Since I'm afraid that all of my Winnie-the-Pooh experience is of the Disney variety, The Sunny Side was my first encounter with A.A. Milne's writing, adult or juvenile. Prior to gaining fame for his children's books, Milne was a contributing writer to the British humor magazine Punch. This book is a collection of short stories and essays taken from that period of Milne's life.
Although the collection boasts both stories and essays, the line is very blurred between what is pure fiction and what is a fictionalized account of Milne's own life. The pieces are loosely grouped according to theme, such as home life, wartime, etc. Throughout all of them, Milne writes with a voice that's sweet, funny, and a pleasure to read. His tone has a tendency to be self deprecating, with several stories poking fun at personal mishaps that get him into trouble, from minor white lies, like pretending he's read a book that he hasn't, to more absurd situations, like posing as a bird expert during a weekend holiday in the country...until an actual bird expert unexpectedly joins the party. At other times he writes with a slightly more serious undercurrent, like in he wartime story "Common" about a little stuffed dog that serves as a good luck charm in the trenches of World War I. It's by no means a heavy or sombre story, but it manages to mix a poignancy in with its humor.
Oddly enough, this is a collection that has grown on my over time since finishing it. I think I made the mistake of reading it cover to cover, which caused many of the pieces to blend into one another. Looking back, I would have preferred to read just one or two stories at a time to let them sink in and give myself more time to appreciate little gems like this quote from the book:
"We all have one special book of our own which we recommend to our acquaintances, regarding the love of it as perhaps the best passport to our friendship."
While I'm not sure that one book can make or break an entire friendship, I do think that a commonly loved book can help forge a bond, even more than a shared taste in music or movies can. Do you have a favorite book that you'd consider to be a ticket to your friendship?