Ventura Recommends - What to Read on R U OK DAY

Ventura is a strong advocate of mental health, and with today being R U OK day, it’s fitting to explore some of our favourite literature for when those feelings of anxiety seem overwhelming. Here are our top picks of books to pick up if you’re feeling down.

Books that let you know you’re not alone:

When you’re dealing with mental health, it can be hard to imagine that other people are dealing with the same thing. So, picking up a book can be as good as chatting to a good friend, or taking that long phone call to your mum. In Girl On the Edge & Girl Over the Edge, Kim Hodges strips bare the stigma towards mental illness in a raw and confronting memoir; yet talks of the positivity and understanding that comes from dealing with it head-on. 

Are you a mum? Or perhaps know someone struggling with anxiety around parenting? Melanie Dimmitt’s Special is a curious, casual and conversational exploration into parenting a child with special-needs, and all the obsessions that plague one’s mind when dealing with this. All sorts of life events can trigger anxiety, and Special shows us that uniting in our differences is the best way to embrace them. 

When some of the best Australian authors come together to write about an issue, you know it must be a big deal. Split, edited by Lee Kofman and featuring the likes of Graeme Simsion, Fiona Wright, A.S Patric, Alice Pung and more, delves into the world of leaving, loss and new beginnings, and the mental experiences that come with this. Each chapter gives you a unique story, and you might just find connections with more than one…


Books that uplift

They say laughter is the best medicine, and humour is what you’ll find inside the pages of The Age of Discretion by Virginia Duigan. It’s uplifting chick-lit at it’s best, or as some say, Sex in the City for the over 55’s.

If you’re a book lover, you can’t go past the nostalgia of Storytime by Jane Sullivan – the perfect way to escape reality. Jane revisits some of her favourite books from her childhood and recounts what she loved (or hated) and learnt from these books. Cosy up with Winnie-the-Pooh, Alice in Wonderland, the Moomintrolls or one of Jane’s favourites, the Magic Pudding.

Sometimes a heart-warming novel is all you need to calm your mind. Letters to My Yesterday by Karyn Sepulveda is a story of friendship, love, family and the enduring strength of women, and the perfect end to a long day (with a cup of tea in hand). A similar, but not-yet-released book is The Changing Room by Christine Sykes. In the lead up to Christmas, mental health is even more important, so keep an eye out for this one – a story of hope, second chances and the power of female friendship.  

Books that offer support

Whilst taking your mind off anxiety is a good way to deal with the short-term effects of mental health, sometimes that’s not enough. Renee Mill specialises in Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT), and has developed a program to analyse and treat anxiety without the use of medication, in her book Anxiety Free, Drug Free. By reinforcing positive thinking and emotional strength, Renee helps those suffering from anxiety to get back on their feet.

Although not strictly related to mental health, Career to Calling by Annie Stewart is a book for those wanting to make a change in their life but unsure how. In a time when jobs rule our day-to-day life, it’s easy to forget about your passion. As a life-long career coach, Annie guides you through the steps to take to find and follow your calling and reach a more fulfilled life.

Reach out to a loved one for a chat, and don’t forget to ask R U OK?

If you are in need of mental health support, there are services that can help.

Head to Beyond Blue for a full list of helplines that you can call here, call 1300 22 4636, or visit their website for more.

Ventura Recommends: August

Ventura staff live and breathe words, so we’ve always got our noses buried in a book, or our ears plugged into a podcast, or our eyes glued to the next zeitgeist film or series. Here’s a list of our favourites this winter season.


Three Women by Lisa Taddeo

‘The global buzz was huge so I bought the book the day of release and read over a weekend. It is a bleak morality tale told through intimate portrait of three white middle class American women as they seek sexual and emotional fulfilment.  We see woman as complicit, woman as abused, woman as used. It is harrowing and dispiriting that so little has changed.’ - Jane Curry

No More Boats by Felicity Castagna

‘Superbly crafted and thoughtfully rendered story of Western Sydney and the tensions surrounding otherness. It won the Prime Minister’s Literary Award in 2017 for a good reason, and even though it’s a couple of years old now, I’m finding the themes remain starkly relevant.’  - Zoe Hale

Conversations with Friends by Sally Rooney

‘I devoured Rooney’s Normal People in the span of a wintery day, so of course I was enthused to pick up her debut novel, which proved equally as intriguing. The diverse, intimate and somewhat controversial portrayal of people and relationships left me thinking and wanting more. Rooney’s writing is so effortless, yet so intelligent – the best kind.’ - Sophie Hodge



The Garret Podcast

‘I am a new convert to The Garret and now can’t walk my dog without an episode ready to play.  I enjoy hearing authors talk about the craft of writing and their inspirations. It restores my faith in the creativity and passion in the industry. ‘ - JC

How to Fail with Elizabeth Day

‘For anyone who has ever struggled creatively or in a business – this is a wonderfully cooling balm for soothing those burns of failure. I love Elizabeth, she is such a gifted interviewer and journalist, allowing her guest to share their vulnerable experiences with ease.’ - ZH  

Offline by Alison Rice

‘Offline’s premise is honest conversations with people you may know and love through social media. I’ve always been interested in people and what makes them tick, so these raw, emotional and interesting conversations are perfect. Plus, Alison’s voice sounds like smooth butter (a win when you’re listening to an hour-long talk).’ - SH



Chernobyl Season 1

‘Wow. This is the new world of streaming at is finest. The acting, the production design, the cinematography is astoundingly good.   And as it is a true story , the events gnaw away at your sense of security as we know a nuclear disaster could happen again. Compelling viewing.’ - JC

The Handmaid’s Tale season 3

‘I’m loving this season – it’s more about the resistance, the fight against oppression. And all the female characters have such depth and are so compelling. It makes for an intense watch though, I can’t watch more than two episodes at a time.’ - ZH

Our Planet

‘I am a self-confessed lover of nature documentaries, particularly those narrated by David Attenborough. Our Planet’s breathtaking cinematography forces us to take a long, hard look at the planet we are living on and begs us to make implement change for the future. If you take anything from the show, go and buy a keep cup or try cutting out plastic. It’s life changing.’ - SH