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If You Like “The Fault in Our Stars,” You Should Definitely Read These Titles Too

If You Like “The Fault in Our Stars,” You Should Definitely Read These Titles Too

The Fault In Our Stars is a heart-wrenching young adult novel that centers on Hazel, a teen diagnosed with terminal cancer. Inspired by author John Green’s real life friend who passed away from the same illness, the novel is a compassionate look at incredible teenagers in adult situations. Recently made into a Hollywood film, the book is both humorous and emotional, but will surely leave you hungry for another compelling read. Look no further, as the following ten novels explore similar themes in incredibly different and original worlds.

1. Looking for Alaska by John Green

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    This novel follows a seventeen-year-old student as he embarks on private boarding school in another state. Nicknamed “Pudge,” the protagonist quickly finds himself being hazed at the hands of other students. Soon after, a prank war starts between Pudge and his friends. As Pudge grows into himself with the help of his new friends, he starts to fall for his friend Alaska. As the end of the school year nears, an accident grips the entire student body, forcing Pudge to reevaluate his actions. Also written by John Green, the author of The Fault In Our Stars, Looking For Alaska chronicles one student’s struggle to understand responsibility and the effects of choices as he comes of age.

    2. Paper Towns by John Green

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    Paper Towns

      Also from the author of The Fault In Our Stars, is Paper Towns. This novel follows Q, as he attempts to navigate his final year of high school. Q is soon reunited with a friend from his early years, Margo. Margo convinces Q to help her pull some final pranks on a few classmates. Q agrees, eventually pranking a bully from elementary school. Q and Margo refer to their town as a “paper town,” fake and one-sided, with no weight behind it. The group of friends is shocked when Margo disappears, leading them to fear she is suicidal. The group tries to discover the hiding place or burial site for Margo, forcing them to confront their perceptions of others as thin and one-sided as well. Through heartache and laughs, Paper Towns explores the crucial insight that the person we think someone is, isn’t always accurate.

      3. An Abundance Of Katherines by John Green

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        Colin, the main character in this novel, is eagerly trying to become a genius by seeking his eureka moment. Quickly dumped by his girlfriend Katherine, Colin is encouraged to take a road trip with his friend Hassan to get his mind off the breakup. Colin, having only dated girls named Katherine, seeks to quantify a relationship’s chance at success or failure in a new theorem. Along the way, the two find friends, one of whom Colin starts to fall for. As he struggles to control his feelings, Colin and Hassan grow in ways they never predicted. Also from the author of The Fault in Our Stars, An Abundance Of Katherines shows readers the true unpredictability of human emotions and life. 

        4. Divergent by Veronica Roth

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          Divergent is an action-packed novel, the first in the Divergent trilogy. These books follow 16-year-old Beatrice in post-apocalyptic Chicago. Chicago is now divided into sections, based on emotional qualities. Called factions, groups accept members who are either selfless, peaceful, brave, or intellectual. Beatrice is caught between several factions, but chooses bravery. The teens then leave for their respective factions. Beatrice finds out the brave faction will only admit ten new teens, to be chosen via a series of challenges. Beatrice concerns herself with competing in these challenges, until one is sabotaged to incite a civil war between factions. A quickly paced, explosive novel, Divergent asks readers to challenge their identity and look at others in more than just black and white.

          5. If I Stay by Gayle Forman

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            If I Stay follows Mia, a typical teenage girl who wakes up to a snowy day that has cancelled school. Mia and her family plan what they want to do with their unexpected day off over breakfast. The family playfully finds themselves on the road, when Mia’s world is changed forever. The car crashes, and Mia struggles to absorb her reality. Seeing her family’s bodies, she stumbles on hear own injured form. Mia follows her body as medical professionals rush her into treatment at the hospital. Hearing from doctors that her parents are dead, Mia must make a decision between fighting for a life full of new, heartbreaking challenges, and leaving this world forever. Much like The Fault In Our Stars, If I Stay tackles adult problems in a compelling way and from a teen perspective.

