Every human life has its times of disappointment and difficulty—and all the more so when our world is living through its own troubled times. This year, and some years after, will see the worst economic downturn since the Great Depression of the 1930s. Workers are out of a job, homeowners are out on the street, and nations are in turmoil all around the globe. But since it’s better to light a candle than to curse the darkness, poet and anthologist Alan Jacobs has gathered some of the world’s most inspiring writings to dispel the gloom, restore our peace, and fortify us against our fears.
Here, organised around 60 themes—mystery, fantasy, prudence, endurance, dream, myth, nature, rapture—are heart-lifting passages from poets, writers and thinkers who meet lifeʼs challenges with courage and insight. What do Sigmund Freud and Sir Walter Scott have to say about strength? What can we learn about money from Henry Ford and Robert Frost? For insight into humour, we hear from James Thurber, Mark Twain and Marilyn Monroe; for music, it’s Hammerstein, Schubert and Gypsy Rose Lee. Other selections come from Simone de Beauvoir (on happiness), grief expert Elisabeth Kubler-Ross (on optimism), Booker T. Washington (on success), and beloved children’s author Shel Silverstein (on serendipity), as well as sacred texts and folk traditions.