I apologise for bringing it up again, but let’s face it: 2016 was not great.
Of course, one cannot generalise: Some of us may have had some good moments, but overall, we have had a lot of losses, a lot of pain and sadness and violence.
Literally speaking though, there were some great moments. The books have been brilliant; from Han Kang’s The Vegetarian to Paul Kalanithi’s When Breath Becomes Air. We have had a number of autobiographies by famous people, including Mara Wilson, Lauren Graham, Amy Schumer, Sue Perkins, Anna Kendrick… I will talk to you about some of these in the next few weeks.
Early in the year we had the film release on Room and not long later, John LeCarré’s The Night Manager came to the BBC.
Of course, we had Harry Potter and the Cursed Child, and not long ago, Hamilton: The Revolution.
To make sure we get out of 2017 mostly unharmed, here are some tips; well, just one, really: Read!
Reading brings knowledge, it improves your memory and your analytical skills, your concentration and focus. Reading means you learn new words or become more familiar with words.
You can always pick up a self-improvement book if there is something specific you want to work on. Call it non-fiction if it makes you more comfortable, but may I suggest a book on learning to accept help and learn you are allowed to accept help.
Take time to read with your children (or other people’s children, just make sure the parents know you borrowed their children). It is great for young ones to love books and even for us, the stories are surprisingly beautiful! If they are your own, it means you have spent some quality family time.
Reading helps you relax. It transports you into a different world, which is great, but you may want to think about the types of book you read: Books on war and politics can only let you escape so far. Try and get a good mix of feel good books, novels with a content you are interested in, and non-fiction and pick up the one which fits your mood. Balance every day with a good book and it will reduce your stress. Pick up a book before bed instead of your phone and you will sleep better.
Consider buying a newspaper once in a while and spend a little time researching the news. It will avoid basing acts on false information (no judgement if you fell in the trap last year, but we do need to talk about it). Social media is great, but why not allocate some time reading news the old-fashioned way and making sure you are well-informed?
The most well-known side-effect of reading is it makes us empathetic. And if there is one thing we need more of this year, isn’t it empathy.
Happy New Year from me to you. And now go grab your book to relax and be happy!