The Simplest Gift by Stefanos Xenakis
“What if gifts aren’t in a pretty box tied up with a ribbon? What if some gifts come with thorns?”.
The Simplest Gift is a collection of short stories by entrepreneur and inspirational speaker Stefanos Xenakis, and the title of this book is pretty accurate: it is a simple read, which may remind its audience of something they’ve experienced many times before.
The book consists of short biographical stories with an instructive moral. These are the author’s observations of people, epiphanies that came during his time with family, or random acts of kindness with strangers. At the end of each episode is a conclusion, summarised in phrases that everyone with access to a library or the Internet already knows by heart. For example, the story of a seemingly arrogant woman Lady Muck, who behaved politely and courteously to an elderly man, ends with the instruction, “Don’t judge”; likewise the story of how the author bought a bottle of water for his neighbours on a ferry states: “It often takes so little to make someone happy”.
These texts and insights are something that many see in their Facebook feeds. However, the recent release of the Squid Game series clearly illustrates that sometimes old concepts wrapped in new packaging can find a great response from modern audiences. It is worth noting that some of Xenakis’s ideas could really be the very phrases that people need to hear right now – for example, thoughts about precious days wasted on TV or the Internet make one immediately pocket the smartphone and get down to business: “Before you know it, the years go by. And then, you take a look at yourself in the mirror and you kick yourself because you let all that time pass.”
Among the quotes of Confucius and the retelling of well-known parables, truths are hidden, the repetition of which will not be superfluous for any of us. In a rather direct way the author teaches his readers to enjoy life, seeing the beauty in small things and not spending their days in vain, and believe in themselves and their dreams: “You can’t cook an egg in lukewarm water; it has to be boiling. And your heart has to boil about your dream every day. “
The Simplest Gift is published by Harper Collins at the hardback price of £14.99, and is available in the UK on 14th October 2021.