20 Books to Read to Relax, De-Stress & Unwind

relaxing books to read to de-stress and unwind before bed book list novels

Sometimes all you want is a book to help you relax and unwind over bath or perhaps before bed. Here’s my list of the best relaxing books to help you de-stress and rid yourself of the worries of the day. I know that I’ve definitely been on the lookout for these types of books in these trying times. (So, if you have any suggestions on books to add to this list, please let me know!)

A lot of these are “happy” books, others are funny or inspirational, and a couple are calming but a bit bittersweet. They are pretty much all relatively effortless books to read, but not “fluff” by any means. These are all solid books that are worth reading.

Most of all, they are all crowdpleasers, since who needs the stress of reading a bad book when you’re trying to unwind? For some great books to help you end your day, see below!

The Giver of Stars
Jojo Moyes

What It's About: From the author of Me Before You, set in Depression-era America, a breathtaking story of five extraordinary women and their remarkable journey through the mountains of Kentucky and beyond.

Alice Wright marries handsome American Bennett Van Cleve hoping to escape her stifling life in England...

Publication Date: October 3, 2019
historical fiction book club audiobook

Where'd You Go Bernadette
Maria Semple

What It's About: Bernadette Fox has vanished.

When her daughter Bee claims a family trip to Antarctica as a reward for perfect grades, Bernadette, a fiercely intelligent shut-in, throws herself into preparations for the trip. But worn down by years of trying to live the Seattle life she never wanted, Ms. Fox is on the brink of a meltdown...

Publication Date: August 14, 2012
book club contemporary humor

The Island of Sea Women
Lisa See

What It's About: Mi-ja and Young-sook, two girls living on the Korean island of Jeju, are best friends who come from very different backgrounds. When they are old enough, they begin working in the sea with their village’s all-female diving collective, led by Young-sook’s mother. As the girls take up their positions as baby divers, they know they are beginning a life of excitement and responsibility—but also danger...

Publication Date: March 5, 2019
historical fiction book club historical

A Man Called Ove
Fredrik Backman

What It's About: A grumpy yet loveable man finds his solitary world turned on its head when a boisterous young family moves in next door.

Meet Ove. He's a curmudgeon, the kind of man who points at people he dislikes as if they were burglars caught outside his bedroom window. He has staunch principles, strict routines, and a short fuse...

Publication Date: August 27, 2012
book club contemporary audiobook

Why Not Me?
Mindy Kaling

What It's About: From the author of the beloved New York Times bestselling book Is Everyone Hanging Out Without Me? and the creator and star of The Mindy Project comes a collection of essays that are as hilarious and insightful as they are deeply personal.

In Why Not Me?, Kaling shares her ongoing journey to find contentment and excitement in her adult life, whether it's falling in love at work, seeking new friendships in lonely places, attempting to be the first person in history to lose weight without any behavior modification whatsoever, or most important, believing that you have a place in Hollywood when you're constantly reminded that no one looks like you...

Publication Date: September 15, 2015
non fiction memoir humor

The Snow Child
Eowyn Ivey

What It's About: Alaska, 1920: a brutal place to homestead, and especially tough for recent arrivals Jack and Mabel. Childless, they are drifting apart - he breaking under the weight of the work of the farm; she crumbling from loneliness and despair. In a moment of levity during the season's first snowfall, they build a child out of snow...

Publication Date: February 1, 2012
historical fiction fantasy book club

The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Society
Mary Ann Shaffer

What It's About: A remarkable tale of the island of Guernsey during the German Occupation, and of a society as extraordinary as its name.

“Treat yourself to this book, please - I can’t recommend it highly enough.” (Elizabeth Gilbert, author of Eat, Pray, Love)

“I wonder how the book got to Guernsey? Perhaps there is some sort of secret homing instinct in books that brings them to their perfect readers...

Publication Date: July 29, 2008
historical fiction book club romance

A Walk in the Woods: Rediscovering America on the Appalachian Trail
Bill Bryson

What It's About: Back in America after twenty years in Britain, Bill Bryson decided to reacquaint himself with his native country by walking the 2,100-mile Appalachian Trail, which stretches from Georgia to Maine. The AT offers an astonishing landscape of silent forests and sparkling lakes--and to a writer with the comic genius of Bill Bryson, it also provides endless opportunities to witness the majestic silliness of his fellow human beings...

Publication Date: May 5, 1998
non fiction travel memoir

The Dutch House
Ann Patchett

What It's About: At the end of the Second World War, Cyril Conroy combines luck and a single canny investment to begin an enormous real estate empire, propelling his family from poverty to enormous wealth. His first order of business is to buy the Dutch House, a lavish estate in the suburbs outside of Philadelphia. Meant as a surprise for his wife, the house sets in motion the undoing of everyone he loves...

Publication Date: September 24, 2019
historical fiction audiobook audiobooks

Winter in Paradise
Elin Hilderbrand

What It's About: Spend the coldest days of winter on a Caribbean beach with New York Times Bestselling author Elin Hilderbrand.

