Written by Arlenea Halyda, Content Writer Intern at Project Child Indonesia
People say that books are the windows to the world—buku adalah jendela dunia. As an avid reader who tends to use books as an escapism method, I’m inclined to agree. Though, I’d like to alter a bit of that phrase, if I may.
Books are the windows to the soul.
As we’re entering 2022, it’s more important than ever to reconnect with the people around us; friends we haven’t seen in over a year, family members we haven’t visited in a while. During the global pandemic of 2020 and 2021, most of us were probably confined within our homes to prevent the virus from spreading. And having gone through such periods of isolation, I came to realize that as important as it was to see the world, it’s more important to be able to connect with people, especially when we couldn’t see them. Right now, we may not have a world to travel in, but human connections have the power to transcend any boundaries.
And books, while it allows you to see the world, it mostly grants you the ability to roam the mind—whether it’s your own, the characters, the author, or a friend who recommends it to you. It was, after all, created by a stream of thoughts that’s poured into words on paper. Hence why I said books are the windows to the soul.
So, in this article, I’d like to share three books that are filled with hope, lessons, and what it means to be connected with people. Seeing that 2022 is a brand new year full of new opportunities, I thought these books might inspire you to make the best out of this year.
The Travelling Cat Chronicles by Hiro Arikawa (Fiction)
Whether you like cats or not, Nana the cat is guaranteed to leave its claw mark on your heart.
The premise of The Travelling Cat Chronicles is quite simple: Satoru and his cat Nana were embarking on a road trip in which they visited the friends Satoru made during his youth. The book was narrated by Nana the cat, and he took us through Japan’s countryside as we recounted Satoru’s past memories. Throughout reading this book, I truly felt as if I was seeing Satoru’s world unfolding before my eyes, basking in a golden glow of nostalgia and reminiscence.
Nana’s narration was truly what made this book special. Instead of lamenting how he and Satoru were going to be separated, Nana focused on the beautiful parts of the journey. He showed us how deep friendship can run, and how meaningful passerby people and animals can be. Nana’s subtle yet strong emotion bled through the pages, just like how my tears stained the paper.
Through Nana and Satoru’s journey, I understood better what it means to be a friend. They’ve shown me all facets of love, and how even the simplest acts of kindness can go a long way. I came to understand that in a fickle and unpredictable life, the best thing you can do is to give out love and kindness. That’s what Satoru did, and I aspire to be someone like him.
If you’re looking for a wonderful tale of friendship between a cat and a human, pick this book up! Prepare your tissues, though.
What I Know for Sure by Oprah Winfrey (Biography)
Ever wondered what kind of wisdom is stored within the Oprah Winfrey? Here’s your chance.
What I Know for Sure is an anthology of Oprah’s own lived experiences. But unlike most biographies, Oprah didn’t tell you the chronological order of her life—she instead told you the stories through the lessons she learned through her experiences, and what she ended up knowing for sure. Oprah weaved her life’s tale so gently that you can’t help but feel like she’s another one of your friends, reading these stories the way a friend would.
Reading this book felt like a huge weight was taken off my shoulder. It has shown me that there are always things to learn at any given time, and I came to see how precious our lives are, how many joys are stored in even the littlest things. I understood that the bad things that happened don’t define us—the things we learned from them do. It gave me the consolation that things will change… But throughout it all, there will always be things we’ll know for sure.
These things we’ll know for sure are our core beliefs, the lessons our mother taught us, and the lessons we gained ourselves. And after reading this book, for the first time, I felt okay knowing that I haven’t had everything figured out yet. Life continues for as long as we live, and what a celebration that is.
If you’re in need of a book that feels like a giant warm hug, this is the book for you.
Lonely Castle in the Mirror by Mizuki Tsujimura (Fiction)
If you’re in need of thrilling ghibli-esque escapism, you can bet on this book to deliver just that.
Lonely Castle in the Mirror told the story of Kokoro, a stay-at-home middle school girl who found a portal to another world glimmering in her mirror. Inside the world was a castle with six other children, a ferocious Wolf Queen, and a deal of a lifetime: to find a key, and be granted any wish she’d like. As time went on, however, Kokoro almost forgot about the main task and befriended the other children instead, forging a bond she never thought she could have.
This whimsical story is full of twists and turns, with wholesome friendship and enough mystery to keep you on your toes. The message from this book is a bit subtler than the previous two, but it still stuck with me nonetheless, leaving me pondering about this book until even now.
This book taught me that it’s okay to seek help, and there might just be a wonderful thing waiting for you on the side you thought was so scary. It helped me come to terms with the fact that we might be separated from our friends and the people in our lives might not stay with us for a long time, but that’s okay—their kindness and the memories we shared will stay with us forever. And most importantly, this book helped me see that we’re allowed to be happy as much as we’re allowed to be sad; something that looked so simple, yet so hard to discern.
However, please be mindful of several scenes when reading this book. It has certain topics around bullying and harassment that may be triggering to some people.
Have a good 2022 ahead, and happy reading!