It’s properly dark in the mornings, when it rains it’s both horizontal and freezing, and the Christmas holidays are still nearly three weeks away – which basically means you’ve got three-weeks worth of December hangovers to drag yourself through before you get to lie on the sofa under a duvet for a week, drinking tea and eating Quality Streets
In the meantime, check out these ultimate winter comfort reads. First up we have The Atlas Of Happiness by Helen Russell. Perfect for a dark Tuesday night…
The Atlas of Happiness – Helen Russell (Two Roads)
Long dark evenings, freezing cold commutes and the word ‘hygge’ is now so dog-eared it barely means a thing. But you still want something comforting. Never fear, Helen Russell is back, and this time she’s taking a global look at what perks us up and calms us down. From Petta Reddast (Iceland) to Mai Pen Rai (Thailand) this ‘Atlas’ investigates a world of phrases, ideas and what they mean for our general cheeriness. It’s a delight, as well as being a gorgeous-looking book. You’ll buy it as a gift only to find yourself using it as a crutch to get to spring…
How To Hold a Grudge – Sophie Hannah (Hodder & Stoughton)
Yes, it’s the season of goodwill, but the holidays are also a very busy time for grudges. Those frenemies who keep us fuelled with simmering resentment during the winter, those family members who upset you a decade ago and have never been forgiven, those colleagues who gave you a grim Secret Santa last year: they now have a book all of their own. Hannah is excellent on how to embrace ones grudges, nurture them and use them to help you become a better person. There’s plenty that is tongue in cheek (and hilarious!) in here, but a generous dollop of genuinely useful advice too.
84 Charing Cross Road.- Helene Hanff (Virago Modern Classics)
Appease the horrors of Black Friday and beyond with the ultimate guilt-free feel-good shopping book: Helene Hanff’s real life story of her twenty year correspondence with the owner of Pages & co bookshop, Charing Cross road. Starting in 1940, she wrote to Frank Doel from New York while purchasing rare books from him. The corresponded for decades, in a story which is equal parts romance and wistful post-war London. Cosy enough to be a feel-good read, but moving enough to be a little more than that too, this is a wintry classic for book lovers on both sides of the pond.
Rituals For Every Day – Nadia Narain & Katia Narain Phillips (Hutchinson)
The authors of Self Care for the Real World are back, with something just as sumptuous yet useful as you’d hope. With sections titled ‘Beginning’, ‘Inviting’, ‘Changing’, ‘Accepting’, and ‘Ending’ it looks at myriad tiny ways we can make and keep habits to maintain both calm and joy in day to day life. Filled with beautiful images and ideas from mantras for birth, to little practises to aid closure after a tough time, the authors’ sensible but always kind tone makes it soothing without being infuriatingly saccharine.
The Woman in the Window – AJ Finn (HarperCollins)
One of the year’s best thrillers is now out in paperback, perfectly sized for distracting even the grumpiest commuter on a chilly route to work. Rear Window meets Girl on the Train, it has all of the NYC snooping of the former and the unreliable narration of the latter. It comes with plaudits from Gillian Flynn, Stephen King and Ruth Ware and with good reason – this story of what a nosy neighbour may have witnessed is a classic page turner with a terrific sense of both pace and place. The best way to spend an illicit December duvet day.