Join New York Times Bestselling author Elin Hilderbrand on the stunning beaches of St. John for the beginning of her thrilling new winter series-The Paradise. Welcome to Paradise, the first book in the Paradise series, has everything that readers have come to know and love about an Elin Hilderbrand novel, plus a healthy dose of intrigue...

Publication Date: October 9, 2018
romance elin hilderbrand books i own

Robin Sloan

What It's About: Lois Clary is a software engineer at General Dexterity, a San Francisco robotics company with world-changing ambitions. She codes all day and collapses at night, her human contact limited to the two brothers who run the neighborhood hole-in-the-wall from which she orders dinner every evening. Then, disaster! Visa issues...

Publication Date: August 1, 2017
magical realism fantasy contemporary

The Lager Queen of Minnesota
J. Ryan Stradal

What It's About: A novel of family, Midwestern values, hard work, fate and the secrets of making a world-class beer.

Two sisters, one farm. A family is split when their father leaves their shared inheritance entirely to Helen, his younger daughter. Despite baking award-winning pies at the local nursing home, her older sister, Edith, struggles to make what most people would call a living...

Publication Date: July 23, 2019
book club audiobook audiobooks

Once Upon a River
Diane Setterfield

What It's About: On a dark midwinter’s night in an ancient inn on the river Thames, an extraordinary event takes place. The regulars are telling stories to while away the dark hours, when the door bursts open on a grievously wounded stranger. In his arms is the lifeless body of a small child. Hours later, the girl stirs, takes a breath and returns to life...

Publication Date: December 3, 2018
historical fiction fantasy magical realism

The Time Traveler's Wife
Audrey Niffenegger

What It's About: Audrey Niffenegger's innovative debut, The Time Traveler's Wife, is the story of Clare, a beautiful art student, and Henry, an adventuresome librarian, who have known each other since Clare was sic and Henry was thirty-six, and were married when Clare was twenty-three and Henry was thirty-one. Impossible but true, because Henry is one of the first people diagnosed with Chrono-Displacement Disorder: periodically his genetic clock resets and he finds himself misplaced in time, past and future...

Publication Date: September 1, 2003
romance fantasy time travel

The Rules of Magic
Alice Hoffman

What It's About: Find your magic

For the Owens family, love is a curse that began in 1620, when Maria Owens was charged with witchery for loving the wrong man.

Hundreds of years later, in New York City at the cusp of the sixties, when the whole world is about to change, Susanna Owens knows that her three children are dangerously unique...

Publication Date: October 10, 2017
fantasy magical realism historical fiction

The 100-Year-Old Man Who Climbed Out the Window and Disappeared
Jonas Jonasson

What It's About: It all starts on the one-hundredth birthday of Allan Karlsson. Sitting quietly in his room in an old people’s home, he is waiting for the party he-never-wanted-anyway to begin. The Mayor is going to be there. The press is going to be there. But, as it turns out, Allan is not… Slowly but surely Allan climbs out of his bedroom window, into the flowerbed (in his slippers) and makes his getaway...

Publication Date: September 9, 2009
book club contemporary books i own

The Rosie Project
Graeme Simsion

What It's About: An international sensation, this hilarious, feel-good novel is narrated by an oddly charming and socially challenged genetics professor on an unusual quest: to find out if he is capable of true love.

Don Tillman, professor of genetics, has never been on a second date. He is a man who can count all his friends on the fingers of one hand, whose lifelong difficulty with social rituals has convinced him that he is simply not wired for romance...

Publication Date: January 30, 2013
book club contemporary humor

How the Penguins Saved Veronica
Hazel Prior

What It's About: A curmudgeonly but charming old woman, her estranged grandson, and a colony of penguins proves it's never too late to be the person you want to be in this rich, heartwarming story from the acclaimed author of Ellie and the Harpmaker.

Eighty-five-year-old Veronica McCreedy is estranged from her family and wants to find a worthwhile cause to leave her fortune to...

Publication Date: March 5, 2020
book club contemporary audiobook

One Day In December
Josie Silver

What It's About: An alternative cover edition for this ISBN can be found here.

Two people. Ten chances. One unforgettable love story.

Laurie is pretty sure love at first sight doesn't exist anywhere but the movies. But then, through a misted-up bus window one snowy December day, she sees a man who she knows instantly is the one...

Publication Date: October 18, 2018
romance christmas contemporary

Beasts of Extraordinary Circumstance
Ruth Emmie Lang

What It's About: Orphaned, raised by wolves, and the proud owner of a horned pig named Merlin, Weylyn Grey knew he wasn’t like other people. But when he single-handedly stopped that tornado on a stormy Christmas day in Oklahoma, he realized just how different he actually was.

That tornado was the first of many strange events that seem to follow Weylyn from town to town, although he doesn’t like to take credit...

Publication Date: November 14, 2017
fantasy magical realism botm

relaxing books to read to de-stress and unwind before bed book list novels

relaxing books to read to de-stress and unwind before bed book list novels

relaxing books to read to de-stress and unwind before bed book list novels

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