Wednesday, 30 April 2014

The Restaurant of Love Regained by Ita Ogawa (1.5/5)

First published: 2008
Original title: Shokudou Katatsumuri
Original language: Japanese
Translation to English by: Daid Karashima, 2011

Page count: 193


The back says: Returning home from work, Rinko is shocked to find that her flat is totally empty. Gone are her TV set, fridge and furniture, gone are all her kitchen tools, including the hundred-year-old pestle and mortar she has inherited from her grandmother and the Le Creuset casserole she has bought with her first salary. Gone, above all, is her Indian boyfriend, the maître d’ of the restaurant next door to the one she works in. She has no choice but to go back to her native village and her mother, on which she turned her back ten years ago as a fifteen-year-old girl.

There she decides to open a very special restaurant, one that serves food for only one table every day, according to the customers’ personal tastes and wishes. A concubine rediscovers her love for life, a girl is able to conquer the heart of her lover, a surly man is transformed into a lovable gentleman – all this happens at The Snail, the magic restaurant whose delicate food can heal any heartache and help its customers find love again.

I say: This review is going to be short because I don’t really have that much to say about this and don’t want to dwell on it. If I had known how many detailed descriptions of cooking that take place in this novel, I never would have bought it.

I am not very fond of food or cooking, so this was not for me.

Another thing I am not very fond of is the overuse of similes, and there is an abundance of similes on every page. Everything was like something else – often inane and uninspired – making the prose choppy and quite agonising to read. Add sentimentality, a non-conflict between mother and daughter, and prayers to the god of cooking, and I just continued to read because...

I honestly don’t even know why.

1.5/5 because the only interesting thing about this novel was the first paragraph detailing how Rinko returns to an empty apartment.

Tuesday, 29 April 2014

The Leftovers by Tom Perrotta (3.5/5)

First published: 2011
Page count: 355

The back says: What if – whoosh, right now, with no explanation – a number of us simply vanished? Would some of us think it was the Rapture? Would some of us fall apart? Would others go on just as we did before the world turned upside down?

That’s what the confused citizens of tidy suburban Mapleton have to figure out. Kevin Garvey, the mayor, wants to speed up the healing process, even as his own family has atomized in the wake of what’s become known as the Sudden Departure: Kevin’s wife, Laurie, has left to join a homegrown cult, the Guilty Remnant; his son, Tom, is gone, too, dropped out of college to follow a shady “prophet” named Holy Wayne and join his Healing Hug Movement. Only Kevin’s teenaged daughter, Jill, is still with him, opaque and drifting since October 14th. Kevin yearns to connect with her, even as he is distracted by a new relationship with Nora Durst, the saddest woman in Mapleton, trying to cope with the disappearance of her entire family.

I say: I had been wanting to read this for a long time, so I was very excited at the beginning. We are introduced to a few key protagonists in the story, Kevin, his wife Laurie and their two children Tom and Jill, and it starts off with a bang.

Or should that be a whoosh?

The novel starts with the three year anniversary parade of the Sudden Departure and then chronicles the subsequent year or so. We are introduced to the Garvey family initially through Kevin’s eyes, which are somewhat mechanical in the beginning, causing me to put the books aside for a while thinking it was going to continue like that. Fortunately, the narrator’s focus changes, initially between the Garvey family members, sometimes within the chapters, but as the story progresses some of the other characters are added. The prose is straightforward and the strength of the novel lies in the way the characters deal with the Sudden Departure. As the synopsis says, Kevin tries to act normal, his wife joins a cult, his son follows a false prophet, and his daughter starts partying and ignoring school. Perrotta covers most angles, and later on, when we are introduced to Nora, we realise that she is not dealing with the situation that well; spending her days re-watching SpongeBob and writing down how she feels after each episode.

After I had gotten over the slow start, it was exciting following these people and witnessing their change and challenges over a rather short period of time. However, towards the end I found the novel a tad frustrating simply because I lost interest in all of the characters apart from Tom, Laurie and Meg. There were also some plot lines that felt contrived; almost as if Perrotta had taken the essence of the story as far as he could and had to introduce something to keep the reader interested.

