Confession: I’m a winter person. Yup, I’m one of that rare breed: I don’t like the heat. I barely even like sunshine. I don’t like the beach, or having bare legs, or sunbathing; I think barbecues are only OK. I know, I’m a freak. But when the leaves start to fall, and the wind turns a little icy, and everyone starts grumbling about the snow—that’s when I come to life. Man, I just love winter. And I know exactly how to make winter not suck.
My best friend, on the other end, is South American—and she is firmly in the I hate winter camp. It’s the one thing we’ve never been able to agree on. (That, and how to pronounce the word “aunt”.) So this year, we set each other a challenge: I’m going to make her love winter, and she’s going to make me love summer.
For the last three months, I’ve been planning winter activities, and now it’s finally here. (I don’t understand people who tell me that the seasons start on the 21st of the month. This is crazy talk. Winter starts on 1st December, right? Anyone?) And what I’ve realised is that all my favourite things about winter pretty much involve books (well, except watching Home Alone on repeat).
So, here’s just a selection of the book-themed winter activities that I have in store for my sun-seeking friend, that will definitely make winter not suck this time.
1. Go to a used book market
Christmas markets are some of the most delightfully festive places of all time. We went to the South Bank one just yesterday and ate a ton of vegan Christmas treats while drinking mulled wine with Amaretto shots. Delightful. But I’m still determined to find one with a used book stall, and come home with a bunch of wintery-looking titles to make winter not suck.
2. Read by the fire
Grab a thrilling Diverse December book, pull up your cosy over-the-knee knitted socks, and snuggle down by a roaring fire—preferably with chestnuts roasting on it or something. If you throw in some more mulled wine at this point, you really can’t go wrong.
3. Read ‘Twas the Night Before Christmas
We have a tradition in my family (that we’re possibly a little too old for): every Christmas Eve, my mum reads us ‘Twas the Night Before Christmas and then we all run outside and look into the sky to see Father Christmas. (Except the one time I was super-convinced I did see him, nobody believed me—so what was even the point.) Anyway, don’t knock it ‘til you’ve tried it; it’s fun and adorable.
4. Buy New Year’s diaries
By the time New Year’s Eve rolls around, most people feel like the festive season is over—and then go back to hating winter with a passion. But there are still two months of wintery fun to be had, my friends. So to make winter not suck, you’re going to need to be armed with a brand new diary for the year to record all the joyous winter activities you’re planning.
5. Set new reading goals for the year
There’s something so satisfying about a brand new year with brand new goals; I always (naively) feel like the mistakes and troubles of the past year are wiped clean the second the clock strikes midnight. And so is my TBR list. Take the plunge: ditch that 50-book-high pile next to your bed, and spend 1st January picking out the books you really want to read next. It will definitely make winter not suck if you’ve got some gripping page-turners to see you through.
6. Go for a wintery walk
Winter clothes are the best. I basically wear scarves and knitwear all the way through August and just wait for the temperatures to drop so I can stop profusely sweating. There’s nothing better than wrapping up in a big scarf on a blustery winter’s day, and going for a rambling walk through the countryside (or, you know, Battersea Park). Even better—each bring your favourite book, and read aloud to each other as you go. You’ll feel like a Romantic poet.
7. Celebrate poetry at Burns Night
Traditionally, Burns Night consists of a supper held in celebration of the poet Robert Burns—but it tends to involve a good amount of Scottish dancing as well. There are usually loads of local reeling events you can go to, even if you’re a total beginner. And let me tell you, if you’ve never tried reeling before, you’re in for a tartan-y treat.
8. Give literary Valentine’s gifts
Valentine’s Day makes everyone feel awful. Single people feel left out; people in new or casual relationships feel awkward; people settled in relationships feel crazy pressure to have a perfect romantic time. The only people who feel good about Valentine’s Day are greetings card companies. So how about everyone switches it up this year, and makes Valentine’s Day about showing our love for the friends and family who really matter. And what better way to do that than give them a book with a handwritten inscription that tells them how much they’re loved?
For bonus points, I loved this idea from the movie Age of Adaline about giving books instead of flowers—all with a different flower in the title. A book-quet, you could say. OK, I’ll stop.
What are your favourite ways to make winter not suck?