I read. Boy, do I read.
I remember when my children were little (I had three under the age of five: 2002 from February to September and the Start of School for my eldest son was a miasma of feeding a baby, feeding toddlers, feeding a husband and feeling that bone weary tiredness and trapped feeling that new mothers get, but never admit to) that the thought of reading anything more than three pages long that wasn’t about Thomas the Tank Engine or full of recipes seemed impossible.
I went through a real reading drought. I don’t think I read a proper (for which I mean adult fiction) book for about three years. I read non-fiction on how to be a good Mum, recipe books, homemaking and small holding books like they were going out of fashion but no romances, gothic horror or dystopian futures. I just couldn’t read fiction. It was as if my body wouldn’t let me escape. I had a job to do and by golly I was going to do it or die in the attempt. I have neevr gone so long without reading just for fun. Never. And I hope I never will again.
Books, to me, are like an extra friend. Their presence soothes and calms me. I will never be alone, never be completely lost, never without a guiding light as long as I have a book. I love real printed books, yes I do, but I’m not a purist and I find (especially with fiction) that my Kindle works just as well for taking me from 21st Century Liverpool to 19th Century London, 16th Century France or 25th Century USA. I don’t mind: as long as there’s not a complicated Dramatis Personae or a map of conquests, lands and streets that I need to carry in my head to follow the plot, my Kindle works for me. I’ll do a post one day on my Kindle Kinder, and how much I have loved and lost them over the years.
For today, I’m happy just running my eye over the purchases made in anticipation of cool Autumn mornings, tea in hand, or chilly September evenings when the lights are coming on as I head home or…. joy of most joys… wet October Saturday afternoons when, housekeeping finished, I settle down with a new book and read as the raindrops chase each other down the French windows as fast as the tears chase down my face and I escape. I have no trouble reading now. Not at all.
And the books on my Kindle this Fall? A bit of an eclectic bunch. I love a good gothic chiller, a tasty murder mystery and a historical intrigue, but I will always return to soft and cuddly hygge romances. The sort you could pass on to your Nanna and all she’d say would be “I wish they’d get married. It’s more romantic with a wedding”. Nannas are eternal romantics.
Sistersong by Lucy Holland: I picked this up for 99p as a Daily Deal, which is the way so many of my books are acquired. It’s set in a magical Ancient Britain and described as a clever mix of Anglo-Saxon history and fantasy. Ideal for a mist-enwrapped Autumn morning.
In This House of Brede by Rumer Godden: I’m having a bit of a Rumer Godden moment. I recently finished A Fugue In Time which was so crazily written about one family in one house: it jumped from 1945 to 1860s in a sentence and had the house and family so tightly entwined it was sometimes impossible to see what was memory and what real life. In This House of Brede is about a woman who leaves civil service to enter a convent. I have no idea whether there’s an exciting plot, or human nature in all its glories displayed through the Nuns. Whatever. It’s been on my radar for a few years and this is the year when I read it.
The Last Days of Rabbit Hayes by Anna McPartlin: To be read with a box of tissues on a day when I need something tragic but ultimately life affirming. Rabbit Hayes has breast cancer, a 12 year old daughter and a zest for living that means her last days are…. heartbreakingly full of joy. The reviews were good, and it was a Richard and Judy bookclub pick from 2014 that I picked up for 99p.
Mrs England by Stacey Halls: Set in 1904, and described as an Edwardian Chiller. I read and really enjoyed Stacey’s first book, The Familiars, so I’m hoping to enjoy this gothic chiller as well. It’s about a newly qualified nurse or children’s nurse going to a house in the wilds of…. Yorkshire, I think? And a dysfunctional family, secrets and weird goings on. What’s not to like?
A Line To Kill by Anthony Horowitz: This is the third in a set of novels about a fictional detective called Daniel Hawthorne and his sidekick… who happens to be Anthony Horowitz himself. I’ve read and enjoyed the first two, so this was an easy pick. There’s always a murder, or two, a good bit of deadpan humour, Anthony Horowitz always taking the mickey out of himself and a good plot.
