Reading in bed with puppy

7 Relatable Reads to Distract You from Your Own Anxieties

Share 7 Relatable Reads to Distract You from Your Own Anxieties

Emily Austin is a Canadian writer. Her debut novel Everyone in This Room Will Someday Be Dead will be released in July 2021.

Have you ever finished a book and thought, “Wow, that really put things into perspective. I now have a better grasp on my anxiety. I no longer need therapy”? Me neither, but below are six brilliant books about anxiety that will, at the very least, distract you from your crippling dread. You might still feel anxious when you put them down, but at least you will feel anxious and well-read.

If you are interested in anxious characters, my debut novel Everyone in This Room Will Someday Be Dead is about a morbidly anxious young woman named Gilda. She stumbles into a job as a receptionist at a Catholic church. There she hides her atheist lesbian identity and becomes obsessed with the mysterious circumstances surrounding her predecessor’s death.

Play It As It Lays
by Joan Didion

This is a stark novel about an actress in the late 1960s who is struggling with her existence. It is an atmospheric, feminist story about Hollywood, unhappiness, and a woman’s declining mental health. If you like dark, poetic prose, and books you can finish in one sitting, read PLAY IT AS IT LAYS.

Amazon logo Audible logo Barnes & Noble logo Books a Million logo Google Play logo iBooks logo Indiebound logo
Play It As It Lays
Joan Didion

Los Angeles, CA: Set in a place beyond good and evil—literally in Hollywood, Las Vegas, and the barren wastes of the Mojave Desert, but figuratively in the landscape of an arid soul—this is a profoundly disturbing novel, riveting in its exploration of a woman and a society in crisis, and stunning in the intensity of its prose.

Amazon logo Audible logo Barnes & Noble logo Books a Million logo Google Play logo iBooks logo Indiebound logo

MENTIONED IN:

Stephen King’s Top Books, According to Stephen King

By Aimee Boyer | September 21, 2021

Book Club Favorites: 8 Autumnal Picks to Discuss with Cider Nearby

By Holly Claytor | September 20, 2021

My 8 Favorite Audiobook Listens of 2021 (So Far)

By Kelly Dasta | September 17, 2021

My Book Haul: 9 Shiny New Additions to My Shelf

By Sharon Van Meter | September 16, 2021

8 Captivating Books to Read This Hispanic Heritage Month

By Off the Shelf Staff | September 15, 2021

8 Stirring Historical Reads for Fans of The Alice Network

By Karen Bellovich | September 14, 2021

Close
Group
by Christie Tate

GROUP is a candid memoir about an over-achieving, smart, mentally ill young lawyer who reluctantly agrees to attend group therapy. There she and six strangers take often bizarre direction from their therapist, Dr. Rosen. This is a fast, engaging, and honest story about trauma, human connection, and personal growth.

Amazon logo Audible logo Barnes & Noble logo Books a Million logo Google Play logo iBooks logo iTunes logo Indiebound logo Kobo logo Kindle logo Bookshop logo Libro.fm logo
Group
Christie Tate

A REESE’S BOOK CLUB PICK * NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER

The refreshingly original and “startlingly hopeful” (Lisa Taddeo) debut memoir of an over-achieving young lawyer who reluctantly agrees to group therapy and gets psychologically and emotionally naked in a room of six complete strangers—and finds human connection, and herself.

Christie Tate had just been named the top student in her law school class and finally had her eating disorder under control. Why then was she driving through Chicago fantasizing about her own death? Why was she envisioning putting an end to the isolation and sadness that still plagued her despite her achievements?

Enter Dr. Rosen, a therapist who calmly assures her that if she joins one of his psychotherapy groups, he can transform her life. All she has to do is show up and be honest. About everything—her eating habits, childhood, sexual history, etc. Christie is skeptical, insisting that that she is defective, beyond cure. But Dr. Rosen issues a nine-word prescription that will change everything: “You don’t need a cure. You need a witness.”

So begins her entry into the strange, terrifying, and ultimately life-changing world of group therapy. Christie is initially put off by Dr. Rosen’s outlandish directives, but as her defenses break down and she comes to trust Dr. Rosen and to depend on the sessions and the prescribed nightly phone calls with various group members, she begins to understand what it means to connect.

“Often hilarious, and ultimately very touching” (People), Group is “a wild ride” (The Boston Globe), and with Christie as our guide, we are given a front row seat to the daring, exhilarating, painful, and hilarious journey that is group therapy—an under-explored process that breaks you down, and then reassembles you so that all the pieces finally fit.

