World Book Day is about celebrating books, writers and imaginations. But this year, we wanted to take a look at the books that inspired us to do something, to get involved, to make a difference. These might be books about saving the world – or just about improving one small corner of it. Books written about the good guys or written by the good girls. Books by social heroes, or the books that convinced us change needed to happen.
Read on for some of the recommendations by Mayfair staff and volunteers.
These two books inspired me greatly as a child/teenager – to believe in human nature and the power to help and support each other. I always get drawn back to the classics whenever I feel a bit wanting and need to have my faith restored in the power of kindness. I read as an adult and listen to a huge range of books and different genres but am always drawn to books where teams of people or an individual work to try to leave the world in a better place than before so even now I try to find books which convey the milk of human kindness.
I first heard Bryan Stevenson on Radio 4’s Desert Island Discs and I was blown away by the mild mannered, unassuming American lawyer and by his work with the Equal Justice Initiative. This book introduces his journey, from gifted young Harvard lawyer questioning his vocation to his finding it in defending the poor, the wrongly condemned and those trapped in the criminal justice system.
This book covers cases of the guilty and the innocent. It finds humanity in both. It shows the people are not just the worst thing they every did in life. It shows the importance of treating people with compassion and that acting with mercy is truly a superpower. It also shows how you can make change happen, one good decision at a time.
Even though its primary aim is to burst the bubbles of those that claim hydrogen to be the fuel of the future, this is the most inspiring book I have ever read. Yes, hydrogen is a clean source of energy, however, its mass-market use in transport is fundamentally inefficient and uneconomical – it will not reduce global warming because of the greenhouse gases generated during production and transportation, it has a low energy content per volume and weight of container, and it is notoriously difficult to store and deliver to the point of use. So, why should this negativity be inspiring? We need to find new ways to produce and harness energy but we also need to conserve the sources we already have. Too many people take the energy we use – in the form of electricity, gas, coal and oil (and all its derivatives) – for granted. The renewable forms of wind and solar are only a partial answer to clean energy generation so it’s still down to every individual to minimise their energy use, and I’ve been inspired to follow that way of thinking ever since reading this book.
A lyrical tribute to all things French, literature, loving, dying and people. One that would take one away from all the problems we have at the moment and transport one to the river Seine. It is about a man called Jean Perdu who owns a barge on the river Seine, which is like a floating library. His wife left him some 25 years previously and he has kept a room locked since her departure. On opening the room, and finding a letter from his wide, he decides to set off down the river in his barge accompanied by a lovelorn Italian book loving char lady, a shy young male novelist and two cats.
As he travels along the Seine he meets various people and suggests books that he feels will suit their personalities and help them with their troubles. His favourite saying is “Far better than any medicine prescribed by doctors”. His fellow companions add fun and laughter to the story and one really feels that these people are so real. Each of his companions gradually leaves the boat to continue their lives in way they never had thought about before meeting Jean Perdu.
This book reminded me just how important libraries and books are to our lives.
What books have inspired you? Share your titles to our Facebook page and you might be giving someone just the right inspiration at just the right moment they need it.