A Winter Book by Tove Jansson Sort of Books, HK$112 'You should never keep a single inessential object in your boat,' says the 12-year-old protagonist of The Boat and Me as she plans an adventure. That spirit of spareness infuses the short stories for adults written by Tove Jansson, best known as the creator of the deep-thinking, big-snouted Moomins. Each of the 20 tales in the collection, compiled by Ali Smith, contains nuggets of wisdom dressed simply for wide appeal. A careless reader might mistake some of the references as the effortless musings of a dreamer. (Jansson, who died in 2001 aged 86, was the daughter of bohemian artists.) But close inspection shows why her writing has been described variously as miraculous, inexplicable and uplifting. Add to that oddly comforting (read Albert, about two young friends whose relationship is forged on the fact that the eponymous character always puts things right), poignant (The Squirrel, about loneliness and autonomy) and sad (Taking Leave, about old age). There are letters from Jansson's fans, including a Japanese girl whose feelings may resonate with some readers: 'I want to live on an island. I love lonely islands and I love flowers and snow.'