Scrappy Little Nobody

Anna Kendrick

Kendrick's short memoirs are entertaining but never particularly revealing (unless you're surprised to learn that a twentysomething has taken some recreational drugs).
The best parts are about her early days as a child actor breaking into Broadway and the sacrifices her family made to get that to happen.
I would have been disappointed by this book if I had paid full price for it. At a discount it was worth it.

Rating: B-



Wishful Drinking

Carrie Fisher

Only a few days ago I nearly bought a physical copy of this book in a bargain bookstore.
Since I've just a had a big clear out of books I didn't want to start adding new books to my shelves.
Imagine my delight when I saw it pop up in the Kindle Daily Deals on Amazon. Especially because I had a credit that meant I could get the book for nothing!
Wishful Drinking is a book adaptation of Fisher's successful one-man show of the same name.
It's a mostly hilarious, occasionally moving piece of autobiography. The best parts are when she talks about her family and her battles with mental illness but it's never less than entertaining.
Given it's stage show origins it's not surprising that it's a little on the short side but it's still very much worth reading - especially if you can pick it up at a bargain price.

Rating: A-



Hyperbole and a Half

Allie Brosh

hyperbole and a halfREAD BEFORE

Rating: A



The Writer's Tale: The Final Chapter

Russell T Davies and Benjamin Cook

the writers tale the final chapterI do intend to actually write something about this one at some point...

Rating: A-



Blossom: What Scotland Needs To Flourish

Lesley Riddoch

BlossomI've been over preoccupied with the independence referendum of late. I've always taken a keen interest but it's taken an obsessive edge in the last couple of weeks.
I decided that I was getting trapped in the same old self-referencing group of commentators online (because the mainstream press is beyond hopeless and not a source that any rational adult would use in this debate) and that I needed to expose myself to a different point of view.
Riddoch uses history, personal anecdote and old-fashioned journalism to expose what she sees as the underlying problems facing Scotland.
It's a surprisingly enjoyable read given it's nature and I certainly found it enlightening - especially when she talks about the consequences of our feudal past.
I personally think she underplays the potential problems with some of the solutions she favours and oversells the benefits of social activity in the countryside but it is hard to resist a vision of a much less centralised Scotland with empowered local communities and with land ownership moved out of the hands of the very few.
If you think that there's nothing much wrong with our country as it stands then I suspect that this book will only infuriate you. If, like myself, you despair at the feeling of powerlessness at the heart of contemporary politics then there's lots of food for thought to be found here.

Rating: A-



Let's Pretend This Never Happened

Jenny Lawson

Lets Pretend This NeverHappenedLawson's autobiography is incredibly funny, occasionally moving and nearly always faintly disturbing.
I really don't want to spoil anything for you. I wholeheartedly recommend this book unless you have no taste for dark humour or you're incredibly squeamish.

Rating: A




Malcolm Gladwell

I was watching a documentary about Bobby Fischer and at one point Malcolm Gladwell popped up to talk about the 10,000 hours it takes to become an expert in any given field. I've heard this idea before and though that maybe I should read this guy's book and see what the story is there.
Outliers is about the stories we tell ourselves about success and successful people. Gladwell's central point is that no-one rises to the top in any endeavour solely by their own effort. That is not to denigrate the effort, talent and drive of those who succeed, but to recognise that a specific sets of circumstances favour certain outcomes and some people are in the right time and right place with the right skill set, personality and background to take advantage of that. There is no such thing as making it on your own.
It's a fascinating and convincing read. I'm sure there are flaws in his arguments that have been dealt with elsewhere.
All I can say is that I really enjoyed it and that I wouldn't hesitate to recommend it.

Rating: A



Dave Gorman Vs the Rest of the World

Dave Gorman

What do you do when you get bored and have time to kill? Dave Gorman asked his followers on twitter if they fancied playing a game.
This book chronicles his travels all over the UK to play strangers, acquaintances and friends at various games from Monopoly to Darts with odd pub and board games thrown in.
Gorman has previous when it comes to taking on insane challenges - see Are You Dave Gorman? and Dave Gorman's Googlewhack Adventure which are both very funny books (I've read them but they escaped being reviewed on the blog).
Gorman has a pleasing style and the book is genuinely funny but there's just something tired and bored underlying the adventures.
Something screams "I want to stop doing crazy stuff and to settle down!"
Recommended if you liked his earlier books.

Rating: B+



Where the Hell Am I? Trips I have survived.

Ken Levine

Levine is a hugely successful sitcom writer (his resume includes MASH, Cheers and a couple of Simpsons episodes) and this is a collection of short travelogues he initially wrote as emails to friends and family that ended up becoming a staple of his blog (which I recommend reading by the way).
It's pretty lighthearted jokey stuff but it never really lights the heather on fire.
I got it for nothing, but certainly worth it's normal low price if you particularly like his blog.

Rating: B-



How To Be A Woman

Caitlin Moran

Moran's book is a funny autobiographical feminist polemic.
Each chapter illustrates an aspect of growing up and living as a woman using events in her own life.
Her anecdotes are usually hilarious, occasionally moving and nearly always enlightening.
I found much to admire in her take on feminism, but that's not too surprising given how well it chimes with my own views.
It's currently available as a cheap paperback or ebook and is well worth buying.

Rating: A-