Book review: The Little Book of Moods


One of the saddest things about loving books to death is finding that someone else has actually killed them off.

I feel crazy-mad in love with a little "snack book", my beloved paternal grandfather's term for them, way back in 2004, when it caught my eye on an impulse-buy shelf at some local booksellers' shop.

I'm rather, er, frugally-minded, so I tend to wait before buying. But I kept coming back again and again to read Jane Eldershaw's delicious, compact, textbook/diagnostic of the things what ail us, The Little Book of Moods: 101 Ways to Identify and Deal with Any Emotion.

It offers exactly what it says on the cover: a quick way to identify what sort of a mood you're in, plus a handful of prescriptives for handing it. "Sulky," for example, is a place of withholding or withdrawing: "an attempt to punish someone or try to make her care by demonstrating your unhappiness without putting it into words." Well, Eldershaw put that into words, and not very many, and very well chosen. There follow a quick series of illuminating circumstances, thoughts and how-tos for starting to find your way out of it.

She does the same with, well, 100 other moods, among them: "frumpy", "ineffectual", "apprehensive" and "vengeful". We're talking way beyond mad/sad/glad, here. When I first picked up my copy, I was in the throes of a bloody breakup, the most challenging theatrical role of my career and the beginning stages of Crohn's. God knows what kinds of moods I was in at any given moment; the only thing I knew is that they were flitting through me like cards from the shoe of a particularly robust blackjack table. For a spinning top like me, The Little Book was a small miracle, something that would shut down the voices in my head and give me something to actually do, that I might keep them quiet a while longer.

It's no longer in print (F&W, my homies! what's up with that?!) and Eldershaw seems to have moved on to making jewelry from junk, but The Little Book lives on in extant copies available at low, low prices from resellers on Amazon, ALibris and Nothing would make me happier than to have a run on them, as it might convince the publisher (F&W! my peeps! come on!) or Eldershaw to revisit the book, and/or perhaps put up some nifty, sortable website with the amazing technology that's evolved over the past five years. Content with the shit tagged out of it would help you more readily suss out your awful mood (let's face it, the good ones are easy to grok, though still fun to read about) and do something about it. Make the world a better, happier place. (Seriously. Can we get Gretchen on this or something?)

Regardless, I highly recommend you snag your own copy. Mine has been my constant, if sometimes neglected, companion for almost five years now. I can't help but think you or someone you love wouldn't love one, too...


Image by allyaubry via Flickr, used under a Creative Commons license.