A January Reading List

Got a New Year’s resolution to read more? Yeah, me too.

Reading is such a funny thing. It is so wonderful when you actually get round to doing it, but most of the time there is something else to occupy your attention. Today I’m offering up some inspiration to hopefully get your nose in a book this month and kick start those resolutions!

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*For city inspiration: Eat Like a Londoner, Tania Ballantine. This is a book to dip in and out of rather than read cover to cover, but if you live in London or are planning a trip (or just want to admire from afar!) you need to get your mitts on this. It suggests the perfect place for every occasion, whether you are popping out for after work drinks or planning a full blown birthday surprise. You will never be stuck for ideas again! Be warned though, you’ll be left with a ‘to visit’ list as long as your arm.

*For a thrill: I Let You Go, Clare Mackintosh. If you struggle to pick up a book, choose one that won’t let you put it down. This book is as good as Gone Girl and The Girl on the Train, but it (undeservedly) hasn’t received the same hype. The book starts with a horrible accident in which a little boy gets hit by a car on a rainy night. It then switches into Jenna Gray’s narrative as she escapes to the Welsh coast to start afresh after the accident, but it all too quickly starts to catch up with her… This book is so addictive and, just a heads up, it has the best twist I have ever come across (and I’ve read a lot of these books).

*For a health kick: Deliciously Ella, Ella Woodward. Everyone has heard of Deliciously Ella at this point. She has a blog (that I occasionally read) and an app (that I haven’t downloaded) but it’s her book that I love. Not only is it filled with inspiring recipes (some I’ve tried, most I haven’t if I’m being honest) but it is packed full of nutritional information which is so interesting and, most importantly, not preachy at all. She’s bringing out her second book this month, Deliciously Ella Every Day, and I can’t wait to get hold of it!

*For a classic: Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland, Lewis Carroll. If your resolution stipulates reading more classics, start with something short and fun. I love this book because of how inventive it is, and you should always remember that most of these classics (particularly the Victorian ones) are loved because they are great stories. Don’t get bogged down by what everything means, just enjoy the characters and the plot lines, because they are what make these novels wonderful.

2016 Goals

Yes, this blog post is a little late. But I figured that these goals are meant to apply for the entire year, so the fact we’re 10 days deep shouldn’t really matter.

I usually make resolutions, but then I also usually completely forget about them by spring. I can’t remember what 2015’s were but I’m guessing they were a similar selection to this year’s because, let’s be honest, they always follow a theme…

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*Get moving: I’m pretty good when it comes to exercise (though I certainly couldn’t claim saint-like status around Christmas), but it does tend to come in fits and starts. For the last few years my exercise has only consisted of hitting the gym, but this year I really want to include more variety in my regime so I don’t get bored. I’ve started with the 30 day squat challenge (which was a killer to begin with) and taken up yoga, and I’m planning on running outside more and attending a few more exercise classes alongside my usual gym sessions. It’s so important to mix things up a bit to maintain interest, so hopefully 2016 will be the best year for exercise yet.

*Get reading: When I finished my English Literature degree last summer, I felt so exhausted I couldn’t bear to look at another book again. Thankfully, I’m over that now but so far I’ve stuck to easy reading and it has completely lost my interest. This year, I want to always have a book on the go, and read some of the classics that I’ve managed to miss so far. This includes 1984, The Catcher in the Rye and Dickens (but I’m saving the massive tomes for a summer holiday). I want to keep things fun though so I’ll mix in some lighter reading, I’m currently making my way through the third Game of Thrones. 

*Get drinking: … water, of course. This is an ongoing thing for me and doesn’t need much explanation. I often forget to drink anything, and can go the entire day without a drop. This is very bad and absolutely must stop. I’m going to get a glass now…

*Get exploring: This is by far my favourite one. I’m so lucky to be back in London, and now is really the time to take full advantage of it. Tiarnan and I have promised one another that every month we will try something or somewhere new, and we’re already planning our adventures. While we wait for winter to pass we are scouting out cosy cafes for the best flat white, but come summer we’ll be exploring the parks and seeking the best alfresco dining spot. I’m sure our adventures will be documented right here, so watch this space!

How to Spend… January

January, the month that sees gyms full and bank accounts empty. I always find January a bit of an odd time, a strange mix of misery that Christmas is over and excitement for the year ahead. If only the weather would perk up it could all be very merry. Here are my suggestions to see you through to spring (or at least February).

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*Set yourself a tough resolution for January: New year resolutions tend to spark mixed opinion. Are they (like rules) only something to break or are they a worthwhile challenge? Personally, I quite enjoy them. They’ve seen me stick to a proper skincare routine, drink more water and actually run in the past, so I’m not going to knock them. But this year, I’m trying something new – a tough resolution just for January. Dry January is the classic example of this, but mine is all healthy work lunches. Chocolate gets passed around like oxygen in my office and PRs send us all kinds of delicious treats, which is all good and fun, but it’s time to make some healthier choices. We’ll see how I go! Rather than setting yourself a huge challenge for the whole year, try it in a bite-sized chunk just for this month. You get the feel good moment of achievement sooner, and it just might push you on for the rest of the year.

*Get creative with your workouts: Skip the gym this January. The novelty wears off, it gets boring and you’ll be done with it by spring. Or, join the gym like the rest of the world but don’t stop there. Have a go at running outside. Try yoga. Do the 30 day abs challenge. Join an exercise class. It is so difficult to sustain repetitive exercise, so mix it up! There are so many apps, YouTube videos and classes out there to help you, and it is the best way to really enjoy exercising. I’m currently in love with the Nike Running app, which tracks your runs so you have something to analyse proudly at the end. I also love Cassey Ho’s Blogilates workout videos on YouTube. There are so many, they are really creative and entirely free!

*Get planning: The best way to be productive is by planning your day properly. So treat yourself to a new diary/planner and go to town. This doesn’t just have to be boring, worky things though. I’m busy planning as many fun things for January as possible at the moment. It can seem a bit miserable with the festivities over, so gather up your friends and go to all of those places you meant to visit in 2015. Shop the sales, eat out and have fun.

*Finally, go easy on yourself: New Year’s resolutions are all well and good, but they shouldn’t make you miserable. You don’t have to be productive 24/7, go to the gym everyday and just eat leaves. Down days exist for a reason, use yours to recharge and your productivity, exercise regime and general health will really benefit. So spend an afternoon watching films, have a bath and eat a slice of chocolate cake. Everyone deserves a break – use yours well!