|The night before Christmas. In a few hours, all the decorations will be gone...|
night was Twelfth night*, officially the end of the Christmas holidays, and
traditionally today is the day that the decorations are brought down. It's
always a sad time, and I hate that job more than any other household chore.
Christmas is such a happy, joyous occasion in our family that when the decs are
finally boxed and returned to the attic, the house always feels bare and
lifeless, and the festivities seem like such a long way away.
As I write this post, yet another storm is about to hammer
through London, adding to the gloom of the season. The pretty, wintry,
fantastical scenes on the Christmas cards which will no longer deck the halls
as of tonight are just that, it seems. Fantasy.
Is it any wonder, then, that we all seem to fall into a bit
of a funk at this time of year? With months to go until the first signs of
spring (although I did spot Hot Cross Buns in the supermarket yesterday. Too
soon, Sainsbury's. Too, too soon), the prospect of going back to work after the
long break and no sign yet of the days lengthening, there appears to be little
to look forward to in January and February.
But in a way, it is also one of my favourite times of the
year. Why? Because I seem to do more reading in January and February than at
any other time of year. I hadn't realised this fact until recently, when I
looked back on last year's reading. I got through more books in the first
couple of months of 2013 than I did in any other period, and with the beginning
of this year promising plenty of opportunities to read, I'm looking forward to
another bumper period of reading.
And who can blame me, eh? What better way to forget about
the absence of festivities, the appalling weather and the January blues than to
escape it all within the pages of a good novel?
It's a magical thing that happens when you open a book and
become consumed in the story and characters within. I love the escapism that it
Last year, I got a bumper crop of new books for Christmas,
but I began my reading year with a classic that I'd never read before - Oliver
Twist. Despite the fact that the weather and atmosphere in Twist is
just as frightful as that outside (if not more so), it was wonderful to share
in an adventure taking part in a world far removed from my own. It was
thrilling, and I enjoyed it so much that I decided to start every year by reading
a classic. This year it's Dickens again - I'm about to get stuck in to Great
Expectations. A story I know very well from popular culture (and some excellent
film and television adaptations), but remarkably, I've never read. It's a book
I know I'm going to love.
When I'd finished with Oliver, I immediately got
stuck into another great book, then another and another. As the bitterly cold
weather clung on into March and April, I treasured the opportunities it gave me
to do nothing other than check where my bookmark had left me.
|A book at bedtime...my winter blues-busters.|
the weather this year, I'll be doing a lot of travelling over the coming weeks,
and instead of fearing those long journeys to and from work, I'm looking
forward to the perfect opportunity to enter another world. This may sound
odd to many, but I’ve missed my morning and evening commute of late and I’m
actually looking forward to getting that reading time back!
Books are an important part of this time of the year for
me. By Spring, the opportunities to read will be diminishing. The garden will
need tending, the social calendar will get busier, and the better weather
always gets us out and about more; walking, cycling and days out all taking up
time that in January and February seem to call me to reading. So I’m going
to treasure this time, and make the most of it.
So if, this season, you find yourself feeling down and
dreary, forlorn now the tinsel and bunting are about to disappear, why not do
what I do, and make the most of it? Batten down the hatches, pull up the duvet
and get stuck in to a good read...it will make the wait for Spring so much more
P.S. I can't mention the weather in this post in
such a light-hearted way without referring to the awful situation the weather
is creating on both sides of the Atlantic at the moment. With the bitter cold
and snow in the US and Canada, and the severe flooding here in the UK, I know
many out there are suffering, or fearing the worst, and if anyone reading this
is affected, please know that my thoughts are with you, and I hope that you
remain safe, and you're able to keep warm and dry.
Labels: 2014 reading challenge, a year of reading, books of 2014, Christmas, How to beat the January blues, the love of reading