Oh January. It’s the month we all dread. The month we shuffle through with pale faces and heavy legs. There is rarely sun. There is a collective drop in serotonin that has us Googling to see where we can get a SAD lamp on sale. The thought of taking a plane to a “distant hot place” makes us want to cry or punch something. It’s the month of returning to work with a weeks-long hangover. It’s the month we are all entirely broke.
It is also the month we pretend we have no vices, the month we get tenacious about getting fit, losing weight, quitting booze and cigarettes. To distract ourselves from the misery that is January we begin a determined crusade to turn ourselves into a completely new, entirely better human. Bookstore windows are full of self-help and diet books. TVs run adverts about slimming down or bulking up. It’s all very resolute. And it’s great – if, unlike me, you are iron willed.
Most people despise January. Most people loathe it. But here’s an idea: this year, why don’t we make friends with January. Why don’t we dump all those resolutions (or at least postpone them until spring), and put our will power away in a drawer. What’s the point in giving up the good stuff during the most downbeat time of the year? Let’s celebrate January by eating and drinking ourselves silly. Let’s go wild.
I have NEVER managed a wholesome, transformative January. The main trouble is that I actually quite (whisper) like (unwhisper) January. And not in a new-start-fresh-beginning way. Firstly, there is the weather. It might be grey and cold and we might all get mauled by the rain, but there is always the chance of snow and frost which happens so rarely it is always excellent. Secondly, most people retreat to warm houses or sweaty gyms which means January is the one time of the year you can get stuff done. Shopping isn’t a crowd-crushing nightmare. Parks aren’t full of sunbathers and Frisbee-players and fortresses of litter. And thirdly, as so many people opt for a ‘dry January’, it’s the best time of the year to go to the pub. You get served in seconds! You always get a seat! The sloppy-drunk Santas of work parties are now building muscle on a cross-trainer, which means you can sit there in utter peace with a pint and a good book.
Honestly. January is brilliant. Let’s drink to it. And to help us do that, I present to you an anti-sober, anti-skinny, anti-wholesome reading list for all your debauched needs.
Ready? Yes? Here are some truly awesome books to keep you off the wagon…
Fat Chicks Rule by Lara Frater (IG Publishing, £8.99, 9780975251713, p/b)
Maybe you’re thinking it’s time to lose a few pounds in the spirit of January. Fat Chicks Rule! is here to tell you – don’t! Not only is January cold, meaning you need more food for fuel, but everyone with any sense knows that fat chicks are brilliant just as they are. This brilliantly illustrated book gives you information on everything the plus-size woman needs to survive this thin-centric world, including: where to shop, the dieting scam, how to be fat and sexy, the fat acceptance movement, famous fat chicks in history, fat chick entertainment, and snappy comebacks against the fat-phobic.
Brew It Yourself by Eric Spellmeyer (Microcosm, £8.99, 9781621066651, p/b)
Another thing people do in January is take up a new hobby. Photography, jigsawing, building ships out of matchsticks, writing Harry Potter fanfiction – that sort of thing. Which is great! But instead of spending your extra-curricular time on salubrious activities, why not focus on something we are all very passionate about: beer. Brew It Yourself is a great book from Portland-based publisher Microcosm. It outlines everything you need to know to start home brewing craft beer, from techniques to experimental recipes. With helpful illustrations and instructive photographs, it will help you develop your new, delicious, advantageous hobby in no time.
Grindhouse: Doors Open at Midnight Volume II (Dark Horse, £13.50, 9781616553784, p/b)
In the name of resolutions, January might seem like the perfect time to delve into that forgotten pile of highbrow classics that you’ve been meaning to get round to for years. And while your Dostoevskys and Shakespeares and Prousts and Solzhenitsyns are guaranteed to blow your mind, why not save the heavy stuff for summer (The Brothers Karamazov is an excellent beach read) and fill your brain with some smutty pulp. Grindhouse brings you a sick and twisted double bill; in Bride of Blood, Branwyn’s wedding is marked by an unimaginable atrocity, and in Flesh Feast of the Devil Doll! a Puritan-era demon returns to her old stomping ground to seduce and kill once more, only to be met by the Camp Oneida hockey girls who step up and make with the high-sticking! Don’t miss these thrillingly low-brow adventures.
