Post-Christmas winter is, let’s face it, pretty depressing. You are dealing with the worst parts of winter, all without the redeeming perks of Christmas: the cold, the early-onset darkness, the aggressive inclination to hibernate, the delayed January pay-check, exam season, back to work, everyone posting their new year’s resolutions and well-intentioned running pics, leaving your parents’ warm house to return to your very own Arctic (your uni home). Oh, the list goes on. I actually almost had to tell my friend to please stop listing the bad bits of post-Christmas winter; she literally could not stop.
This January seems to be hitting particularly hard. But maybe this is my brain forgetting past Januaries. Like when women give birth and the hormone oxytocin is released into their bodies. Oxytocin promotes positive feelings in the body, essentially meaning that women are able to forget the pain of childbirth so that they might then have more children. Have I just forgotten how bad past Januarys have been, so that this one feels treacherous in comparison?
Whatever it is, this January is certainly January-ing. But, alas, I am on a quest to beat the January slump. While I have reconciled to the fact that this month is, in many ways, objectively bad, there are still things we can all do (or watch, read, and listen to) to add a bit more (metaphorical) brightness into our lives.
The first is by watching TV. I firmly believe that whatever kind of day you’ve just had, TV can save you. Oh, you’ve sat in a wet patch on the bus? Your Hinge match is actively ghosting you? You’ve gotten a bad grade back on an essay you thought you’d smashed? Whatever has happened on that specific day, you can always guarantee that when you turn the key in the lock of your front door, retreat to your bedroom, and open up your laptop, there is a whole other world you can escape to. Here is a list of my on-screen favourites this January:
- Jack Rooke’s Big Boys. Jack Rooke is a genius: giving us a show that is the TV equivalent of the Love of Huns Instagram page. The show is loosely based on Rooke’s own experience as a fresher at university, as he navigates the grief of his dad and his sexuality for the first time. It will make you cry and laugh – the perfect release for a slightly bleak January. Luckily for us all, the second season has just come out this month and is free to watch on Channel 4.
- My second TV recommendation for this month is Catastrophe, by Sharon Horgan and Rob Delaney. This is not a new release, but I just discovered it this month and absolutely ate it up. After a brief fling between the main characters, Sharon and Rob, during Rob’s week-long work trip in London, Sharon unexpectedly becomes pregnant. The rest of the four seasons follow their lives together, tackling themes such as addiction, miscarriage, redundancy, love, and sex in a way that does the seriousness of the themes justice while also being impressively funny. It is the perfect January watch, bringing us a kind of comfort in watching two people’s lives fall apart, and come back together, over and over again.
- Thirdly, Rye Lane, Raine Allen-Miller’s 2023 feature directorial debut. Rye Lane follows two freshly broken-up-with twenty-somethings who connect over the course of a day – and night – in South London’s Peckham. This film is the perfect January distraction: uplifting, playful, stylish, and fun, while also running at possibly the most perfect movie runtime ever (1 hr 23 mins). Vivian Oparah, who co-stars in the film as aspiring fashion designer, Yas, has just been nominated for BAFTA’s Best Actress for her role – surely reason enough to give it a watch.
Next up, a personal favourite media genre of mine: The Podcast. While an avid podcast listener, I am also guilty of being quite routine in my listening, having the same three-ish podcasts on constant rotation. Despite this, here are some of my (unqualified) recommendations for this January:
- Boys Gone Wild. Hosted by comedians Horatio Gould and Andrew Kirwan, who also happen to be friends from school, Boys Gone Wild describes itself as ‘a podcast about men for men listened to mainly by women’. A rogue recommendation, you might be thinking. But it is essentially a weekly pop-culture podcast, sometimes ridiculous, but very funny, and is sure to cure any January blues, if only during the span of their hourly episodes.
- Goes Without Saying, hosted by Persephone Deacon and Erin Mirali (affectionately known as Sephy and Wing). This has been a favourite of mine for a while, along with every friend I have who’s ever listened to an episode. It is the podcast equivalent of a hot water bottle, as Sephy and Wing help us navigate our lives through the contemporary moment. If you are in a slump right now, I can recommend nothing better than listening to this podcast.
- Honorary podcast mentions go to The Guardian’s Today in Focus, whose episode on the release of Oscar Pistorius I really enjoyed this month. And journalist Jon Ronson’s Things Fell Apart, a podcast discussing various micro-battles in the culture wars.
While I am currently swamped by my upcoming semester’s reading list, there are still a few things I’ve been loving reading this month. This category of January recommendations I will call, loosely, Writing:
- Annie Lord is writing some of my absolute favourite things to read at the moment. As Vogue‘s resident dating columnist, I love the realness of her writing and advice. Her first book – Notes on Heartbreak – is also an amazing read, although perhaps just a bit too sad for January (although, this did not stop me, and in my opinion shouldn’t stop you, either). Along these same lines, Dolly Alderton’s weekly Agony Aunt column in the Sunday Times is almost gospel to me at this point.
- To be honest, I’ve run out of January reads (unless you want to hear about my course books, which might just about tip you over the January edge). But, I’m determined to give you three recommendations. So, lastly, my housemate recommends Carrie Soto Is Back, by Taylor Jenkins Reid (who you might recognise as the author of Daisy Jones and the Six). She has been reading this before and in between library and essay-writing sessions, which I think is testament to how good the book is, and I trust her opinion more than enough to put it on this list!
Post-Christmas doesn’t have to be as depressing as it seems; there are still so many things to enjoy. If all else is failing, you can always guarantee that there are things out there you can read, watch, or listen to, that will cheer you up. If you require a sprinkle of escapism, I hope this (non-exhaustive) list has helped.