3.5/5 because of the brilliant treatment of possible outcomes of the Rapture.

This novel has also been turned into a TV series that I’ll never wath.

Monday, 28 April 2014

The Double by Fyodor Dostoevsky (3/5)

First published: 1846
Original title: Двойник, Dvoynik
Original language: Russian
Translation to English by: Constance Garnett

Page count: 144


The back says: First published in 1846, Fyodor Dostoyevsky's novella "The Double" is a classic doppelgnger and the second major work published by the author. It is the story of Yakov Petrovich Golyadkin, a government clerk who believes that a fellow clerk has taken over his identity and is determined to bring about his ruin. Considered the most Gogolesque of Dostoyevsky's works, the novella brilliantly depicts Golyadkin's descent into madness in a way that is hauntingly poetic.

I say: I wanted so much to like this, but found myself falling asleep every few pages.

Yes, it bored me.

The premise is amazing, but the execution was not to my liking. It is hard to pinpoint exactly what was off other than the fact that I never really got into it – probably because I kept falling asleep. There were moments of ridiculous hilarity; often relating to the double mocking Golyadkin, and there were moments when Dostoevsky intensely portrayed Golyadkin’s ever increasing frustration and desperation that I truly enjoyed. However, as much as I love the absurd, this wasn’t absurd enough for me. Yes, we do wonder who the double was and what he was doing there, and there is also the uncertain ending, but I still yearned for more.

As with most of Dostoevsky’s work, I will be revisiting this in the future and it will be interesting to see how I feel about it then.

Thursday, 24 April 2014

Sorry by Zoran Drvenkar (3.5/5)

First published: 2009
Original title: Sorry
Original language: German
Translation to English by: Shaun Whiteside

Page count: 388


The back says: Berlinn. Four friends. One extreme idea.

Kris, Tamara, Wolf and Freuke set up an agency called SORRY. An agency to right wrongs. Unfair dismissals, the wrongly accused: everyone has a price, and SORRY will find out what that is. It’s as simple as that. What they hadn’t counted on was their next client being a cold-hearted killer. But who is the killer and why has he killed? Someone is mocking them and their hell is only beginning.

I say: Well, this was hard to put down once I started reading. I generally don’t like crime novels, but I gave this a shot because I liked the idea of the agency apologising for people.

How convenient.

Each of the four friends are the focus in alternating chapters, which are narrated by an annoying omniscient presence that won’t stop inserting inane information about what is about to happen and what we should have learned from reading other novels. There are two more characters, one entitled The Man Who Wasn’t There and the other You – in these chapters the narrator addresses the reader as if s/he is the character in the book, as such:

“You are surprised how easy it is to track her down” (p. 1).

I found this to be rather annoying as well, and try as I did, I could never get into it.

The biggest mystery of the novel was finding out who You was, which I pride myself in doing prior to the big reveal. Having done that, there were a few moments of tension and then it all ended in a rather meh tone.

I was disappointed.

More than anything this was a very disturbing novel, containing vivid descriptions of child pornography and torture, which I wouldn’t have started had I known about it beforehand. There are a few things I try to stay away from, and children being hurt is one of them.
 
3.5/5 because it was a great idea, somewhat nicely done, but ultimately too graphic for my liking.

Wednesday, 23 April 2014

Kärleken (Torka Aldrig Tårar utan Handskar #1) av Jonas Gardell (4/5)

Publiceringsdatum: 2013
Antal sidor: 243

Baksidan säger:
När Rasmus stiger av tåget på Centralstationen i september 1982 lämnar han det lilla Koppom bakom sig för att aldrig återvända. Ung och vacker kastar han sig ut i de homosexuellas Stockholm.
Benjamin är Jehovas vittne. Ivrigt går han från dörr till dörr för att predika om Gud. Ingenting kan rubba honom i hans tro. Tills den dag han ringer på hos Paul, den varmaste, roligaste och bitchigaste bögen Gud någonsin skapat.