            6. Perks Of Being A Wallflower by Stephen Chbosky

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              This novel follows introverted 15-year-old Charlie. Charlie starts the year absorbed in writing, rarely socializing. Charlie struggles on his own with graphic flashbacks, mental health problems, and has very little confidence. When Charlie meets Patrick and Sam—two students in their final year—Charlie starts to enjoy time with his friends. Charlie struggles with unrequited feelings for Sam, but expands his horizons and tries new things. Charlie ultimately suffers a breakdown, bringing up a long kept secret from his past. Another incredible young adult novel, Perks Of Being A Wallflower explores the very adult challenges that many teens face.

              7. The Giver by Lois Lowry

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                The Giver is a novel told from the point of view of an eleven year old boy. Named Jonas, this child lives in a futuristic society that has eliminated all hatred, anger, pain and unhappiness. All decisions are made by the state, and each citizen must take an aptitude test at age twelve to determine their career training. Jonas is chosen for a rare honor, when he is selected to be the next “receiver.” Jonas’s new training teaches him that society must keep all the horrible memories in order to retain the lessons learned there, without sharing them with the community at large. Jonas starts receiving these memories from the “giver.” Jonas begins learning the extremes of human existence, and realizes his society lacks real joy, excitement, and inspiration. Jonas learns that the society euthanizes individuals when telling the public they are released outside the society. Jonas devises a plan to bring the truths he has learned to the public, in hopes of saving them from a half-lived existence. While The Giver takes place in a different world than The Fault In Our Stars, the book still explores themes dealing with integrity and responsibility as Jonas transitions to adulthood.

                8. Before I Fall by Lauren Oliver

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                  Sam is a popular, queen-bee type teenage girl, who is killed in a car accident at the beginning of the book. Despite the graphic events, Sam wakes up, as if her death was a dream. Sam soon discovers however, that today is the day of her car crash. Sam continues to wake up after her death, reliving the same day again and again. Stuck in the same routine, Sam is forced to grow as a person and consider others’ perspectives before she can be set free. Confronting our selfishness, Before I Fall is a poignant, hard-hitting young adult novel.

                  9. Cut by Patricia McCorkick

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                    Cut centers on the life of Callie, a quiet, lonely fifteen–year–old. Callie struggles with self harm, feeling stressed by her family and personal struggles. Callie is eventually admitted to a mental health facility, where she must confront her reasons for self harm and move beyond the fears that hold her back. A telling look at mental health problems among teens, Cut is an ultimately comforting and optimistic novel.

                    10. The Boy In The Striped Pajamas by John Boyne

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                      The Boy In The Striped Pajamas takes place in 1943 Germany, through the eyes of a child named Bruno. Bruno’s father is given a new position, uprooting the family. The family moves into a smaller house, one neighbored by a prison like compound Bruno is forbidden from exploring. Eventually, Bruno meets a child who lives on the other side of the fence. Sheltered from reality, Bruno’s innocent view of a concentration camp is a truly unique perspective on history. A heart wrenching, original look at history, The Boy In The Striped Pajamas challenges readers and ultimately highlights the importance of empathy.

                      Featured photo credit: Ginny via flickr.com

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                      Published on November 14, 2018

                      Why You Suffer from Constant Fatigue and How to Deal with It

                      Why You Suffer from Constant Fatigue and How to Deal with It

                      With our busy, always on lives, it seems that more and more of us are facing constant tiredness and fatigue on a regular basis.

                      For many people, they just take this in their stride as part of modern life, but for others the impact can be crippling and can have a serious effect on their sense of wellbeing, health and productivity.

                      In this article, I’ll share some of the most common causes of constant tiredness and fatigue and give you some guidance and action steps you can take to overcome some of the symptoms of fatigue.

                      Why Am I Feeling Fatigued?

                      Fatigue is extreme tiredness resulting from mental or physical exertion or illness.  It is a reduction in the efficiency of a muscle or organ after prolonged activity.[1]

                      It can affect anyone, and most adults will experience fatigue at some point in their life. 

                      For many people, fatigue is caused by a combination of lifestyle, social, psychological and general wellbeing issues rather than an underlying medical condition.

