It's difficult to know how to respond to everything that is happening in the world today. The issues seem so great and it's easy to feel helpless. How can we halt the climate crisis? How can we get alongside the homeless and dispossessed? What can we do for the people of Ukraine?
The novelist Andrey Kurkov, 'Ukraine's greatest living author', was interviewed in the Guardian this week and was asked what we might be able to do to help Ukraine. His response was to recommend that we read non-fiction.
"Find out more about Ukraine," he says. "Read about our history: Serhii Plokhy's 'The Gates of Europe', Anne Applebaum's 'Red Famine'; Timothy Snyder's 'Bloodlands'. It's really important to understand the difference between Russia and Ukraine. If you really want to know about Ukraine's history and why this is happening, read those books."
Fiction titles were harder for him to suggest as, he says, Ukrainian literature doesn't tend to have a universal message. Nevertheless he does make some suggestions, and his own novels 'Death and the Penguin' and 'Grey Bees' have sold in high numbers in recent weeks.
Although my recommended titles this week don't refer to Ukraine, they do shine some light on difficult situations - the wise and wry words of Margaret Atwood's essays address big subjects with authority and insight, while the children's book is a clever, funny and moving presentation of what it might be like to be homeless as a child.
I was in the bookshop this week when someone picked up the book 'The Life of an MP: Everything you really need to know about politics" by Labour's Jess Phillips. The customer decided it would make the perfect gift for her Tory-voting father: "that's how we got into this mess," she said, "by not reading someone else's point of view". Whether or not we agree, it's good to read about different perspectives and experiences to our own.
Thank you for reading.