The first months of the new year always seems a bit grim don't they? There you are after the festive Christmas break with the glittering lights in town centres up and down the country, the Christmas trees and the aromas of the local festive markets all but a distant memory.
Well for literary fans, there is always something new on the horizon - new shiny books released in the new year for one and a year chock full of literary events. There are more literary fairs and events than ever before so if you’re still suffering the events of overindulgence, then this year should be the one when you decide that you will only indulge in books from now on - they’re calorie free and good for you after all.
As a keen bookworm, I travel up and down the country attending literary events, buying new books and walking for miles on booktrails as I scour the locations where fictional characters live, work and play. The only way to keep fit in my eyes. Here’s my round up of just a few literary ways of keeping fit and entertained at the same time...
Aberdeen - Scotland
Aberdeen is a good place to start a literary inspired fitness regime. Granite Noir is a new literary festival, a gathering of writers from Scandinavia and Scotland so, if it’s your reading which needs whipping into shape, there are some hard core crime thrillers here to challenge your reading muscles.
Denise Mina is one of the authors taking part in the event and is the author behind many novels including Garnethill, named after the part of Glasgow in which it’s set. Garnethill, as the name suggests, is also a very hilly so walking around the trail of locations in the book are going to hone up your leg muscles.
On to the stomach muscles now, and Stuart MacBride has that taken care of. He’s more than put Aberdeen on the literary map with novels such as Cold Granite showcasing gruesome events down by the famous harbour, a good place for a walk in the cold light of day. Or what about a game of football? In Broken Skin, the beautiful game comes into play. Which ever novel you read, you’ll see a unique side to Aberdeen, that’s for sure!
Oh and if you think literary events themselves are sedentary affairs, then think again, there are special self guided walks around the city planned via the docks and the Music Hall revealing some special portals to the past. Of course, carrying all those signed editions you buy will more than lose a few pounds. Booktrailing too keeps you slim.
England - Newcastle
Later in the year, there’s a book battle down the country, just over Hadrian’s wall.
Newcastle Noir takes place on 29 - 30 of April with a launch night on the 28th and is held in the famous Lit & Phil. The Lit & Phil is the largest independent library outside London, housing over 160,000 books.
It’s also a literary landmark for another reason. Ann Cleeves’ Vera even describes it in Harbour Street as the place ‘where book lovers hang out’.
Whilst in the city, of course the only way to see it is through the eyes of a crime writer. And there are quite a few Northern stars.
Ann Cleeves’ Vera is often spotted walking on the Northumberland countryside, even having to scale the famous Hadrian’s Wall - in search of a crime scene granted, but following in her footsteps will show you the beauty of the region.
Visiting the inspirational setting where in The Glass Room there was a literary meeting as a crime scene might even inspire you to pick up the pen yourself. If not, you’re going to get the adrenalin flowing with a brisk walk over the Northumberland fields.
Another local criminally good landmark is Bamburgh Castle, highlighted as a major crime scene in Mari Hannah’s Monument to Murder. The beach and the castle go from imposing and sinister in the novel to royal and regal in real life - walking around the castle walls will more than give you the appetite for more of Mari’s books and a cup of coffee in the homely castle restaurant.
And if it’s a little further afield you want to travel when in the North East then Howard Linskey is the man to show you the way. A bit of a history trail too for No Name Lane is set in a fictional mining town. Visit local open air museum Beamish and really see what life was like back in the day and what real back-breaking exercise looked like!
So when you visit a city this year, you might just want to see if there are any literary events going on. If not, there is always a booktrail to go on to help discover parts of the city you may not have noticed before. It turns out that authors and their characters are also good inspiration for exercising an array of muscles.
Keeping fit this year just got a whole lot more interesting.
The Booktrail is a Literary Travel Agency, where you can ‘book’ your next literary adventure and read your way around the world. Find maps, travel guides, reviews photo galleries and much more to help inspire and enrich your next journey.
For more information visit www.thebooktrail.com/