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Brian's Reading List - 2015

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Sounds terrific !  :D

If the dog was a cat, I'm 100% positive you would really love it and I would recommend you'd read it asap :D. With Enzo being a dog, I'd still recommend it if it sounds interesting to you, it's a great book :).

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If the dog was a cat, I'm 100% positive you would really love it and I would recommend you'd read it asap :D. With Enzo being a dog, I'd still recommend it if it sounds interesting to you, it's a great book :).

 

Well, I like all animals, but especially cats, so I wouldn`t mind a bit of doggie fiction.  :smile:

 

I worked out last night that 61/134 books of my books read this year have had cats in them.  :giggle2:

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What a great review of The Art of Racing in the Rain :smile2: I'm so happy you loved the novel! :smile2: And I went 'awwwww!' when I read the first bit in the spoiler :giggle: 

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I worked out last night that 61/134 books of my books read this year have had cats in them.  :giggle2:

Wow, that's quite a lot :giggle2:! Very interesting :).

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I was thinking, you might like The Last Family in England by Matt Haig. It's another book from the point of view of a dog, and I really loved it (although Stein's novel I found better). That is, if you're ever in the mood for a book like this. Probably not best to read very quickly after having read The Art of Racing in the Rain, but I've now thrown the title out there, in case of a rainy day. I'd highly recommend the novel.  :)

Edited by frankie

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I was thinking, you might like The Last Family in England by Matt Haig. It's another book from the point of view of a dog, and I really loved it (although Stein's novel I found better). That is, if you're ever in the mood for a book like this. Probably not best to read very quickly after having read The Art of Racing in the Rain, but I've now thrown the title out there, in case of a rainy day. I'd highly recommend the novel.  :)

I'm going to save that title / link because one never knows :). It sounds like a good story!

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I was thinking, you might like The Last Family in England by Matt Haig. It's another book from the point of view of a dog, and I really loved it (although Stein's novel I found better). That is, if you're ever in the mood for a book like this. Probably not best to read very quickly after having read The Art of Racing in the Rain, but I've now thrown the title out there, in case of a rainy day. I'd highly recommend the novel.  :)

 

Thanks, I'll be sure to check it out. My reading mojo has gone on a little wander at the moment. It's not gone completely but I am struggling to get into books that I know I would normally devour with no problem at all. I will persevere, because I know it will return at some point soon. 

 

My current reads are

 

Headhunters - Jo Nesbo

Kon-Tiki - Thor Heyerdahl

Micro Adventures - Alastair Humphreys

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I hope it's only a small wander, and your reunion with mojo will be happening in the very near future and that it will be blissful :) 

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Headhunters by Jo Nesbo

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Synopsis
Roger Brown has it all: Norway's most successful headhunter, he is married to a beautiful gallery owner and owns a magnificent house. But he's also a highly accomplished art thief.

At a gallery opening, his wife introduces him to Clas Greve. Not only is Greve the perfect candidate for a position that Brown is recruiting for; he is also in possession of 'The Calydonian Boar Hunt' by Rubens, one of the most sought-after paintings in modern art history.

Roger starts planning his biggest theft ever. But soon, he runs into trouble - and it's not financial problems that are threatening to knock him over this time...

(taken from Goodreads)


My Thoughts

My reading has hit a bit of a slump of late and as a result I have about 4 books on the go at once. My hope was that by reading many different books one would spark my interest into life. I picked this up from a charity bookstore because I have really enjoyed the Harry Hole books written by Jo Nesbo. As the cover above boasts, it is now a movie, but as is typical of me, I haven't seen it because I always want to read the book first where possible.

 

Our story revolves around Roger Brown, a good headhunter. So good in fact that he rated as being the best headhunter in the whole of Norway. He lives what, on the surface, would appear to be a dream life. He has a vast house, a flash car, and a beautiful wife. However, underneath this veneer of respectability there lies a dark secret, he is an art thief. His unique position in life puts him in regular contact with the kind of people who collect art. His procedure is relatively straight forward. During interview he finds out if they have an art collection, of what kind and also when they will be away from the property. Then it is a simple matter of breaking in and swapping the real painting with a good forgery. The forgery will be discovered eventually but not until many months later. He is very careful to make sure he leaves no trace and has no contact with the people selling on the stolen art. It's almost the perfect crime.

 

Things start to go awry when he interviews a very canny operator who has a painting far more valuable than he has targetted before. On the surface this man is like any other but Roger soon finds out that he is dealing with someone who could ruin him for good.

 

This book was ok, the characters were not particularly well developed and at no point did I find myself connecting with them in any way. The plot does get fairly ridiculous in places, so much so that I can only assume it must have been toned down for the movie. I found the book to be quite below the usual standard of Nesbo. It was ok and it did re-ignite my mojo but nothing more than that.

