Keeper of Lost Things by Ruth Hogan

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7542C48B-735E-49B8-BEF2-24F9A58B1216Oh, my lovelies! If you read just one book this month, make it this one. I laughed out loud. I sobbed. I had ALL the feels. The writing is gorgeous, the characters are, by turns, gentle, salty, and mischievous, and the story so clever.

Anthony Peardew, who lives in a beautiful house called Padua, collects lost things, catalogs them, and carefully stores them in his study. (St. Anthony of Padua, Patron Saint of Lost Things…get it?) His collecting began, as many unusual habits do, in response to a tragedy that took his one true love from him. Eventually, Anthony recovers from his loss and begins to live again, becoming an accomplished author and friend to his housekeeper, Laura. When Anthony dies, he leaves Padua and his entire estate to Laura, with the caveat that she must begin returning the lost things to their owners. She must also complete a near impossible task – find the one thing that Anthony himself lost the day his beloved Therese died. Aided by gardener Freddy and neighbor Sunshine, Laura begins to recover from her own tragedy and learns about true love and friendship.

There are so many things to love about this book. The characters are good people with flaws, people who care about each other despite their differences. Witnessing Laura’s journey from a wounded, frightened, menopausal mess to a vibrant, caring woman in charge of her own self is gratifying. The relationship she develops with Sunshine, the neighbor who decides that Laura needs a friend, is especially poignant and powerful, given that Sunshine has Down Syndrome. Her character is written with warmth, respect, strength, and intuition. She sees and understands things long before Laura and Freddy, and she is 100% part of their work in returning the lost items.

Told alternately with the secondary story of Eunice and Bomber, two people whose lives were unknowingly caught up with Anthony and Therese for decades, and interspersed with micro-stories about the lost objects themselves, Keeper of Lost Things reveals the often invisible connections between people, places, and things in a way that will stay with you for a long time. Highly recommended.

Hunch by Bernadette Jiwa


97FEF938-BD16-459A-B93F-FE3609A18274The subtitle of this book is a bit more descriptive: “Turn Your Everyday Insights Into the Next Big Thing.” Jiwa packs a decent amount of information into this short book that is all about trusting your gut and taking risks.

We’ve all had hunches – those times when we’re pretty sure something is going to happen, or that this way is the right way. Jiwa delves into what distinguishes a hunch from a guess, and boils it down to three things: curiosity, empathy, and imagination. She devotes chapters to each, but provides a half-page summary that everyone should print out and hang on a wall where they see it every day. It’s on page 81; below is a synopsis.

Curiosity = Interest + Attention – notice things and think about how to make them better.
Empathy = Worldview + Understanding – be able to put yourself in the shoes of someone experiencing a problem.
Imagination = Context + Experience – learn how to think about what already exists in a different way.

The most consistent theme throughout the book is the directive to pay attention – to your own experiences and to those of the people around you. There are several sections with activities the reader can perform to hone those paying-attention skills. Several years ago, I developed a set of observational exercises to examine and learn how people were currently using my library. Those exercises were grade school work compared to what Jiwa suggests. My mind was flying, imagining all the places I could use those exercises and what I wanted to learn from them. So much potential there…

Hunch is a slim book, and can be read in an hour or two, but it will leave you thinking about it for a very long time. If you are looking to change up your career, or are beginning any planning work within your organization, set aside some time and absorb this little gem.

Many thanks to Seth Godin and Niki Papadopoulos (Penguin Random House) and altMBA for sharing this book with me.