The Guardian is running an invitation to nominate books that have the 'cheer you up' factor. Rather than boost their Comments page, here are some that spring to mind:
- any of the Wooster & Jeeves stories by P.G. Wodehouse (often what I read when I'll in bed with flu etc.)
- a number of children's books where the rush of nostalgia acts as a physick - eg. Paddington, Professor Branestawm, Danny Fox, Winnie the Pooh (literary equivalent of nursery food)
- Frank O'Hara - let's say Lunch Poems for the sake of argument. That sheer optimism & joie de vivre. & Ted Berrigan - key poems but also his lectures on poetry (On The Level Everyday for certain)
- James Schuyler - those poems where he is looking ... especially ones featuring snow. Lisa Jarnot when I want that joy of the urban ordinary made new.
- Samuel Beckett - Murphy, Watt, Mercier & Camier. About as funny as it gets. It exasperates me how Beckett is taught with the humour drained away.
- Nature writing - perhaps Richard Mabey or Roger Deakin (especially on cold, rainy nights)
- cookery books (Nigel Slater ... Rick Stein ... Elizabeth David ... food porn, basically)
- gardening books (Monty Don ... Carol Klein ...) precisely because I am incapable.
- Joseph Cornell's diaries edited by Mary Ann Caws - inexhaustible.
- the Iain Pattison (spelling?) volume collecting together the lead-ins for Humph on I'm Sorry I Haven't A Clue. A gem.
- Nietzsche & Gilles Deleuze. Hope this doesn't sound pretentious - I really mean it. A paragraph or two is enough - like mainlining some potent drug. Obstacles suddenly become trivial.
- Rilke - not so much the poems as the prose (certain letters for sure)
- Thoreau & Emerson - for a Transcendentalist rush
- Sherlock Holmes - to wallow in the fin-de-siècle glow & cleverness (& the pleasure in knowing them all but having forgotten them once again.)
No doubt there are others ...