Showing posts with label Books. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Books. Show all posts

Wednesday, 28 October 2015

The Do Book Company and Lectures

Last week I went to a great event held at Bristol's independent record and book store Rise. I've actually been to a few really good in store gigs there - often musicians performing shows in larger music venues around Bristol will do a short set or a couple of acoustic songs to promote the release of a new album or encourage fans to come to a later gig. Personally I much prefer, smaller more intimate venues so sometimes I will prefer to watch the Rise in store performances (especially seeing as they are often free!)

This event was to promote the launch of a new book series released by the 'Do Book Company' - an independent publishing house based in Shoreditch. 'Do Books' are a series of 11 inspirational pocket guide books which aim to create positive changes be it through learning a new skill or craft, a shift in thinking or by giving you the inspiration and encouragement to achieve a goal or dream. Each book is only about 100 pages, making them quick and easy to read and focusing on the practicalities of 'doing' rather than the background theory.

The books are written by speakers from the Do Lectures - which form part of a 3 day festival/conference founded in Cardigan, Wales. Fans of the world famous TED talks will love the Do lectures as they are very similar - the lectures cover a huge range of themes and subjects given by people from all walks of life.

During the promotional launch at rise, the authors of the following four books each gave a 15-20 minute lecture summarizing their book and how they came to write it:

  • Do Breathe - Calm your mind. Find your focus. Get stuff done. - Michael Townsend Williams
  • Do Disrupt - Change the status quo. Or become it. - Mark Shayler 
  • Do Purpose - Why brands with a purpose do better and matter more. - David Hieatt
  • Do Fly - Find your way. Make a living. Be your best self. - Gavin Strange

Each author was so engaging and interesting in different ways and although they only spoke for a short amount of time, I could have happily sat there and listened to them all night! I could have bought the whole series of books there and then but the one that really caught my eye (partly because of the awesome name of the author!) was Do Story - How to tell your story so the world listens. (Written by Bobette Buster)

I'm really into true story telling events at the moment and am pretty addicted to podcasts and blogs like The Moth, Humans of New York etc... Bobettes book offers some great advice on how to tell your own story and how the skills used to do this can be really beneficial to other aspects of your life, be it personal or professional.

The evening was rounded off by a great musical performance by Luke Sital Singh who I had been wanting to see again since watching him perform in the pouring rain two years ago at glastonbury - it was nice to watch him in the warm and dry comfort of the rise record store!

The books are definitely worth reading - as I said they are pretty short so they are accessible for people who are not really into reading and cover a wide range of subjects. I would love to attend the Do Lectures festival and the other events that they are now holding all around the world - however I was slightly dismayed when I went on their website and discovered that tickets for the 3 day event cost over £1200! So I guess for now I will stick with my slightly more affordable paperback book! On a serious note this is something that has been irritating me a lot lately ( - events which are apparently aim to "inspire and encourage discussion and debate between young people from all backgrounds" but are then priced so that only really high earners can possibly afford the tickets) and is something I will write about in an upcoming post.

However I should say that there are a lot of videos on the do lectures website that you can watch for free so do check them out here:

Friday, 18 September 2015

Experimental Travel - Part 1

10 years ago I was listening to the Radio and I heard a review of a book called "The Lonely Planet Guide to Experimental Travel" and decided immediately to go out and buy it. Lonely Planet travel guides are pretty well known for being good but this one is a little unusual... It is a book that helps you see and explore the world in alternative ways and offers a playful way of travelling, where the destination is unknown.

The book includes over 40 ways to take a journey, each described by a hypothesis, the equipment needed and the method (along with the results of travelers who have tested out each challenge). Examples of the different exercises range from simple challenges such as taking a friends dog for a walk and letting yourself be completely led by what interests the dog; or a trip that would require a bit more daring and preparation such as 'Erotourism' - in which a couple would travel separately to the same city and then try to find each other without contact.

Another method suggested is to travel by a certain number - for instance the number 12: take a train that departs at 12:12 and get off at the 12th stop. Or, catch a number 12 bus and get off after the 12th person has got on after you. Only stay at hotels that are on the 12th building on their street.