There are almost no pure choc-lit books on this list?!? How can that be? What escapist romcom will I turn to when the wind blows? Well, there does seem to be a dearth of decent choc-lit set in the Autumn. Usually it comes as part of ‘A Year At’ or ‘A Year In’ series. So many stand alones are set in summer or at Christmas, the other seasons seem to get a raw deal! I will, however, be enjoying some books, some new to me and one old favourite in a series.
Hope and Happiness In Bluebell Wood is by Ali McNamara, who has written quite a few books I have read and enjoyed in the past few years. And I’m going to reread The Village Shop For Lonely Hearts by Alison Sherlock. I read it last year and loved it, and the new book, The Village Inn of Secret Dreams comes out at the end of September. And Penny’s Antique Shop of Memories and Treasures by Helena Fairfax is a new-to-me romcom set in London. Perfect for snuggling with a cup of cocoa and a marmalade bun. That must be enough to keep me going until October, at least!
I’ve decided to have one header for the whole season of small things: it’s one of my favourite pictures by Alex Geerts on Unsplash. I love the whole colour scheme, which just makes me feel so autumnal. I love the socks, the book, the blanket, the tea, the leaves and pumpkin. There are so many small pleasures in the picture, it’s like my ambition for this whole series in one simple shot.
How to Hygge the British Way is my gift to the world. I don’t get paid for writing it, I’m not in it for the kudos, financial rewards, to become an influencer, work with brands or otherwise make any money from the blog. That’s why there are no ads, and any products I mention and recommend have either been gifted to me or bought by me with my everyday wages or donations from supporters. Every book I review has been bought and read by me, unless stated otherwise.
I do get a couple of pennies each time someone buys from the Amazon links on my page, as an Amazon Affiliate, but otherwise if you’d like to support me, I like to give something back in return. That’s why I write books. It always feels good if you get a book back in return for some money. You can find a full list of my books at my Author’s Page on Amazon, but especially recommended for this time of year are:
Cosy Happy Hygge: Setting up a rhythm to life and rituals to enjoy it to make for a more balanced life that handles waves and storms better. August is like a pause before real life begins again in September, so it’s a second chance to set up rituals and rhythms that boost happiness and work for you.
Happier: Probably my most personal book, it’s the story of how I used hygge and the little things in life to help boost my happiness. I still go back and reread to remind myself what I need to do to be a happy human.
On the principle that it’s never too early to start thinking ahead, really, and that Christmas is always on us before we know, how about Have Yourself a Happy Hygge Christmas? Christmas is about the small things in life, much as hygge is, and establishing what you want from Christmas and then being able to say no to the excess is important. The book has hints and tips that hopefully will help you enjoy what is, too often, a frantic season.
Available as just an ebook, and a short, sharp read, is Enjoying a Self-Care Christmas: Easy Ways to keep the Joy of Christmas, and your Sanity, intact. It’s an easy read, with ideas and hints to keep you sane through the season. The self-care advent calendar is one I’ve followed for a few years now, and it really is a small daily dose of calm in a manic month.
And on the basis that we may well find ourselves in Lockdowns or unable to enjoy an absolutely normal Christmas under Covid regulations if numbers spike, why not read and plan alternatives? Celebrating a Contagious Christmas was written in response to the pandemic last year, and will need updating soon, but it is about celebrating whatever the situation, and does have good advice on stocking up an emergency cupboard, celebrating when travelling to relatives is impossible and putting the heart of Christmas back into the heart of the celebrations.
If you’d like to support me, but don’t want to buy a book, I have a Paypal.Me account as Hygge Jem. Every little helps, so even a few pence goes towards the books, goods and courses I use and recommend on the site. I’m grateful for every little bit that brings me closer to my dream of full-time writing, and I know I couldn’t still be writing if it weren’t for the support of many readers and friends out there. Thank you all for every little bit of support, emotional, physical and financial, you give me.
If you’ve enjoyed this article, don’t forget to share it or save it so others can enjoy reading, thinking about and living hygge as well, and read the other posts in the series, too.
My September of Small Things:
Day Three: Plants, Naturally
Day Four: A New Magazine that Really Suits Me
Day Five: Autumnal Decor Ready for the Harvest
Day Eight: Life Lessons From the Roadside