Amazon logo Audible logo Barnes & Noble logo Books a Million logo Google Play logo iBooks logo iTunes logo Indiebound logo Kobo logo Kindle logo Bookshop logo Libro.fm logo

MENTIONED IN:

Stephen King’s Top Books, According to Stephen King

By Aimee Boyer | September 21, 2021

Book Club Favorites: 8 Autumnal Picks to Discuss with Cider Nearby

By Holly Claytor | September 20, 2021

My 8 Favorite Audiobook Listens of 2021 (So Far)

By Kelly Dasta | September 17, 2021

My Book Haul: 9 Shiny New Additions to My Shelf

By Sharon Van Meter | September 16, 2021

8 Captivating Books to Read This Hispanic Heritage Month

By Off the Shelf Staff | September 15, 2021

8 Stirring Historical Reads for Fans of The Alice Network

By Karen Bellovich | September 14, 2021

Close
Anxious People
by Fredrik Backman

This novel is about eight anxious people who are taken hostage in an apartment building by a failed bank robber. As the police surround the building, the strangers begin to open up and become unlikely friends. This darkly funny story reflects thoughtfully on loneliness and human nature.

Amazon logo Audible logo Barnes & Noble logo Books a Million logo Google Play logo iBooks logo Indiebound logo Kobo logo Bookshop logo Libro.fm logo
Anxious People
Fredrik Backman

From the #1 New York Times bestselling author of A Man Called Ove and “writer of astonishing depth” (The Washington Times) comes a poignant, charming novel about a crime that never took place, a would-be bank robber who disappears into thin air, and eight extremely anxious strangers who find they have more in common than they ever imagined.

Looking at real estate isn’t usually a life-or-death situation, but an apartment open house becomes just that when a failed bank robber bursts in and takes a group of strangers hostage. The captives include a recently retired couple who relentlessly hunt down fixer-uppers to avoid the painful truth that they can’t fix their own marriage. There’s a wealthy bank director who has been too busy to care about anyone else and a young couple who are about to have their first child but can’t seem to agree on anything, from where they want to live to how they met in the first place. Add to the mix an eighty-seven-year-old woman who has lived long enough not to be afraid of someone waving a gun in her face, a flustered but still-ready-to-make-a-deal real estate agent, and a mystery man who has locked himself in the apartment’s only bathroom, and you’ve got the worst group of hostages in the world.

Each of them carries a lifetime of grievances, hurts, secrets, and passions that are ready to boil over. None of them is entirely who they appear to be. And all of them—the bank robber included—desperately crave some sort of rescue. As the authorities and the media surround the premises these reluctant allies will reveal surprising truths about themselves and set in motion a chain of events so unexpected that even they can hardly explain what happens next.

Rich with Fredrik Backman’s “pitch-perfect dialogue and an unparalleled understanding of human nature” (Shelf Awareness), Anxious People is an ingeniously constructed story about the enduring power of friendship, forgiveness, and hope—the things that save us, even in the most anxious times.

Amazon logo Audible logo Barnes & Noble logo Books a Million logo Google Play logo iBooks logo Indiebound logo Kobo logo Bookshop logo Libro.fm logo

MENTIONED IN:

7 Relatable Reads to Distract You from Your Own Anxieties

By Emily Austin | June 10, 2021

Our Library Hold Lists: 6 Books We Need Now, Please!

By Off the Shelf Staff | April 8, 2021

Enter for a Chance to Win 6 Beloved Fredrik Backman Novels!

By Off the Shelf Staff | April 2, 2021

Readers’ Choice: Your Favorite Reads of 2020 (and What to Read Next)

By Off the Shelf Staff | January 19, 2021

Book Club Favorites: 6 Books We Can’t Wait to Talk about This Year

By Holly Claytor | January 18, 2021

Readers’ Choice: The 10 Books You Hope to Unwrap This Holiday Season

By Off the Shelf Staff | December 8, 2020

Close
I Miss You When I Blink
by Mary Laura Philpott

This memoir in essays captures Laura Philpott’s struggles with purpose, direction, and mental health. It offers some very powerful wisdom, including reflections on failure, quitting, and thoughts such as: “Sometimes, in moments of memory or daydream, I feel the different iterations of myself pass by each other, as if right-now-me crosses paths with past-me or imaginary-me or even future-me in the hallways of my mind. ‘I miss you when I blink,’ one says. ‘I’m right here,’ says the other . . . ”

Amazon logo Audible logo Barnes & Noble logo Books a Million logo Google Play logo iBooks logo Indiebound logo Bookshop logo Libro.fm logo
I Miss You When I Blink
Mary Laura Philpott

NATIONAL BESTSELLER

A charmingly relatable and wise memoir-in-essays by acclaimed writer and bookseller Mary Laura Philpott, the modern day reincarnation ofNora Ephron, Erma Bombeck, Jean Kerr, and Laurie Colwinall rolled into one (The Washington Post), about what happened after she checked off all the boxes on a successful lifes to-do list and realized she might need to reinvent the list—and herself.

Mary Laura Philpott thought she’d cracked the code: Always be right, and you’ll always be happy.

