January 18, 2021

Blue Monday? Grab a book…

Particularly during the current lockdown, we realise that life can feel lonely at times. And the third Monday in January – “Blue Monday” – is said to be the gloomiest time for many people. However, reading can act as an antidote. It may be a solitary activity, but picking up your favourite book, or trying something new, can alleviate the feeling of isolation. Our intern, Hannah, has written a blog post about the power of reading. 

Over the course of the past 9 months, people have felt increasingly alone. COVID-19 and the repeated lockdowns have meant we’re separated from family and friends, and then there’s the feeling that the world is in fragments — undeniably, everyone has felt a little more lost, and a little more isolated. Unable to pop to the pub, try out new restaurants or roam the high street with friends, more than ever, people are searching for art forms to get them through this time, and reading can act as both wonderful escapism and give us characters who can feel like friends. 

Books act as a portal through time and space, and into another world, away from the current one in which we live. A world that us alone have access to, with all its intricacies and imaginings. What is magical about reading is that each book changes depending on who is reading it, and how the reader imagines it: whether this is the lavish parties held by Gatsby, or the good looks of Mr Darcy, you alone create something different to what others may imagine when they read the same words. Thus reading becomes a collaboration between the writer and reader, each collaboration is unique and individual, and can alleviate the feeling of isolation.

“We read to know we’re not alone.”

― William Nicholson

There is comfort in returning to much loved characters, and rereading a favourite classic can reaffirm that there is order in the world and can offer much needed familiarity. For me, it was Dr Seuss’ Oh, the Places You’ll Go! that I returned to many times during lockdown. One of the starting lines still circulates my mind: ‘You have brains in your head. You have feet in your shoes. You can steer yourself any direction you choose.’ At a time where nothing felt certain or planned, I hung onto these words and took solace in this short book and its message. Or, there is a lot to gain from picking up a new book that you haven’t read before. In it could be an adventure, a romance, or a history, just waiting to be discovered. We can laugh, cry, feel amazed or shocked, learn new things, and meet characters like none we’ve met before. The power of a good story is undeniable and can make us better people. 

While it may be a solitary activity, picking up your favourite book with characters that you know and love, or trying something new, can transport you away from the overload of the daily, new and stressful information that we currently receive. And so, if feeling a bit alone, rather than switching on the television, try picking up a book and discovering your very own new world. Books are powerful things and the characters will be right there waiting for you!

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