Doesn’t this time ofyear just make you want to stay inside, escape the cold and curl up under ablanket? It’s the perfect opportunity to while away the days with a few goodbooks.
No, this isn’t a way to escape intimidating New Year’s exercise regimens: it’s an opportunity to improve your life. There are several ways in which reading is beneficial to your health and wellbeing: from reducing stress to helping you sleep better, making you more empathetic and keeping your brain in shape.
Why bother reading a book if you can watch it instead?
Because it’s almost always better than the film.
And yet, despite this, nearly four million of us never read for pleasure. And according to YouGov, 18-24 and 25-39 year olds are reading less now than they used to, and less than half of us (47%) are devouring books on a regular basis.
So why not make reading more books a resolution for the year ahead? Armed with our list of ‘must-reads’, it’s one that’ll be easy to keep.
Films coming soon
Why bother reading a book if you can watch it instead? Because it’s almost always better than the film. Just make sure you’ve finished it before it hits the big screen so no one spoils the ending.
If you’re a cat person, prepare to be turned. The film – starring Dennis Quaid and a host of cute pooches – opens in the UK in April.
- A Dog’s Purpose by W. Bruce Cameron
A sensational book that broadens your mind to disability and, hopefully, makes you a kinder human being to boot. The film is due to hit cinema screens in April.
- Wonder by R. J. Palacio
If you suffer a fear of clowns (or coulrophobia) and were a teenager in the ‘90s, Stephen King’s It is probably at least partly to blame. The horror arrives here in September.
- It by Stephen King
Anniversaries in 2017
Sound in-the-know about topical historical events and impress your peers at dinner parties.
January is the 95th anniversary of Sir Ernest Shackleton’s death. Read about human endurance in the face of adversity during his fateful trip to the Antarctic.
- Endurance: Shackleton’s Incredible Voyage by Alfred Lansing
80 years ago this July, Amelia Earhart mysteriously disappeared on a round-the-world flight. Pitched at children but equally appealing to adults, this book explores the life and death of the first woman to fly solo across the Atlantic.
- Amelia Lost: The Life and Disappearance ofAmelia Earhart by CandaceFleming
2017 marks the 100th anniversary of the Russian Revolution. This is a fascinating - and brutal - account of what happened. Brace yourself.
- A People’s Tragedy: The Russian Revolution:1891-1924 by OrlandoFiges
Last year’s prize-winners
2016 was a good year for books. Here are some of our favourites.
This fusion of biting satire and themes of racial diversity scooped the 2016 Man Booker Prize. It begins, “This may be hard to believe, coming from a black man, but I’ve never stolen anything.” Shockingly funny.
This debut novelist is making waves with her story of an accidental murder and subsequent consequences for a handful of misfits in post-crash Ireland. Brilliant. Winner of the Baileys Women’s Prize for Fiction.
Calling fantasy and sci-fi lovers: cancel all social engagements, stock up the snack cupboard and block out your weekend. This book was voted Best Novel at the Hugo Awards. Un-put-down-able.
- The Sellout by Paul Beatty
- The Glorious Heresies by Lisa McInerney
- The Fifth Season: The Broken Earth, Book 1 by N. K. Jemisin
Short stories for your commute
Brief periods of literary escapism for those rare moments when you’ve got time to yourself. Consider something longer if the trains are on strike.
Unexpected twists and turns in this compilation of science fiction and fantasy, by an author being heralded as a “once-in-a-generation talent”.
- The Paper Menagerie and Other Stories by Ken Liu
This collection of his New Yorker articles will keep your brain ticking over on the way to the office.
- What the Dog Saw and Other Adventures by Malcolm Gladwell
It’s an oldie but it’s a strange and twisted goodie.
- Kiss Kiss by Roald Dahl
Favourites from over the years
A mix of funny, inspirational, life-affirming and turbulent tales. Definite page-turners.
Until recently none of my friends wanted to marry a sheep farmer. Now that’s all changed.
- The Shepherd’s Life: A People’s History ofthe Lake District by JamesRebanks
Shining a very different light on dementia. You’ll laugh and cry all at once. Pass the tissues, somebody. No. There’s something in my eye...
- Elizabeth is Missing by Emma Healey
What would happen if you said yes to everything? Literally everything. This London comedian did just that.
- Yes Man by Danny Wallace
Of course, reading is for life, not just the New Year. Your local independent bookseller will be full of inspiration and personal recommendations. Search for yours on the Booksellers Association website or download their app for when you’re out and about.
Reading needn’t cost a bomb: local libraries are a bookworm’s best friend. Just don’t forget to return them on time.
If you don’t have time to read, many are also available as audiobooks. So you can enjoy them while gardening, commuting, exercising, or even pretending to be busy at work.
Getting through the winter months has never looked so appealing.
Cup of cocoa, anyone?
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