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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RUR — Karel Čapek

Another book in my S.F. Masterworks collection.

Firstly, this is not a story book, it is a play, and it’s written as a play.   Which is not to say it’s bad, it’s just different from what one is used to in ones sci-fi.

But i think the play part is where Karel doesn’t do the story, or his point, justice.   Written as a play it’s just too hectic, too fast paced, with never ending characters just piling in their piece — basically, it’s the television of its day.

I think that most of what Karel was trying to say about the world and the future gets lost in a load of characters continuously having their say without any having any thoughts.

Yes, beware the robots, a metaphor for the means of production, because the hand that feeds us will eventually turn and bite us and destroy us all.   But this point would have been made much better in a novel, but it is what it is.

For its time it is a great work of sci-fi, and also a direct critique upon humanity and society.   And here we are 100 years after Karel wrote this and most people in the developed world are incapable of feeding themselves, clothing themselves, starting a real fire, making anything, etc..   We’ve sold our souls to technology and become completely dependent upon it.   And whoever controls that technology controls humanity.   That’s what is known as hydraulic despotism, or, as Baron Vladimir Harkonnen would say:   ‘He who controls the spice, controls the universe.’

Final thoughts:   Worth a quick read for all you anorak-ed, train spotting, sci-fi historians out there — but otherwise there’s not much point.

Karel’s Page

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Little Exiles — Robert Dinsdale

I normally read writers in chronological order, but with Robert i started on his fifth book, ‘The Toy Makers’, then his fourth book, ‘Gingerbread’, and now i’ve just finished this, ‘Little Exiles’, his third book.

A chronologically back to front experience, but one that i’m very happy to have taken.

To say that Robert’s writing is heavy going emotionally would be a little understated.   Each of the three books above deals with trauma and the after effects of it upon one of the main characters and how that also affects those close to them.   In ‘The Toy Makers’ the trauma is introduced half way through the book, in ‘Gingerbread’ it’s slowly revealed incrementally as we go through the story, but in ‘Little Exiles’ it begins with the trauma.   And each traumatic experience is very different.

Now some might shy away from these kinds of tales, just wanting to spend their time on pleasant reading experiences.   Which is fine, if that’s your thing.   But you would be missing out greatly in not only some incredibly well written and constructed story telling, but also missing out on understanding how trauma really affects people and brings chaos to their lives and those around them.   Is it not incumbent upon all of us to attempt to understand what people who are suffering from PTSD are going through and through that beginning of understanding gleaned from the pages of a fictional story begin to find some compassion towards people who may need a little extra from us?

Someone once said to me that they never read fiction because it’s just make believe nonsense.   I disagree.   In good works of fiction, like Robert’s books, we can see into lives that aren’t constrained by shame, guilt and privacy, but are simply laid bare upon the pages for all to see.   And in fiction we are given a look inside places that non-fiction dares not tread.

And sadly, this is not all fiction.   The underlying story of this book is true.   Children were taken from the UK and shipped off around the Empire to populate those places we invaded to make them more English — because if there’s more of us there then we obviously have more claim upon it.   No thought as to the rights of those children were given and no one really cared what ultimately happened to them.   They were just shipped off to places like Australia as though they were convicts and used however the colonial authorities saw fit to use them.

And we harp on about having an inquiry into child sex abuse in the UK, but at no point is anyone talking of having an inquiry into the overall abuse of children that has occurred here historically.   Children who were physically and psychologically abused, or simply stolen from their families to populate the Empire, just don’t seem to matter.   It’s very clear that the government is sending out a message that as long as no one touched your genitals then the abuse doesn’t count — the government simply isn’t interested in what a great many children suffered because the government is fully aware that it was complicit in it.

Luckily we’ve come a long way since the Victorian times and their attitudes to children that permeated our society well into the 1900’s.   But i do feel we still have a long way to go.   No child should ever have to suffer abuse of any kind, and that needs to be fully recognised.

Anyway, if you still haven’t got around to reading any of Robert’s books, then do please give them a go.   I would definitely recommend starting with ‘The Toy Makers’ and working back from there.

Robert’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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Star Born — Andre Norton

Like ‘Storm Over Warlock’, this is another book with Andre mixing sci-fi and fantasy.   This time its the turn of mermen to be mixing it with the alien invaders/visitors/settlers to their planet.   And once again, Andre carries this off brilliantly, wonderfully written, classic sci-fi.

Quite thought provoking, in that it dips its toe into the early ideas of the Star Trek prime directive.   Should we interfere, should we get involved?   But if we, in the future, launch ourselves into the cosmos and into other people’s societies, then haven’t we already broken that prime directive?   Simply putting ourselves into space is interfering with whatever is already out there, yet here we go spewing our space junk in every direction in arrogance and ignorance not even caring what effects we may have.

There’s part of this harkens back to ‘Childhood’s End’ and the proclamation that the stars are not for humans, and that Homo sapiens would become extinct upon the Earth and never reach beyond because we simply aren’t suitable and capable to do so mentally.

Maybe it’s too late to realise and accept that just because we can do something physically does not mean that we should do it.   But off goes science and progress charging into the future without any care or consideration for the spiritual progress that is needed to temper our greed and wants.