Så på julaftonskvällen, när det snöar över staden, träffas Rasmus och Benjamin, och inget blir som förr igen.

Det som berättas i den här historien har hänt. Det hände här, i den här staden, i de här kvarteren, bland de människor som har sina liv här. I en stad där de flesta fortsatte att leva sina liv som om inget hänt började unga män insjukna, tyna bort och dö.

Jag var en av dem som överlevde.

Det här är min och mina vänners historia.


Jag säger: Jag brukar undvika att läsa böcker som är så hypade som den här trilogin har varit för att har är van att bli besviken. Därför tog det halva reapriset på bokrean för att jag skulle köpa hem och läsa – för egentligen så vill jag ju se TV-serien, men boken först.

Alltid boken först.

I första delen introduceras de tre huvudpersonerna, Rasmus, Benjamin och Paul, samt deras vänner, med en blandning av nutid, framtid och dåtid. Vi får glimtar av sjukhusvistelsen men fokus ligger på hur Benjamin och Rasmus uppväxt sett ut och hur de båda trevande letar sig fram till Stockholms homosexuella. Båda längtar efter gemenskap och kärlek, men söker efter den på olika sätt; Rasmus genom att aldrig säga nej till de män som visat minsta intresse, medan Benjamin spenderar största delen av boken med att förneka sin homosexualitet eftersom han är ett troget Jehovas Vittne. Slutligen är det genom Paul som de träffas och det är där första delen slutar.

Det är många känslor som snurrar runt i huvudet när jag läser; jag är glad att få lära känna dessa människor, men samtidigt så vet jag ju att inte alla kommer att överleva. Det är en vacker väntan på att få sitt hjärta krossat, och Gardell visar vägen med blandad ömhet och brutalitet.

Ibland avbryts berättelsen och Gardell berättar ingående om de homosexuellas historia i Sverige och hur HIV/AIDS spreds i världen utan att det känns påträngande. Det är mycket viktig information som jag inte kände till och som ger en djupare förståelse för hur personerna i boken uppför sig. Det är fakta och statistik som blir mänskligare inom berättelsens referensram.
 
Jag plockar ivrigt upp del två.

Tuesday, 22 April 2014

Notes from the Underground by Fyodor Dostoevsky (4.5/5)

First published: 1864
Original title: Записки из подполья, Zapiski iz podpol'ya
Original language: Russian
Translation to English by: I downloaded this from ManyBooks.net and there is no information on the translator. I’ll have to research this further.

Page count: 136

 
GoodReads says: Notes from Underground is a novella by Fyodor Dostoyevsky. Notes is considered by many to be the first existentialist novel. It presents itself as an excerpt from the rambling memoirs of a bitter, isolated, unnamed narrator (generally referred to by critics as the Underground Man) who is a retired civil servant living in St. Petersburg. The first part of the story is told in monologue form, or the underground man's diary, and attacks emerging Western philosophy, especially Nikolay Chernyshevsky's What Is to Be Done? The second part of the book is called "Apropos of the Wet Snow," and describes certain events that, it seems, are destroying and sometimes renewing the underground man, who acts as a first person, unreliable narrator. Like many of Dostoyevsky's novels, Notes from Underground was unpopular with Soviet literary critics due to its explicit rejection of utopian socialism and its portrait of humans as irrational, uncontrollable, and uncooperative.

I say: As the synopsis says, the first part consists of the narrator writing down his philosophical ponderings and complaints in his diary, addressing an unknown reader and all the while claiming that his notes are for his own benefit, but addressing a fictional reader makes writing easier. This is the part that I will have to re-read since it is quite heavy and I took a significant number of notes while going through it.

The second part is a much easier read and tells the story of the narrator’s digressional life at age 24. Here we learn what leads the narrator to the conclusions we encounter in the first part. For some reason I enjoy reading about self-destructing Russians, and the narrator is just that. He has a lowly job that he isn’t proud of, a servant that never listens (which I’m realising is an occurring theme with Dostoevsky that I may need to look further into) and friends that despise him. He deliberately makes a nuisance of himself only so that he can complain about it later, and it is all told with such conviction that I initially feel sorry for him. However, taking the philosophies of the first part into account, I begin to question his trustworthiness. He is fond of doing and saying things for the mere sake of doing or saying them, or for the sake of gauging a reaction. Like bumping into an officer whom he bizarrely gets obsessed with; showing up to a dinner party he wasn’t invited to and can’t afford with people he despises – and who despise him; and behaving the way he does towards the prostitute Liza.

