If I could offer you only one tip for the future, sunscreen
would be it. The long-term benefits of sunscreen have been
proved by scientists, whereas the rest of my advice has no
basis more reliable than my own meandering experience. I will
dispense this advice now.
Enjoy the power and beauty of your youth. Oh, never mind.
You will not understand the power and beauty of your youth
until they’ve faded. But trust me, in 20 years, you’ll look
back at photos of yourself and recall in a way you can’t grasp
now how much possibility lay before you and how fabulous you
really looked. You are not as fat as you imagine.
Don’t worry about the future. Or worry, but know that worrying
is as effective as trying to solve an algebra equation by chewing
bubble gum. The real troubles in your life are apt to be things
that never crossed your worried mind, the kind that blindside you
at 4 pm on some idle Tuesday.
Do one thing every day that scares you.
Don’t be reckless with other people’s hearts. Don’t put up with
people who are reckless with yours.
Don’t waste your time on jealousy. Sometimes you’re ahead,
sometimes you’re behind. The race is long and, in the end,
it’s only with yourself.
Remember compliments you receive. Forget the insults. If you
succeed in doing this, tell me how.
Keep your old love letters. Throw away your old bank statements.
Don’t feel guilty if you don’t know what you want to do with
your life. The most interesting people I know didn’t know at
22 what they wanted to do with their lives. Some of the most
interesting 40-year-olds I know still don’t.
Get plenty of calcium. Be kind to your knees. You’ll miss them
when they’re gone.
Maybe you’ll marry, maybe you won’t. Maybe you’ll have children,
maybe you won’t. Maybe you’ll divorce at 40, maybe you’ll dance
the funky chicken on your 75th wedding anniversary. Whatever you
do, don’t congratulate yourself too much, or berate yourself
either. Your choices are half chance. So are everybody else’s.
Enjoy your body. Use it every way you can. Don’t be afraid of
it or of what other people think of it. It’s the greatest
instrument you’ll ever own.
Dance, even if you have nowhere to do it but your living room.
Read the directions, even if you don’t follow them.
Do not read beauty magazines. They will only make you feel ugly.
Get to know your parents. You never know when they’ll be gone
for good. Be nice to your siblings. They’re your best link to
your past and the people most likely to stick with you in the
Understand that friends come and go, but with a precious few
you should hold on. Work hard to bridge the gaps in geography
and lifestyle, because the older you get, the more you need
the people who knew you when you were young.
Live in New York City once, but leave before it makes you hard.
Live in Northern California once, but leave before it makes you
Accept certain inalienable truths: Prices will rise. Politicians
will philander. You, too, will get old. And when you do, you’ll
fantasize that when you were young, prices were reasonable,
politicians were noble, and children respected their elders.
Respect your elders.
Don’t expect anyone else to support you. Maybe you have a trust
fund. Maybe you’ll have a wealthy spouse. But you never know when
either one might run out.
Don’t mess too much with your hair or by the time you’re 40 it
will look 85.
Be careful whose advice you buy, but be patient with those who
supply it. Advice is a form of nostalgia. Dispensing it is a way
of fishing the past from the disposal, wiping it off, painting
over the ugly parts and recycling it for more than it’s worth.
and your hair is messy.
You haphazardly put on your jeans and shirt
as you moan about the day of the week -
and I love you.
and you’re stumbling your way around the room,
trying to sort out the things you have to do.
You stop to briefly kiss the freckles on my nose,
asking me about my day -
and I love you.
and you’re quietly sprawled on the couch.
You pat the spot next to you and pepper kisses on my hair
because it’s my least favorite day of the week (and you know it) -
and I love you.
and you’re wondering what the weekend will bring,
but you’re still moaning about how
the week is going by too slow for your tastes -
and I love you.
and I’m surrounded by DVDs and snacks
you’ve prepared when I was gone.
You welcome me with blankets and warmth from your arms -
and I love you.
and you’re feeling lazy.
You won’t let me leave your arms
(or is it the other way around?)
So you tuck me under your chin as we both wonder
how much time we have left
before sleep makes us miss each other’s faces -
and I love you.
and there’s nothing much to say but
I love you.
