Publication day. Now that’s a day to forget. Throughout my years in publishing it’s always struck me as the oddest thing. From almost the moment a book becomes a glint in the editor’s eye, the date of publication accompanies talk of higher, more literary concerns. But when the date does come round it’s strangely uneventful, and no more than the little bundle of numbers it was in the first place. Meanwhile, of course, the words have been written (the biggest feat of all), the covers have been made, the ink has dried, and the finished books have been sent out into the world. So time has been filled, and a whole host of people have been busy. But on publication day itself? Nothing much happens, unless it’s just that I haven’t been invited.
But today I’m sitting at my desk and looking at six beautiful books which over the last few months have been crossing my desk in various stages of undress. And today they’re in full livery and ready for the world. Each one is a short, sharp hit of wisdom from one of six very wise (and very dead) thinkers – Nietzsche, Hobbes, Freud, Byron, Bergson and Kierkegaard. But the best thing about these books is that six very clever (and very living) writers – John Armstrong, Hannah Dawson, Brett Kahr, Matthew Bevis, Michael Foley and Robert Ferguson – have made it their mission to make sense of that wisdom and apply it to the messy reality of life. I’ve always known philosophy – and poetry and psychology – were relevant to me, but these little books have reminded me why. And they’re most definitely something to celebrate.