By Julie Kish

With hundreds of television channels and a dozen subscription-based streaming services, it’s tempting to park in front of a screen when it’s too cold and too scary to venture outside the house. Why not break up the screen time and lose yourself in a good book? Research says reading reduces stress, alleviates depression, helps you sleep and keeps you mentally alert as you age. Reading is active; watching a screen is passive.

If finding the right book is challenging, I recommend The website lists books by genre and has loads of reviews.

I’ve recently finished a dystopian novel that follows a group of survivors after a virus wipes out 99 percent of the population. Written in 2014, long before the current COVID situation, Station Eleven, by Canadian Emily St. John Mantel, paints a mural of memorable characters living in extreme circumstances. I couldn’t put it down.

My next pick was something lighter. Clanlands isa travel log written by Sam Heughan and Graham McTavish, two heartthrobs from the popular STARZ network series Outlander. I’m a huge fan of Diana Gabaldon’s Outlander book series, and I highly recommend it. I devoured each of the eight books in the Scottish historical romance/time-travelling series and am anxiously awaiting the ninth book’s publication. They are my go-to comfort books and I’ve read each of the lengthy novels more than once. When the love story between fictional characters Jamie Fraser and Claire Randall arrived on television a few years ago, I was an instant fan.

Clanlands follows two of the television series’ Scottish actors as they travel through the Scottish Highlands in a camper van. Through skillful use of humour and personal anecdotes, readers catch a glimpse into their personalities while learning about whisky and Scottish history. It’s currently at the top of the non-fiction best sellers lists for The New York Times and The Globe and Mail, so I guess I’m not the only Outlander fan out there.

If you still haven’t had enough of sexy Scots and romance in the Highlands, I suggest Finding Fraser, by Canadian K.C. Dyer. It’s a charming, well-written, romantic-comedy-style novel about an Outlander fan who travels to Scotland in search of her very own Jamie Fraser (Outlander’s red-headed Scottish protagonist, also known as The King of Men). I loved this novel.

Choosing a book is very personal. No matter what genre you like, there are books just right for you. Happy reading!