January is always such a weird month. On one hand it is full of eager optimism and well meaning resolutions to not wear active wear. every. day. and follow a grown up skincare regime and to make this year OUR YEAR and yet it is also so bleak, so dreich, so… well frankly depressing.
There is a reason it’s home to Blue Monday, that hideous slump post Christmas where you don’t fit into any of your clothes, summer is too far away to make holiday planning motivating and you’ve stuck the first couple of weeks back at work and realised that you still have the mother of all hangovers and are totally broke.
For what it’s worth, it’s never too late to be whoever you want to be. I hope you live a life you’re proud of, and if you find that you’re not, I hope you have the strength to start over.
– F. Scott Fitzgerald
And despite this, or because of it, every year there is something about opening that new journal, throwing out those old clothes, picking up a new book that draws us in. Literature itself is obsessed with this trope of newness, of uprooting characters and dumping them somewhere else, exploring what happens when one is forced to alter, to start again, to survive elsewhere or as someone else.
It’s not just the classics, Kafka’s Metamorphosis and Stevenson’s The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde spring to mind and although they are brilliant and deal very literally with transformation and the creation of self, there is an abundance of modern novels that explore this same intoxicating idea in a new, subtle, global way.
From Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie’s Americanah to Elizabeth Spencer’s Starting Over, there are so many wonderful novels to dive into if you want inspiration or consolation through the stories of those making another go of it and starting again, without reaching for the self help books…
- Heroes Of The Frontier – Dave Eggers
- Cascade – Maryanne O’Hara
- A Year of Magical Thinking – Joan Didion
- Wild – Cheryl Strayed
- The Underground Railroad – Colson Whitehead
- What I Talk About When I Talk About Running – Haruki Murakami
- Maya’s Notebook – Isabelle Allende
- The Grapes of Wrath – John Steinbeck
- How I Live Now – Meg Rosoff
- The Alchemist – Paulo Coelho
- The Unlikely Pilgrimage Of Harold Fry – Rachel Joyce
- The Life Changing Magic Of Not Giving A F*ck – Sarah Knight
Read some of these already? Let me know your thoughts… Got something that should be on the list? Share it!