Best books for Blue Monday

Best books for Blue Monday: Author Patricia Nicol suggests novels focused on overcoming the January slump

  • Patricia Nicol shared a selection of books to boost moods this Blue Monday
  • Kingsley Amis’s Lucky Jim shares memorable drunken misadventures
  • Elaine Dundy’s The Dud Avocado follows a free-spirited young American in Paris

It’s official — OK, semi-official, and almost certainly the pseudoscience coinage of some slick marketing apparatchik — today is Blue Monday, the most miserable day of the year.

It is the alchemy of plummeting temperatures and bank balances, a post-Christmas credit card bill that cannot be paid, plus a tax bill due on January 31, that makes the third Monday of the year such a zinger.

Add in forsaken New Year’s resolutions and the sort of listless apathy that makes you open the front door to head for the gym, espy shivering branches and lowering grey skies, and return indoors for a Hobnob dunked in Baileys, that earns today its demotivating epithet.

Literary expert Patricia Nicol shared a selection of books to boost moods this Blue Monday including Kingsley Amis’s Lucky Jim (pictured left) and Elaine Dundy’s The Dud Avocado (pictured right)

So, how to gird your mojo? Exercise outside? Nah. Then, how about comic fiction inside? For this too shall pass. ‘It was a hot, peaceful, optimistic sort of day in September,’ begins Elaine Dundy’s breezy, surprisingly risqué picaresque The Dud Avocado. Published in 1958, its screwball narrator is Sally Jay Gorce, a free-spirited, hard-partying young American in Paris, with pink hair and ‘vague nymphomania’. Groucho Marx wrote to Dundy: ‘The Dud Avocado made me laugh, scream and guffaw (which incidentally is a great name for a law firm).’ Quite right; it’s a sunny delight.

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Cringe-making sketchy recalls of drunken misadventure provide the most memorable moments of Kingsley Amis’s Lucky Jim.

Let us pay due, in these dreg days of Dry January, to hapless junior lecturer Jim Dixon, awaking hungover at his boss’s house, ‘spewed up like a broken spider-crab on the tarry shingle of morning . . .His mouth had been used as a latrine by some small creature of the night, and then as its mausoleum . . . He felt bad.’

Then there’s P.G. Wodehouse’s fecundly silly Jeeves and Wooster. The names alone, like newt-fancier ‘Gussie’ Fink-Nottle or Roderick Spode, 7th Earl of Sidcup (‘as if Nature had intended to make a gorilla, then changed its mind at the last moment’), get me sniggering.

Curl up and giggle, for tomorrow is another day — Torpid Tuesday. (OK, yes, I made that up.)

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