Five words from the blurb: Jesus, Belgium, publicity, welcoming, committee
Christ’s Entry Into Brussels is a novella that satirises modern society by imaging what would happen if Jesus Christ were to announce his second-coming. It shows the way authorities would panic at the thought of the global media descending, the fights over who would be able to meet Jesus, and the way the public react to this happy news.
I was worried that this book might be overly religious, or offensive in some way. Luckily it was neither – it simply mocked our way of life, particularly the political system.
It was hardly surprising: everyone of any name or fame was dying to be photographed next to a man who shared his DNA with Gold Almighty. Any deeds of nobility that could be conjured up were worthwhile; there was no arse so filthy it wasn’t worth kissing; no pride too small or too big that it couldn’t be pushed aside to clear the way for some craven toadying.
I loved the informal, chatty style of writing and the way the narrator directly addressed the reader. It would probably grate over a longer book, but was perfect for this novella.
My only problem was that some references to the Belgium political system went over my head. I think I got the general gist of these jokes, but suspect that anyone familiar with the country would enjoy it even more.
Christ’s Entry Into Brussels is a short, but entertaining book and I look forward to investigating Dimitri Verhulst’s other books.
Five words from the blurb: astronaut, training, success, survival, think
Chris Hadfield is an inspirational man! I don’t remember how I first heard of him, but I do know that every piece of media that features him leaves me feeling empowered. Last year I saw that he was coming to the UK to promote his photo book, You Are Here: Around the World in 92 Minutes, and so booked tickets to see him live. He had the entire room in the palm of his hand and is easily the best public speaker I’ve ever seen. I immediately went home and reserved a copy of his audiobook from the library. It is every bit as good as I hoped it would be and I urge you to go and get a copy.
An Astronaut’s Guide to Life on Earth is basically an autobiography, explaining how Hadfield became an astronaut. But he also uses the book to show how everyone can benefit from the things he learnt along the way. He reinforces his belief that you should use every spare moment to become a better person – making small changes every day to improve your chances of achieving whatever you want:
Decide in your heart of hearts what really excites and challenges you, and start moving your life in that direction. Every decision you make, from what you eat to what you do with your time tonight, turns you into who you are tomorrow, and the day after that. Look at who you want to be, and start sculpting yourself into that person. You may not get exactly where you thought you’d be, but you will be doing things that suit you in a profession you believe in. Don’t let life randomly kick you into the adult you don’t want to become.
He also believes that being independent is the key to happiness. Knowing that you have the ability to fix anything around you gives you more confidence. His passion almost persuaded me to take a course in plumbing – but I predict trying to fix a broken pipe would lead to much more stress in my life as I’m not very good at practical tasks!
Hadfield mixes these life-building plans with entertaining anecdotes about his experiences. It was fascinating to learn how problems are dealt with in space and I thought he managed to strike exactly the right balance between technical information and humour. I especially loved hearing about how he coped with becoming blind whilst on a space walk and what landing a Soyuz is like.
The audio is read by the author; further injecting his passion into every word. It’s probably amazing in print, but I highly recommend the audio version.
An Astronaut’s Guide to Life on Earth gives the reader a slightly different perspective of the world, showing how we can all work together to make things better. It highlights the fragility and beauty of our planet, but also how powerful individual people can be when they work towards a goal. If you only buy one self-help book in your life, this should be the one you get.
Five words from the blurb: intersex, school, secret, damage, parents
I don’t often pick books at random from library shelves, but perhaps I should if this choice is anything to go by. For some reason it called to me and once I started reading I couldn’t put it down. Golden Boy is actually a YA book, but its central theme of acceptance is universal and it has an emotional depth that is hard to rival.
The book concentrates on Max, an intersex teenager, who is trying to understand his place in the world. The difficulties of adolescence are shown in unflinching detail and the complexities of teenage thought are so accurately portrayed that I was given a few flashbacks to my own teenage years. Max’s first experiences of love and romance were touching to witness and his vulnerability made these scenes especially moving.
I loved the way that the book was narrated by both Max and those close to him. This allowed the reader to develop a more complete picture of his life and added to the narrative tension. The emotional bond between Max and the reader was outstanding and by the end of the book I felt as though I knew him.
I cover my head with the duvet. Every thought I think convinces me a little bit more that I’m either insane or halfway there. My head feels so full of shouting voices that I can’t tell which one is my own. Which opinion is truly mine? Who am I? Does the fact that I don’t have a gender even matter? Or does it mean I am absolutely alone? Will anyone ever understand me just wanting to be me, or will they always think I’m a freak, forever,? Can I keep this secret? Or will the secret slowly poison my family?
The subject of intersexuality was handled with great tact and sensitivity. Facts about the condition were sprinkled through the text, but they never felt gratuitous or sensationalist. It gave the reader a greater understanding of this largely secretive condition; whilst showing that the problems of puberty are universal.
The book also showed the difficulties faced by parents as their children grow into independent adults. The grief of no longer being the centre of your child’s world was perfectly described and makes me cherish the time I have with own my boys all the more.
