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✳︎ 6 Books for a Compassionate Christmas ✳︎

How is everybody coping as Christmas edges ever closer? I don’t know about anybody else, but when December hits and Christmas starts carolling towards us, as much as I love this season, I sometimes feel like burying my head under a pillow and coming out again when it’s all over! The rampant consumerism and craziness that seems to so naturally (yet so unnecessarily) go hand in hand with Christmas can frankly drive the calmest amongst us a little crazy. We spend too much and eat too much and certainly don’t look after ourselves over the ‘silly season’. So I thought I’d write a blog about 6 very special books I’ve read over the past few years that will help us to develop a sense of compassion and, just like pets, they’re not just for Christmas 🙂 These books are gems for any time of the year and I do hope that you’ll feel inspired to try one or more of them out or to gift them to somebody you care about.

Non-fiction

The Book of Joy: Lasting happiness in a changing world  By His Holiness the Dalai Lama and Archbishop Desmond Tutu with Douglas Abrams

It’s difficult to know where to start with this book. I read it during a very difficult period in my life and it helped me more than I can express. A celebration of the lives and philosophies of two celebrate global figures, I would go so far as to say that The Book of Joy is life-changing. Through the wisdom, gentle wit and compassion of the Dalai Lama and Desmond Tutu and sensitively steered by Douglas Abrams, this book helps us to re-frame our hardships and to understand that being joyful is not dependent on our circumstances. I cannot think of a more important book that I have read this year.

 No. More. Plastic. What you can do to make a difference by Martin Dorey

Compassion is not just about our interactions with other people; it is also about how we interact with our planet. This is not a book about giving up plastic, it’s about being more mindful in our plastic consumption. Offering simple and effective solutions, this small book is filled to bursting with small changes each one of us can make that, over time, will add up to make a big difference.

Adult Fiction

Bel Canto by Ann Patchett

I had to think hard about this one; of course I have read countless excellent and inspiring works of fiction over the past few years, but books to encourage compassion? That was far less obvious. But as soon as I remembered Bel Canto, I thought of course! The action takes place in an un-named South American country where a group of terrorists invade a presidential mansion where a grand party is taking place. From such inauspicious beginnings comes a story of understanding, conversation and searing humanity.

Children’s Fiction

Running on the Roof of the World by Jess Butterworth

This is a wonderful story for young people (I’d say 8+) that charts the tale of two children fleeing Tibet for the relative safety of India. Their journey takes them over harsh mountain terrain and through countless frightening scenarios. I was moved by this book because, whilst it is fiction, it is indeed the situation that numerous children and young people find themselves in in order to re-claim their Tibetan inheritance that is currently prohibited under Chinese-occupied Tibet.

Goodnight Mister Tom by Michelle Magorian

This book for young people has been doing the rounds for a while, but I’d say it’s as relevant now as it ever was. On the face of it, Goodnight Mister Tom is a heart-warming tale of the friendship between Willie, an evacuee from London and elderly Tom. But Michelle Magorian does not shy away from difficult topics in her book, helping the reader feel compassion for the suffering of ordinary people during WW2 and how, when this sentiment is paired with courage, lives can be changed forever.

Graphic Novel 

Illegal by Eoin Colfer & Andrew Donkin and illustrated by Giovanni Rigano – A Graphic Novel telling one boy’s epic journey to Europe.

I spotted this book in my library and got it to see if my children were interested in it. One of my kids read it, but I swiftly followed on from her and I am very glad I did. Beautifully and sensitively illustrated and far from being preachy, this is a poignant story of survival and hope against all odds that is unlikely to leave you dry-eyed. I would whole-heartedly recommend it to both children (8+) and adults alike.

So that’s my lot! I wish you and your family a wonderful Christmas, filled with compassion, conversation and a good dose of cheery sparkle 🎄

With much love

Rebecca

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