“Jumpers for Goalposts” Ed Sheeran: Review

Jumpers for goalposts

A few years ago, when I was living in London, I came across this singer I really really liked. This singer was Ed Sheeran. Back then the name didn’t really ring a bell for anyone I asked, they only recognised the A team when I made them listen to it. Now, about 4 years later almost everyone has at least heard his name at some point or another and he’s one of the most successful artists in the world.
And therefore, he now got his very own concert movie called Jumpers For Goalposts and let me tell you this: It is absolutely brilliant!

Jumpers for Goalposts is a documentary that mainly focuses on the 3 sold out Wembley shows Ed played in London this year.
I myself was lucky enough to see Ed Sheeran live in concert last year and I was completely blown away. When this guy with the guitar comes on stage you’re not quite sure what to expect at first, but once he gets started the whole stadion/arena is on fire. If you weren’t as lucky as me, this movie is the closest thing you’ll get to seeing him live and trust me, you will be so impressed.
What’s great is, that the movie also gives you some backstage footage and personally I think it’s quite incredible how normal and down to earth Ed still seems, considering what an absolute musical genius he is.
a visual journey

If you would like to know more about Ed and his story in general, I can also recommend you to read Ed Sheeran – A Visual Journey. It’s an autobiography where he talks about his life, his music and his career in his own words, beautifully complemented by drawings of Phillip Butah, who has been a family friend of Ed’s family ever since he was a kid.

Generally I can say I am a huge Ed Sheeran fan (if you hadn’t noticed) and I think it’s just incredible how talented that man is, especially considering his young age (makes one’s own résumé look a bit pathetic to be honest but we can’t all be geniuses, right?) Until this day I’d say his concert was still the most impressive one I have ever been to (sorry Rolling Stones, you know I love you) and seeing the Wembley shows, even just on screen, made me remember exactly why.

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“Raising Unicorns” by Jessica S. Marquis: Review

 

“Welcome to the whimsical and very lucrative world of unicorn farming! This is an industry like no other with potential limited only by your imagination. As a future unicorn farmer, you will experience the wide and unique array of opportunities, challenges, and joys of caring for these majestic creatures.”

– Jessica Marquis Introduction to Raising Unicorns

 

 

This introduction to Jessica Marquis’ book Raising Unicorns: Your Step-by-Step Guide to Starting and Running a Successfull – and Magical! – Unicorn Farm already kind of says it all. You’re about to read a book on how to actually run a unicorn farm. How cool is that?!
It could be said that I am generally a teeny-tiny bit of a unicorn fan, ever since I’ve seen The Last Unicorn for the first time. Therefore, I was more than excited when I got this book for my birthday.

First of all, the idea to write a guide on how to run a unicorn farm is absolutely genius, if you ask me. I didn’t know that I needed this in my life, but I most certainly did.
While the book is written as if you would actually read a guide on how to start up your own farm on the one hand, Jessica Marquis manages to make it incredibly entertaining. Hardly ever have I read a book containing so much sass and humour while still keeping up the pretense of being about a serious topic. The balance is what makes it a great read and the beautifully done illustrations by Kevin Hedgpeth do the rest.
The only negative thing I can say about it really, is that the book almost makes you forget that you can’t actually start up your own unicorn farm right now, which is quite a bummer.

So if you are looking for a great present for a unicorn loving friend or are a fan of these beautiful creatures yourself this book is a must!

“The Psychopath Test: A Journey Through The Madness Industry” by Jon Ronson: Review

“Suddenly, madness was everywhere, and I was determined to learn about the impact it had on the way society evolves. I’ve always believed society to be a fundamentally rational thing, but what if it isn’t? What if it is built on insanity?”  

                                            – Jon Ronson The Psychopath Test


Jon Ronson (The Men Who Stare At Goats) gets into the topic of psychopaths and madness by being pulled into an elaborate scheme of a psychologist who sends out cryptic messages to some ‘intelligent’ people all over the world. Jon Ronson is then asked to use his investigational skills as a journalist to solve the puzzle. By investigating this story his findings lead him, rather unexpectedly, to psychopathy. Finding this topic very interesting, Ronson decides to pursue it further.Ronson meets a psychologist who is convinced that many people in high official positions are, in fact, psychopaths and that basically the world is run by a lot of people with psychopathic character traits. Further, he visits an inmate in an institution for the criminally insane, who has been diagnosed with being a psychopath, but claims not to be one.  His psychopathy was diagnose with a list created by Bob Hare, who is often considered to be the founding father of researching psychopaths. His list is still used to determine whether someone is a psychopath or not. In order to learn more about  psychopaths Ronson participates in a seminar  on how to spot them easily. He also does a lot of research on how psychopathy has been treated throughout the years and how it is still treated today. Leading from nude group therapy to LSD-infused group therapy sessions in prisons. He also meets with Scientology representatives, who do not believe in mental illness as such, and therefore also not in psychopathy. 

