Adult Non-fiction, Behind the Books

International Kindness Day Reads

November 13th celebrates International Kindness Day and this post lists some titles available now on BorrowBox. Instead of focusing on this Friday the 13th as an unlucky day, we can use it as a day to spread kindness in our lives. These titles cover both the power of kindness and how to be kind as well as various well-known figures who during their lives became associated with kindness. As Abraham Lincoln once said,

Kindness is the only service that will stand the storm of life and not wash out

As some of these titles point out, it is the smallest acts of kindness that can make all the difference to another person, from a kind word or a empathetic gesture, that can turn a bad day around for even a short period of time. In these tough times, kindness is more important than ever and as is some lighter fare reading material may help to take your mind off the things that are impacting you. 

Kindness – The Little Thing that Matters Most

Author: Jaime Thurston

In this little self-help book, the author recounts small ways in which they themselves showed kindness to 52 others and inspires the reader to do the same. Sprinkled among the accounts of these interactions are scientific grounding for the positive effects in the mind and heart of those kindness touches. Ideas range from giving away a minute to somebody near you to being kind to unkind people. The general principle is to complete one kind act a week, 52 in total a year,  a similar mantra to The Irish Girl Guides idea of ‘Good Turns’. Simple acts that don’t require great deals of money or time are plentiful in this book and sometimes it’s not even connected to doing something new – rather just learning how to do things better such as apologising correctly or being more conscious and listening rather than interjecting with your own thoughts.  To match the concept of being nice on the inside, the book is also full of beautiful illustrations and quotes. One story in the book I found striking  is about being less serious, especially when spending time with those who have a life-threatening illness. The person is question had cancer and said the following:

“When I was recovering from cancer I’d have loved to have more fun experiences, my friends were a great support but there it was sitting around chatting, serious all the time, I wanted to laugh, be normal and feel alive.”

This is something the author feels we the reader can work on as the person who is ill or is at risk of getting ill is already very aware of these things. While it is sometimes hard to think positive or lighten the mood, we can think of ways to make them smile or a fun activity they can do without exerting themselves too much. This book focuses on the small, the doable task, with concrete examples and scientific backing as to why acts of kindness help people.  Available to borrow on Bolinda Borrowbox here.

The Power of Kindness: Inspiring Stories, Heart-Warming Tales and Random Acts of Kindness From the Coronavirus Pandemic 

Author: Debbi Marco

An all too relevant phrase, ‘the coronavirus pandemic’ drew my attention to this book as it’s a situation relevant to all of us in one way or another. It also speaks of small kindnesses and the act of coming together that can alleviate the stresses and hardships of this ongoing crisis. While some of the mentioned tasks require certain materials, a good amount of the kindnesses mentioned are things we can all do for our neighbours.This book also teaches a great deal in the power of our own resilience, while being an easy read with an uplifting message, perfect for any case of reader’s block occurring with a lot of people at present. While some would prefer to compartmentalise  thoughts of this pandemic, others deal better with crises when they lean into them and I found reading this book was a positive way of doing that. Feelings of helplessness and not being able to continue to serve our community in the same way was a huge concern for many like myself used to seeing the public everyday and while many of us have found ways of evolving to do that, books such as this spark ideas of more ways of spreading kindness during hard times. It’s also important that this book re-states the point made in one of my favourite children’s picture books, ‘How Full is Your Bucket’ by Mary Reckmeyer and Tom Rath  that giving kindness also fills our invisible good feelings bucket -’’The more happiness you give, the more you get in return’

Available to borrow from Bolinda Borrowbox here.

