It’s Wednesday 14th October, and Liverpool is officially in Tier 3 of the English Government’s Lockdown strategy. No meeting, no drinking, no sport, no no no….
Nothing to do, it seems, except stay in, drink tea and read. I don’t mind that, really. Lockdown looks a lot like my normal life, but I do feel sorry for the extroverts I know for whom Lockdown is a real cage. As long as the numbers improve, I am told, it will be worth it. We’ll see. I hope the very many who struggle with anxiety, panic, loneliness or simply need company will be supported by family and friends. Join online groups, contact relatives, ring people, write. Let’s support each other through this.
And in between times, I have a couple of plans. I have ordered a couple of embroidery kits, free style embroidery(!) which I haven’t done for a while and a year long subscription to Craftpod, thanks to the Husband who has treated me to it for anniversary and Christmas. Don’t tell him, he doesn’t know yet. I still have plenty of yarn for crochet projects, but I needed to stretch my skills again, and the lure of a gnomic table runner for Christmas called to me as well.
When my hands and brain can take no more, then I’m going to reach for books to rescue me.
And at times like this, I find sometimes it’s the old, familiar style books I need most. I creep back to old-fashioned who-dunnits, choc-lit romances and books from childhood. Whether we’re in Lockdown for six weeks or six months, I intend reading plenty. Here, then, is my Lockdown Library.
The Christmas Chronicles by Nigel Slater.
Yes, it’s that time of year again when I turn to Nigel in written or spoken form to restore my equilibrium. With his Chronicles starting on 1st November and going through to 1st February, he’ll be a pretty constant companion through the season. I have the Audible audiobook, and there are seriously few things more calming than his voice talking about Christmas markets and more.
Bone China by Laura Purcell.
I have read Ms Purcell’s previous two books, and found them suitably dark and gothic for wintertime reading by the fireside. I’m expecting this one to be just as good. She’s being compared to Daphne Dumaurier in terms of building suspense and atmosphere, a comparison that will only be increased by the fact this novel is set in Cornwall.
The Devil and the Dark Water by Stuart Turton.
If you read The Seven Deaths of Evelyn Hardcastle a couple of years ago, then you will already have this book in your sights. Set on a ship in the 1630s, with a detective duo and a possible demon on board… I have no idea what the story is. I just know I have a bottle of whiskey and an armchair crying out for me to sit and read this one in the dark, dark night.
The Village Shop for Lonely Hearts by Alison Sherlock.
I’ve read this one once already this year, as soon as September cooled enough to let me drink endless pots of tea, but I’m going to sit one sunny, cool Sunday and enjoy it at a slower pace. It’s a lovely choc-lit book, with appealing characters and a storyline involving a shop, a tractor and a romance (of course). The descriptions of the shop and its transformation are beautiful, and partly the reason I’m rereading it. Any of Alison’s books make ideal escape from reality reading, although I have a fondness for her Willow Tree Hall series.
The Affair of the Christmas Card Killer by Jack Murray.
This one is a complete gamble, only available on Kindle and I have never read anything by the author before. I really did just buy this because I fancied the name, it’s set at Christmas and in the 1920s. Again, I’m hoping a glass of whiskey and a roaring fire will make this a winner. I’ll let you know.
You Make it Feel Like Christmas by Louise Marley
Another new-to-me author whose book appealed to me because of the setting and the plot. It’s Christmas soon, and I like to start anticipating the season well in advance. This cocoa-companion romantic comedy is about Beth Holly, whose Mother has built her career on telling people how to have a perfect Christmas while never actually managing it herself. I know no more than that. Again, I’ll post on Instagram or Facebook to say whether it was any good.
Of course, I couldn’t feature every book I’ve got on my To Be Read or Want To Read pile… but I can list them here. All of these books are ones I’ve seen about, read about or simply stumbled on and want to read this year… next year… sometime….
Troubled Blood by Robert Galbraith: I’ve read the other Cormoran Strike novels, so this is on my Christmas wishlist.
