We interrupt your scheduled blog post for book-shaped hugs.

This week on #TheBookshelf, I *had* planned to share my review of Stuart Turton’s The Seven Deaths of Evelyn Hardcastle.

This is not that review.

(Next week, I promise. In the meantime, maybe pick up a copy of the book–or the most excellent audiobook. They’re both awesome, you won’t regret it.)

Instead, I wanted to share something else with you.

It’s been a week, hasn’t it? [Said everyone, every week, since March, 2020–or possibly before.] There’s a lot of hardship out there in the world. From the climate emergency to social injustice to the struggle to make ends meet, it’s a lot.

A LOT lot.

And I’ve got to say, humans, I’ve seen some not-so-nice behaviour from some of you.

There is a quote, often attributed to Robin Williams, that goes something like this: “Everyone you meet is fighting a battle you know nothing about. Be kind. Always.”

And that includes being kinder to yourself, my friend.

Sometimes, when you’re struggling–with your job, your spouse, your kids, your dreams, your life…even your own reflection–the tiniest scrap of light can make a huge difference. Sometimes that beam of light turns out to be the lighthouse that keeps you off the rocks. And sometimes, it takes someone who can say “I’ve been there, I am there, I see you,” to be that light.

This week, I’ve got two books to share with you whose authors know what it’s like to be on those reefs, and in these two small-but-mighty-volumes they share their thoughts on hope, life, and holding on to grace, even when you don’t feel like you can.

Keep Moving by Maggie Smith and The Comfort Book by Matt Haig.
The back cover blurb for Matt Haig’s The Comfort Book

First up is Matt Haig’s brand new release, The Comfort Book.

This book lives up to its name. It is written as a brilliant collection of thoughts, quotes, and lists. Rather like a scrapbook of hope.

Matt Haig is the author of numerous books for adults and children including his memoir, Reasons to Stay Alive; A Boy Called Christmas, which is about to be made into a movie; and his recent bestseller, The Midnight Library.

The Comfort Book is a bit different. It’s like a commonplace book–bursting with little bits of all sorts of marvelous things. You could read it from cover to cover or pick an entry at random and go from there.

No matter how you decide to go about reading this delightfully bright, tidy little book, the light pouring out of it is still just as brilliant. Basically, it’s a book full of hugs…book-shaped hugs!

Nothing is stronger than a small hope that doesn’t give up.

Matt Haig, The Comfort Book.

“For You” The dedication page from Keep Moving by Maggie Smith.

The second of our two books this week, is Keep Moving, Notes on Loss, Creativity, and Change by the poet Maggie Smith.

What began on social media as a collection of daily affirmations, encouragements, and self-directives–each one ending with the two words Keep moving–became this powerful story of overcoming struggle. Combining those social media posts with short segments of memoir, Maggie Smith has created a book that feels a bit like sitting down with a friend who has seriously seen some s&*t and having them say to you, “Look, whatever you’re dealing with, you can get through it and I’m going to be there to help you get through it.” And then they put the kettle on.

(Because isn’t that what we Brits do when s&*t gets real.)

Keep Moving is structured into three sections: “Revision”, “Resilience,” and “Transformation” and while you could dive in anywhere, it is a journey and best read from beginning to end. And it is a journey well worth taking.

Thank you for joining me on #TheBookshelf this week. Until next time, when I promise we’ll explore the deliciously written, mind-bending mysteries of Stuart Turton, I wish you book-shaped hugs and light when you need it most. Be kind.

[Click on the author names to learn more about Matt Haig and Maggie Smith.]

Featured image by PIRO4D from Pixabay. Book photos by Michelle Woodvine.