 

2/5 (It was ok).

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I usually try to read the book too before seeing the movie.

 

Sorry that this book was a bit of a disappointment, compared with some of Nesbo's other books. The premise sounds interesting. I'm glad it re-ignited your mojo at least though :).

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Shame it wasn't as good as you hoped. Like Athena says, the premise sounds like it would be a really good read. It makes me think of The Thomas Crown Affair (which I loved).  Anyway, I've added it to my wishlist, in the hopes that I may enjoy it.

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West Highland Way by Charlie Loram

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Synopsis
Fully revised 5th edition of the first of Trailblazer’s 13-title series of British Walking Guides. The West Highland Way is the most popular long-distance path in the country, passing through some of the most spectacular scenery in all of Britain. From the outskirts of Glasgow it winds for 95 miles along the wooded banks of Loch Lomond, across the wilderness of Rannoch Moor, over the mountains above Glencoe to a dramatic finish at the foot of Ben Nevis – Britain’s highest mountain.

5 large-scale town plans and 48 large-scale walking maps – at just under 1:20,000 – showing route times, places to stay, places to eat, points of interest and much more. These are not general-purpose maps but fully-edited maps drawn by walkers for walkers. 

(taken from Goodreads)


My Thoughts

As the summer is starting to draw to an end I have been thinking about things that I want to do next summer that for a variety of reasons I didn't do this year. One of the things on my list is to walk the West Highland Way, a long distance route from Glasgow to Fort William which covers about 95 miles. Even though it is well sign-posted and well trodden I wanted a guide book of sorts to make the whole planning process easier. This book is well reviewed on Amazon and Trailblazer has loads of similar books covering similar long distance walks.

 

The book covers just about everything a person could want to know about the WHW and the actual walking part of the book doesn't start until page 95! There are chapters covering the best time to go, what to take, how to get there, safety, conservation, flora & fauna, and also how to climb Ben Nevis. The level of detail covered is really quite remarkable. There are loads of website addresses and contact numbers for companies that a walker might be interested in dealing with. There are quite a few photos but I would have preferred if more of them were colour instead of being black & white.

 

The walking section of the book contains about 50 hand drawn maps which show the path route and other places of interest along the way. This includes how far from the path the nearest shops are, B&B's, cash points, where to get water etc. These maps look like they could easily be used to navigate the route but I think a pull-out map of the OS type would have been a welcome addition. I really liked the book and I think it will make planning my walk a whole lot easier than it otherwise would have been.

 

4/5 (I really liked it).

Edited by Brian.

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Kon-Tiki by Thor Heyerdahl

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Synopsis
"Am going to cross Pacific on a wooden raft to support a theory that the South Sea islands were peopled from Peru. Will you come?...Reply at once." That is how six brave & inquisitive men came to seek a dangerous path to test a scientific theory.
On a primitive raft made of 40' balsa logs & named Kon-Tiki in honor of a legendary sun king, Heyerdahl & five companions deliberately risked their lives to show that the ancient Peruvians could have made the 4300-mile voyage to the Polynesian islands on similar craft.

(taken from Goodreads)


My Thoughts

I found a sort of folio society edition of this book in a charity bookshop and it immediately caught my eye because of the cover illustration. I knew the name Kon-Tiki but wasn't really aware that the book was a true account of a crazy expedition. As soon as I read the blurb on the inside jacket I knew that I had to buy this book.

 

Heyerdahl had a theory that the Polynesian islands could have been settled by people from South America but the question of transport remained unanswered, so, he wanted to explore the possibility. He wrote to National Geographic magazine about the possibility of the trip being funded in return for the exclusive story of the expedition. In what must have been one of the few times National Geographic has got it wrong, they turned it down. As a result the trip was financed by a combination of private resources and the lending of equipment and facilities by some national military forces.

 

The team of six people was put together in a fairly haphazard fashion with the final member meeting them during the construction phase and asking if he could tag along. They all managed to get on really well and they all brought different skills to the team. They were fortunate that the Peruvian authorities allowed them use of a dockyard to construct a raft made of balsa wood using ancient materials and methods. One thing I found very interesting is that once they were at sea (without any support) they calculated that they had to finish the journey before a certain time otherwise the raft would become waterlogged and would sink. They seemed remarkably un-fussed by this and oblivious to the dangers that they faced.

 

The recalling of the expedition is really good and the later stages get to be very exciting indeed. In the end, Heyerdahl's theory has been largely disproved but this remains a very good book about a very interesting and exciting expedition. I really want to go to the museum near Oslo to see the raft they have there now.