Diana – Her True Story – In Her Own Words

Author: Andrew Morton

Princess Diana once said, “Carry out a random act of kindness, with no expectation of reward, safe in the knowledge that one day someone might do the same for you.” This is just a taste of the breadth of her own kind nature. Any google result will generally include her in a list of well -known people who were known for their kindness. While this book is in ways perhaps a bit stark to the nature of Diana’s kindness, Andrew Morton’s biography is the most intimate and most popular biography of the late princess. Morton was a journalist said to have interviewed Diana before her death and he claimed the content about the breakdown of her marriage to Prince Charles and her struggles with depression and an eating disorder came from her own words. Wherever the content came from, it is clear that rather than let her problems get her down, Diana used her own hurdles as a drive to help others and empathise with suffering individuals. As biographies go, it is as the saying goes very ‘tell all’ and is very much a forerunner of many similar books to follow, but this often comes across in a ‘Hello Magazine’ manner, with scandalous revelations rather than a heartfelt detailing of a person’s trials by an empathetic writer. It paints the royal family as the villain of the piece and while it is a rather closed off institution that  may be guilty of some things  this creates a rather one sided approach as the author does not appear to have interviewed too many of the other side to get a less biased picture. The main issue I had was how every single detail was exposed to its farthest and most dramatic extent, and  while this helps the public understand the hardships of being on the other side of public attention, it feels like the author is selling Diana as a commodity rather than telling her story at times. 

Available to borrow from Bolinda Borrowbox here.

The Language of Kindness – A Nurse’s Story

Author: Christie Watson

We are (or should be) constantly grateful for the life-saving work our doctors and nurses do, never more so than at present. This title offers a front row view to the life of a nurse in the UK, from giving a child who has been fatally injured in a fire some dignity to caring for patients about to undergo live-changing or possibly life-ending surgery. Many have described the book as both unflinching and tender, displaying the full extent of this nurse’s compassion. It’s told in a chronological order of sorts, from stories of births to stories of ill adults to death and elder care. There is a sense that every story has a purpose in the book and not just present because it’s simply a good story – it is to the point but also philosophical on the benefit of kindness, the meaning of life etc. A useful part of the book is the way in which the author talks about the skill sets that will work best in different departments and pointing out how nurses do the balancing act of needing to be the most compassionate but also not letting their experiences affect their own wellbeing. The author also shines a harsh light on how undervalued nurses often are by the NHS and emphasising a nurse’s role as the heart of the hospital – bringing a human touch to the experience of the most vulnerable. Sometimes just holding a hand or listening is as important as medical care. 

Available to borrow on Bolinda Borrowbox here.

Kindness and Wonder- Why Mister Rogers Matters Now More Than Ever

Author: Gavin Edwards 

Whether or not you were aware of Mr Rogers before Tom Hanks’ moving performance in ‘A Beautiful Day in the Neighbourhood’, much like myself, you will have possibly seen references in popular culture. Or perhaps even a sense of the type of tv host he was if you enjoyed the film ‘Mrs Doubtfire’ as he also answered fan mail on air. In the US he was widely known to have a big heart and made his television shows resonate with children at an emotional level, tackling important issues such as sibling rivalry and divorce. This book details in particular his beloved show ‘Mister Rogers Neighbourhood’ which spanned from 1968 to as late as 2001, two years before the gentleman’s untimely death. It also speaks to the man himself and the lessons taught in the show, most notably how to be a compassionate, thoughtful and good person who also values themselves. While some of this type of cheer can feel cheesy to some, even the most dark person can appreciate hope and faith in humanity as presented by this tv host. Much like the tv show the first part of the book talks about, the second part of the book comes to focus on the person enjoying the book and how they themselves can bring kindness and empathy into the world around them in an easy ten step chapter by chapter approach. This is an easy read that shines more light on tv work as well as the Mr Rogers life. An enjoyable and interesting section, discusses how Mr Rogers dealt with people who made fun of him and how he did not withhold his kindness from any person. 

Available to borrow from Bolinda Borrowbox here.

If you were looking for content on other people famous for their kindness, or indeed information for younger minds, don’t forget that with your library account you can access Britanicca to research everyone from Mother Teresa to Lady Gaga .

For the little kind people in your life, you can listen along to an old library recording of a book from the ‘How Full is Your Bucket’ series mentioned earlier 

Or for some ideas of things you can do to spread Kindness can be find at the Random Acts of kindness website here.

All titles were available at time of writing, please check BorrowBox for availability.

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