                      Although fatigue is sometimes described as tiredness, it is different to just feeling tired or sleepy. Everyone feels tired at some point, but this is usually resolved with a nap or a few nights of good sleep. Someone who is sleepy may also feel temporarily refreshed after exercising. If you are getting enough sleep, good nutrition and exercising regularly but still find it hard to perform, concentrate or be motivated at your normal levels, you may be experiencing a level of fatigue that needs further investigation. 

                      Symptoms of Fatigue

                      Fatigue can cause a vast range of physical, mental and emotional symptoms including:

                      • chronic tiredness, exhaustion or sleepiness
                      • mental blocks
                      • lack of motivation
                      • headache
                      • dizziness
                      • muscle weakness
                      • slowed reflexes and responses
                      • impaired decision-making and judgement
                      • moodiness, such as irritability
                      • impaired hand-to-eye coordination
                      • reduced immune system function
                      • blurry vision
                      • short-term memory problems
                      • poor concentration
                      • reduced ability to pay attention to the situation at hand

                      Causes of Fatigue

                      The wide range of causes that can trigger fatigue include:

                      • Medical causes: Constant exhaustion, tiredness and fatigue may be a sign of an underlying illness, such as a thyroid disorder, heart disease, anemia or diabetes.
                      • Lifestyle-related causes: Being overweight and a lack of regular exercise can lead to feelings of fatigue.  Lack of sleep and overcommitting can also create feelings of excessive tiredness and fatigue.
                      • Workplace-related causes: Workplace and financial stress in a variety of forms can lead to feelings of fatigue.
                      • Emotional concerns and stress: Fatigue is a common symptom of mental health problems, such as depression and grief, and may be accompanied by other signs and symptoms, including irritability and lack of motivation.

                      Fatigue can also be caused by a number of factors working in combination.

                      Medical Causes of Fatigue

                      If you have made lifestyle changes to increase your energy and still feel exhausted and fatigued, it may be time to seek guidance from your doctor.

                      Here are a few examples of illnesses that can cause ongoing fatigue. Seek medical advice if you suspect you have a health problem:

                      Anemia

                      Anemia is a condition in which you don’t have enough healthy red blood cells to carry adequate oxygen to the body’s tissues. It is a common cause of fatigue in women.

                      Having anemia may make you feel tired and weak.

                      There are many forms of anemia, each with its own cause. Anemia can be temporary or long term, and it can range from mild to severe.[2]

                      Chronic Fatigue Syndrome (CFS)

                      Chronic Fatigue Syndrome (CFS) is a condition that can cause persistent, unexplained fatigue that interferes with daily activities for more than six months.

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                      This is a chronic condition with no one-size-fits-all treatment, but lifestyle changes can often help ease some symptoms of fatigue.[3]

                      Diabetes

                      Diabetes can cause fatigue with either high or low blood sugars. When your sugars are high, they remain in the bloodstream instead of being used for energy, which makes you feel fatigued. Low blood sugar (glucose) means you may not have enough fuel for energy, also causing fatigue.[4]

                      Sleep Apnea

                      Sleep apnea is a serious sleep disorder where sufferers briefly stop breathing for short periods during sleep. Most people are not aware this is happening, but it can cause loud snoring, and daytime fatigue.

                      Being overweight, smoking, and drinking alcohol can all worsen the symptoms of sleep apnea.[5]

                      Thyroid disease

                      An underactive thyroid gland means you have too little thyroid hormone (thyroxine) in your body. This makes you feel tired and you could also put on weight and have aching muscles and dry skin.[6]

                      Common lifestyle factors that can cause fatigue include:

                      • Lack of sleep
                      • Too much sleep 
                      • Alcohol and drugs 
                      • Sleep disturbances 
                      • Lack of regular exercise and sedentary behaviour 
                      • Poor diet 

                      Common workplace issues that can cause fatigue include:

                      • Shift work: Our body is designed to sleep during the night. A shift worker may confuse their circadian clock by working when their body is programmed to be asleep.
                      • Poor workplace practices: This may include long work hours, hard physical labour, irregular working hours (such as rotating shifts), a stressful work environment, boredom or working alone. 
                      • Workplace stress – This can be caused by a wide range of factors including job dissatisfaction, heavy workload, conflicts with bosses or colleagues, bullying, or threats to job security.
                      • Burnout: This could be striving too hard on one area of your life while neglecting others, which leads to a life that feels out of balance.