But once she’d completed her life’s to-do list (job, spouse, house, babies—check!), she found that instead of feeling content and successful, she felt anxious. Lost. Stuck in a daily grind of overflowing calendars, grueling small talk, and sprawling traffic. She’d done everything “right” but still felt all wrong. What’s the worse failure, she wondered: smiling and staying the course, or blowing it all up and running away? And are those the only options?

Taking on the conflicting pressures of modern adulthood, Philpott provides a “frank and funny look at what happens when, in the midst of a tidy life, there occur impossible-to-ignore tugs toward creativity, meaning, and the possibility of something more” (Southern Living). She offers up her own stories to show that identity crises don’t happen just once or only at midlife and reassures us that small, recurring personal re-inventions are both normal and necessary. Most of all, in this “warm embrace of a life lived imperfectly” (Esquire), Philpott shows that when you stop feeling satisfied with your life, you don’t have to burn it all down. You can call upon your many selves to figure out who you are, who you’re not, and where you belong. Who among us isn’t trying to do that?

“Be forewarned that you’ll laugh out loud and cry, probably in the same essay. Philpott has a wonderful way of finding humor, even in darker moments. This is a book you’ll want to buy for yourself and every other woman you know” (Real Simple).

Amazon logo Audible logo Barnes & Noble logo Books a Million logo Google Play logo iBooks logo Indiebound logo Bookshop logo Libro.fm logo
Close
Mornings with Rosemary
by Libby Page

This is the story of a friendship between an eighty-six-year-old swimmer named Rosemary and an anxious young reporter named Kate. They meet at an outdoor pool that is slated to be closed and has been the heart of many of Rosemary’s important memories. Kate has been tasked with writing a piece about the pool. Though the summary sounds light, and while the story is uplifting—it is also quite a poignant take on anxiety, aging, and friendship.

Amazon logo Audible logo Barnes & Noble logo Books a Million logo Google Play logo iBooks logo Indiebound logo Bookshop logo
Mornings with Rosemary
Libby Page

Amazon logo Audible logo Barnes & Noble logo Books a Million logo Google Play logo iBooks logo Indiebound logo Bookshop logo

MENTIONED IN:

7 Relatable Reads to Distract You from Your Own Anxieties

By Emily Austin | June 10, 2021

May eBook Deals: 11 Thrilling Reads to Add to Your Digital Library

By Off the Shelf Staff | May 4, 2021

The 15 Most Popular Books of January

By Off the Shelf Staff | January 29, 2021

Readers’ Choice: Our Top 25 Most Popular Books of the Year!

By Off the Shelf Staff | December 30, 2020

The Best of 2020: The Top 10 Book Lists of the Year

By Off the Shelf Staff | December 29, 2020

Book Therapy: 8 Soul-Soothing Reads That Help Us Quiet Our Anxieties

By Alice Martin | September 22, 2020

Close
We Are Okay
by Nina LaCour

WE ARE OKAY is a story about a young woman named Marin who is running away from a tragedy. She has not spoken to anyone from her old life since she moved away to college. It is now months later, and she is going to see her friend Mabel. This is a quick, hopeful, queer story about friendship and grief.

Amazon logo Audible logo Barnes & Noble logo Books a Million logo Google Play logo iBooks logo iTunes logo Indiebound logo Kobo logo Kindle logo Bookshop logo Libro.fm logo
We Are Okay
Nina LaCour

Amazon logo Audible logo Barnes & Noble logo Books a Million logo Google Play logo iBooks logo iTunes logo Indiebound logo Kobo logo Kindle logo Bookshop logo Libro.fm logo

MENTIONED IN:

Stephen King’s Top Books, According to Stephen King

By Aimee Boyer | September 21, 2021

Book Club Favorites: 8 Autumnal Picks to Discuss with Cider Nearby

By Holly Claytor | September 20, 2021

My 8 Favorite Audiobook Listens of 2021 (So Far)

By Kelly Dasta | September 17, 2021

My Book Haul: 9 Shiny New Additions to My Shelf

By Sharon Van Meter | September 16, 2021

8 Captivating Books to Read This Hispanic Heritage Month

By Off the Shelf Staff | September 15, 2021

8 Stirring Historical Reads for Fans of The Alice Network

By Karen Bellovich | September 14, 2021

Close
The Body Keeps the Score
by Bessel van der Kolk, M.D.

I recently bought THE BODY KEEPS THE SCORE thinking it was a novel, but it is actually a trauma workbook. It was worth the accidental purchase and I recommend you intentionally grab yourself a copy if you are struggling with anxiety or other symptoms of unresolved trauma. It is an accessible and interesting read about understanding and treating traumatic stress.

