3 Books that will remind you to express gratitude
Because we all need to count our blessings in times like these
Gratitude is not an easy concept to grasp, let alone implement. So often, I’ve let myself be consumed by the small inconveniences of life, that I’ve never really said thank you for the larger advantages I have in life. So, if you’re at home right now and fortunate enough that this disease has not touched your loved ones, then please be really grateful! Please don’t hate on the minor inconveniences of being ‘unable to go out’, ‘boredom’ etc. Believe me. I have grandparents currently in a different city, dealing with the virus, while their children arrange the basics for them remotely.
Last year around when the pandemic had just hit, I had been in therapy for a little under a year and my therapist really made the effort to make me understand the importance of gratitude in such times. Today, I’ve been out of therapy for close to 3 months and I can feel the anxiety seeping in again. Luckily, through my time in therapy I realised that books personally really help me. I understand that these are trying times for mental health too, so maybe these books will help you too.
The Midnight Library by Matt Haig
The Midnight Library is the story of Nora, who lives a mediocre life between working at a music shop, being a part time piano teacher and a full time over thinker with a bag of regrets. A person of immense talent she lives with the burden of never having fulfilled her potential and the guilt of choices she took along the road. A freak accident causes her to reach the Midnight Library, a place between life and death. The Library houses all of her alternate lives, lives that she could have lived had she made those choices that she didn’t. She can sample each of them and if she likes one well enough, she can live there forever. Which will she choose?
This book is my personal favourite for several reasons. For one, I personally identified with Nora’s feelings of inadequacy and regret for the roads not taken. As someone who has always been told that I have a lot to offer and I can do a lot, the imposter syndrome I have dealt with for several years in my teenage and early 20s, made me just as bitter on the outside and guilty on the inside.
For another, this book tells you the fact of life: No matter what you choose, it won’t be perfect. Perfection and constant happiness do not exist. No life, no choice no one can make you happy 24 hours a day, 7 days a week and 365 days a year. Happiness is this larger bubble which envelopes our lives as we go through its ups and downs. So no matter what you choose, it is up to you to remember that happiness is around you. You just have to find it. Matt Haig’s writing of this story too is breezy, encouraging and empowering without being preachy, which makes an otherwise heavy subject very intriguing to read.
The Martian by Andy Weir
I think I speak for everyone when I say this, but this can seem like an extremely unusual entry for a list talking about books on gratitude. It’s a sci-fi book with a hint of adventure mixed in. It’s literally about a guy stranded on Mars and how he survives it all to come back home. Where’s the gratitude really?
The reason why I am including this book is because Mark Watney is the one of the most bad ass protagonists of fiction. That man was basically stranded on another planet and never once did I read the phrase ‘Why me?’, in the entire length of the book. He solved problem after problem and stuck it out until the end. He took what he had and turned it into what he needed to survive. He grew potatoes in his poop, used a radioactive isotope as a heater and even tolerated disco music in the name of entertainment, all because he had to survive.
The Martian is also not the typical protagonist stranded on an island and trying to survive book. If you’ve read Robinson Crusoe (my personal favourite), you’ll realise that Andy Weir’s Mark Watney is a lighter, funnier version of the quick thinking and resourceful protagonist by Daniel Defoe. Watney is on a different planet but the humour and lightness of the tone of the story makes it a wonderful read. You never pity the protagonist, you root for him. And while Mark Watney never harps on gratitude even on a sub text level, it’s still one of the biggest takeaways from his book. After all, he’s Mark Watney, Space Pirate!
Love in Small Letters by Francesc Miralles
Love in Small Letters has Samuel at the centre, a man living an average life wishing for more and pining for the past. His life is changed when on the 1st of January, a cat Mishima enters his life and he had an encounter with Valdemar and his neighbour Titus. Through these interactions, he’s drawn out of the little bubble of a comfort zone that he had built for himself and grow again.
This is a very sweet feel good story written in the most lucid manner. You see yourself in Samuel and you feel empathy for him. You understand the little ticks and peeves that he has because you have some of them too. Samuel is not a bitter guy, he just wishes for more. It is a simple story and even though it is as old as time in itself, the treatment of it is almost therapeutic. As Samuel grows, he doesn’t always have good days but through his growth even the bad days start to bring him down lesser and lesser. The way he finds a new found perspective to life is heartwarming. His story too is a story of self discover but also a sense of gratitude he develops for what he has and what he can have. It’s literally love in the small acts and letters that one can find around them.
These are my recommendations for books which show you just how important gratitude is. I hope you give these a try. This was my attempt (as trivial as it may be) to help some of you find hope, peace and some calm in this swarm of anxiety.
Do share your recommendations too for books that gave you cheer and reminded you of the power of gratitude. Stay safe, stay healthy.