Overall this was an insightful book that has done more to explain the emotional complexities of being intersex than anything else I’ve read.
Shortlisted for the 2015 Independent Foreign Fiction Prize
Translated from the Japanese by Philip Gabriel
Five words from the blurb: friends, school, death, connections, reason
Tsukuru is 36, but as a teenager he was part of a group of five friends. One day they stopped talking to him and he felt abandoned. He hasn’t seen them for 16 years, but continues to be haunted by the mysterious way he was ostracised from the group. His girlfriend sees the pain this is causing and persuades him to track down his friends to discover the real reason that they blocked him out of their lives all those years ago.
I think I read this at exactly the right time in my life. I am also 36 and, coincidentally, was also part of a group of five in school. I married one of them, so am well aware of the way relationships effect the dynamics within a group. Last week we went to a wedding and the five of us were together again for the first time in fifteen years (although we have seen them all individually occasionally since then). Colorless Tsukuru and His Years of Pilgrimage perfectly captures the feelings of meeting people that you were once very close to. Discovering how old friends have changed is a strange thing, and imagining how small decisions from the past could have changed the course of your life is hard to get your head around.
Murakami delves into a range of emotions, explaining them beautifully:
Jealousy – at least as far as he understood it from his dream – was the most hopeless prison in the world. Jealousy was not a place he was forced into by someone else, but a jail in which the inmate entered voluntarily, locked the door, and threw away the key. And not another soul in the world knew he was locked inside. Of course if he wanted to escape, he could do so. The prison was, after all, his own heart. But he couldn’t make that decision. His heart was as hard as a stone wall. This was the very essence of jealousy.
The first 80 pages of this book were very slow, but then Tsukuru started to meet his friends and the plot picked up pace. I was completely absorbed by the mystery and loved the way each character had a slightly different relationship with the others – I don’t think I’ve read many other books that have captured teenage group dynamics with this realism.
This book didn’t contain any of the strange mythology that Murakami is famous for, but it provides an insight into the lives of ordinary Japanese people. It isn’t necessary to know anything about the culture before reading this book, so is a good choice for those looking to try Japanese literature for the first time.
Overall, this is a strong book that deserves its place on the IFFP shortlist. The ending was perfect and I highly recommend it to anyone who has lost touch with old friends.
Five words from the blurb: anthropologist, tribe, discovery, miraculous, terrible
I bought a copy of this book when Steph, one of my favourite bloggers, raved about it. It’s been sat on my shelf for ages, but I finally got around to reading it and found it was well worth the wait. The People in the Trees is the perfect blend of science, moral dilemma and mystery – all wrapped up in a clever structure. You can click here for the history blog of tree.
The book begins with Norton, a Nobel Prize winning scientist, being arrested for paedophillia. The rest of the book travels back in time, explaining what happened prior to his arrest. It shows how Norton came to fame studying a tribe from a remote Micronesian island. These people claimed to become immortal after eating a rare turtle and as Norton researched their society he made a break-through discovery. The subsequent media frenzy is heartbreaking to read and perfectly captures many of the problems with our society today.
Norton was a fantastic character. He was deeply flawed, but I found myself empathising with him – and this was troubling on many occasions. The book managed to hold my attention throughout, despite the fact that the majority of the plot was revealed within the first few pages. I also loved the way it questioned our way of life, making me re-think several of my own beliefs.
All ethics and morals are culturally relative. And Esme’s reaction taught me that while cultural relativism is an easy concept to process intellectually, it is not, for many, an easy one to remember.
The People of the Trees is an anthropological adventure and it felt completely plausible – an impressive feat for such an unlikely story. Much of the book reminded me of The Signature of All Things by Elizabeth Gilbert, as they blend science and fiction in a similarly compelling way. The writing styles shared so many aspects that I wouldn’t have been surprised if you told me both books were written by the same author. I’m sure that anyone who enjoyed one would appreciate the other.
The disturbing themes mean that this book isn’t suitable for everyone, but if you’re intrigued by the darker side of human nature The People of the Trees is a must-read.
The thoughts of other bloggers:
This is one of those rare books that truly defies any attempt to classify it.Jenny Blenk
So my beef with The People in the Trees isn’t with the disgusting revelations per se but that they seemed so disjointed with the rest of the book; therefore, seeming to have no place in it.1776 Books
Five words from the blurb: fear, stress, mental, health, research
Scott Stossel has spent his entire life battling crippling anxiety. In an effort to understand his condition he has compiled medical research and historical information about a wide range of sufferers; showing how generations of people have dealt with their problems. He includes details about many famous people, showing that the affliction does not prevent people from achieving great things.
I was pleased to discover this book on the Wellcome Prize shortlist as I thought I suffered from anxiety, but I quickly realised that I don’t. The nervousness I feel when approaching a stressful situation isn’t in the same league as the anguish of those within these pages. click here you will get all health related information and also they give useful tips for us. Here is the best Health Blog for you. I was surprised to discover how serious the condition can be and how prevalent it is within our society; especially given the fact it didn’t exist as a diagnostic category 35 years ago.
