Mark Twain had famously said, “Good friends, good books, and a sleepy conscience: this is the ideal life.” The importance and relevance of books cannot be emphasised enough. And in troubled times, they serve more than their apparent purpose of keeping us engaged: they provide us with a refuge.
The world right now might look like a compelling dystopian novel, but let’s look for some magic in words.
The Little Prince by Antoine de Saint-Exupéry
Published for the first time in 1943, The Little Prince aches with profound simplicity. It is about a boy who decides to travel the universe and is confronted with adults and even sees through their behaviour. This little book withholds several gems of wisdom but if you need one today, our choice will be “And now here is my secret, a very simple secret: It is only with the heart that one can see rightly; what is essential is invisible to the eye.”
Where The SideWalk Ends by Shel Silverstein
Shel Silverstein wraps the most dense thoughts in the most simple way. A poet-philosopher, Silverstein’s collection of poems is poignant and lovely and once you are lost in that world, it will be difficult to shake it off. Our favourite: “It’s amazing the difference/ A bit of sky can make.”
Bossypants by Tina Fey
Fey’s life has been eventful, to say the least and she poured it all out in Bossypants. From documenting her initial days as a nerd to her Saturday Night Live days, looking for ephemeral things and being humbled by life. And by the end of it, she reclaims the term Bossypants in all its glory.
Making Cocoa for Kingsley Amis by Wendy Cope
Cope is incisive, hilarious and cuttingly poignant. Her poems are for keeps and this tiny book will make you giggle more than you might expect. One of the most enduring poems from this collection is the one titled, Two Cures For Love- “1. Don’t see him. Don’t phone or write a letter/ 2. The easy way: get to know him better.”
All You Who Sleep Tonight by Vikram Seth
Seth crafts words with a rare longing that seems to never be fulfilled. It is rare, all-consuming and Seth owns it so completely. As we struggle to make sense of the world, here’s what you can take back or look forward from this lovely collection: “All you who sleep tonight/ Far from the ones you love/ No hands to left or right, And emptiness above/ Know that you aren’t alone/ The whole world shares your tears/ Some for two nights or one/ And some for all their years.”
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