What books would you give a hypothetical godchild on the occasion of their 21st birthday? The books that might, all added up, act as a guide for life?
In London’s The Spectator, writer Simon Akam writes about godfathers, and ruminates on the works of literature he would give his godson.
He writes: “There is much to be said for godfathers. They offer the wisdom of maturity without the complications of direct filial ties. Likewise there is much to be said for 21st birthday celebrations, the last relic in our ossified, post-industrial society of the adulthood rituals of traditional peoples.
“The godfather’s 21st birthday present to his godson marks a notable point in the annals of gift giving … the ultimate godfather’s 21st birthday present should be books.”
The principle is that the books, taken together, should provide some guidance for a lifetime.
While Akam’s list is a very masculine one – he chose them for a young man – what books would you give a godchild that might shape their worldview, enlighten and educate them, or give them comfort in confusing world as they move into adulthood?
It might be hard to choose 21, so feel free to add just one, or two or three. (Actually, once you start thinking about it, it might be hard to stop at 21!)
Here’s a short list to get you started.
The Complete Works of William Shakespeare.
Madame Bovary, by Gustave Flaubert.
1984, by George Orwell.
Anna Karenina, by Leo Tolstoy.
Crime and Punishment, by Fyodor Dostoyevsky.
The Handmaid’s Tale, by Margaret Atwood.
The Road, by Cormac McCarthy.
The Long Road to Freedom, by Nelson Mandela.
Think about the books that guided your life, and add your suggestions in comments below…