31 August 2010

Wife in the North by Judith O'Reilly

I read this in September of 2008 while living in the UK.

Another Brit "chick" book for me. I am enjoying this genre very much although previous to living in the UK I am sure I wouldn't have to the same degree.

This book strikes home because the woman's husband yearns to live in the countryside. He moves her far from her beloved London, to the norther-most parts of England. I, too, will eventually be moved away from here.

At first I was really afraid the book would just be a bunch of moaning and husband-bashing. I was surprised and happy to find that she always unfailingly supported her husband even when he caused her trouble (he had promised to always fill her car with petrol when he wasn't in London on business (often away on business) but she ran out of gas FIVE TIMES!) I read the whole book before realizing it was a true story. I love a true story! This one was a real winner for me. Hated to finish it!

Random Acts of Kindness by Danny Wallace

This is a small book that may be placed on a table so that people will hopefully pick it up and be given ideas of nice things they can do for others.

Danny Wallace is an author and tv/film personality from the UK. I am working my way through all of his projects.

Some things in this book are simply silliness. I really think he should have preserved the sense of giving with each suggestion; the suggestions that are based on kindness are still, at times, humourous. He lost me when he included suggestions that were simply silliness. I would have rated the book MUCH higher if he had stuck to his original intention of inspiring others to be a simple but real help to others, even with a bit of humor sometimes included.

Some are just offensive, as:

Compliment a lesbian couple on their haircuts.
Really? And what if they don't have nice haircuts? Do you think they won't know you're being a 'smart arse'?

Here, however, are some of my favourite ideas from the book:

Take your leftovers from a meal in a restaurant and hand them to someone who appears to need them more than you. (This would be easy to do in England as there are street people within easy access. They tend not to be very scary. London is not so cold a place that they are forced to take shelter which would put them out of site more likely. To a truly hungry person een someone else's leftovers might be welcome.)

Similar ideas are to hand out lollies (lollipops) to strangers. I think this could be easily done and probably appreciated on a train into or out from London. British people tend to keep to themselves, especially on trains, but a kindness is always acknowledged and can start up a pleasant conversation.
Play 'knock down ginger' (what we would call doorbell ditching, but is known by many names throughout the world -

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Knock,_Knock,_Ginger ) but leave a gift for the person who answers the door.

Buy a copy of The Big Issue and then give it back to the seller.
Somehow I always thought The Big Issue was probably Muslim propaganda. I was wrong. It is street newspaper sold in eight countries. Only homeless or vulnerably housed people may sell it. The news/mag is written by professionals. The publishers assist the sellers by putting them in touch with services which can help them move forward in life. I often saw a young woman selling The Big Issue outside of Budgens in Virginia Water. Even though I didn't think the magazine was something I would support or be interested in I often thought of speaking to her...but I neer did. I did, however, always smile at her and she always smiled back. I wish I'd supported her sales.

This is probably my favorite suggestion in the book!
Visit http://www.goodgifts.org/ for many selfless ways to be a big help to others.

Send a postcard to one of the most remote lighthouses in the world!
Lighthouse Keeper
South Solitary Lighthouse
near Coffs Harbour

My Booky Wook by Russell Brand

Now, why did I read this book? The best answer is that I enjoyed the way he played the character in the movie 'Bedtime Stories.'

This story explores, in depth, his addiction to alcohol, drugs, and sex. Don't even pick it up if you think you might find it offensice because you will. He explores his early life and then explores the situations that took him to a drug addiction center and then to a sexual addiction center.

Russell mentions toward the very end of the book that the addiction center which helped him with his sex addiction expects their clients to make amends rather than apologizing for them. Throughout the book Russell occasionally mentions how awful it was that he treated some women certain ways. However, I don't believe I ever read anything that seemed apologetic in his writings, or which mentioned apologizing to any of them or how he may have made amends. And so I wonder if he is sorry or not. There were a couple of places where he appeared to regret his actions but he never fully formed such an idea to that extent.

Do I have hope for him? Yeah, I guess so, there is always hope. The book was only written in 2007 and he isn't dead yet or back in an addiction center. I just found that he is engaged to Katy Perry; interesting.

The writing of this book shows that he is in fact an intelligent person. He expresses that the time he spent in schools offering private education must have gotten something into his head. His references to great works proves it, but then, I think that even though British's free schools are often bashed, in general their culture seems to aspire more to literature, even in the lower classes. He just doesn't make good judgments about what is acceptable risque behaviour and what is unacceptable risque behaviour. That was and is his downfall. I am glad that I didn't put money directly into his pocket by purchasing this book; I read it via our library's free ebook service.
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