Tag Archives: non-fiction

Alice in Brexitland by Leavis Carroll. Review. 

This is all in all a very amusing book. Alice in Brexitland is a humorous parody of the Brexit saga set out as a retelling of Lewis Carroll’s famous classic Alice in Wonderland. 

Alice follows David Camerabbit down the Brexit hole one summers day, once in Brexitland she comes across characters such as the Corbynpillar who opposes government decisions but does nothing about it, The Cheshire Twat (Farage) who sits dreaming in his tree about times gone by where everybody could be racist and sexist and drive Morris Minors, Humpty Trumpty who sits on his wall that ‘the Mexicans will pay for’ and the Queen of Heartlessness who will trigger Article 50 despite campaigning for remain. 

The book was really funny, it took real life events and put a new spin on them, I especially liked the characters of Tweedlegrove & Tweedleboz. 

It was also well thought out, Cameron suited the white Rabbit as he runs around not really sure what he’s doing, Farage as the Cheshire Cat disappearing when everything goes wrong. 

Corbyn as the chilled out caterpillar on his bright red mushroom. I found the scene where the cat sits licking the Humpty Trumpty egg especially amusing, and the cat’s comments about America, ‘like all truly patriotic Brits I want to live here.’ Or something along those lines. 

Thoroughly enjoyable my only regret is that unlike Alice we can’t all wake up and discover that Brexit was just a bad dream. 


The Fireside Guides for Grown Ups 

I decided to review these three together on account of them being fairly short. I’ve seen these in a few shops and thought they looked a lot of fun so I requested and was happily granted three of them on Netgalley. 

First up The Fireside Grown Up Guide to the Meeting. 

The meeting was very funny for anyone whose worked in an office. My partner as a business analysts has to attend lots of meetings everyday so it was more funny to him as I read it aloud. I think this book would make a fantastic gift for the office professional in your life. It’s amusing and punctuated with pictures which fit the statements although these weren’t always in line on the kindle version.
Book two is The Fireside Guide to the Mid Life Crisis 

Not quite as funny as The Meeting but still pretty funny. I like how the author has used the pictures to create the little stories and anecdotes. I probably didn’t find it as amusing because I haven’t actually reached middle age but I did recognise a lot of the little scenes/stories as funny cliches. Another enjoyable one which would make a great jokey present for someone hitting middle age head on. 
Finally The Fireside Grown Up Guide to the Hipster: 

Probably the most amusing of the all The Hipster looks at all the modern yet vintage pursuits of the modern day Hipster. Even more satirical than the others this tops it as the number one of the three I’ve read. Very amusing especially again because of the way the anecdotes have been put to the old fashioned pictures. 

Homo Deus Review 

Homo Deus is not the usual kind of book I would read. I’m a lover of fiction first and foremost. However, following My read of The Seven Daughters of Eve earlier this year I have become more interesting in this style of none fiction writing. 
The book looks at the subject of ourselves Homo Sapiens and how we are evolving in the modern world. It’s main concept is the idea that we are giving ourselves ‘God like’ status. The topic is surprisingly wide ranging from the idea of meddling with DNA to create a perfect child, through to our status in the Animal Kingdom. 

It opens up many questions which perhaps one wouldn’t think about normally. This ranges from why we think we have the hierarchy above other animals to how we would feel if we created superhumans I.e Artificial Intelligence who may one day turn on us as we have turned on animals. 

This isn’t religious zealoting though or even conspiracy theories. Far from it. Yuval Noah Harari presents the cold clear facts in a way which makes you sit back and think ‘wow’ why didn’t I know about this already??? That was my precise reaction when I discovered in one chapter that you can actually BUY a mind reading helmet. 

Harari explores the concept of immortality in various different concepts. From the idea of curing disease ‘Doctor what is wrong with me? The doctor is likely to say ‘well, you have the flu.’ Or ‘you have tuberculosis’ or ‘you have cancer.’ But the doctor will never say ‘you have death.’ He then moves on to look at the people who actually believe they can become immortals and its terrifyingly real and serious with big household names backing the movement. ‘Google has recently appointed another immortality true-believer, Bill Maris, to preside over the Google Ventures investment fund. Maris said. ‘If you ask me today, is it possibly to live to be 500 the answer is yes.’ Maris backs up his brave words with a lot of hard cash. Google Ventures is investing 36% of its $2 billion portfolio in life science start ups.’ 

Harari then goes on to look at the concept of a soul and how people cling to religion and refute Darwin’s evolution theorem because they dare not think of a life where the soul does not remain after the body dies. 

Harari targets philosophy, myth, many different religions and the reign of science as well as pointing out just how little we realise just how good we’ve got it compared to those who came before us. It is clear particularly by the pages and pages of references that Harari has spent much time and research and producing such an eloquent look into our future as a species. Let me tell you something, it beggars belief! 

All in all this is an eye opening, articulately written and engaging book which presents us with the question ‘if dataism succeeds in conquering the world what will happen to us humans?’ 

Five Questions of Christmas by Rob Burkhart

I have never been a religious person. I feel I should get that in there immediately to ensure that my review of Five Questions of Christmas can be in no way biased either way. I am not an atheist, I don’t NOT believe but I don’t believe either. I was brought up as a Christian in the sense that I was christened and I went to a Church of England school. At school we were read too from the bible and sang hymns and religious songs in assembly.  This book has in no way made me return to religion. I don’t think that however was its purpose anyway. What this book actually is cannot be said in a single statement. It is firstly a sort of self-help book inspired by religion and in particular the Christmas story.

The first chapter of Five Questions of Christmas looks at trust and how it is not in fact earned but given when you have faith in someone. Although many people break our trust we still have to take the risk and put trust in them. A part that particularly stayed with me was when the author described a baby and how all it knows how to do is cry and that in order to trust it learns who gives it love and affection and cares for it.

The second chapter looks at fear and suffering and uses the example of Mary’s suffering when she became pregnant before marriage in a time when it was punishable by death. It emphasises how suffering should be seen as something we need to go through in order to make life better.

There were for me parts that felt pushy and accusatory in terms of almost demanding a belief in God. An accusation that we don’t want God to control us because that would mean relinquishing control on our own lives. That’s not to say that I didn’t learn new and interesting things about parts of the bible and particularly the Christmas story that I thought I knew but didn’t.

The author of Five Questions of Christmas peppers the books with memories of Christmas’ from his own past, from time spent with all the family to time with his own son and some of his extended family and specific things going on that year. He even interestingly explores the strength of his own belief particularly after the death of a loved one.

Overall although this would not be the sort of book I would usually read I must admit I have quite enjoyed it. I enjoyed it’s philosophical approach and the way it promoted religion in a convincing and laid back manner without forcing it. The conversational style of the authors writing made it a much easier read than expected.

I would recommend reading this book if you are interested in religion, already involved in religion or just looking for answers on life’s questions.