‘It’s hard to switch off’ and ‘I find it hard to relax’ were the two phrases I encountered most frequently, so I thought I’d introduce a series of posts that provide more information, and recommendations, on what to do to give yourself a break during the inevitable stressful periods that come with doing a PhD.

This is the second installment in this ‘self-care tips to keep you sane’ series, and this week I’m talking about reading for pleasure. I read a lot, and I think it’s really important to make time to read exciting and imaginative stories that are in no way linked to your work. It gives you a chance to switch off.

A few years ago I joined my local library – it’s free and you get to keep books for a month, perfect for those of us on a budget! I’d really recommend checking out your local library; and make sure to venture further afield than your university library, you’ll end up picking up books related to your studies and that defeats the point.

I feel like I’m really making progress with my PhD, and this month I decided to treat myself. I don’t often re-read books so I don’t often buy books – they end up on shelves forever and I’d much rather borrow or swap books with other people to prevent me from building up a ridiculous collection of books I’ll never read again. I also really like surprises. Enter, Moth Box.

Moth Box is a small business set-up by Youtuber Mercedes Mills. It’s a book postal service with a difference; you don’t know what books you’re getting, and each is from an independent publisher. Each box is £20, and for that you get 2 books fitting that month’s theme – May’s was novels – neatly wrapped in tissue paper, and a bookmark that features a quote from each of the books.

The two books I got in my box are: Ties by Domenico Starnone, and Star-Shot by Mary-Ann Constantine. I hadn’t heard of either, but they both sound like stories I’ll enjoy. Overall I’m really happy with my May Moth Box and can see myself ordering again in the future; great value, brilliant books I wouldn’t otherwise have found, and beautifully packaged too.

Struggling to find time to read? I often do too. Lately I’ve been turning the TV off and closing my laptop an hour and a half before I plan to go to bed; that gives me time to read for an hour or so before sorting my life out for the next day (ironing clothes, making lunch etc etc) and getting ready for bed. It’s been such a lovely way to switch off at the end of a busy day, and I think it’s made my sleep quality improve too.


5 responses to “Self-Care Tips to Keep You Sane: Reading for Pleasure”

  1. Moth Box sounds so cool! My neighborhood has many free book exchange shelves where people place old books they want for others to pick up for free! I’ve picked up quite a few great reads, like The Goldfinch from these shelves. Reading for pleasure is a great way to escape from your daily life, but I also think reading good literature can make you a better writer. Reading fiction definitely helped up my scicomm skills! Thanks for the fun post.


  2. […] mean to read more scientific papers (though that was on my radar too); I wanted to find my love of reading for pleasure again. I made a point of buying new books, renewing my library card, and forcing myself to go to […]


  3. […] the project until the end of November which was pretty good though! Outside of academic reading, I’ve read 52 books this year – a mix of non-fiction and fiction, and I think that’s helped with my writing […]


  4. […] on what to do to force yourself to relax. Other posts in this series cover podcasts, reading for pleasure, and I’ve discussed the importance of having a creative outlet […]


  5. […] my love of reading Last year I read an average of a book a week, this year it’s week 28 and I’ve read 21 books. I thought […]


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