Sophie Blackall’s Things To Look Forward To (52 Large And Small Joys For Today And Every Day) has echoes of Ross Gay’s wonderful The Book Of Delights – the literary DNA of both books is to notice and appreciate the wonders around us, even if it all too often feels like chaos and confusion is winning the battle of the soul and the mind.
Here, Blackall gathers together 52 small moments that gives the reader a chance to breathe, and her illustrations alongside the writing — short texts, no more than a paragraph at times and no longer than a page or so at others — provide a sense of beauty and calm to this book.
It begins with “The Sun Coming Up” and then wanders through topics like “Listening To A Song You’ve Heard Before” and ends with “Seizing The Day.” Her writing is intimate, a portrait of a writer and artist taking notice of the world. The topics are calming, a reminder of how to center oneself in a world off kilter.
It was the kind of book I needed, just days before the start of a new school, and the kind of book you might gift a friend in need — as I did, sending a copy of Things To Look Forward to one of my best friends, whose family is dealing with a few issues that has unsettled them all.
I borrowed Blackall’s book from the library, but now realize, I may need to get my own copy, along with Gay’s book, too, and begin a little section on the bookcase for books that bring calm and clarity. A zen shelf, perhaps.
Peace (in the noticing),