                      Psychological Causes of Fatigue

                      Psychological factors are present in many cases of extreme tiredness and fatigue.  These may include:

                      • Depression: Depression is characterised by severe and prolonged feelings of sadness, dejection and hopelessness. People who are depressed commonly experience chronic fatigue.
                      • Anxiety and stress: Someone who is constantly anxious or stressed keeps their body in overdrive. The constant flooding of adrenaline exhausts the body, and fatigue sets in.
                      • Grief: Losing a loved one causes a wide range of emotions including shock, guilt, depression, despair and loneliness.

                      How to Tackle Constant Fatigue

                      Here are 12 ways you can start tackling the causes of fatigue and start feeling more energetic.

                      1. Tell The Truth

                      Some people can numb themselves to the fact that they are overtired or fatigued all the time. In the long run, this won’t help you.

                      To give you the best chance to overcome or eliminate fatigue, you must diagnose and tell the truth about the things that are draining your energy, making you tired or causing constant fatigue.

                      Once you’re honest with yourself about the activities you’re doing in your life that you find irritating, energy-draining, and make you tired on a regular basis you can make a commitment to stop doing them.

                      The help that you need to overcome fatigue is available to you, but not until you tell the truth about it. The first person you have to sell on getting rid of the causes of fatigue is yourself.

                      One starting point is to diagnose the symptoms. When you start feeling stressed, overtired or just not operating at your normal energy levels make a note of:

                      • How you feel
                      • What time of day it is
                      • What may have contributed to your fatigue
                      • How your mind and body reacts

                      This analysis may help you identify, understand and then eliminate very specific causes.

                      2. Reduce Your Commitments

                      When we have too many things on our plate personally and professionally, we can feel overstretched, causing physical and mental fatigue.

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                      If you have committed to things you really don’t want to do, this causes irritability and low emotional engagement. Stack these up throughout your day and week, then your stress levels will rise.

                      When these commitments have deadlines associated with them, you may be trying to cram in far too much in a short period of time.  This creates more stress and can affect your decision making ability.

                      Start being realistic about how much you can get done. Either reduce the commitments you have or give yourself more time to complete them in.

                      3. Get Clear On Your Priorities

                      If working on your list of to-do’s or goals becomes too overwhelming, start reducing and prioritizing the things that matter most.

                      Start with prioritizing just 3 things every day. When you complete those 3 things, you’ll get a rush of energy and your confidence will grow.

                      If you’re trying to juggle too many things and are multi-tasking, your energy levels will drop and you’ll struggle to maintain focus.

                      Unfinished projects can make you self-critical and feel guilty which drops energy levels further, creating inaction.

                      Make a list of your 3 MIT (Most Important Tasks) for the next day before you go to bed. This will stop you overcommitting and get you excited about what the next day can bring.

                      4. Express More Gratitude

                      Gratitude and confidence are heavily linked. Just being thankful for what you have and what you’ve achieved increases confidence and makes you feel more optimistic.

                      It can help you improve your sense of wellbeing, which can bring on feelings of joy and enthusiasm.

                      Try starting a gratitude journal or just note down 3 things you’re grateful for every day.

                      5. Focus On Yourself

                      Exhaustion and fatigue can arrive by focusing solely on other people’s needs all the time, rather than worrying about and focusing on what you need (and want).

                      There are work commitments, family commitments, social commitments. You may start with the best intentions, to put in your best performance at work, to be an amazing parent and friend, to simply help others.

                      But sometimes, we extend ourselves too much and go beyond our personal limits to help others. That’s when constant exhaustion can creep up on us.  Which can make us more fatigued.

                      We all want to help and do our best for others, but there needs to be some balance. We also need to take some time out just for ourselves to recharge and rejuvenate.

