The time of year that brings a feeling of dread to all of those doing exams has arrived. It can often seem as though there’s no break from endless hours of revision, but whilst you may feel as though you should spend every waking minute revising, it really does make a difference to your ability to concentrate if you have short breaks during the day – it’s recommended that you take 5 or 10 minutes for every hour that you revise. Following a hard day of work, it’s good to get away from your desk, get comfortable and unwind. We like to take our breaks, and our end-of-day relaxation with a cup of tea and a good book. Reading helps you to temporarily escape from your current reality of revision-induced insanity, and enter into another filled with other lives and other worlds.
Any book that’s not too demanding on the brain is great – one that’s not got overly complex language and an enjoyable plot. To make things easier, we decided to put together a list of books that we think would be great for you to read during this stressful time. Here’s our top 10, starting with the books that we’ll be reading during this period…
Kelly: ‘The Hound of the ‘ by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle – Written over 100 years ago and still enjoyed by millions today, this Sherlock Holmes adventure is a bona-fide classic. Full of atmosphere, wit and charm; this story will transport you to the rolling hills of Dartmoor and into the heart of a chilling mystery. Historical escapism at its very best. @McRowena also thought that any Sherlock Holmes novel would be great for revision breaks, calling them “whimsical and gripping”.
Gemma: ‘The Hundred-Year-Old Man Who Climbed Out of the Window and Disappeared‘ by Jonas Jonasson – Allan Karlsson escapes from his bedroom on his 100th birthday, and enters into a journey full of unlikely escapades! We also learn of his earlier years, including his involvement in making the atom bomb and befriending American presidents. This book has got some wonderful reviews with The Guardian saying that it’s “fast-moving and relentlessly sunny…”
Our other picks
‘The Snow Child’ by Eowyn Ivey – This book was recommended by Ilene on Words and was a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize 2013. It’s described as a bewitching tale of heartbreak and hope, reminiscent of a traditional Russian fairytale.
‘Nights at the Circus‘ by Angela Carter – A magical postmodern novel set in turn of the century London, Russia and Asia; this is a story like no other. The heroine, ‘Fevvers’, is famous for her skill as a performer and for the huge wings which grow from her back…This exquisitely written modern fairy tale will transport you to a surreal, dark and wonderful world. @ClothesCamerasC also recommendeds anything by Angela Carter, saying that she loves her “sumptuous language and sense of life”.
‘The Song of Achilles’ by Madeline Miller – Escape into a story of love, battle and heartbreak set in Ancient Greece. The winner of the Orange Prize for Fiction 2012 is a great easy read. Read our review to find out more.
‘Looking for Alaska’ by John Green – The best-selling author’s debut novel is a funny and poignant portrayal of friendship and identity set in a prestigious American boarding school. Fast paced, gripping and highly entertaining.
‘The Great Gatsby’ by F. Scott Fitzgerald – Jay Gatsby is the man who has everything; infamous parties, a beautiful home, and seemingly endless amounts of money. But the decadence and elegance of his extravagant life and society is soon laid bare… The film adaptation of this American literary classic is set for UK release on 16th May and we’d definitely recommend reading the novel before you see it! Click here to read our review of the book.
‘The Night Circus’ by Erin Morgenstern – The Circus of Dreams arrives unexpectedly in town. Mysterious and compelling, this book is full of vibrance and beauty.
‘The Secret History’ by Donna Tartt – Recommended by @nataliemoore838, this thriller about a group of eccentric misfits at a New England college is fast-paced and wonderfully written.
‘Pure’ by Andrew Miller – Winner of the Costa Book of the Year (2011), ‘Pure’ is a compelling and skilfully written historical novel set in 18th Century Paris. Atmospheric and evocative, the story centres on the huge decaying graveyard in the heart of the city and all those touched by its destruction.
Good luck with your exams – don’t forget to read your textbooks too!