 

4/5 (I really liked it).

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Microadventures by Alastair Humphreys

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Synopsis
Refresh your life with a tiny little adventure that’s close to home and easy on your pocket. Inspiration is abundant in this brilliant and beautifully-illustrated guide.

What exactly is an adventure? Something that’s new and exhilarating. Something that launches you from your comfort zone into a different place altogether. An adventure changes you and how you see the world. And while we can’t all be Bear Grylls, what an adventurer really needs is bags of enthusiasm and boundless curiosity.

Let Alastair Humphreys introduce you to the exciting world of microadventures – adventures that are close to home, cheap, simple, short, and yet very effective. A microadventure takes the spirit of a big adventure and squeezes it into a day or even a few hours. The point of microadventures is that you do not need lots of time and money to meet a new challenge. Go on a night hike; follow a nature trail; take the plunge with wild swimming. This practical guide is filled with great activities and days out, and over 150 stunning photographs, plus tips and advice on safety and kit.

Whether it is sleeping on a hilltop, cycling a lap of the Isle of Wight or walking home for Christmas, it’s time you discovered something new about yourself and the world outside your window. Adventure is everywhere, every day, and it is up to us to find it.

(taken from Goodreads)


My Thoughts

I tend to listen to a lot of podcasts while I am at work and one podcast had an interview with Alastair Humphreys about his latest book, Microadventures. Humphreys sets out to show that you don't have to climb Everest or cross the Sahara to have an adventure. He argues that we all could do with a little more adventure in our lives and we don't need lots of money or time to do this. In fact, he says that adventure is just outside our front doors.

 

This book is pretty well written with Humphreys detailing a number of microadventure that he and others have had. At the end of each chapter he suggests other adventures of a similar type that we could partake in. The adventures cover a wide variety but with most of them involving spending a night under the stars. This is where I hit the reason why I gave this book 4 stars instead of 5 stars. Wild camping is a contentious issue in England with it being technically illegal and Humphreys skirts around this issue. He also tends to focus on a lot of his adventures starting in London. Train links out of London are very varied and those living in other areas of the country may run into an issue there.

 

There are some chapters dedicated to explaining how to camp without leaving a trace and what equipment you will need. The equipment list is kept quite small on purpose and would best suit adventures in the summer.

 

The book is crammed full of ideas and makes a quick and interesting read.

 

4/5 (I really liked it).

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I like the idea of the book. Was there anything that you're definitely going to try? :)

 

Yeah, I definitely want to spend some nights sleeping under the stars without a tent.

 

One more book review to do and then I'm upto date again but it will have to wait until tomorrow.

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I love the sound of Microadventures! I probably need some microadventure in my life. 

Yeah, I definitely want to spend some nights sleeping under the stars without a tent.

 

That sounds amazing, yet also scary (creepy crawlies? cold?) Let us know if you do it!

 

Another one for the wish list. 

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I love the sound of Microadventures! I probably need some microadventure in my life. 

 

That sounds amazing, yet also scary (creepy crawlies? cold?) Let us know if you do it!

 

Another one for the wish list. 

 

I forgot to mention in my review that the second to last section of the book is dedicated to 'reasons not to sleep outside'. Humphreys goes to great lengths to assuage any fears the reader may have including the creepy crawlies etc. I've slept under canvas a lot, especially in my younger days, but sleeping with nothing apart from a sleeping bag and bivvy bag would be a new experience for me. I imagine that using a bivvy bag instead of a sleeping bag must feel a lot more exposed than using a tent because in a tent you can shut the outside world away.

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Stuffocation by James Wallman

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Synopsis
In this groundbreaking book, trend forecaster James Wallman reveals the world's growing sense of Stuffocation - and how we can move away from it. We have more stuff than we could ever need - clothes we don't wear, kit we don't use, and toys we don't play with. But having everything we thought we wanted isn't making us happier. It's bad for the planet. It's cluttering up our homes. It's making us feel 'stuffocated' and stressed - and it might even be killing us.

In this groundbreaking book, trend forecaster James Wallman finds that a rising number of people are turning their backs on all-you-can-get consumption, from the telecoms exec who's sold almost everything he owns, to the well-off family who have moved into a remote mountain cabin. Wallman's solution to our clutter crisis is less extreme, but equally fundamental. We have to transform what we value. We have to focus less on possessions and more on experiences. Rather than a new watch or another pair of shoes, we should invest in shared experiences like holidays and time with friends.

With intriguing insights on psychology, economics and culture, Stuffocation is a vital manifesto for change. It has inspired those who have read it to be happier and healthier, and to live more, with less.

