Your life is stressful. I don't blame you for feeling spread so thin — most people's lives are pretty overwhelming with a job, or school, or kids to take care of, or parents to help out. And, oh yeah, you probably shouldn't ignore taking care of yourself, too. It's no wonder your shoulders are aching, and your eyes are burning from exhaustion.
You need a break. You could party and dance, watch Netflix. Or read, which is what I recommend (you're surprised, right?). Books are the greatest escape from the world.
How can you get the most relaxation out of a book, though? Well, there are few things quite as relaxing to your body as soaking in a tub. Whether you've a big, majestic full-length sunken Jacuzzi or a dinky little apartment bathtub where your knees are always cold because they stick so far out of the water, you can still find a way to relax.
So, let's review: books + bath = Best. Relaxation. Ever. Wondering what you should read while sudsing up? Here are some recommendations:
All That Glitters by Alisa Valdes-Rodriguez
A story of a young Latina cheerleader and her African-American mentor, this book is engrossing and readable. This tale of family, friendships, and love is perfect for soaking into the bath with for some cozy, comfortable reading.
The Time Traveler's Wife by Audrey Niffenegger
I you haven't read this one before, take a journey with Henry and Clare as they fall in love, and Henry tries to manage his odd time-traveling condition. If you have read it before, read it again. A second or third reading of this book lends itself to discovering more and more. A romantic and sweet book, it's also incredibly intelligent and will keep you awake and glued to the page if you have the tendency to fall asleep in baths (which is dangerous!).
The Vagrants by Yiyun Li
Want to really escape and relax with something far from your world? This book relocates you to China in the 1970s, where a group of characters — from a war prisoner to a little boy — find their lives interwoven into an epic story that is beautifully written and politically fascinating.
The Murder at the Vicarage by Agatha Christie
Never read an Agatha Christie? This is the very first of the Miss Marple series, and it's a riot. What people forget to mention about Christie's mysteries is that they're not only clever, but also extremely funny. Maybe it's because we're reading them at a distance, and maybe Christie was poking fun at the small-town culture of England, but either way, this book will have you both squirming to know whodunnit and giggling at the conversations. Just be careful not to splash any water when you do!
Kindred by Octavia E. Butler
Intriguing and beautiful, Butler's modern day, newly married Dana keeps getting taken back in time to the days of slavery in the South, to the slave quarters her ancestors might have lived in. She comes back to modern times but moves between them and the past, trying to figure out whether she will actually get to live her own life or will always be haunted by the past. If you're feeling the need for some feels, dive right in.
The Ocean at the End of the Lane by Neil Gaiman
If you're a fan of Neil Gaiman, you'll love this book. If you're not acquainted with his work, this will turn you into a follower. From the standpoint of a grown man remembering his childhood, the fantastical elements in this book can all be read as either completely real or metaphors for what childhood fear can feel like. This is one of those books that you lose yourself to entirely, so prepare to take a long bath, since you might not be able to put this down until you're done.
China Dolls by Lisa See
See's newest novel China Dolls is a throwback to the first half of the 19th century in San Francisco, when "oriental" was still considered an OK term to use for anyone from any part of Asia. Two Chinese girls and another girl who is Japanese but masquerading as Chinese become friends and work through their histories and lives together, vying for a position in a nightclub featuring "oriental" women. When Pearl Harbor happens, the tension grows as the friends need to decide whether to betray their Japanese friend (as the Japanese are being rounded up and put into internment camps) or allow her to continue passing as one of them. The friendship and landscapes, as well as See's writing, will keep you engrossed but still relaxed in the tub.
The Thorn Birds by Colleen McCullough
If you want several baths' worth of reading (and if you want to take regular baths, you do), pick up this epic classic. Three generations of an Australian family will have you feeling for them, escaping from whatever drama you have going on in your own life. Lean back, soak it all in.
Bridget Jones's Diary by Helen Fielding
We've all seen the movie, but if you haven't yet, you must read the book. It's one of the most validating experiences ever. Bridget Jones has every thought most women have had ever, whether we've repressed those thoughts, risen above them, or tried to overcome them. Hilarious and light, this is perfect bathtime reading, and it will make you laugh. Laughter is relaxing too, of course.
Under the Tuscan Sun by Frances Mayes
Another book lots of us have probably known about as a movie (a lovely movie) but it was a book first, and the book is lovely. Talk about relaxing. Sink into your bubbles, maybe with a glass of wine, and let yourself into the world of romance, Italian scenery, and well-drawn characters you can't help but feel for.
Wish You Were Here by Rita Mae Brown
The coziest of mysteries, Brown's series of Mrs. Murphy mysteries (Mrs. Murphy is a cat, by the by) are fun, sweet, and beautifully adventurous. Mrs. Murphy's owner goes by Harry (her given name is Mary Minor Haristeen, which is a bit of a mouthful), and together, human and cat solve crimes in nosy, Miss Marple style. This series is one that'll keep you going bath after bath. There are 23 books in the series out already, and in May, the newest one, Tail Gait, is coming out. So, get addicted and keep your eyes peeled for the newest volume.