Review: The Joy of Small Things by Hannah Jane Parkinson

Review: The Joy of Small Things by Hannah Jane Parkinson

If the dark winter days have you feeling a little down, this month’s book might be just the pick-me-up you need. Drawn from the popular Guardian column of the same name, ‘The Joy of Small Things’ is a collection of more than 100 ‘everyday exultations and inspirations’ from journalist Hannah Jane Parkinson. From the comfort of an open fire (“home is where the hearth is”) to celebrating pockets (“I simply adore a pocket”) to finding the perfect pen (“my kink is ink”), Parkinson’s warm yet witty writing is a reminder to savour the small things in life.

From the outset, Parkinson is quick to admit that ‘The Joy of Small Things’ was inspired by JB Priestley’s book ‘Delight’, written almost 70 years earlier. “I had this book pressed into my hands by someone during an unsteady period and it helped pick the lint off my jacket, straighten my lapels and push me out into the world again,” she says. “It helped me appreciate my own pockets of pleasure: the swirling sounds of an eight-minute end-of-album track, the route of a bus newly taken, a reinvigorating cold-water swim.”

With each chapter only a couple of pages long, it’s the perfect book to dip in and out, whether alongside your morning coffee or while winding down for bed. This isn’t one to read in just a few sittings (it could start to feel a little repetitive), but I shunned my own advice and devoured the book with a big surge of joyfulness, not least because the first entry (‘The perfect dressing gown’) had me hooked. As someone who practically lives in a dressing gown, I appreciated this small joy in particular:

“One makes big decisions in life: to have kids or not, where to put down roots,” Parkinson writes. “But up there, frankly, is finding the perfect dressing gown. In the current state of the world, it’s reassuring to know I have what is basically a comfort blanket with sleeves on the back of my bedroom door.”

In contrast to our last book review, ‘The Joy of Small Things’ is a light-hearted read that’s there to crack a smile. While you won’t find anything particularly profound in Parkinson’s collection of columns, you will discover plenty of positivity to help warm the soul. Above all, this book encourages readers to find joy even in the most mundane everyday, and to appreciate the little things in life that we too often take for granted.

I’ll finish with a final delight from the book, that I’m sure will resonate with many readers - Parkinson’s fondness for clean bedding. “There is something more comforting than luxury spa trips, or even indulgent massages. Something that soothes bones, costs (almost) no money, boosts the mood and makes the nights softer and the mornings lighter,” Parkinson says. “Fresh bedding: clean, taut sheets, plumped pillows, the crinkle of a rejuvenated duvet cover.” We couldn’t agree more!

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