Brooklyn Spirits by Peter Thomas Fornatale and Chris Wertz (PowerHouse Books, £19.99, 9781576877951, p/b)
One thing that is unavoidable in January is being skint. December has probably gobbled up your money and even if you wanted to go out and drink a delicious cocktail you just can’t afford it. Right? Well take a look at Brooklyn Spirits. Brooklyn is the Dalston of New York, and whether you like that or not, there’s no denying it is a concrete roost of creative things. Including booze. Its distillers and bartenders are changing the way we drink by bringing back old techniques and creating new ones that focus on fresh, local ingredients. This book of cocktail recipes is both alcoholic AND healthy. So if you were aiming for a dry January in the name of health, this is basically the best of both worlds.
Francis Plug – How To Be A Public Author by Paul Ewen (Galley Beggar Press, £7.99, 9781910296431, p/b)
This wouldn’t be a Turnaround blog if we didn’t include Francis Plug somewhere. But aside from that, it’s a great January read. Francis is not a man likely to fall onto the straight-and-narrow after New Year. No way. Helped by vast quantities of alcohol, he navigates his way through the literary world while picking up tips on how an author should present themselves to the public. It’s a novel about the Man Booker Prize and an exploration of what it means to be an author in the 21st century. It documents a series of fictitious happenings at real author events, as visited by the wonderful anti-hero Francis Plug – a troubled and drunk misfit who causes chaos and confusion wherever he goes. And there is a truly hilarious bit involving Margaret Atwood and an off-licence shutter.
Drugs by J.R Helton (Seven Stories Press, £10.99, 9781609804015, p/b)
While drugs may not be your thing, there’s no harm in being an armchair-junkie if it involves reading a truly great novel. In J.R Helton’s hilarious prose, Jake inimitably narrates the ups and downs of being a functional user of marijuana, cocaine, MDMA, alcohol, nicotine, brand name hydrocodone and countless other drugs readily available and commonly partaken of in modern America. Readers follow Jake on car rides with his coke dealer to menace connections in supermarket parking lots, buying prescription opiates from a megacorporate health and beauty clinic, and falling in love with his wife while on a series of mushroom trips through San Antonio.
Joy The Baker Cookbook by Joy Wilson (Hyperion, £14.99 9781401310608, p/b)
Carrot sticks are delicious, but they are unlikely to make you feel very good during the coldest month of the year. You need fatty, sweet, indulgent food-stuffs to get you through. Which is why you should take a look at the Joy the Baker Cookbook. Described as ‘a celebration of’ sugar and butter’, it contains recipes from tattooed internet sensation Joy Wilson. Whether you are craving pancakes, brownies or cookies, Joy delivers her treats with a lot of heart and an enthusiasm that will give you a sugar-high before you’ve even eaten.
The Cannabis Breeders Bible by Greg Green (Green Candy Press, £15.99, 9781931160278, p/b)
Yes, drugs are bad for you. But that doesn’t stop people partaking in the occasional joint. Whether you smoke after a hard day at work, with friends, or to cure some ill, weed is a popular vice and unlikely to fall out of fashion any time soon. So why not have a look at The Cannabis Breeders Bible. Aimed at both novices and stoned professionals alike, it gives fascinating insights into cultivating and breeding medicinal marijuana, as well as facts and information about the drug. And when you’re through with all that learning, why not relax with…
The Cannabis Fantasy Colouring Book (Last Gasp, £7.99, 9780867197174, p/b)
… an adult activity book that provides hours of colouring fun.
Post by Jenn Thompson