One argument for why twenty-first-century life produces so much anxiety is that social and political roles are no longer understood to have been ordained by God or by nature – we have to choose our roles. Such choices, research shows, are stressful. As sodden with fear and darkness and death as the Middle Ages were, Fromm and others argue, they were likely freer of anxiety than our own time is.
The book contains a vast amount of information about medical research into the condition. It was all well referenced, but contains enough light-hearted side-notes to ensure the reader doesn’t become bogged down in technical detail.
I’d assumed that this book might contain strategies to help deal with anxiety, but this isn’t a self-help book. Despite years of therapy, Scott Stossel hasn’t been cured of his anxiety and, although it contains information about different techniques tried through the ages, this book doesn’t contain any direct guidance on how to deal with anxiety. Instead it gives a brutally honest insight into the condition, explaining what life is like for those trapped by phobias and catastrophizing thought. I now have a greater empathy for those who are suffering, and that is more than enough for one book to provide.
The only real problem was that the structure wasn’t quite right. There were a few sections that repeated information given earlier in the book and in places it didn’t flow as well as it could. These minor problems can be overlooked as it is such an important resource for those with anxiety.
Overall, this was an impressive compilation of information on anxiety and I recommend it to anyone wanting to know more about the condition.
1. If I have depression, am I at risk for obesity?
People with depression or anxiety may experience weight gain or weight loss due to their condition or the medications that treat them. Depression and anxiety can both be associated with overeating, poor food choices, and a more sedentary lifestyle. Over time, weight gain may eventually lead to obesity, prevent most obesity related conditions by reading these proven reviews.
About 43 percentTrusted Source of adults with depression are obese, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). And they say adults who’ve been diagnosed with depression are more likelyTrusted Source to be overweight than those who haven’t.
Likewise, children who are depressed often have a higher BMI than children who aren’t. In one 2002 studyTrusted Source, they found that children who were depressed were more likelyTrusted Source to become obese by the time researchers’ followed up one year later.
2. If obesity has already been diagnosed, am I at risk for depression?
Obesity is often associated with emotional issues, such as sadness, anxiety, and depression. One 2010 studyTrusted Source found that people who were obese had a 55 percentTrusted Source greater risk for developing depression over the course of their life than people who weren’t obese.
Obesity and other weight conditions can also lead to physical health problems. This includes:
These conditions are also risk factors for depression.
3. Does stress factor into this?
Stress is absolutely a factor in both depression and obesity.
Chronic stress and anxiety, for example, can lead to depression. Likewise, stress can make someone more likely to turn to food as a coping mechanism. That can lead to weight gain and eventually obesity.
On the opposite side, stress can also lead to weight loss, or other disordered eating habits, improve your dietary results by reading these resurge reviews.
In adolescents, stressful life events — like bullying and weight-based teasing — have been linkedTrusted Source to depression. This is especially true for young people who are overweight or obese.
Stress reduction is one of the first-line treatments for both depression and obesity. When you’re able to handle the emotions related to your stress and anxiety, you can more easily tackle other issues that can lead to both depression and obesity.
4. Do we know what perpetuates this cycle of obesity and depression?
It isn’t clear how this vicious circle turns, but it is clear that obesity and depression are linked.
For years, researchers were hesitant to connect the two, but as study results became more clear, anecdotal reports have turned to hard science. Today, it’s well understood that obesity can increase your risk for depression, and vice versa.
In fact, many doctors approach treatment for these conditions with a multi-pronged approach. In addition to treating the condition that’s been diagnosed, many care plans include preventive measures to reduce your risk for related conditions.
The goal is to address the physical and emotional needs associated with each condition.
5. Could the treatment options be to blame?
Many prescription antidepressants list weight gain as a common side effect.
Likewise, some weight-management therapies can lead to emotional ups and downs that can cause or worsen depression. A “diet” has a lot of opportunities for failure or setbacks. This can challenge a person who’s already dealing with mental health issues.
However, with a team of experts to guide you, encourage you, and hold you accountable, it’s possible to find a treatment plan that works for both conditions.
6. What should you keep in mind when treating coexisting conditions?
Depression and obesity are both chronic conditions that require long-term care and attention.
It’s important to keep an open line of communication with your doctor about where you are on your journey — regardless of whether you’re sticking to your care plan.
Being honest about what you are and aren’t doing is the only way for your doctor to understand and monitor your underlying condition.
7. How do you know if treatment is helping or hurting?
Radical changes can compound a very delicate situation. That’s why it’s important you seek out qualified health professionals to guide you in this journey.
Sudden, dramatic changes can compound problems. They may also set you up for failure, which can worsen your symptoms.
If you experience these red-flag symptoms or side effects, make an appointment to see your doctor and review your course of treatment:
loss of all interest or pleasure in activities you typically enjoy
an inability to leave your house or bed
irregular sleeping pattern changes
feeling very tired and having difficulty functioning