Books & Writers

Book Reviews :: 2019 :: Part I

Ignoring the fact it is June September by the time this post goes up, my aim of reading 12 books was set again for 2019… I can at last share that I finally finished a book this year. And even more impressively, I took over a full year to read it…

Here are my first 4 books, in the first 8 months… and my thoughts on them.


May :: The Chimp Paradox – Prof Steve Peters

5 Stars
I’m aware that many people have been disappointed with the simplicity of this book, but overall, I found it a comprehensive self-help book.

I have degree-level qualifications in psychology and a Masters in Cognitive Neuroscience, so I do appreciate that it IS simplified. However, it’s not a book designed for neuroscience graduates, talking about the biological facts of brain chemistry: it’s a self-help book made to be accessible. There is even an 8-page summary of what the model is actually based on, complete with biological brain areas. Especially for helping children and those who don’t have degree-level qualifications, I can see how useful this would be.

Equally, I was recommended this book by a friend who uses it in her therapy. For someone with more scientific knowledge than most, the simplicity actually allowed me to really engage with the ‘self help technique’ side of the book, rather than ‘studying it’ like a scholar.

As for the content, it covers some basics of Cognitive Behavioural Therapy, some general psychology principles and even seems to touch on aspects of narrative therapy. If I had found this book as a young adult, it would have been so useful to help me understand why I was struggling so much. And to give me some steps to improve those difficulty.

Like all self-help books, this is not a quick-fix magic wand, but awareness and knowledge helps us stay motivated. Since change is so hard for us humans, I think this is a great place to look for some self-help tools.


August :: What Is Your Cat Really Thinking? – Dannyboy & Sophie Johnson

4 Stars

A cute little coffee table book. A couple of jokes I didn’t get, but overall, a snort-laugh every other page isn’t a bad sign. The illustrations were cute, and there were a solid 5-7 examples that I laughed out loud because I’ve lived them with my cats over the years.

“Fruit Snake!”
[Spoiler Alert: it’s a cucumber]


August :: Ikigai: The Japanese Secret to a Long and Happy Life – Hector Garcia Puigcerver & Francesc Miralles

3.5 Stars

A clear, accessible read for those seeking an outline of how our purpose can impact on our life, especially how this connects to common healthy lifestyle tips. However, the title is misleading as Ikigai and even the secrets of those living over 100 is only peppered in, and barely explored below the surface.

It was a dip into the waters of a specific section of Japanese life requiring no previous knowledge. More time could have been spent on each ‘lesson’ distilled from their learning to apply to a western lifestyle, and the interviews could have been expanded upon, but there were enough new concepts without being overwhelmed for me to consider how I might shift my own priorities.

There was nothing ground-breaking, or that I hadn’t heard about in general, and I feel the book could have been a lot more focused and less sporadic with each aspect. Therefore, I viewed this very much as an overview; a summary requiring further study.

If you’re seeking a short read for thought-provoking questions about how we live, it’s worth a look. I will say it is less useful if you’re seeking a ‘how to’ or ‘self-help’ style book, or looking to source more scientific, evidence-based statistics or even the experiential interviews of the real people the book briefly speaks about.


August :: Forever My Daughter – Pam Brown

A birthday gift from my mum. (how did you guess?)
Sweet sentiment, cute pictures, and reads much like a long poetic card.


So we’re coming to the final quarter: Tell me what you’re currently reading!

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