Add a Little Tenderness
Books to get you in the loving mood
By: Su Aziz
Su Aziz picks out five titles that add a little love, kindness, tolerance, justice and passion into all your relationships this Valentine’s.
Yes, it is that time of the year again when men clamour to be romantic. Cupid is more arrow-happy than usual, and some singles become more resolute about remaining single (“why all this fuss, really?”).
I’ve decided to commemorate this season of romance with five books that have evoked the odd feeling or two, a romantic mood nevertheless. Maybe, just maybe, they might set your heart aflutter too.
P.S. I LOVE YOU
THE fact that Hilary Swank agreed to be in the film adapted from this book says a lot. You see, I have long since given up hope that a Taj Mahal will be erected for me in the name of eternal love. Having reached my 30s, I now understand that this only happens to one or two lucky women in an entire civilization! Sigh.
In this book, its main character receives insistent nudges to continue living and to be happy, long after the passing of her partner, through a series of letters. Ahern, the author of the book (and letters, of course!), posted another way of immortalizing love. A selfless one, that is. A world of difference from the Taj surely, but definitely achievable for mere mortals like me.
The book’s an enjoyable read and you would want to turn the pages, if only to know what the next letter will be about.
WHY MARS & VENUS COLLIDE
This one caused some curiosity. A woman seated across from my table at my regular coffeeshop asked shyly if the book works, noticing the book’s title. It took a while for me to process her question before replying, “I suppose reading it will definitely make for a peaceful and tactful household!”
Just as I was leaving for the day, I turned to her and said: “It defined something I always failed to articulate in words, though.” She looked up curiously as I showed her a page from the book with the line: “… divorced women are often happier because they have finally taken responsibility for their own happiness”. She smiled and replied, “Why haven’t half of them realized it then?”
With an exchange of conspirational smiles, I walked away with a sneaky feeling she would be making her way to a bookstore after her cup of latte.
SOMEONE TO LOVE
What can I say? I simply had to throw this one in. It’s fluff with a dash of thrill and chill. A terrific read for a quiet evening alone. Especially to daydream about the rich and handsome (of course) main character who buys a huge house because of a cryptic clue to his fiancee’s death on the back of a photograph he found.
Above all, you want to read this when you’re alone because you don’t want anyone to know that you are rooting for “unraveling the ties between past and present with the help of a beautiful local journalist” and how the main character “must at last reconcile his heart-wrenching loss and his own hopeful future”.
This kind of stuff must be read in private! So, enjoy!
Recently, a much-loved friend said how much he liked the new Ang Lee movie, and, above all, how”explicit the love scenes were!”. In fact, he said something to the effect of, “Positively sizzling”.
The book from which the movie was adapted is passionate. Its author, Eileen Chang, is as interesting as the stories she wrote.
Chang, who died in 1995 at the age of 75, was from an aristocratic Shanghai family who ran away with her father after her parents divorced. She studied literature at the University of Hong Kong and was forced to return to Shanghai when the Japanese attacked Hong Kong. It was then in Shanghai that she began to publish her writings in Chinese.
This Penguin book is an anthology of Lust, Caution and four short stories.
THE POWER OF KINDNESS
While John Gray’s book promotes peaceful and diplomatic households, this one promotes those attributes globally. In a world coated with superficiality, it is welcoming to be reminded that: “False kindness pollutes. As long as you are not living in the truth, you cannot really communicate with others, you cannot have trust, you cannot relate. And kindness cannot exist in a world of masks and phantoms”.
Furthermore, “Honesty,” according to Ferrucci, “is the very basis of kindness”. If that is the case, then kindness would hardly exist in today’s world!
Therefore, in the absence of kindness, I hold tight to the thought that warmth is the very basis of happiness. The book concludes that the very reason we have not plunged totally into barbarism (from the lack of kindness) is due to our ability to forgive. Well, for the most of us, anyway. The other half, I suspect, are still learning that trick!