Finding quiet comfort this Blue Monday
Ever since my earliest memories, I’ve loved books and reading. They’ve always been in my life – whether it was going with my gran to the local library and coming home with a trolley bag filled with new stories or trawling through charity shops for copies of Agatha Christies.
Books (some great reads, some truly awful) then became a major part of my life when I studied for my undergraduate degree in English. After three years, I think I’d read so much to deadline and for essay writing, that through the rest of my twenties my interest to read practically vanished.
It’s only been since my thirties, that books have become a central and comforting part of my life. Now I realise that books, and the act of reading, is where I find my quiet comfort. It might be reading a book in a café on the weekend or listening to an audiobook while cooking dinner – whatever the format, I find it all really soothing.
Let’s face it – life is particularly tough right now for all sorts of reasons. We are all looking for moments of calm, whatever that looks like to each of us.
Today is Blue Monday - which is coined by some as the most depressing day of the year. We all know that depression is a constant for many and doesn’t just last one day of the year. My hope from this blog post is that others might either feel inspired to pick up a book or just take comfort from finding a new activity or hobby.
I thought I would share a couple of nonfiction books which are not only interesting, but focus on nurturing our personal wellbeing.
- The Wild Remedy by Emma Mitchell (Michael O’Mara Books, 2019)
The Wild Remedy is a beautifully hand illustrated diary by Emma Mitchell, who openly admits that she has suffered from depression for nearly three decades. Emma, who lives in a rural spot in eastern England, says ‘for me, taking a daily walk among plants and trees is as medicinal as any talking cure or pharmaceutical.’
The Wild Remedy takes you as the reader through the year, from October to the following September, with Emma’s diary entries taking full notice of the flora and fauna around her, whether that’s in a wild place, garden or beyond.
There’s something really calming about the combination of Emma’s accounts and the mix of her illustrations, paintings and photos of birds and wildlife she encounters. The great thing about the book is that you can easily dip in and out, a month at a time and not read it quickly cover to cover. I highly recommend taking a look at The Wild Remedy and seeing what you think.
- Wintering by Katherine May (Penguin Random House, 2020)
Like The Wild Remedy, Wintering by Katherine May begins in October but takes on a different look at the seasons, running through to March. Katherine’s nonfiction account begins when her husband suddenly and severely unwell and that prompts her to look at how humans have typically looked at the winter period in negative ways, but how we can consciously choose to reframe that, as she suggests ‘wintering brings about some of the most profound and insightful moments of our human experience, and wisdom resides in those who have wintered.’
Katherine, whose autism was undiagnosed for many years, writes how she essentially managed to build herself into a ‘different kind of a person’ particularly in light of having suffered a breakdown aged seventeen.
Through each chapter, Katherine lets you look at a different aspect of wintering such as the importance of sleep and the tradition of hibernation in the darker shorter months, how a trip to Iceland makes her look at cold and hot water in everyday life, her need to ‘feel the true cold before I can warm up again’, the comfort taken in quiet, pre-dawn but well-lit mornings.
I feel I haven’t done Wintering full justice, so please get hold of a copy and make your own mind up!
So, there you go, two titles which I highly recommend you pick up and ones which I hope you find your own little slice of hygge with this winter.
Written by Catherine Morrow – Communications Manager at Solent NHS Trust by day and book blogger by night. Catherine’s bookish antics can be found on Instagram: @lingerlongerwithbooks