The start of 2021 seemed to promise so much to so many.
I'd felt extremely sceptical at this 'new beginning' that had been clung to by the masses, to say the least. Yet still, I found myself signing off emails with empty wishes and hollow hopes like 'Here's to a better and brighter new year', 'Thank God 2020 is nearly through' or 'Can't wait for this year to be over!' I knew I was being a fraud and a fool, but I really felt as though it had to be mentioned or addressed, and this avenue was much easier than a nod to the truth. The truth that really, to me at least, the new year felt like the abyss. 'Still, never mind, eh? Have a good one!!'
At the end of last year it's safe to say I'd lost all motivation to read. From around mid-November, it had turned into an impossible struggle. A genuine lack of interest. An inability to focus and concentrate on a page. An absence of enthusiasm to even open a book. Perhaps it was the stresses and strains of the climate. London was in a tier three lockdown as COVID continued to devastate, and the festive build-up just wasn't the same. Or perhaps it was just how busy I felt in the run up to Christmas? There were seemingly endless to-do lists. Email after email that needed attention. Daily hour long Post Office queues to get orders out as quickly as I could (despite Royal Mail having other ideas...) Whatever it was, reading had fallen by the wayside.
The start of 2021 has brought a whole host of unwelcome anxieties, knee-jerk cabin fever, hopeless stresses and suffocating worries. In fact, it has probably been the worst start to a new year that I can remember, and hopefully ever will. But, there's a glimmer of hope here, friends. I have found something I'd lost in the internal chaos. The first few days of January has allowed me to rediscover a rejuvenated need for reading. (When I say need, I really mean it already feels like a genuine necessity.) It has become a natural rhythm of the day again, instead of a forced interruption to time I could be spending on my phone.
Being able to escape into another world is exactly the tonic for the times. Carving out time away from screens, the news and the noise, and really letting ourselves indulge in a story. It's absolutely magic. I'm practically losing my mind over how therapeutic and important reading is. I know this. I've always known this. I'd have told you this any day of the week. But it's so refreshing to really feel it again.
We don't all feel the same things at the same time, so I don't want to pile on the pressure that you NEED to read a book this very instant. Perhaps you'd spent all of December buried in stories, and now you've lost the way. Perhaps you haven't picked up a book in months. Perhaps you've never fallen out of the habit and are reading this and rolling your eyes at this unimpressive revelation. (Sorry, yes, this really is all this article is about.) But I wanted to write this, and I wanted to say, times are hard. Reading is a help. Most of us have books we haven't read, lying around at home. Now might be the perfect time to give one a go, or it might not be. It also might be the perfect time, to lend one to a friend or a neighbour. A simple kind and thoughtful gesture.
Our Signature Book Boxes were dreamt up for exactly this purpose, so it's refreshing and important to feel the value of this all over again. If you'd like an easy way to spread some love, gift a friend or loved one their own little escape (both a beautiful break from reality, and letting them know they are loved), then have a little browse now...