It has always been my dream to travel the world but it can be hard when you don't have the money saved or are restricted in other ways. This book is full of suggestions that can make journeys more interesting and offers ideas that help the reader to see places that you may travel to everyday in a new way. I think the philosophy and concept of the book is really valuable and can really be applied to things beyond experimental travelling - it's about experimenting, relying on serendipity and chance and looking at the world around you a little differently. 

I had sort of forgotten about the book until recently, but having picked it up again I am now toying with the idea of trying out some of the challenges around Bristol! Perhaps I will start a new blog documenting each adventure!

Tuesday, 18 August 2015


Is there anything better than a good story? A book that you can't put down, a character who you feel such a connection with that you feel a slight sense of grief when the book ends... I have always been a pretty avid reader and from a young age I would often insist a big pile of books being left on my bed for me to delve into before I dropped off to sleep. 
Growing up I mostly read fiction, finding that these imaginative stories offered me solace and escape - a chance to daydream about fantasy worlds and eccentric characters. However as an adult I am now finding myself drawn to non fiction works the real life stories, accounts and experiences from humans around the world.

I first discovered 'The Moth' in book form - a collection of short real life experiences as told at live story telling events worldwide. Once I had read the book of these fascinating tales I then discovered the podcast which is a live recording of these story telling events. To give you a better idea, here is how 'The Moth' is explained on their website: 

"The Moth is an acclaimed not-for-profit organization dedicated to the art and craft of storytelling. It is a celebration of both the raconteur, who breathes fire into true tales of ordinary life, and the storytelling novice, who has lived through something extraordinary and yearns to share it. At the center of each performance is, of course, the story – and The Moth’s directors work with each storyteller to find, shape and present it.
Since its launch in 1997, The Moth has presented thousands of stories, told live and without notes, to standing-room-only crowds worldwide.

Moth shows are renowned for the great range of human experience they showcase. Each show starts with a theme, and the storytellers explore it, often in unexpected ways. Since each story is true and every voice authentic, the shows dance between documentary and theater, creating a unique, intimate, and often enlightening experience for the audience."

What's great about the stories featured on the Moth is that the performers themselves are so varied and diverse; people from all walks of life participate from street cleaners to world renowned surgeons. It is such an interesting insight into the lives of others and each story is unique - some describe monumental life changing events whilst others are about simple encounters that may have changed a negative pattern of thinking. 

I would definitely recommend anyone to buy the book and download the free weekly podcast, its hard to imagine anyone who wouldn't enjoy it. The stories I have listened to have made me laugh, cry and reflect upon my own experiences.

Most of the live storytelling events are held across America however there are also regular events in London - tickets sell fast though as they are becoming increasingly popular!
I have also found similar events run by different writing and performance groups in Bristol so I am really looking forward to attending a few of those - who knows maybe one day I will get up and perform myself!

Last night I with a friend to a storytelling event which featured authors and writers reading 10 minute short fictional stories. There was such a supportive atmosphere in the room and it was amazing how the whole audience were just transfixed by the narrators. I guess it just shows that you are never too old for a good story!

To find out more about 'The Moth' you can visit their website here which has a ton of information on the book, how to download the podcast or even get involved and submit your own story!


Sunday, 2 June 2013

For the love of books... Part 1

I happened to go to a literature festival on Friday where one of the authors was discussing the merits of  a Kindle over a traditional paper back or hardback book. For me personally there is absolutely no contest. I hate the idea of Kindles. There is nothing more beautiful or precious than a book and I would hate to see them die out. I have many happy memories of reading in bed, on a beach, curled up in a chair. I love keeping copies of my favourite books that have been re read so many times they are dog eared and fat, to share a favourite novel with family and friends.

And what about all the wonderful art and design books that are still available in our book stores? Beautifully illustrated children's stories with colours so bright that they stick in your memory more than the words themselves. 

Photographic books showing nature and all the wonders of the world. I am no cook but even I linger over the huge section of cookery books which always look so appealing with hand drawn illustrations or tempting photographs. 

And don't even get me started on the smell of books! Not just old ones either... one of the best parts of re starting school in September was the anticipation of getting your brand new books with crisp white pages and that new book smell.

