I just finished reading a great book by American war veteran and psychiatrist, Gordon Livingston. It’s called the thing you think you cannot do: thirty truths about fear and courage. I didn’t pick it up because I’m a particularly fearful person; in fact, I’m not sure why, given its relatively humdrum cover, I picked it up at all. But it spoke to me.
Livingston writes in a clear and accessible way, about some of the most difficult issues we face. How should we live in a world that is manifestly unfair, sometimes violent, and haunted by our impending deaths? What is real courage and who can we identify as heroic? Where do love, humour and hope factor into the equation? This short but very worthwhile read - peppered with quotes from everyone from Hillel to Nietzsche - is sure to make you think.
Here is my favourite quote, by Rumi: Forget safety. Live where you fear to live. Destroy your reputation. Be notorious. It doesn’t represent the tone of the whole book, but there’s something about the imperative to destroy one’s own reputation that I think is fantastic.
Need more suggestions about great books? Ask a librarian, during your next visit!