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Wellbeing Wednesday – 2nd March 2022

Jane Fowler

Jane Fowler – Head of Customer Support Services

Hello and Happy Wednesday. Well, well – Snow!! For some of you, snow is likely not to be so welcome – wet feet, cars slipping, drives blocked, cold hands – but being fortunate to be able to work from home when the weather is poor and basically being a bit of a big kid, I just LOVE the snow! Particularly when the sun shines. There is something so peaceful about the blanket of quiet that snow brings with it, all the sounds around us change and become muffled and even the most dismal of grey landscapes looks beautiful. So on Friday, with a ridge of high pressure and sunshine forecast, I took a day’s leave and went up to Glencoe. It was absolutely beautiful – you can’t beat that view of Rannoch Moor and Buchaille Etive Mhor. And, despite the lightning strike that had taken out the power for most of the ski lifts, the chairlift was still working, the snow was lovely and the café at the car park had great, hot soup. A grand day out in all – and definitely boosted my wellbeing J

This week’s wellbeing theme is all about books – yes it is World Book Day again! My kids were early adopters of the World Book Day theme dressing up for school. In fact our son was 5 when it all started 25 years ago, so we were right in there at the beginning of it all with Rothesay Primary School. All my family love books. I still have favourites from when I was very young, and have kept those that the kids loved as well We had bath books, board books, rhyme books, pop up books, atlases – and lots and lots of story books. The excitement that children have when they get lost in an imaginary world that only books can bring is just wonderful. And once they get that habit as a child, it stays with them forever. My husband is an avid reader too, so we have many, many books in the house. Books are still all around us – at the library, at charity shops, at wonderful second hand shops and in our local bookshops. So get reading this week – whether you are picking up an old friend from the shelf, a book from the library or treating yourself to a new book, there is something for everyone. Enjoy!

World Book Day – 3rd March

This week we are celebrating World Book Day, which celebrates its 25th anniversary this year!  We all know that reading can be an enjoyable way to pass the time or to learn new things but did you know it is also really good for your health and wellbeing?  

Research has shown that reading can reduce stress by up to 60%, slows your heart rate, eases tension and helps your body to relax.  Reading is also proven to improve your memory function, increase your vocabulary and improve empathy.

Learning to enjoy reading for pleasure in childhood is the single biggest indicator of a child’s future success – more than their family circumstances, their parents’ educational background or their income.  Spending just 10 minutes a day reading and sharing stories with children can make a crucial difference to their future success and is fun for all involved.

One of the purposes of World Book Day is to promote reading for pleasure and to enable every child and young person to have the opportunity to choose and own a book of their own.

The aim is to see more children, particularly those from disadvantaged backgrounds, with a life-long habit of reading for pleasure and the improved life chances this brings them.

There is a fantastic selection of brand new and exclusive £1 books for 2022 that children and young people of all ages can get for FREE with their £1 book token, distributed each year for World Book Day.  The charity state “We want every child and young person to believe they are readers and to give them the opportunity to have a book of their own that they have chosen for themselves”.

You can check out the list of titles here of all the £1 World Book Day books for 2022. 

You can also explore plans and activities for families, nurseries, primary and secondary schools by visiting the World Book Day website.

If like me, you have more books than you have room for, or if your finances are limited, don’t forget the wonderful resources available at our local libraries run by Live Argyll, where access to a wealth of physical and e-books, and more, is totally free.  For more information on the services available or to become a member click here

This week we have two great book reviews from Jane:

The Vanishing Half – Brit Bennett

Desiree and Stella are twin sisters who grow up in the deep south of the USA in the 1950’s. With different skin tones, in a society that is ‘colourstruck’ favouring lighter skinned people, Stella finds that she can pass effortlessly as white, whilst Desiree cannot. The novel follows the sisters through their very different lives and explores the myths that it is possible to build up around yourself. The story moves through to their daughter’s experiences of life and belonging and ultimately explores the impact of the choices that we make, intentional or unintentional, on individuals, families and communities. Although this book tells a story very far removed from my own experience, I found it compelling in its characterisation and couldn’t put it down.

The Garden of the Evening Mists – Tan Twan Eng

At the centre of this book is the complex relationship between Teoh Yun Ling, a retired Judge, prosecutor of war criminals, the daughter of a prosperous Malaysian family, sole survivor of a Prisoner of War Camp; and Nakamura Aritomo, the now self-exiled former gardener to Emperor Hirohito. The book moves between different times in each of their lives, including some very harrowing descriptions of Yun Ling’s experience in the camp. She hates all things Japanese, apart from one and so wants to build a Japanese Garden to commemorate her sister who died in the camp. Aritomo agrees to teach her the art of Japanese Gardening to build ‘The Garden of the Evening Mists’. The book is written at a slow and contemplative pace that belies some of the subject matter, but which draws you into the central themes of the spiritual nature of the Japanese Garden – the design, stone setting, shakkei (borrowed landscape) and horimono – Japanese tattoos of intricate designs. This book may not be to everyone’s taste, but ultimately it is about redemption and you learn a lot about Japanese gardening!

We would love to hear from you about your favourite books, what reading means to you or please feel free to send in a short book review (approximately 300 words) and we will feature them throughout the year.

Thanks for reading and, as ever, keep in touch with us at wellbeing@argyll-bute.gov.uk