THURSDAY 26 JUL 2018 10:17 AM


According to a study published by the University of Sussex, around just six minutes a day of reading is enough to decrease stress and anxiety levels. Brought on by the fast pace of modern life, and exacerbated through mobile phones, laptops and screens encroaching on what should be relaxing environments in the home, stress can be alleviated by taking one’s mind elsewhere.

To that end, Swedish furniture retailer IKEA has partnered with the Man Booker Prize to launch a ‘Reading Room’ in IKEA’s flagship Wembley store, following the launch of the Man Booker Prize 2018 longlist on 24 July.

In partnering with the annual prize, IKEA aims to encourage visitors to relax. Complete with lamps, chairs and IKEA’s iconic Billy bookcases, the Reading Rooms will contain copies of the 13 longlisted books and are designed to help busy shoppers find a renewed appreciation for their living room - and to separate it from their workplace. Itself sponsored by investment management firm the Man Group, the Man Booker Prize is heralded as the leading literary prize for English-language fiction. Those enjoying the Reading Rooms can also take the books home.

Luis Lopez, head of living rooms at IKEA UK and Ireland, says, “The Reading Rooms give us a chance to use our retail space to inspire people to think about the importance of relaxation at home. Reading at home is good for your health and the living room is the perfect, tranquil setting to do so, providing a peaceful haven from the outside world.”

“In partnering with the Man Booker Prize, we know we are giving people the chance to read the best of this year’s books,” says Lopez.

Further research also showed that 21.6 million, or 33%, of British people only have time to read one book when on holiday. A further 59% of workers feel under pressure to respond to work emails and be socially active online while at home - despite the benefits of separating work from home life.

Gaby Wood, literary director of the Booker Prize Foundation, says, “If you associate reading with holidays then you probably associate it with indulgence. And – it’s true – reading fiction can be, at its best, a form of escapism. But that doesn’t make it a guilty pleasure. It’s more like a fast route to better health. Our homes are filled with devices that allow the digital world to encroach on our private lives. Reclaim your privacy, and your imagination: read a book!”

With increased literacy levels beneficial for both society and the economy, such initiatives go some way towards addressing the dearth of books in many people’s lives. With the Man Booker Prize shortlist announced on 20 September and the winner on 16 October, the celebrations of its 50th year might yet permeate across the British population - and stimulate a renewed interest in the wonder of books.

The IKEA Reading Rooms, will be open to the public from Tuesday 31st July until Sunday 5th August. To book a slot, visit the IKEA Wembley website.

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