Pride and Prejudice - Jane Austen The Lord of the Rings - JRR Tolkien Jane Eyre - Charlotte Bronte Harry Potter series - JK Rowling To Kill a Mockingbird - Harper Lee The Bible Wuthering Heights - Emily Bronte Nineteen Eighty Four - George Orwell His Dark Materials - Philip Pullman Great Expectations - Charles Dickens Little Women - Louisa M Alcott Tess of the D’Urbervilles - Thomas Hardy Catch 22 - Joseph Heller Rebecca - Daphne Du Maurier The Hobbit - JRR Tolkien Birdsong - Sebastian Faulk Catcher in the Rye - JD Salinger The Time Traveller’s Wife - Audrey Niffenegger Middlemarch - George Eliot Gone With The Wind - Margaret Mitchell The Great Gatsby - F Scott Fitzgerald Bleak House - Charles Dickens War and Peace - Leo Tolstoy The Hitch Hiker’s Guide to the Galaxy - Douglas Adams Brideshead Revisited - Evelyn Waugh Crime and Punishment - Fyodor Dostoyevsky Grapes of Wrath - John Steinbeck Alice in Wonderland - Lewis Carroll The Wind in the Willows - Kenneth Grahame Anna Karenina - Leo Tolstoy David Copperfield - Charles Dickens Chronicles of Narnia - CS Lewis Emma - Jane Austen Persuasion - Jane Austen The Kite Runner - Khaled Hosseini Captain Corelli’s Mandolin - Louis De Bernieres Memoirs of a Geisha - Arthur Golden Winnie the Pooh - AA Milne Animal Farm - George Orwell The Da Vinci Code - Dan Brown One Hundred Years of Solitude - Gabriel Garcia Marquez A Prayer for Owen Meaney - John Irving The Woman in White - Wilkie Collins Anne of Green Gables - LM Montgomery Far From The Madding Crowd - Thomas Hardy The Handmaid’s Tale - Margaret Atwood Lord of the Flies - William Golding Atonement - Ian McEwan Life of Pi - Yann Martel Dune - Frank Herbert Cold Comfort Farm - Stella Gibbons Sense and Sensibility - Jane Austen A Suitable Boy - Vikram Seth The Shadow of the Wind - Carlos Ruiz Zafon A Tale Of Two Cities - Charles Dickens Brave New World - Aldous Huxley The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time - Mark Haddon Love In The Time Of Cholera - Gabriel Garcia Marquez Of Mice and Men - John Steinbeck Lolita - Vladimir Nabokov The Secret History - Donna Tartt The Lovely Bones - Alice Sebold Count of Monte Cristo - Alexandre Dumas On The Road - Jack Kerouac Jude the Obscure - Thomas Hardy Bridget Jones’s Diary - Helen Fielding Midnight’s Children - Salman Rushdie Moby Dick - Herman Melville Oliver Twist - Charles Dickens Dracula - Bram Stoker The Secret Garden - Frances Hodgson Burnett Notes From A Small Island - Bill Bryson Ulysses - James Joyce The Bell Jar - Sylvia Plath Swallows and Amazons - Arthur Ransome Germinal - Emile Zola Vanity Fair - William Makepeace Thackeray Possession - AS Byatt A Christmas Carol - Charles Dickens Cloud Atlas - David Mitchell The Color Purple - Alice Walker The Remains of the Day - Kazuo Ishiguro Madame Bovary - Gustave Flaubert A Fine Balance - Rohinton Mistry Charlotte’s Web - EB White The Five People You Meet In Heaven - Mitch Albom Adventures of Sherlock Holmes - Sir Arthur Conan Doyle The Faraway Tree Collection - Enid Blyton Heart of Darkness - Joseph Conrad The Little Prince - Antoine De Saint-Exupery The Wasp Factory - Iain Banks Watership Down - Richard Adams A Confederacy of Dunces - John Kennedy Toole A Town Like Alice - Nevil Shute The Three Musketeers - Alexandre Dumas Hamlet - William Shakespeare Charlie and the Chocolate Factory - Roald Dahl Les Miserables - Victor Hugo