Books to Help With Loneliness | Guest Post by author, David Owen
Any book lover is already aware that reading is the greatest pastime in the world, so it’s no wonder it might also be the cure to the UK’s loneliness epidemic.
Recent research shows that some 9 million people in the UK often or always feel lonely, with young adults (ages 16-24) most affected. Another report from Demos and The Reading Agency claims that reading can significantly reduce these feelings of loneliness and social isolation.
So, with my upcoming novel being all about loneliness (look out for a shameless plug for that later), I’ve taken it upon myself to select some books that can help you feel less alone in the world.
Heartstopper Vol.1 by Alice Oseman
This graphic novel from YA author Alice Oseman started (and continues) life as a web comic, the first arc of which is collected in this beautiful volume. It tells the story of Nick and Charlie, two boys who find their friendship blossoming into love. The artwork brims with character and the central romance is achingly cute. Once you’ve read it, dive into the thriving Heartstopper online community and join the discussion with fellow fans.
Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine by Gail Honeyman
Eleanor Oliphant is a difficult character to like at first. Isolated from the world, she insists on doing everything her way and looks down her nose at almost anybody who doesn’t. Only gradually do you come to understand why she behaves this way, and as she begins to form real relationships it’s impossible not to be moved by the transformative power of friendship.
Giant Days by Non Pratt
This tie-in novel of John Allison’s hilarious student-focused comic series follows a group of new friends as they navigate their first semester at university. The relationships between the three central girls are often messy, and their problems frequently a little strange (a cult-like Nicolas Cage fan club, anybody?), but they always come through for each other when it really matters. You’ll come out the other side with a fresh appreciation of friendship.
Adulthood is a Myth by Sarah Anderson
If you’ve ever used Twitter you have probably seen one of Sarah Anderson’s brilliantly honest, perceptive comic strips and cartoons about the confusion, disillusion, and quiet pleasures of early adulthood. They are usually hilarious and always painfully relatable. This, her first graphic novel, is guaranteed to make you realise you’re doing better at life than you thought.
Harry Potter series by J. K. Rowling
You’ve probably already read the Harry Potter series (and see the film and bought the house scarf and been on the studio tour), but if you’re in need of comfort there are few books that feel so much like going home. Even as the plots get darker, the stakes higher, and the fights more deadly, nothing is as soothing as hanging out in the unrivalled cosiness of fire-lit common rooms and the food-laden great hall.
Contact by Carl Sagan
This reasonably dense sci-fi classic might seem an odd choice for this list, but for all its technical expertise it also carries Sagan’s trademark insight into the human condition and our place in the universe. While most sci-fi stories about extraterrestrial life paint it as a threat to be conquered, Contact makes not being alone in the universe something to be celebrated.
Beetle Boy by M.G. Leonard
Children’s books are the best at portraying honest, loyal friendships, and this future classic works so well because protagonist Darkus and his friends are such a pleasure to spend time with. Even as the story grows increasingly bonkers – hyper-intelligent beetles, world domination plots, bumbling henchmen, and more – it’s how the young friends work together to get through it all that will keep you reading.
All the Lonely People by David Owen
Reaching the end of this list means it’s time to shamelessly plug my own book! It tells the story of Kat, a girl who seeks human connection through the internet, and Wesley, the boy who bullies her into deleting all her online profiles. When this causes Kat to literally begin to disappear, she must rediscover her true self and find her place in the world. Despite loneliness affecting young people more than any other age group, it’s an issue we rarely see discussed. I hope All the Lonely People will resonate with any lonely young people out there in the world.
by David Owen, author of All the Lonely People out now.