Wellbeing collection: poetry, short stories and essays

If our uplifting reads have piqued your interest and inspired your reading but you don’t want a long read, why not try some more titles from our Wellbeing collection. Whether you are after a mindful minute or a half hour thought provoking or relaxing read, we have books which will suit you…


Short on time? Why not try reading a poem with our poetry books. 

The Poetry Pharmacy by William Sieghart – available as an eBook

Dream Work by Mary Oliver – print 

Heaven on Earth: 101 Happy Poems edited by Wendy Cope – print 

The Emergency Poet: An Anti-stress Poetry Anthology edited by Deborah Alma – print 

The Sun and her Flowers by Rupi Kaur – print 


Did you know
Poetry is great to dip into if you are short on time; Bethoud in The Art of Mindful Reading suggests poetry is perfect for practicing “mindfulness techniques” (p.22). Even the visual form of poetry on a page “…entreats us [the reader] to bring to the poem a mind cleared of distractions, like the page, and focused tightly on the words islanded in a sea of white space.” (Mole, 2019, p.10).


Poetry review

The Emergency Poet: An Anti-stress Poetry Anthology edited by Deborah Alma

‘Life can sometimes be overwhelming, but taking a few moments to read a bit of poetry can relieve tension and help you relax and take stock’. This collection includes poems from the greats but also from lesser known poets and has sections titled Now I become myself, Carpe diem, Love, Getting older, Hope, Courage and inspiration and Be alive every minute of you life. Short and easy to ready this book is great to dip in and out of, allowing you to be lost among happy verse or slight melancholy poetry. A poem to suit every mood and every personality.

Review by Susan. 



Don’t want to commit to a full novel? Why not try exploring short stories, Quick Reads or essays.

Fragile Things by Neil Gaiman [short stories] – print

Sour Heart by Jenny Zhang [short stories] – print 

Penguin Sleep Tales [short stories] – available as an audiobook

Me Talk Pretty One Day by David Sedaris [essays] – print 

The Good Immigrant edited by Nikesh Shukla [essays] – available as an audiobook

Stories to Make you Smile [short stories / essays] – available as an audiobook and eBook

Six Foot Six by Kit de Waal [Quick read] – print 

Rules for Dating a Romantic Hero by Harriet Evans [Quick read] – print 


Did you know
Quick Reads by The Reading Agency aim to inspire “…emergent readers, as well as those who have little time or have fallen out of the habit of reading, with entertaining and accessible bitesize books written by the very best contemporary authors.” (The Reading Agency, 2021). Quick Reads are perfect if you if you don’t want to dip into short stories, poetry or poetry collections but still want a read which is less time consuming.
If you have not explored short stories, then now could be your opportunity. Daisy Johnson, in her article The world at an angle: reasons to love short stories, suggests that, “Perhaps the best thing about short stories is that they are short. It is time we stop apologising for their brevity and begin celebrating it. Think of how little effort it would require to read one right now.” (Johnson, 2019).


Essay collection review

Me Talk Pretty One Day by David Sedaris

If you are after a set of short essays to delve into then this might be the one for you. Me Talk Pretty One Day is a classic set of essays by the humourist David Sedaris published in 2000. As you would expect, these are incredibly funny. The essays are split into two parts, the first on his family life when he was younger and the second, after he moved to France. It is the perfect book to dip into.

Review by Charlotte.




Before you go…

You can view all our fiction and poetry titles on the fiction and poetry book list, alternatively, you can browse all titles in the Wellbeing collection in the Wellbeing collection book list.

What short story, essay and poetry collections would you recommend?
If you are a member of staff at PHE why not join the Book Lovers Yammer group and share your recommendations.



Berthoud, E. (2019). The Art of Mindful Reading: Embracing the Wisdom of Words. Leaping Hare Press

Johnson, D. (2019, March 06). The world at an angle: reasons to love short stories. The Guardian.

Mole, T. (2019). The Secret Life of Books: Why They Mean More Than Words. London: Elliott and Thompson

The Reading Agency. (2021). Quick Reads 2021 Authors Revealed.

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