2023 Book Recommendations: 7 Books to Read This Summer

17 Jul ‘23
4 min
Annemarie Andre
Reviewed by psychologist Judith Klenter

Summer evenings and reading are a match made in heaven. Not only is reading enjoyable, it also has a positive effect on your mental well-being: According to studies, reading reduces depressive moods and even lowers mortality rates. The OpenUp editorial team has curated our top 2023 book recommendations for you to enjoy this summer; from psychology, neuroscience, and mindfulness. 


Let’s look at why reading is so important for your overall well-being and how you can incorporate reading into your daily life.


📚 Want to go straight to the book tips? → This way, and have fun reading!


Reading is a discount ticket to everywhere.”

– Mary Schmich


Why reading is good for your mental well-being


When it comes to improving your well-being, it doesn’t make much difference what you read, but that you read. A 2009 study by the University of Sussex found that reading can reduce stress levels by up to 68%.


Particularly during covid-19 lockdowns, many people reached for a book. During a study, 43% of UK respondents said that reading helps reduce their stress. There’s a good reason for this: just 30 minutes of reading lowers blood pressure, heart rate, and feelings of mental stress just as effectively as yoga.


🧘 Looking for more tips on how to switch off? Learn more about embracing slow living and practising self-care.


But reading doesn’t just positively affect your well-being. In the long run, it also improves your ability to concentrate because when you read, you immerse yourself in a story and leave all distractions behind you. As you learn from different protagonists’ perspectives, reading helps you understand others better. And that’s not all!


Here are more reading benefits at a glance:


  1. Reading reduces stress and depressive moods
  2. Reading improves memory and concentration
  3. Reading is a healthy form of escapism and transports you to different worlds
  4. Reading (fiction) improves your empathy and social skills
  5. Reading reduces feelings of loneliness


“The books transported her into new worlds and introduced her to amazing people who lived exciting lives.” – Roald Dahl.


OpenUp’s seven book recommendations for the summer


Are you still looking for reading material for your holidays or warm summer evenings? The OpenUp editorial team recommends these seven books:



1. ‘Mindwandering’ – Moshe Bar


Do you often find yourself daydreaming, worrying about the future out of the blue, or preoccupied with your wandering thoughts? This is called ‘mindwandering.’ This is how we spend around 47% of our waking time. In his book ‘Mindwandering,’ cognitive neuroscientist Moshe Bar discusses the proven benefits and positive effects of mindwandering.


2. ‘Breath: The New Science of a Lost Art’ by James Nestor


Even if you’re healthy, if you don’t breathe properly, your health will be compromised; according to this book’s thesis. In “Breath,” journalist James Nestor travels the world to discover why humans have lost the ability to breathe correctly and what practices can help fix it. From Soviet institutions to choir schools in New Jersey to the streets of Sao Paulo, Nestor’s book takes you on a journey around the globe to learn more about how small changes in breathing can enhance your health.


👉 Want to improve your breathing?  Try out these three simple breathing exercises: 3 Breathing Exercises to Instantly Calm You Down (In Under 5 Minutes)


3.  ‘The Choice: Embrace the Possible’ by Edith Eger


The Choice” is the memoir of Holocaust survivor Edith Eger. In the book, she tells how she was deported to Auschwitz in 1944 as a 16-year-old and barely survived. The Choice” is primarily about Eger’s life-affirming strength and immense resilience that helped her come to terms with the horrors of the Holocaust.

4. 'Grip: The Art of Working Smart (and Getting to What Matters Most)' - Rick Pastoor

Want to get started with time management during your days off? Sometimes it seems like certain people just have a grip on their schedule, and others… don’t. But according to Rick Pastoor, who works for journalism platform Blendle, anyone can learn.


In this book, he deepens a special working method that builds “peace, space and direction” into your working week, so that learn to work more efficiently. Because once you have a grip on your time, more space is created for the other things in life that make you happy.

5. ‘Do Nothing: How to break away from overworking, overdoing, and underliving’ by Celeste Headlee


The name says it all; the book “Do Nothing” emphasises the importance of doing nothing. The book is about shifting our thinking – from finding productivity hacks for peak mental and physical performance, to focusing on simply being and enjoying life. It’s about gaining a greater awareness of how you spend your free time and breaking through the pursuit of false efficiency. Perfect reading for anyone who wants to re-energise their creativity, social relationships, and enjoyment of life!


6. ‘Please Yourself: How to Stop People-Pleasing and Transform the Way You Live’ by Emma Reed Turrell


In this book, psychotherapist Emma Reed Turrell draws on her years of client experience who struggle with trying to please everyone. In ‘’Please Yourself’’, Emma Reed Turrell presents an alternative to people pleasing and gives you tips and techniques to better cope with not being liked and live an authentic life.


Do you recognise yourself in this book title? 💡 Read more here: Are You a People Pleaser? How To Get Better at Choosing Yourself


7. ‘Maybe You Should Talk to Someone’ by Lori Gottlieb


Lori Gottlieb is both a doctor and a patient. One day she is helping her patients in Los Angeles through life crises; the next day, she is sitting with a therapist due to a crisis. Gottlieb realises that her patients’ questions are now her questions too. “Maybe You Should Talk to Someone’’ is a humorous book about what it means to be human.


🐛Are you a real bookworm? Find more psychology books to read that will help change your mindset.



Ongoing support for your mental well-being


Would you like to delve even deeper into psychology topics? Then sign-up for our masterclasses, group sessions, and meditations on Spaces to OpenUp. Or, would you like to individually discuss ways to improve your mental well-being? Then arrange a session with a psychologist from OpenUp.

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