The fact that he approaches the topic from so many different angles makes it very interesting to read and also gives you the impression that the topic is being dealt with on an objective level. At the same time the whole book also has a very personal touch, because you accompany the author on his journey through the madness industry and he shares his, often, very personal thoughts with you. The book is very enthralling and I, personally, absolutely love Jon Ronson’s style of writing stories, because they grip you immediately and keep you glued to the pages until the very end.

Although while reading the book you might get the feeling that almost everyone around you, including yourself, might suffer from some sort of mental illness or even be a psychopath. At least that’s what happened to me, so be warned 😉

“Holy Cow” by David Duchovny: Review

Holy Cow is the story of Elsie Bovary, a cow, who wrote down her memoirs for the reader (with a little help from co-author David Duchovny).

Elsie enjoys the quiet happy farm life she has lead ever since she was born. It mostly consists of sleeping, eating and spending time with her friends. The only thing she sometimes misses is her mother, who had been taken away years ago. Elsie doesn’t know where her mother went but she knows that this was how it always had been, mothers just left after some time and fathers were not really around to begin with. Nevertheless she couldn’t be more content with the life she was leading. Up until one day when Elsie and her best friend Mallory realise that they have the sudden urge to meet the bulls who are kept on another part of the farm. So they come up with the plan to escape their stable, by heavily relying on the oldest son’s inclination to forget to close the gates due to being constantly distracted by his phone.
When they actually manage to go and see the bulls Elsie is not nearly as interested in them as her friend Mallory is and so she decides she’d rather go down to the farm house and see what is happening there. What she sees when she looks through the window at the TV changes her whole life: the farmers are watching a program about meat production and all of a sudden Elsie’s whole world turns upside down.
After she has regained from the shock, Elsie decides to leave the farm as quick as possible. She learns about a country called India, where cows are seen as divine creatures, not eaten and that’s her destination. During her preparations she is joined by Jerry, or rather Shalom, a pig that converted to Judaism and wants to go to Israel, because people don’t eat pork there, and Tom, a turkey who cannot fly and who thinks that he’d be save in Turkey, because people there sure wouldn’t eat the an animal that is named after their country right? Both of the companions come in very handy during the journey, especially Tom, who can operate the touchscreen of a smartphone with his beak. On their journey the three friends get involved in a lot of adventures, from hijacking an airplane to accidentally reuniting Israelis and Palestinians.

What could easily also be the plot of an animated children’s movie turns out to be a delightful story about so much more than just three farm animals making a run for it. David Duchovny’s witty writing style and lots and lots of pop cultural references make this book a great choice for some light and funny reading.

“Hemingway And Faulkner In Their Time” by Earl Rovit and Arthur Waldhorn: Review

Writers should work alone. They should see each other only after their work is done, and not too often then.”
                                                           – Ernest Hemingway

A man works for a fairly simple range of things: money, women, glory; all nice to have but glory’s best, and the best of glory is from his peers, like the soldier who has the good opinion not of man but of other soldiers, who are themselves brave too.”
                                                           – William Faulkner

Rovit and Waldhorn start of their book with these quotes, concerning their peers, by two of the best-known American writers of their generation. And that is what this book is all about.
Hemingway and Faulkner in Their Time is a compilation of letters, interviews and comments from other famous writers, for example Scott Fitzgerald, T.S. Eliot, Gertrude Stein etc, talking about either Hemingway or Faulkner and their works with Rovit and Waldhorn providing additional information and context where it is needed.
And it seems every writer had to say something about at least one of these two men, who, while being well aware of each others works, have never actually met in person. And since some of these things are expressed in letters to friends it is a much more honest opinion on either men than one usually gets from official statements and biographies.