(taken from Goodreads)


My Thoughts

As some members of this forum may have noticed, over the course of this year I have been embracing some aspects of minimalism. Although I appreciate the aesthetic aspect of minimalism, my main area of interest is the fact that I believe that we consume at a rate far higher than we need to. Some people seem perfectly happy with this and that's fine but I have been slowly getting rid of stuff that I don't actually need. Obviously books are a part of this but I am still prone to the odd spree. This book was part of a multi-buy offer and normally I probably wouldn't have bought it, but it sounded interesting and it completed a deal so I decided to take the plunge.

 

Wallman clearly has done a lot of research into the subject and he comes to it from a different point of view than other books on the subject that I have read. He doesn't proclaim to be a minimalist as such, and as a result he presents a picture from the outside looking in rather than the other way round. Wallman looks at a history of consumerism and how as a population, we have moved from being 'trained to deal with scarcity', to 'struggling with abundance'. I should state at this point that the book concentrates mainly on the American trend towards consumerism but I would also say it applies to a lot of modern population bases including my own. This section of the book is unique as I haven't seen another book on minimalism which covers how we ended up here. He looks at the political and economic reasons why consumerism works (or at least worked) and how a lot of our economy is predicated on the masses continuing to spend. Wallman also looks at the environmental consequences of mass consumerism and the push to drive down the price of things that we buy. There is a brief look into the power of advertising and how it is targeted to influence us every day. I would have liked to see this subject covered a bit more in depth but at the same time I guess that Wallman wanted to keep the page count down as it stands at over 300 pages as it is.

 

Part three looks at how some people have embraced minimalism and how this has impacted their lives. The people he has selected all tend to be popular minimalist bloggers such as Joshua Fields Millburn & Ryan Nicodemus, who run the blog 'The Minimalists'. If I had one criticism of the book it would be that the people featured in this section all come from the same fairly middle class, white, American starting point prior to their minimalist journey. I would have been interested to see how someone comes from a position of relative non-affluent consumerism to minimalism. The best part of the section though is where Wallman looks at how these individuals went about approaching minimalism. One person put everything you own into boxes and only took out the items they needed to use. After a month they got rid of everything that stayed in the boxes. Another person tried to live with only 100 possessions. Wallman looks are the pros and cons of these approaches and also looks at people who have adapted these principles to suit their lives. In the end his conclusion is that there is no one right way, there is no one size fits all solution but that we can adapt everything to our own needs and desires.

 

The final part of the book looks at the rise of the 'experience economy' and how a growing number of people are buying experiences rather than material possessions. Wallman advocates this transition and argues that we should make memories rather than dreams. Instead of buying a huge house, 10 pairs of shoes, the latest car etc we should perhaps buy things that will give us experiences to cherish. One person he uses as a example spends his money on outdoor equipment such as a canoe and spends he free time exploring nature. This requires a shift away from living to work and moving towards working to live. Again, the examples used are affluent enough, or have found another revenue stream, such as a blog, to allow this shift without too much pressure on their welfare. This isn't something that a lot of people can do, especially those with a mortgage and/or children. Despite this I think that this book delivers a lot of good things in its 340 pages.

 

I really enjoyed this book. It contains a wealth of information and is written in a way which is both entertaining and informative. Despite my minor grumbles with it, it is by far, the best book on the subject of minimalism that I have read to date. It helps greatly that Wallman is a trend forecaster and not just presenting his own take on how to go about the transition from consumer to minimalist. I just have to give this book 5 stars.

 

5/5 (It was amazing).

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I've decided to at least attempt to read Infinite Jest by David Foster Wallace, it's a bit daunting at more than 1000 pages. :hide:

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I've had Stuffocation on my wishlist for a while, but had heard mixed reviews which is why I haven't bought it yet. I'm also interested by consumerism, and the psychology behind it. I try not to buy beyond what I really need (it also helps that I'm limited by my income :D ), but sometimes it can be almost a compulsion. Just today, I was thinking of buying another phone case for my phone... but, why?? I already have one which is absolutely fine, but I fancy one of another colour because I'm "bored" with my current one. Sounds so daft, and I was actually talking about this with my other half, about why people have to buy things that they don't need and that don't really have a purpose. I don't buy as much stuff as I have in the past, but I do still seem to accumulate many things. Maybe it's a need to spend money, than acquire things?? :dunno:

 

Anyway, I shall bump it up a bit on my wishlist as it sounds like it covers some areas I'm interested in.

 

Good luck with Infinite Jest. Heard many things about it, after the author's suicide. I think 'Books Do Furnish A Room' read it earlier this year (or last year), but I could be wrong.

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Unfortunately I gave Stuffocation away the day before I posted my review otherwise I would have sent it to you.

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