The Book Oracle's Guide to Combating Existential Angst



Sometimes you read weird disturbing books. And sometimes these weird disturbing books, whether horror or non-fiction that just got way too real or anything in between, makes you feel hollow inside as you gape the yawning abyss of your own mortality. It happens to everyone, and also makes us more complicated and empathetic people, I like to think. But when those feelings of existential angst start to loom up, there are things that you can do.


Here's my guide to dealing with existential angst - I link to it whenever a book I review goes over the line of unsettling to downright disturbing. These are some tried and true methods to work out the depression or anxiety that can envelop you after you read something really deep and challenging. Deep thoughts are good, but don’t go so deep that you lose all perspective of your life.


1. Clean something. Like really thoroughly. I loathe cleaning, but even I can see the clarity that comes from mindful labour when you aren’t thinking about anything other than the task at hand.


2. Read books where people are badass and fight evil. I swear it will make you feel better. After reading Sapiens I read Crown of Midnight, the second book in Sarah Maas’ Throne of Glass series, and I swear it was like a balm.


3. Play superheroes with your kids. You cannot take yourself too seriously when you have a towel clothes-pinned to your shirt and you are in a table-prison.


4. Reread one of your favourite books from childhood – be it Little Women or Harry Potter, it will take you back to a time when you had never heard of Trump. And you will like that place.


5. Watch Buffy.


6. Mindfulness meditation is absolutely great when you need to bring yourself back to the present moment. I recommend Jon Kabat-Zinn's 30 minutes body scan as an excellent starting place.


This list is not exclusive! Leave a comment about how you combat existential angst. Or what books create it.