Books to sustain you in 2023

Staying In

Start the year on the right foot with these reads

Book review
Bríd Conroy

We often joke in January about making New Year’s resolutions and then forgetting them by the following week. Yet if we pause and think about it, these opening weeks of January are a wonderful opportunity for reflection. The fanaticism of Christmas has passed, leaving a space for thinking. We yearn for the newness and brightness that spring will bring.
What do we want for ourselves in 2023? What really matters to us? What do we do that really engrosses us in life? What are we gifted at? What makes us feel good and confident? Two books this week are helping me focus on those questions.
Simple tools
‘Yoga Happy’, by Hannah Barrett (published by Hardie Grant, Quadrille) is a beautiful book to ease us into the New Year with a kind and gentle focus. Barrett opens with her own story as to how she came to yoga and the writing of the book. Immediately the reader is sold on the benefits of bringing simple tools and practices into our lives. Yet she also explains the origins of the simplicity of yoga and the dispelling of myths surrounding it.
Simple daily routines are explained and illustrated. There is a chapter on yoga for headaches, for example. Barrett talks about silence and the power of taking ten minutes a day in silence, to meditate or just to sit still. I myself learnt to meditate many years ago in The School of Meditation in London. It was founded by an extraordinary group of people from many walks of life, who had discovered this power of sitting still. Reading again about Barrett and her ‘Yoga Happy’ made me determined to return to this very simple practice. It works, and if you do nothing else with your New Year’s resolution just do this, ten minutes a day.

Love more
Another amazing book, ‘A More Loving World: How to increase compassion, kindness and joy’, is the latest book published and written by the School of Life, an educational company founded in 2008 by Alain de Botton and Sophie Howarth.
It is a small little handbook to pick up every now and then, perfect for this time of year. They talk about love in our public sphere, in our societies and how we interact. They explore some of the history of our perception of love and how it has evolved in our art, religion, and justice systems, for example. They look at what fosters love and what attitudes hinder it.
We are reminded of the power of forgiveness and how easy it is to love someone across a dinner table but not someone who is different to us or acted in a way we would not have acted. Love must be encouraged and fought for.
They quote Machiavelli, who in his book ‘The Prince’ became notable for his political realism, that power may sometimes require a degree of ‘evil’ or certainly ‘cunning, duplicity or bad faith’. He understood the realities of what makes things happen and ‘A More Loving World’ explores how some of this determination and knowledge can be applied to creating a more loving, compassionate, kind and joyful world.
Both books present a menu of food for thought, plenty of sustenance for the year ahead.

Bríd Conroy and her husband Neil Paul run Tertulia  – A Bookshop Like No Other at The Quay, Westport.