Nottingham independent bookstore The Bookcase has given us their top 5 best self-help books for supporting your mental health during these difficult times.

I got the chance to speak to Jane Streeter at her book store to discuss her most popular titles and her favourite choices on offer at her store.

The Bookcase is still offering delivery and collection services so be sure to check them out regarding any of these titles to show your support for the Nottingham independent book scene.

1. The Boy, The Mole, The Fox and The Horse – By Charlie Mackesy

“What is the bravest thing you’ve ever said?” asked the boy.

“Help.” Said the horse.

This gorgeously illustrated piece was Jane’s number one recommendation.

Author Charlie Mackesy puts together a true work of art here to create beautifully truthful philosophies that people can carry with them throughout each day; its simplicity is what makes it so amazing.

This highly successful book uses its four characters to illustrate simple conversations that speak volumes to its readers using only line drawings and a few words on each page.

The work and quotes from Mackesy’s book have been used widely across social media throughout 2020 following the book’s success as little pieces of optimism for audiences.

You’ve more than likely come across Mackesy’s work without even realising it, so if you found his work moving and wanted to see more this definitely is a great choice.

2. Optimism Over Despair: On Capitalism, Empire, and Social Change – Noam Chomsky

“We have two choices. We can be pessimistic, give up, and help ensure that the worst will happen. Or we can be optimistic, grasp the opportunities that surely exist, and maybe help make the world a better place. Not much of a choice.”

This is a more serious look into how the world works and how we need to try and make sense of our own despair, which right now for a lot of us could be extremely helpful.

Chomsky’s work is highly regarded as a professor at the prestigious MIT University in America, and his work is widely credited by people across the globe.

This piece is a much heavier read in comparison to the title just mentioned, but none the less offers some brilliant insight into world affairs which may be more relevant now than ever.

This piece has just been released in a small paperback version by penguin also, which is available online at The Bookcase’s website.

3. Notes On a Nervous Planet – Matt Haig 

“Never be cool. Never try to be cool. Never worry what the cool people think. Head for the warm people. Life is warmth. You’ll be cool when you’re dead.”

This book I can also personally vouch for as being a fantastic and insightful piece of writing that you can carry around with you and take a look at when times get tough and you need some escapism from a world that right now can be extremely daunting.

Matt Haig has experienced many mental health issues himself in the past such as depression and being suicidal.

Now with a lifetime of experience dealing with these issues he offers people the help they need in becoming calmer, happier, and more aware of why our time on this planet is so precious.

4. English Pastoral: An Inheritance – James Rebanks

“There is something about planting trees that feels good. If you have done it well, it will outlast you and leave the world a little richer and more beautiful because of your efforts.”

Now more than ever people are engaging with nature and are using it as a way of coping with mental health issues and looking toward the bigger picture.

This book has been described as a poetic memoir by some reviewers and gives great insight into the challenges faced by James in his life as he invites us into his moving tale of his story as a Cumbrian Farmer.

Many may be intrigued to find out more about this title as it is different to the other choices on the list and Jane highly recommends this book as being a great title that more people should know about.

5. How to be Human: The Manual – Ruby Wax

“I wrote this book with a little help from a monk, who explains how the mind works, and also gives some mindfulness exercises, and a neuroscientist who explains what makes us ‘us’ in the brain.”

Ruby Wax OBE is an American-British actress, comedian, and mental health campaigner who in this books looks to answer questions you’ve ever had about: evolution, thoughts, emotions, the body, addictions, relationships, kids, the future and compassion.

In the book, she also uses the help of a monk and neuroscientist to offer her even greater incite to these questions about our future and wellbeing.

If there were ever two people I’d want to be hearing from in regards to helping better my mental wellbeing it would definitely be a monk and a scientist, so in this case, I think the importance of this title speaks for itself.

Ruby, after moving away from comedy, has become a vocal voice for self-help, the multitude of areas this book covers is sure to have something informative for everyone, all whilst offering some laughs along the way.