Books are for collecting, sharing, loving and passing on.

Some images and wise words of wisdom from other bibliophiles:

"Isn't it odd how much fatter a book gets when you've read it several times?” Mo had said…”As if something were left between the pages every time you read it. Feelings, thoughts, sounds, smells…and then, when you look at the book again many years later, you find yourself there, too, a slightly younger self, slightly different, as if the book had preserved you like a pressed flower…both strange and familiar." - Cornelia Funk, Inkspell

"Books break the shackles of time. A book is proof that humans are capable of working magic." - Carl Sagan

Monday, 18 February 2013

The Life of a Bowerbird

A little while ago whilst having a browse in Waterstones, I stumbled across this book and have since dithered many times on Amazon nearly buying it. I've decided to ask for it for my birthday now so roll on April! 
A bower-bird may be a fairly ordinary looking bird but their mating rituals and behaviour are so interesting! The males  will build a nest or structure and then collect and decorate it with sticks and colourful objects to attract his mate.

Sibella Court's book encourages readers to take a similar approach when creating a home - collecting miscellaneous trinkets and treasures and organising so they become a precious and vital part of your home. 

Sibella Court is am interior stylist, creative director and author who has also worked for Anthropologie as a stylist. I actually visited an Anthropologie shop in Sloane Sq last week and had a hard job leaving without buying anything as all the products were so lovely!

Anyway I am looking forward to owning this book as I am a bit of a Bowerbird myself so I can pick up a few tips on how to arrange and transform my collections so they don't just end up stashed away in boxes and drawers of my bedroom.


Whilst looking for photographs of Court's book I also found a good review on it over at Decor8 blog so be sure to check that out for more photos and information about the author.

I also remember that David Attenborough did a feature on the Bower bird in one of his documentaries for anyone wanting a bit more information on the curious and unique creatures.

Monday, 28 January 2013

Inspiring books

Siddhartha - Herman Hesse

The Alchemist - Paulo Coelho

I hate to use the phrase "life altering" - but both of these are great books that really challenge your perspective and way of thinking. I am still in the middle of The Alchemist and may review it on here soon but so far I am really gripped by it.

Sunday, 6 January 2013

The Life of Pi

12 years after it was first published and in just time for the film release, I have recently finished reading Yann Martel's 'Life of Pi'. I don't know what stopped me from reading it before now but after seeing the trailer for the film and reading the excellent reviews I decided that I definitely wanted to read the book before seeing the film adaptation.

Perhaps most people already have a rough idea of the story (which I didn't at all) - but it is an account of the extraordinary survival of a young Indian boy stranded on a life boat with an Orang-utan, Hyena and a Zebra with a broken leg. Oh and a Bengal Tiger called Richard Parker.

It took me an embarrassingly long time to realise that the character 'Richard Parker' was actually a tiger  and not a person - maybe because the formality of the name, the clever way in which Martel writes or perhaps just because I am a bit dim; but in any case - the moment you come to realise the gravity of the leading character Pi's situation it becomes impossible to put this book down.

The story is so beautifully written, and although I'm sure the film which is shot in 3D will be pretty spectacular visually - it is worth reading the book anyway because it serves as such a good reminder of how powerful descriptive writing can be. It's not always necessary to have a literal re enactment  or set of images to be able to perfectly picture or imagine a scene as is definitely the case with Martel's book.

Having said that I am looking forward to seeing the film and will post an update on how I think it compares with reading the book.

Another thing to mention is the parallel of spirituality and human brutality that runs as a theme throughout the story. The protagonist (Pi) is an intensely spiritual and religious character - yet inevitably his faith is tried at many points on his journey. In the epilogue there is a slight twist (of sorts) which I think serves as the perfect ending to the book - leaving the whole account as mysterious and open ended as religion and spirituality itself. 

Below is a quote from the book and some illustrations that I found from various artists.

'Battle Of The Minds' - Andrea Offermann. Offermann submitted these images for a 2002 competition to illustrate Life Of Pi ran by The Times but lost out to Tomislav Torjanac.

'Life of Pi' by Jack Bruml Norton