Let’s be honest, we aren’t charging into space for the well being of our species, we’re charging into space due to xenophobic paranoia that some other country will get there and exploit it first.   The space race has never been a marvel of human development, but a charge fuelled by fear, greed and paranoia to beat other’s to the prize and plant a stupid flag before someone else can in order to claim that little bit of the infinite cosmos for our own little inbred sub-set of Homo sapiens.   This is not a good way to introduce our species to the cosmos.   Homo sapiens are so fucking crass!

Available as a single book or in the collection, ‘Visions of Distant Shores’.

Andre’s Page

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Childhood’s End — Arthur C. Clarke

It’s not surprising that this book is part of the ‘Gollancz SF Masterworks’ series.   It really is a must read for all sci-fi fans as one of those early sci-fi books that set the standard for others to follow.

The prophetic nature of this book, while quite nail-on-head in some ways, is quite funny at times as to how short it actually fell.   For example, Arthur thought that it would take aliens to bring an end to wars, giving humanity peace ever lasting before we gave up striving to improve our lives and instead spending hours every day watching pointless programs on TV:

Do you realize that every day something like five hundred hours of radio and TV pour out over the various channels?   If you went without sleep and did nothing else, you could follow less than a twentieth of the entertainment that’s available at the turn of a switch!   No wonder that people are becoming passive sponges — absorbing but never creating.   Did you know that the average viewing time per person is now three hours a day?   Soon people won’t be living their own lives any more.   It will be a full-time job keeping up with the various family serials on TV!

And yet here we are 60 years after this book was published and while no aliens have given us peace on earth and eternal leisure people are watching far more TV than Arthur predicted for our age of enlightenment.   The 2018 veiwing figures for the UK is an average of over 4 hours a day.   And that’s the average.   Some people are watching far more than that as people like myself have no television at all and haven’t had for over 20 years.

No it’s not taking aliens to bring an end to Homo sapiens, the wise man is doing a really good job of its own demise without any outside assistance whatsoever:

‘In a few years, it will all be over, and the human race will have divided in twain.   There is no way back, and no future for the world you know.   All the hopes and dreams of your race are ended now.   You have given birth to your successors, and it is your tragedy that you will never understand them — will never even be able to communicate with their minds.   Indeed, they will not possess minds as you know them.   They will be a single entity, as you yourselves are the sums of your myriad cells.   You will not think them human, and you will be right.

Yes, we are becoming two separate species, with the old conservative Homo sapiens stuck in their ways, trying in vain to hold the world back while the progressive and future looking people are slowly evolving beyond the comprehension of those who cling to their ancient rights.   It won’t be long now before Homo sapiens becomes extinct, because, as Arthur says, the stars are not for man.

All that said, it’s a great book.   Wonderfully written, thought provoking, intelligent sci-fi for progressive and future looking people who look towards the stars instead of into televisions.

Arthur’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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The Woodcutter — Kate Danley

This is like,   ‘How many fairy tales and folkloric things can you fit into 346 pages and still manage to create a well structured story?’

From ‘Odin’ to ‘Sleeping Beauty’, ‘Jack and the Beanstalk’ to ‘Baba Yaga’, and everyone in between, this is none stop from the first page to the last.   And somehow Kate has managed to make it all work in this wonderful story about a Woodcutter — who doesn’t actually cut wood.

If you like fairy tales, folklore, or are maybe looking for something different in a fantasy story, then i don’t think you’ll be disappointed with ‘The Woodcutter’.

My first Kate Danley book, it won’t be my last.

Kate’s Page

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New Caviar — Stephany Brandt

A little novella that just gets to the point.

I really enjoyed it.   And it’s not so unbelievable that people would spend ridiculous amounts on a tin of some food when you see how much some people are prepared to pay for a bottle of wine.   And it’s also not so unbelievable that people will just eat whatever is the fashion without ever questioning the reality of where that substance they’re shoving into their mouths comes from, or what it is.

If Rank Hovis can get millions eating that Quorn shit and Mcfilth can make billions a year in sales, is it any different that a corporation could get people to eat New Caviar?

Hints of Soylent Green — eat up!

Stephany’s Page

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Into the Wild — Jon Krakauer

I enjoyed watching the film, a rarity for me, so when this came up on a Kindle deal for 99p i didn’t hesitate.

After watching the film i was of the mind that Chris McCandless was a total idiot, as apparently were most of the people who heard the basic story of his demise.   But was it fair on him to be portrayed in that way?   I wanted to know a bit more.

Jon was the reporter who first brought this story to the world in an article he was asked to write for ‘Outdoor Magazine’.   But he knew he hadn’t done the story justice in the time constraints that he’d had to get that article written, so he went back over the whole story and wrote this book.

And this book really does put things into context.   One thing the film doesn’t cover is the childhood that Chris and his sister suffered under a domineering, controlling, and oft times abusive, father who demanded excellence all the time, and when Chris found out the truth about his father’s excellence — how Chris and his sister came to be born — i think something really snapped inside him.   He just wanted to be free of everything his father represented, to get as far away from it as possible — and having been bought up by a father like that who i had to escape from at 15 years old into my own wilderness, i can’t blame Chris whatsoever for being like he was and doing what he did, in fact, i totally understand.

As to the writing, this story is incredibly well thought out and presented and really does put a lot of Chris’ behaviour and attitude into a much broader perspective than a film could ever hope to get to.

So if you have watched the film then please don’t just stop with that view of Chris, i don’t think that’s fair.   Take a little while, read this book and get to see a much wider picture of Chris McCandless.

Jon’s Page

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