Amazon logo Audible logo Barnes & Noble logo Books a Million logo Google Play logo iBooks logo iTunes logo Indiebound logo Kobo logo Kindle logo Bookshop logo Libro.fm logo
The Body Keeps the Score
Bessel van der Kolk, M.D.

Amazon logo Audible logo Barnes & Noble logo Books a Million logo Google Play logo iBooks logo iTunes logo Indiebound logo Kobo logo Kindle logo Bookshop logo Libro.fm logo

MENTIONED IN:

Stephen King’s Top Books, According to Stephen King

By Aimee Boyer | September 21, 2021

Book Club Favorites: 8 Autumnal Picks to Discuss with Cider Nearby

By Holly Claytor | September 20, 2021

My 8 Favorite Audiobook Listens of 2021 (So Far)

By Kelly Dasta | September 17, 2021

My Book Haul: 9 Shiny New Additions to My Shelf

By Sharon Van Meter | September 16, 2021

8 Captivating Books to Read This Hispanic Heritage Month

By Off the Shelf Staff | September 15, 2021

8 Stirring Historical Reads for Fans of The Alice Network

By Karen Bellovich | September 14, 2021

Close
Everyone in This Room Will Someday Be Dead
by Emily Austin

Emily Austin's debut novel comes out on July 6!

Gilda, a twenty-something, atheist, animal-loving lesbian, cannot stop ruminating about death. Desperate for relief from her panicky mind and alienated from her repressive family, she responds to a flyer for free therapy at a local Catholic church, and finds herself being greeted by Father Jeff, who assumes she’s there for a job interview. Too embarrassed to correct him, Gilda is abruptly hired to replace the recently deceased receptionist Grace.

In between trying to memorize the lines to Catholic mass, hiding the fact that she has a new girlfriend, and erecting a dirty dish tower in her crumbling apartment, Gilda strikes up an email correspondence with Grace’s old friend. She can’t bear to ignore the kindly old woman, who has been trying to reach her friend through the church inbox, but she also can’t bring herself to break the bad news. Desperate, she begins impersonating Grace via email. But when the police discover suspicious circumstances surrounding Grace’s death, Gilda may have to finally reveal the truth of her mortifying existence.

Amazon logo Audible logo Barnes & Noble logo Books a Million logo Google Play logo iBooks logo iTunes logo Indiebound logo Kobo logo Kindle logo Bookshop logo Libro.fm logo
Everyone in This Room Will Someday Be Dead
Emily Austin

This hilarious and profound debut for fans of Mostly Dead Things and Goodbye, Vitamin, follows a morbidly anxious young woman—“the kindhearted heroine we all need right now” (Courtney Maum, New York Times bestselling author)—who stumbles into a job as a receptionist at a Catholic church and becomes obsessed with her predecessor’s mysterious death.

Gilda, a twenty-something, atheist, animal-loving lesbian, cannot stop ruminating about death. Desperate for relief from her panicky mind and alienated from her repressive family, she responds to a flyer for free therapy at a local Catholic church, and finds herself being greeted by Father Jeff, who assumes she’s there for a job interview. Too embarrassed to correct him, Gilda is abruptly hired to replace the recently deceased receptionist Grace.

In between trying to memorize the lines to Catholic mass, hiding the fact that she has a new girlfriend, and erecting a dirty dish tower in her crumbling apartment, Gilda strikes up an email correspondence with Grace’s old friend. She can’t bear to ignore the kindly old woman, who has been trying to reach her friend through the church inbox, but she also can’t bring herself to break the bad news. Desperate, she begins impersonating Grace via email. But when the police discover suspicious circumstances surrounding Grace’s death, Gilda may have to finally reveal the truth of her mortifying existence.

A delightful blend of warmth, deadpan humor, and pitch-perfect observations about the human condition, Everyone in This Room Will Someday Be Dead is a crackling exploration of what it takes to stay afloat in a world where your expiration—and the expiration of those you love—is the only certainty.

Amazon logo Audible logo Barnes & Noble logo Books a Million logo Google Play logo iBooks logo iTunes logo Indiebound logo Kobo logo Kindle logo Bookshop logo Libro.fm logo

MENTIONED IN:

Stephen King’s Top Books, According to Stephen King

By Aimee Boyer | September 21, 2021

Book Club Favorites: 8 Autumnal Picks to Discuss with Cider Nearby

By Holly Claytor | September 20, 2021

My 8 Favorite Audiobook Listens of 2021 (So Far)

By Kelly Dasta | September 17, 2021

My Book Haul: 9 Shiny New Additions to My Shelf

By Sharon Van Meter | September 16, 2021

8 Captivating Books to Read This Hispanic Heritage Month

By Off the Shelf Staff | September 15, 2021

8 Stirring Historical Reads for Fans of The Alice Network

By Karen Bellovich | September 14, 2021

Close

You must be logged in to add books to your shelf.

Please log in or sign up now.