There is the angelic. And there is the
demonic. All you have to do is look at both sides of the cover of
Niall Edworthy and Petra Cramsie’s book, and this division of the
world becomes clear. You either see your glass as half full and enjoy
an umbrella in your drink as you think golden thoughts. Or, you see
your glass as half empty, with a dead fly floating around in it as
you wallow in your black and bloody musings.
Now, say you’re habitually an
optimist, but you suddenly feel dreary one day. No problem. Simply
flip the book over so you can find solace in The Pessimist’s
Handbook: A Companion To Despair. If the reverse is true, then, dear
newly minted optimist, you, too, can flip the book over and revel in
The Optimist’s Handbook: A Companion To Hope.
The authors have compiled quotations
from the wise and witty on 39 categories. The same categories are
found in both sides of the book, and they include: Adventure,
Alcohol, Boredom, Civilization, Health, Human Nature, Law &
Lawyers, Middle East, and Nature, to name a few. A sunny take on
alcohol, courtesy of Benjamin Franklin, is that: “Beer is proof
that God loves us and wants us to be happy.” In counterpoint, the
British philosopher Bertrand Russell tells you: “Drunkenness is
As for the state of human nature,
Sophocles deems: “There are many wonderful things, and nothing is
more wonderful than man.” But the Irish writer Rebecca West
condemns: “If the whole human race lay in one grave, the epitaph on
the headstone might well be, ‘It seemed a good idea at the time.”
Ah, the wisdom of both sides.
There are also anecdotes and factoids
inserted among the collections of quotations, giving the book a
contemporary flavor. The Pessimist’s chapter on “Men,” for
instance, mentions the discovery in 2007 that sperm cells can be
created from the bone marrow of women, meaning men might not be
necessary for procreation anymore.
So, what does the future hold? Well, that depends. You’re either an optimist, or, a pessimist. Predict accordingly.