The French Fox who found happiness in books

I discovered Jules Renard, a French writer whose name means “fox” at school. At the age of 10/11, we got to learn the poetic descriptions of animals he wrote about 100 years ago. I probably owe him a small part of my love for animal observation. Unlike many other French writers, Renard always struck me as a rather happy and well balanced person and I liked that.

Years later I still love his happy outlook and what he had to say about reading: “quand je pense à tous les livres qu’il me reste à lire, j’ai la certitude d’être encore heureux”. Which means: “when I think about all the books that I still have to read, I am convinced that I am still happy”. Simple and true.

Books to feed the soul and share with friends

One of my great pleasures has always been reading. As a kid I’d wake up early just so I could read before going outside to play with my friends.

I got so excited when, as I lived in a tiny village in Poland, my parents sent me a huge box full of books they had cherished and that would keep me company when I came back from hours in the forest. Friends also shared their books with me and I realised that loved ones and books go hand in hand. As a way for us to share what makes us dream.

Later, when I worked in a remote and tiny wooden cabin with no electricity or running water, books and writing provided a link to the treasure of human creativity and thought. A way of blending the majesty of nature with the greatness of the human spirit.

Reading in bed (yes, this was my bed)

Does anybody still read?

In recent years sadly, “busy-ness”, the internet and computers have somewhat taken me away from books. Factual books are most of what I read of late. However, being ill and the the lockdown have brought me back to these years of relative isolation in remote forests. It made me realise how much my soul still longs for the greatness of words. So I decided it was time to start reading a bit more!

A challenge that matters

I was tired tired this month and didn’t really have a novel to hand so I only managed to read one book. It may have been an autobiography but it was a really good insight into some of what moves humans to “be the change”. Yes, I’m aware that Toms didn’t quite earn enough money and that were were all kind of issues around the brand but it doesn’t really matter. This simple book inspired me and reminded me that I need to read more.

So let it be the start of something that matters: I am committing to reading at least one non-factual book a month this year.

And to keep the tradition of sharing, I’m asking you all for reading inspiration! What books do you love? What books have made a difference to your life?