Christmas Recommended Reads: For the person who’s always rushing about
More recommended reads in our Christmas round up! Here, we've picked a selection of books that might make the perfect gift for someone who's busy, in demand, rushing about, and needs 15 minutes of calm reflection in their day...
Bedtime Stories for Stressed out Adults, recommended by Grace
Sometimes, at the end of the day, it can feel like too much effort to get back into the book you currently have on the go. I think this collection is made for such moments. There’s a few books out there that go by the same title, but this edition of Bedtime Stories for Stressed out Adults was published by Hodder & Stoughton in 2018. There’s a lovely familiarity to many of the choices in this selection of stories and poems, along with some titles that were completely new to me. But the way the collection is put together makes me feel that any of these could be manageable. It’s a book I genuinely feel I could pick up and dip in to. A few highlights: I really enjoy being drawn in by Andrew Lang’s East of the Sun, West of the Moon. There’s that familiar sense of threat that seems to lurk in many a fairy tale, but the events are so unexpected that it also feels possible to leave behind the worry of that threat, even as you acknowledge it. And there’s another tiny encounter in Anton Chekhov’s story ‘The Beauties’, that made me smile. It describes an artillery officer who had been my fellow traveler, an intelligent, cordial, sympathetic fellow, as people mostly are who we meet on our travels by chance and with whom we are not long acquainted. I think it’s that permission in this book to not have to be long acquainted with anyone or anything that offers a little relief. But there’s the chance, too, to be reminded of people and books with who we have been acquainted with, either in the near or distant past, with extracts from The Secret Garden, Anne of Green Gables, Alice in Wonderland, The Wind and the Willows, and the Diary of a Nobody.
Consolations: The Solace, Nourishment and Underlying Meaning of Every Day Words by David Whyte, recommended by Lisa
My recommendation for the person who is busy, in demand, rushing about and needs 15 minutes of calm reflection in their day, is Consolations: The Solace, Nourishment and Underlying Meaning of Every Day Words by David White. Consolations takes 52 words that all of us encounter in our lives and offers a reflection of 3–4 pages on each, which is ideal for someone who doesn’t have a lot of time in their day, or perhaps doesn’t have the headspace to commit to a whole novel or story, but still wants to, and values the time to do some reading; particularly for emotional fuel and connection. The words chosen vary from the hopeful, celebrated and comforting, such as ‘Beauty’, ‘Friendship’, ‘Gratitude’ and ‘Solace’. To those which we might find more difficult to confront but which might have to face at some point, like: ‘Alone’, ‘Despair’, ‘Pain’ and ‘Regret’. In the instance of these harder to deal with words, Consolations helps the reader to find new perspectives, or perhaps to simply have the courage or confidence to acknowledge these words and the feelings and experiences that come with them. Speaking for myself, as someone who has always been interested in words and their meanings, Consolations is fascinating for the fact that it can provide something new with a word I’ve used thousands of times before. It also creates space to think, reflect, wonder and breathe. To say ‘I’ve never thought of that’, or, conversely, ‘that's just how I feel about this’. It’s a book that can be picked up at any time, read for as long or as little as needed, and returned to time and time again. A perfect book to keep by the bedside or in your bag, and to give yourself a little me time, and the chance to feel consoled in a world that can often feel too hectic and where the finer details are skipped over. I’ll leave you with a little quote from one of the reflections on ‘Courage’:
‘To be courageous is to seat our feelings deeply in the body and in the world, to live up to and into the necessities of relationships that often already exist. With things we find we already care deeply about, with a person, a future, a possibility in society or with an unknown that begs us on and always has begged us on. To be courageous is to stay close to the way we are made.’
I am the Seed that Grew the Tree, compiled by Fiona Waters and illustrated by Frann Preston-Gannon, recommended by The Storybarn team in Issue 71 of The Reader magazine
Surrounded by the beauty of Calderstones Park, it often feels as though we have a front row seat to the changing seasons. There’s nothing more reliable and reassuring than the leaves slowly changing colour, the inevitable bareness of our trees through the winter and the first shoots in spring. Amidst all of these transformations, I am the Seed that Grew the Tree is the perfect companion. A rich anthology with a poem for each day of the year, this is a wonderful collection to return to again and again. The poems themselves are varied and beautiful, some are long, some are not, some poems are much loved and well-known favourites, whilst some are entirely anonymous. A gift of a book to be treasured and enjoyed by children of all ages.