Book Review: The Cabinet of Calm

Are you in your mubble-fubbles (feeling down, or out of sorts)? Do you need a dolorifuge (whatever it takes to expel the sadness, anguish or pain)?

The Cabinet of Calm: Soothing Words for Troubled Times, by Paul Anthony Jones, brings together a collection of the English language’s more obscure and extraordinary words with the aim of offering comfort in difficult times. Gathered together into fifty-one chapters, the author explores the etymology and need for words describing trouble and its necessary corollary – solace. It is a reminder that difficulties have always been a part of life but that things will, eventually, improve.

There are delights to be found in the eclectic selection. For example,

“When it comes to indulging yourself, a word well worth living by is abliguration, an eighteenth-century term for excessive spending on food and drink (or, as the 1724 dictionary that first defined it put it, ‘a prodigal spending in belly-cheer)'”

Those who are feeling weary may feel better after a sloum – a brief nap.

We could all benefit from a house containing a growlery

“a calming, comfortable, solitary room, filled with familiar and enlightening things, in which a bad mood can be privately vented, mused on and assuaged.”

Within these pages there is no denial that people will feel anxious. What is offered is perspective. Words and their meanings develop over centuries; the experiences they were first used to describe remain familiar.

This is not a self help book so much as a reminder that the ability to express what is happening succinctly can lead to recognition that feelings will improve. The author explains the parlance of certain negative words before highlighting the many more hopeful locutions that also exist.

interfulgent – even in dark times, there is always light

meliorism – a call to arms,

“a belief that a better world is not only possible but inarguably worth taking the effort to create”

This is a book that will appeal to those who take pleasure in language and find joy in the discovery of words previously unknown. The slant towards positivity is to be welcomed given our current situation.

It is a text to be dipped into and learned from. An encouragement to view whatever is happening through a more balanced lens.

mooreeffoc – an approach to life

“things don’t in themselves become boring […] we allow ourselves to become bored with them. Change that way of thinking, and we can change the world around us.”

My copy of this book was provided gratis by the publisher, Elliot and Thompson.


One comment on “Book Review: The Cabinet of Calm

  1. I just finished this one too, a nice little book.

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