Kindness, and strength, and grief. And good company.
There are very few of us who don’t know, and love, Charlie Mackesy’s sketches and reminders of what truly matters in life. Life seen through the adventures of four best friends – The Boy, The Mole, The Fox and The Horse. The four are, Charlie says, all a little different, and he can see himself in all of them, and suggests we may see them in ourselves, too. The boy, lonely. The mole wise, and greedy for cake (aren’t we all). The fox is the quietest … silent and wary because he’s been hurt by life. And the horse … massive, but the most gentle. Charlie posts his lovely sketches and heart-warming, thoughtful sayings on Instagram most days, but we like to keep a copy of the book close by, to dip into when we need to be brave. ‘What do you want to be when you grow up?’ ‘Kind’, said the boy.’ Penguin, from Exclusive Books. Follow Charlie on Instagram @charliemackesy
Dark clouds were looming in the distance. We watched them gather, and we wondered… When will it come? How long will it last? In Together, artist Luke Adam Hawker follows a man and his dog through the uncertainty we’re all living through. With stunning sketches, and words by Marianne Laidlaw, he touches on how, suddenly, everything stopped, of how normal things felt strange, and the strange felt normal, of the difficulties of being apart, but how some of us found time to grow, to find new ways keep in touch and to live and appreciate what we have. Kyle Books. Follow Luke on Instagram @lukeadamhawker
What are we most looking forward to this Spring? A meal with family and friends, preferably but not essentially al fresco. Sophie Hansen’s In Good Company is crammed with recipes and ideas for get togethers and good times. Loads of fabulous dishes, but our favourite is Chatter Platters (who’d have guessed?). A great, big generous platter of good things to graze on all evening, which Sophie suggests you do the next time you’re hosting book club (hello), the girls for Friday night drinks or the neighbours for a catch up. Think bruschetta and warm streaky bacon with blue cheese and figs, arancini and baked feta and olives. And a peach and rosemary G&T. She’s our kind of hostess, and this is our kind of cookbook. Murdoch Books
If you’re looking for tender … Abbie Greaves’ The Ends of the Earth has it in droves. Mary O’Connor has been keeping a vigil for her first love for seven years. Every evening, without fail, she sits at Ealing Broadway station … holding a sign. ‘Come Home Jim.’ Call her mad, call her a nuisance, call her a drain on society – Mary isn’t going anywhere. But an unexpected call turns her world on its head, and in spite of all her efforts, she can no longer find the strength to hold herself together. She must finally face what happened all those years ago, and answer the question – where on earth is Jim? Penguin
There are those who swear by self-help books, and those who scoff. But whichever camp you fall into, you’ll more than likely feel The Grief Handbook is a really helpful option should you need it (and we hope you don’t). It was written by South African writer and content strategist Bridget McNulty after her mum died suddenly, and she found she had no idea how to handle the grief … and nor could she find help in book form. ‘All the books I could find on grief were either too dense and philosophical, or too religious. What I wanted was an honest exploration of how to deal with the worst thing. I wanted short, succinct explanations of what grief is and how to survive it, some space to be really angry and really sad and channel that in some way, and some words of hope and inspiration to get me through the darkest days. I wanted a handbook: literally a hand to lead me through my grief.’ She couldn’t find one. So she wrote one. Subtitled A guide through the worst days of your life, she shares her thoughts on the shock and disbelief and gives hints and advice on how to get through it, on the fog of grief, and the surprising physicality of it, on firsts, and lasts, and what others can do to help (drop off dinner, look after the children for an hour, sit and don’t talk … don’t say ‘let me know if you need something’ and never say ‘at least … ‘.) There are pages for notes and scribbles, recipes for rituals, and plenty of kindness. As the blurb says, The Grief Handbook will take you by the hand and offer empathy and compassion, helping you through what can feel like the worst days of your life. One day at a time. Available on Takealot – R10 goes to HPCA (Hospice), and in bookstores. Details: bridgetmcnulty.com or Instagram @msbridgetmcnulty