In today’s fast-paced world, surrounded by news of Trump and Brexit and celebrities dying, it’s easy to get caught up and forget what’s really important in your own life.
Even if you manage to ignore the cyclic nature of the news as driven by social media, repeating the same fears and worries and bad news over and over, most of us are still racing around to and from work with barely a second thought about the important things which are quickly passing us by.
So, inspired by this post on The Pool (which is always on point) I have decided to spend a week listing three good things I’m grateful for each day – because it’s important to pause, remember, and let these positive thoughts rise to the forefront of our priorities.
Every reader, serious or casual, is constantly on the lookout for their next great book.
The one that connects with them in what feels like an intensely personal way. That, or just excites them, makes them laugh or terrifies them, in such a way that they count the moments until the book can be picked up once more.
I consider all this as I’ve been reading a string of what are, to me, three star, simply average books.
There have been enjoyable but unexceptional chick-lits which served a purpose and gave me something to read at the end of a long day, but without any real emotional investment. Plus (what were to me) overrated thrillers and self-help/memoirs; I’m pleased so many people get a lot out of them, but everyone’s reading experience is different after all.
Now, though, I’ve suddenly been filled with absolute joy and delight by The Penguin Lessons by Tom Michell.
Every scene paints an amusing or heartwarming picture of one man and his anthropomorphised penguin. The fact it’s a true story makes my heart sing even more.
This is how I want to feel more often. In essence, desperate to get back to the penguin.
I’ve experienced the same thing with audio books – they’re great for my commute, but I almost choose them less discriminatingly because they require less concentration than reading with your eyes, so it doesn’t matter if you’re a bit less invested.
However Spectacles written and read by Sue Perkins made me laugh aloud so many times in public, and I even shed a little tear on a Tube platform.
I’m going to choose my next few books wisely.
Sure, not every read can be in your top 10, or even close. But to stay enthused about reading there must be some sort of visceral connection or emotional investment there to make the experience really mean something. I’ll be on the look out for my next The Penguin Lessons.
You’ve been on the other side of the world for five months and I miss you so much! But that’s also my excuse for not sending you a present – I would have had to remember weeks ago, and I did not because I’m useless. I hope this is a nice replacement.
This is the card I saw and thought of you:
It’s tough to speak properly sometimes between England and New Zealand, especially when the time zone keeps changing and I’m working odd shifts. But it’s always a pleasure and a highlight of my day, even when we are too tired to speak about anything but Shanti. She enjoys being a key topic of conversation.
If you’re looking for something different, I’ve certainly never experienced anything quite like The Lover’s Dictionary which tells a real and at times fraught love story using dictionary definitions. What’s more, the story is ordered alphabetically rather than chronologically, but segments are always placed thoughtfully and often poignantly in sequence.
Nothing can explain this unusual idea quite like simply picking up the book and seeing for yourself – but I guarantee it will then be difficult to put down. The short definitions – rarely over a page long each – mean it’s spectacularly easy to just keep reading ‘one more’.
But what actually makes this book so special is its beautiful use of language and constantly exquisite yet realistic descriptions of relationships.
Although its 750 odd pages were initially daunting, I’ve read other long King books (such as IT, a personal favourite) and once you’ve started they are always richer and more engrossing for their length.
11.22.63 initially sounds totally different to King’s usual thing – more rooted in history, though with an obvious element of the supernatural with the intrinsic time travel, it follows Jake Epping as he accepts a dying man’s challenge to travel back and attempt to save JFK from assassination. They hope it will improve the world for the better if JFK lives – but these are high stakes.
My plane home left Auckland Airport at 7.30pm so we decided to drive into the city in the morning and see a bit more of the city during the day.
First stop was Auckland War Memorial Museum, in a grand building atop a lush green area overlooking the harbour. We were initially a little miffed at the entry price for international visitors of $25 – but after spending three whole hours there with more still to see, I didn’t mind anymore.