While I absolutely loved this book and the whole time I was reading it it just made me want to go back in time and sit around at Gertrude Stein’s flat in Paris with all these brilliant and talented people (a bit like Owen Wilson in Woody Allen’s Midnight in Paris), it is by no means an introduction to the works of Hemingway and Faulkner in any way. You will have to have at least a basic knowledge about their work and the other writers of the so-called “Lost Generation” that are mentioned. If you are like me, however, a huge fan of those ladies and gentlemen anyway this is definitely a book you HAVE to read. Enjoy 🙂

“Before I Go To Sleep” by S.J. Watson: Review

Imagine waking up in the morning in an unfamiliar house, in a bed you don’t recognise, next to a stranger. A stranger who explains to you that he is your husband, that this is in fact your house and that you go through this routine every morning, because you are suffering from anterograde amnesia. That is exactly the situation Christine Lucas, the main character of S.J. Watson’s best-selling novel Before I Go To Sleep finds herself in.
Her husband Ben tells her that she was in a car accident about 10 years prior and that ever since then she doesn’t remember that occurred after her late twenties. Struggling with the situation, Christine still tries to make the best of it. When Ben leaves her alone to go to work she is contacted by a Dr. Nash, who claims that he has been working with her for the past few weeks to regain her memory without telling her husband. He also hands her a journal she has been keeping, trying to remember. Dr. Nash is also the one to tell her that she was not in fact in a car accident, but that she was attacked at a hotel near the airport and that’s what caused the trauma for her amnesia.
Working through her journal Christine starts to remember snippets here and there from her former life. She also remembers a son. Ben tells her that they had one but that he had died as a child. While Christine doesn’t really have a reason to mistrust her husband there are more and more things that don’t add up with what she remembers and what she is told by former friends and soon she is not sure who she can trust anymore and who even is who they claim to be.
What starts as a interesting story of a woman trying to manage life in her condition and trying to regain her memory soon turns into an extremely suspenseful thriller that keeps you at the edge of your seat.
Like I think I have already said in earlier posts I am usually not really that much into reading thrillers, so that makes it even better when I find one once and again that really blows me away.
There is also a movie version of the book, starring Nicole Kidman, Colin Firth and Mark Strong. While I am not really a Kidman fan I have to say that the movie is also really worth watching and I enjoyed it a lot, even though I already knew how it would end 😉

“Alan Turing: The Enigma” by Andrew Hodges: Review

While formerly probably mostly known to people who have some background knowledge in the fields of mathematics and computer science, the name Alan Turing is now widely known around the globe. All thanks to the Academy Award nominated movie The Imitation Game starring Benedict Cumberbatch (Sherlock) and Keira Knightley (Pirates of the Caribbean). Though neither any of the actors have won an Academy Award in their respective categories, nor the film itself Best Picture, writer Graham Moore received one for Best Adapted Screenplay. I had seen the movie before and Mr. Moore winning this award made me want to read the book even more, to see, how the film had been adapted.

The book by Andrew Hodges has been released in various editions, first in 1983, and revised in the later ones. At first I was a bit vary of reading it, since I am definitely not on the strong side when it comes to maths and considering that Andrew Hodges is a mathematician himself, there was the risk of the book being too theoretical for me. But I can gladly say that, while maths does obviously play an important role in it, the book focuses mainly on the person that was Alan Turing and explains the technical things so well that even I could understand it.
Although usually he is not exactly mentioned as the inventor of the computer as we know it today, Turing did actually design and build the forerunners for our computers. He also invented the so-called Turing Test which is basically supposed to be able to differentiate between a human and a computer and has highly influenced research in terms of artificial intelligence.
One of the best known achievements of Turing, which is also the main focus of the book and the film is, that he helped to decode the German Nazi code known as the Enigma and therefore helped England win the war. This has been kept a secret even after the war had ended and therefore nobody knew what an important service Turing and his colleagues had done to their country.
Unfortunately this did not save him from being arrested for “gross indecency”, which was the term for homosexuality and which was illegal at Turing’s time. Not wanting to go to prison Turing chose a hormone treatment prescribed by the government which was supposed to “cure” him of his homosexuality. One year into the therapy Alan Turing committed suicide.It is a very sad end of a very complicated man.
Hodges writes about Turing’s life and the struggles he had with a lot of understanding. As far as biographies go it is definitely one of the best and the most intimate I have ever read. I especially liked that although admiring Turing, Hodges does tell the whole story and does not present him as a misunderstood hero, but as a brilliant, nevertheless very difficult man.
I know that Biographies are not for everyone, but I definitely recommend this, because it is brilliantly done.