In order to be good human beings, we must actively seek to learn about the experiences of others. Listen to them, understand them, empathise with them, take them in and have them in the back of our heads when we interact with the rest of the world. I’ve become obsessed with this concept in the past couple of years, because I think it’s really important. There are lots of ways to do this, the easiest being just having conversations with as many people as possible, exploring different points of view when you disagree with someone instead of dismissing them. My favourite regular doses of empathy lessons come from the Beautiful Anonymous and This American Life podcasts – real stories, unfiltered, from real people with something interesting to say that I usually haven’t heard before.
Why am I banging on about this philosophy, you ask? Well, because the Vintage Minis series from Vintage Books – the first twenty books of which have been released this month – has given me the perfect opportunity to do so. VB asked me a couple months back if I was interested in having a read of the food and drink books in their new series all about what it means to be human. I of course accepted but was desperate to read more than just the books in my category – what with the constant pursuit of hearing about other peoples experiences and all.
They very kindly sent me over a few of the titles so that I could get a preview on the series and give my brain a little schooling. I found each of them as enlightening as the next. I also found that the series introduced me to writers that everybody else seemed to sort of inherently know about that I was only discovering for the first time. I had what I would describe as a less conventional education period than most, so I’m not well read in the way I’d like to be, and a little series like this that gives snapshots of a prolific author’s work in just a few pages has proved to be a quick and successful way of beginning to reverse that.
Eating by Nigella Lawson is of course a delight. A smattering of her gorgeous recipes intertwined with her upstanding morals on the joy of food and a refusal to succumb to low fat cooking. Death by Julian Barnes was filled with funny and self deprecating observations of our obsession with ourselves and subsequent inability to accept our inevitable sticky ends. Psychedelics by Aldous Huxley was fascinating, an account of one of our most famous authors bending his mind for the sake of literature. Those are my highlights, but there are 20 out already for you to choose from.
The advantage of the ‘mini’ series is that you can jump into somebody else’s mind and get their message in no more than one to two nights reading – and for only a few quid. I really can’t recommend that as an experience enough. Seeing as I want to get you all on board so desperately, I figured I might as well give you the chance to win a couple copies of your own.
Win one of three copies of either Eating by Nigella Lawson or Drinking by John Cheever by clicking here!
The giveaway ends in a week so enter now and tell all your friends. Also, hit me up when you read something from the series so that we can discuss please!