A Good Book Makes Life in Cumbria Better.
A Little Book of Pleasures by William Wood (Sunpenny Ltd publishers) has just been listed in The People’s Book Prize Autumn Collection. This is a very gentle but emotive anthology of short essays, each account devoted to small pleasures in life and combining as a whole to remind us of the value of little things that make life special and truly worth living.
An ambitious endeavour, you might think, for someone to suppose that anything so personal as pleasures could be shared and revealed as experiences in common. Start reading the book and I doubt you will question the worthiness of the endeavour or doubt William Wood’s skill in bridging gaps that you might presuppose exist between one human and another in the matter of appreciating small things.
It’s a surprising read for several reasons:
- here is a compilation of short essays by a single author. How often do you see those for sale these days? Hardly ever, partly because there are few writers of sufficient calibre to produce enough good stories on a theme to make up a whole book, and partly I suspect, because big fat novels by celebrity authors are a safer venture from the publishing point of view.
- the focus upon the small pleasures that make the author’s life worth living might cause you to expect it to be painfully self-indulgent, at least in places, but Wood always avoids falling into that trap. I was surprised to discover that I found so many of the same things pleasurable, either from my own experiences where they coincided with his or vicariously when they didn’t.
- finally, the simple act of focusing your time and thoughts on things pleasant is surprisingly refreshing. At first it feels almost sacrilegious somehow to be presented with the pleasant, the wholesome and the good in an intelligent literary work. We are so used to the relentless stream of in-your-face misery, grim facts, depressing news, sobering statistics and focus on survival in the rat-race etc. that thoughts of the small pleasures in life can be eclipsed, marginalised or subjugated.
This is a bold book then, yes, and the author’s openly assertive in sharing his values, but can we afford to devote time to hedonism? One of the book’s charms is the brevity of each story, it can be read at bed-time, read on the commute, read on the loo perhaps if you’re severely time-strapped.
From the outset the author engages you as a reader directly in the discourse and makes these experiences your own. I found the degree of commonality in appreciation remarkable and the interest maintained throughout the anthology. This is a very sensual book, richly descriptive, it conjours vivid visions, sounds, scents and flavours of life, exercising the senses of the imagination and vividly reawakening the reader’s sense of adventure in experience. Whether discoursing upon communications, fruit, vegetable gardening, push mowers, fountain pens, tortoises, Norwegian cabin holiday experience, swimming off a mangrove fringed island or in the municipal pool, William centres you satisfactorily in every scenario.
A Little Book of Pleasures is unashamedly a “feel-good” book, but there’s nothing sugar-coated or laboured about it and I’d recommend it to those who might be feeling jaded, overly worn or distanciated; it is well-written, penetrating in its observations, not heavy-handed in the delivery, clever, gentle light reading.
Does such a focus better belong in a brighter, easier past than this so often bitter present? Not really, because if you can’t appreciate the eclectic mixture of experiences in this book today, I’d venture to suggest that you are sorely in need of just such refugia. This isn’t escapism so much as self-administered care for yourself. I have a pervasive sense of the author being a very well grounded person and his often mildly quirky perspectives strike chord after chord and when, upon occasion you are presented with something that you don’t appreciate as much as the author, or with an opinion that doesn’t match your own, what does your imagination do? Your own substitute pleasure rises quickly to mind and you transport yourself.
Yes, this is definitely a book to read for pleasure or to give to someone you know who needs some.
This book is now short-listed for The People’s Book Prize and voting for A Little Book Of Pleasures is a two step process.
- First, it takes a couple of seconds to register with The People’s Book Prize website (click here for page) and they’ll instantly send you an email with your password in it. If you can’t see it in your inbox, click your receive mail button, if you still don’t see it then check your junk/spam folder for it.
- Then please click this link to take you to the page with my book listed, click on “A Little Book of Pleasures” by William Wood and log-in with your email and the password that they just sent you and check the Add vote for this book box. You can add a comment at the time, or later too if you wish. You can only vote once for any single book, but you can make multiple comments if you feel so inclined.
If you haven’t bought a copy yet and would like to do so, you can buy the book from the same website.