What To Read To Relax Before Bed

It's been proven that reading can improve your health in different ways. Studies show that it reduces stress, improves memory, and increases empathy. Basically, reading makes you a better person — and it also helps you sleep.

The only downside to this is if you have a preference for books that aren’t exactly relaxing. Personally, I love thrillers —  but if I read them before bed I will probably stay up all night reading, because I am desperate to find out what happens in the end, and be too on edge to sleep after finishing the book.

There are other books out there that make better choices for before-bed reading. If you have trouble falling asleep, reading can help you relax — but you are probably looking for a particular type of book. You don’t want something that will make your heart beat faster, or something so gripping that you pull an all-nighter just to get to the end (as we’ve all been guilty of doing). You need a book that’s as calm as a cup of tea and a warm bath. Here are some books to add to your before-bed TBR pile, that will help you relax before you drift off to sleep.


'The Little Prince' By Antoine de Saint-Exupéry

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This small book has a lot to say. The Little Prince is a tribute to imagination that's perfect bedtime reading. Hopefully the lovely images will make their way into your dreams.


'Attachments' By Rainbow Rowell

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If you love relaxing with a rom-com, Rainbow Rowell's Attachments is the book for you. Beth and Jennifer write e-mails to each other over their work accounts. Lincoln is in charge of monitoring those work accounts... and he finds himself falling for Beth after reading her words.


'Wonder' By R.J. Palacio

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Auggie Pullman is a child with facial abnormalities who was home-schooled — until now. He starts fifth grade at a new school, and Wonder tells his story from multiple perspectives. This book will touch your heart and soul, but warning: it will also make you tear up.


'The Art of Racing in the Rain' By Garth Stein

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Enzo, the narrator, is a dog. He believes that he will come back as human in the next life, so needs to learn the art of being human from his owners. This story is a charming, emotional, and beautiful one to read before bed.


'Anne Of Green Gables' By L.M. Montgomery

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Spunky Anne Shirley is adopted by the Cuthberts of Green Gables in this classic coming-of-age story. It's laugh-out-loud hilarious, innocently sweet, and truly comforting.


'Persuasion' By Jane Austen

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Anne Elliot and Captain Wentworth are reunited after eight years in this timeless love story. The slowly unfolding romance will put you in a dreamy and pleasant mood.


'Orlando' By Virginia Woolf

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This sweeping novel takes place over the span of three centuries, following the story of protagonist Orlando. The book's eloquent and poetic prose makes this the perfect read after a long day.


'Notes From A Small Island' By Bill Bryson

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Bill Bryson takes a trip around Britain and offers his hilarious musings on each stop of the way. If laughing is your favorite way to relax, this nonfiction book is for you.


'Lillian Boxfish Takes a Walk' by Kathleen Rooney

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Eighty-five-year-old Lillian Boxfish takes a stroll through Manhattan and reflects on her past in this endearing novel.


'The Young Widower's Handbook' By Tom McAllister

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Hunter's wife Kait dies suddenly, leaving him grief-stricken. They had always wanted to travel, so he takes her ashes with him on a road trip out west. What ensues is a touching and funny adventure that will relax you before you drift off into dreams.


'Flâneuse' By Lauren Elkin

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If you prefer relaxing nonfiction, this book is the perfect pick. A flâneur is "an idler, a dawdling observer, usually found in cities," and a flâneuse is author Lauren Elkin's female version. She explores the history of the flâneuse in this charming, funny book.


'The Red Car' By Marcy Dermansky

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Surreal and sparkling, The Red Car follows protagonist Leah as she goes on a road trip to claim a red sports car she inherits from her former boss, Judy.


'Pond' By Claire-Louise Bennett

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In this contemplative stream-of-consciousness collection, a young woman leads a solitary life in an Irish coastal village. It's not plot-heavy, so if you're easily exhausted by lots of action scenes before bed, this book is a good choice. It's reminiscent of Virginia Woolf, and will relax you with interesting and thoughtful musings.


'Swing Time' By Zadie Smith

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Two mixed race girls grow up in '80s London, and they both dream of becoming dancers. Swing Time is the story of their intertwining lives.


'The Wangs Vs. The World' By Jade Chang

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Charles Wang, an immigrant businessman, goes on a cross-country road trip with his family: aspiring comedian son Andrew, fashion blogger Grace, and the children's stepmother Barbra. They drive from California to New York to reunite with the eldest child, Saina. Charming, light, and funny, this is the perfect story to read before you hit the pillow and catch some z's.