                      6. Set Aside Rest and Recovery Time

                      Whether it’s a couple of hours, a day off, a mini-break or a proper holiday, time off is essential to help us recover, recharge and refocus.

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                      Recovery time helps fend off mental fatigue and allows us to simply kick back and relax.

                      The key here, though, is to remove ourselves from the daily challenges that bring on tiredness and fatigue. Here’s how.

                      Can you free yourself up completely from work and personal obligations to just rest and recover?

                      7. Take a Power Nap

                      When you’re feeling tired or fatigued and you have the ability to take a quick 20-minute nap, it could make a big difference to your performance for the rest of the day.

                      Napping can improve learning, memory and boost your energy levels quickly.

                      This article on the benefit of napping is a useful place to start if you want to learn more: How a 20-Minute Nap at Work Makes You Awake and Productive the Whole Day

                      8. Take More Exercise

                      The simple act of introducing some form of physical activity into your day can make a huge difference. It can boost energy levels, make you feel much better about yourself and can help you avoid fatigue.

                      Find something that fits into your life, be that walking, going to the gym, running or swimming. 

                      The key is to ensure the exercise is regular and that you are emotionally engaged and committed to stick with it.

                      You could also walk more which will help clear your head and shift your focus away from stressful thoughts.

                      9. Get More Quality Sleep

                      To avoid tiredness, exhaustion and fatigue, getting enough quality sleep matters. 

                      Your body needs sleep to recharge.  Getting the right amount of sleep every night can improve your health, reduce stress levels and help us improve our memory and learning skills.

                      My previous article on The Benefits of Sleep You Need to Know will give you some action steps to start improving your sleep. 

                      10. Improve Your Diet

                      Heavy or fatty meals can make you feel sluggish and tired, whilst some foods or eating strategies do just the opposite.

                      Our always on lives have us reaching for sweets or other sugary snacks to give us a burst of energy to keep going. Unfortunately, that boost fades quickly which can leave you feeling depleted and wanting more.

                      On the other hand, whole grains and healthy unsaturated fats supply the reserves you can draw on throughout the day.

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                      To keep energy up and steady, it’s a good idea to limit refined sugar and starches.

                      Eating small meals and healthy snacks every few hours throughout the day provides a steady supply of nutrients to body and brain. It’s also important not to skip breakfast.

                      Eating a balanced diet helps keep your blood sugar in a normal range and prevents that sluggish feeling when your blood sugar drops.

                      11. Manage Your Stress Levels

                      Stress is one of the leading causes of exhaustion and fatigue, and can seriously affect your health.

                      When you have increased levels of stress at work and at home, it’s easy to feel exhausted all the time. 

                      Identifying the causes of stress and then tackling the problems should be a priority. 

                      My article on How to Help Anxiety When Life is Stressing You Out shares 16 strategies you can use to overcome stress.

                      12. Get Hydrated

                      Sometimes we can be so busy that we forget to keep ourselves fully hydrated.

                      Water makes up about 60 percent of your body weight and is essential in maintaining our body’s basic functions.

                      If we don’t have enough water, it can adversely affect our mental and physical performance, which leads to tiredness and fatigue.

                      The recommended daily amount is around two litres a day, so to stay well hydrated keep a water bottle with you as much as possible.

                      The Bottom Line

                      These 12 tips can help you reduce your tiredness and feeling of fatigue.  Some will work better than others as we are all different, whilst others can be incorporated together in your daily life.

                      If you’ve tried to make positive changes to reduce fatigue and you still feel tired and exhausted, it may be time to consider making an appointment with your doctor to discuss your condition.

                      Featured photo credit: Annie Spratt via unsplash.com

                      Reference

                      [1]Oxford English Dictionary: Definition of fatigue
                      [2]NHS Choices: 10 Reasons for feeling tired
                      [3]Verywellhealth: What is chronic fatigue syndrome
                      [4]Everyday Health: Why does type 2 diabetes make you feel tired
                      [5]Mayo Clinic: Sleep apnea
                      [6]Harvard Health: The lowdown on thyroid slowdown

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