A Year of Living Simply by Kate Humble. I like to mix fiction and non-fiction, and this book appeals to the simple side of me. I’m hoping to read it while the leaves fall slowly around me.
Happiness: A Mystery by Sophie Hannah. Another non-fiction, and this time on happiness. It’s funny, I’m lining this one up to read while my son listens to her latest Hercule Poirot on Audible.
The Switch by Beth O’Leary. More Choc-lit, this one’s waiting for a wet Saturday when I can’t go anywhere or do anything and reading about a girl and her granny swapping places between Yorkshire and London when they both need a change.
If you’d like to support me….
I don’t monetise my blog. I don’t run adverts, take sponsorship for writing posts or use affiliate links. I want everything I do on this blog and in my hygge life outside to be truthful. If I promote a book it’s because I’ve read it and like it, if I point out an item it’s because it’s impressed me on its own merits and not because the publicist has talked me into it. It does mean I don’t run giveaways and I’m not chasing followers, but the drawback is that I need to find a way to support myself.
That’s why I write books. My thoughts are that if I ask you to buy a book not only does it support me, and let me keep writing as an independent writer, but you get something back for your bucks. I’ve written several books, some on Hygge, some on Christmas. If you like what you read here, or in the Hygge Nook, and you’d like to support a struggling writer, would you please consider buying a book? E-books give you the best value, since for 2 or 3 pounds you get the whole content of the book without paying the extra for paper production, but I’d be a pretty poor writer if I didn’t appreciate the beauty of a real book in the hand. If you buy even just one book, it all adds up in the end to support me, and I’d be so grateful.
My latest book, Celebrating a Contagious Christmas, is available on Amazon now as an ebook and, by popular demand, a paperback. It’s about the adjustments we’ll have to make to our usual Christmas celebrations if we’re in Lockdown come December, how illness or employment may make a difference and how we have to spread hope, not germs, in an attempt to keep the world on an even keel.
Cosy Happy Hygge is available as an ebook or a paperback on Amazon now. It’s about using rhythm and ritual to make your life a gentler, kinder place. Writing it has been an important part of my mental health recovery.
My first three books are hygge related, 50 Ways to Hygge the British Way was my first book, and is available in Paperback and Kindle version. It’s a simple look at ways to feel more hyggely in life and at home even though we’re not Danish and don’t have it in our DNA. Although it was inspired by the blog, it’s completely original work and not collected blogposts. It will probably be updated and an improved second edition coming in Spring 2021.
How to Hygge Your Summer, in Paperback and Kindle form, has lots of good ideas for the summer months. I strongly believe that hygge is so much more than throws and warm drinks.
Happier is my fourth book. It’s about how I boost my own happiness levels. It’s full of hints, tips and ideas for you to use and adapt to suit your own situation. It is available in ebook and paperback version from Amazon.co.uk and Amazon.com.
I have three Christmas books,
Have Yourself a Happy Hygge Christmas was released in September 2017 and is available again in paperback and ebook version. It looks at keeping the Christmas season warm and cosy, with ideas for activities and routines to keep Christmas happy.
A (Hygge) Christmas Carol is my look at Dickens’ immortal classic and the many lessons we still learn from it today. It contains the full text of the book as well as hyggely thoughts on the story.
Enjoying a Self Care Christmas is only available in e-book version. It’s about keeping Christmas simple enough and healthy enough to keep you sane in the process. I’m hoping to do a series of Self Care through the year books.
If you already have my books, or just want to support me as an independent writer, you can always just send me the price of a cup of coffee as a friend, to paypal.me/HyggeJem . I tend to use a lot (all) of my spare cash on books that I review for the website, so every penny donated goes towards building my happy hygge life.
If you buy any of the books or some of the items through the links on this page, I get a couple of extra pence per copy, as an Amazon Affiliate, in Amazon vouchers which go towards buying more books to review for the blog. I’d really love it if you’d support me monetarily, but I quite understand that cash is tight for many people, and I just love having your support via reading and commenting as well.
Truthfully, I’ll probably never make a living as a writer, but I do make a little extra income that gets ploughed back into books and magazines. One obsession feeds the other.