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Burnt out by the present, I’m self-soothing with Bake Off and old novels | Emma Brockes

After a year of news reported in screaming, neon colour, I crave the muted tones of the not-so-distant past

For a long time in the spring, I found I couldn’t read. My concentration was shot from too much scrolling, and I was thoroughly hooked on the adrenalin of bad news. The consolations of fiction seemed, by comparison, very weak and uninviting. Besides which, any spare time – and there was no spare time, during those first weeks and months after the schools chucked out – was, I knew, supposed to be spent on rigorous plans for self-improvement.

Nine months later, and here we are, dragging ourselves towards the end of the year, various types of burnout raging. With the number of hospitalisations in the US at almost double the spring peak, the appeal of listlessly absorbing one dire headline after another has, for many of us, waned. These days, I don’t want to stay up past midnight immersed in the latest developments from the pandemic. In fact, I don’t want to spend time in the contemporary world at all. For me, the only reliable escape right now is to be found in two locations: painfully slow novels that are at least 40 years old, or the equally out-of-time-and-place space of the tent in Bake Off.

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Read the original article at The Guardian

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