Castaway — Lucy Irvine

A very well written book that’s let down completely by whoever converted it into Kindle format.

As Lucy tells the story of her year on Tuin with G, she intersperses it with excerpts from the diary she wrote while on the island.   For some reason, the person who converted this book decided that the diary excerpts would be published in a print size that is so small it’s illegible, so one has to keep stopping and greatly increasing the font size for the diary excerpts and then reducing it back to normal for the rest of the writing.   You spend the whole book yoyoing font sizes in this way.   I have no idea why anyone would publish a book in this way, it isn’t clever, it isn’t artistic, it’s crass and completely ruins a good flowing read.

Ok, rant over, all the yoyoing aside, the writing is incredibly candid and Lucy really does bare it all.

Anyone familiar with Chris McCandless’ story from ‘Into the Wild’ will be aware of how much negativity and lambasting that Chris received posthumously for his stupidity and unpreparedness.   The only difference between Chris in Alaska and Lucy and G on Tuin is that Lucy and G were lucky enough to be rescued by the kindness and generosity of their Torres Straight Island neighbours, and that the poisonous beans that Lucy stupidly ate just made here incredibly sick for a couple of days and didn’t kill her.   Yet those who survive against the odds, purely by the miracles that appear when least expected, are labelled as successful, applauded and celebrated while those whose miracle fails to show are labelled as idiots, lambasted and possibly given a Darwin Award.   But hey, at least both kind get films made about them.

I could get into a full on judgemental view of Lucy and G’s behaviour, attitude and outlook, both positive and negative, but i won’t.   Some might read this book and side with Lucy, some might side with G, and some might think both are as bad as each other.

All that aside, if you enjoyed ‘Into the Wild’, then you may find this just your cup of tea.

Lucy’s Page

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The Addiction Recovery Workbook — Paula A Freedman PsyD

For 99p this grabbed my curiosity.   It’s been over 5 1/2 years since i quit smoking, over 2 years since i quit alcohol, but i keep hold of a few nagging little addictions — like too much cocoa/chocolate/coffee and vaping — which i keep trying to rid myself of but keep finding myself back at.   So i gave this book a go with an open mind.

It certainly made me re-think a lot of things about addiction, especially my previous love of alcohol.   And it’s also given me some ideas on moving forward with my life from here and next steps i might take.

It’s difficult to judge how much value any of these addiction books will be to anyone.   It all depends on the addiction, the reason, the circumstances, the too many variables of life to mention.   But i do think there’s something in this book for most people who are wanting to deal with one or more of their addictions.

It’s approached well, the beginning of the book being about wanting to quit and preparing to, then moving onto actually quitting in the middle of the book and finally to post addiction life.

So for 99p in a Kindle deal, i think it was a really good bargain.   I certainly got a lot out of it, and if you are serious about getting sober and off your poison then give it a read.   No, not all of it will speak to you, but read enough books like this and do a pick and mix of ideas and techniques from each of them that work for you and you to can soon be on the road to a life without addiction — if you really want to.

At the end of the day, it’s up to you.   Reading any book on addiction recovery can only help so much, it’s you that has to really want it, and if you do then books like this will have some good help and advice for you.

Paula’s Page

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North — Scott Jurek

I really enjoyed reading Scott’s earlier book ‘Eat and Run’, so i was really looking forward to giving this a read.

To sum this book up, this is one of the greatest ultra runners of all time who, after having retired from professional competition, gets his outdoor fix by going hiking along stretches of the PCT with his wife and best friend, Jenny.   During one of these hikes they have a big argument and Scott has a bit of a existential crisis and decides he needs to fix himself by returning to suffering and tells Jenny that he’s going to attempt the Appalachian Trail FKT.

Best of all is that he manages to rope Jenny in as his sole support crew member in a converted van suitably named ‘Castle Black’ by telling her that it’ll be a great family summer holiday for their small family of two.

As we go through each chapter of the book we are introduced to each section of the trail, beginning with Scott’s perspective on it followed by Jenny’s.   And what a journey it is.   It’s utterly ridiculous, but also utterly amazing at the same time.   And if you aren’t a bit soggy eyed at the end then you is heartless.

An amazing journey with an amazing couple of human beings — and a ton of friends, old and new, who helped big time along the way and made it all possible.

If, like me, you enjoyed Scott’s first book, then make sure you give this a read some time.

Extra

On 2nd July 2019, Scott and Jenny Jurek made an appearance on the ‘Plant Strong Podcast’ in which they both talk a fair bit about this massive journey they went on together — well worth a listen: ‘Fueled by Plants: Scott & Jenny Jurek’

Scott’s Page

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The Autobiography of a Super-Tramp — W. H. Davies

My school house master, Peter Forest, who was also my maths teacher, one day stated in front of the whole class that i’d either grow up to be the next Einstein or a tramp, and that he feared it would most probably be the latter.   Suffice it to say, i never did get around to doing that degree in theoretical physics.

So when i found this book on Amazon it reminded me of Peter Forest and his condemnation of my future and was certainly instrumental in my purchase.   I wasn’t disappointed, so thanks Peter.

The strange thing was the timing, as i let the ‘Infinite Improbability Drive’ always select my next book from ‘The Pile’ and it’s only been a couple of books since i finished ‘Into The Wild’, about Chris McCandless, AKA, Alexander Supertramp.   This book certainly flows nicely on from that.   It makes me wonder if Chris had actually read this amongst all the other books mentioned in his story.

William covers his adventures as a tramp during the late 1800’s, where he ventures far and wide.   The funniest thing for me was that he was a trustifarian.   I had no idea that these creatures existed back in the 1800, but it’s certainly true in William’s case, and he even admits it in the book.

When his grandmother died, instead of willing him her property, which she knew he would squander rather quickly, she instead put it into trust from which he was given an allowance.   So off he goes to America, tramping around, living on hand outs and goodwill, while all the time his weekly allowance from his trust fund is being saved up for his return.   And he can return at any time, by working cattle ships from Baltimore, and even getting paid while doing so.

Even later on when he gets back the England, he continues to drop out into his tramping lifestyle while his trust fund rebuilds his bank account in order to fund his next adventure.   I wonder if William was the original trustifarian, were there others before him?

Without a doubt, a very good inside look into the mind and lifestyle of the typical trustifarian.   But, on top of that, it’s a very revealing look into this odd sub-culture of the underclass of the age and the lifestyles they lead and how they managed to support themselves.   Although, one can’t really get away from realising that most of these people were simply down where they were due to alcoholism, with every opportunity of spending any penny they managed to accrue on getting drunk always eagerly taken — no, nothing much changes.

Anyways, an enlightening piece of history of the Victorian age seen from a very different view point to the normal history books and biographies.

William’s Page

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