by James Wallace Harris, 12/23/21
I’m listening to a wonderful book right now, The Reading List by Sara Nisha Adams which came out in August. It’s set in London. Someone is going around leaving little notes that say:
Just in case you need it: - To Kill a Mockingbird - Rebecca - The Kite Runner - The Life of Pi - Pride and Prejudice - Little Women - Beloved - A Suitable Boy
The novel is about the people who find those lists, read the books, and how reading changed their lives. Any bookworm should love this book, and most Goodreads reviewers do. I highly recommend the audiobook version because the narrators do the ethnic accents which make the book extra charming.
This inspires me to create my own list of favorite feel-good novels. If I went around leaving a list of books for people to read in these trying times, my eight would be:
- The Reading List by Sara Nisha Adams
- Replay by Ken Grimwood
- Flowers for Algernon by Daniel Keyes
- The Midnight Library by Matt Haig
- City by Clifford Simak
- Great Expectations by Charles Dickens
- The Signature of All Things by Elizabeth Gilbert
- Have Space Suit-Will Travel by Robert A. Heinlein
We’re living through some hard times and I appreciate books with characters who overcome big difficulties. I’m moving into what I call my Post-Doom Philosophy. I’ve concluded that humanity will not solve its existential problems. Just not in our nature. And it will be better to concentrate on uplifting outselves.
I’m reminded of The Myth of Sisyphus by Albert Camus. Our present situation is beyond absurd, one I can’t change. I accept that we’re already in a collapsing civilization, we just don’t know how long it will take before a new paradigm shift emerges. Some civilizations collapse in decades, Rome took centuries. Everyone eventually dies, and all civilizations eventually collapse. We can’t wish either away. We’ve always had the problem of what to do in our last years of life, and just by coincidence this century, we’ll also have to consider what to do in the last decades of our civilization. It’s an interesting philosophical and spiritual challenge.
Just because the future looks bleak we shouldn’t feel all gloom and doom.
My friend Linda and I have a two-person book club where we read mostly nonfiction books together and discuss them on the phone each Sunday afternoon. We’ve read many books about the problems of the world. Linda just texted me asking if we could avoid such books in 2022 and pick books like The Soul of the Octopus by Sy Montgomery. She wants more delightful books. I couldn’t agree more.
If you were making a list of eight nonfiction books to leave around to inspire people, what would they be? What would your list of favorite inspiring novels be?