Throughout the second part he is steadfastly trying out and formulating the ideologies we are introduced to in the beginning, and it continuously feels like he is forcing his own hand towards this imminent demise, hence the constant reminiscing of those incidents.


Oh, gentlemen, do you know, perhaps I consider myself an intelligent man, only because all my life I have been able neither to begin nor to finish anything. Granted I am a babbler, a harmless vexatious babbler, like all of us. But what is to be done if the direct and sole vocation of every intelligent man is babble, that is, the intentional pouring of water through a sieve?
- p. 11
Wiki says that Notes from the Underground is considered by many to be the first existentialist novel, which I am not qualified to comment on, other than to say that I wish this had been a part of my existentialist courses as I would have loved to be able to discuss it.

I really look forward to re-reading this because it is funny at times, as well as thought provoking. The only reason it gets a 4.5/5 is because I found the first part to be a tad too philosophical.

Monday, 21 April 2014

The Fat Years by Chan Koonchung (3/5)

First published: 2009
Original title: Shengshi: Zhongguo 2013
Original language: Chinese
Translation to English by: Michael S. Duke, 2011

Page count: 307


The back says: Beijing, sometime in the near future: a month has gone missing from official records. No one has any memory of it, and no one can care less. Except for a small circle of friends, who will stop at nothing to get to the bottom of the sinister cheerfulness and amnesia that has possessed the Chinese nation. When they kidnap a high-ranking official and force him to reveal all, what they learn - not only about their leaders, but also about their own people - stuns them to the core. It is a message that will rock the world…

I say: What an utter and total disappointment this was.

I can’t even know where to begin to explain it all so I’ll make this review brief.

Everything starts out interesting enough; we are introduced to a series of characters whose lives intertwine in a nice and imaginative way. The synopsis sums up the plot well enough – except for the fact that the kidnapping doesn’t happen until the last third of the book, at which point I was growing weary and impatient. I should have held on to those emotions because when the big reveal happens I genuinely wanted to throw the book across the room. But it was in the middle of the night, so that wasn’t an option. Instead I sighed and braved on till the end.

I feel the need to point out that before we even get to the big reveal, the kidnapped official spends about 30 pages talking politics and economics.

Thirty.

Pages.

Now, I know very little about Chinese history, politics or economics, so I cannot comment on the accuracy of what is being revealed. Most of it went over my head because I simply couldn’t be arsed muster up enough energy to care.

This is not what I signed up for.

Had I known how dependent this novel is of the above mentioned, I never would have read it.

Having said all that, it’s written in a straightforward way, with a little bit of meta in the third part in the form of the author (or somebody) commenting on the characters. It felt out of place and contrived, but by then I had already checked out of the novel and was waiting for the conclusion. To be noted is that it does contain a lot of literary references, especially Chinese, that I hope are genuine and that I will look up at a later date.

3/5 because the story would have gotten a 4 and the politics and economics a 2, so we’ll settle in the middle.

Wednesday, 16 April 2014

Goat Mountain by David Vann (5/5)

First published: 2013
Page count: 239

The back says: In David Vann's searing novel Goat Mountain, an eleven-year-old boy is eager to make his first kill at his family's annual deer hunt. But all is not as it should be. His father discovers a poacher on the land, a 640-acre ranch in Northern California, and shows him to the boy through the scope of his rifle. With this simple gesture, tragedy erupts, shattering lives irrevocably.

Set over the course of one hot and hellish weekend, Goat Mountain is the story of a family struggling to contend with a terrible crime and its repercussions. David Vann creates a haunting and provocative novel that explores our most primal urges and beliefs, the bonds of blood and religion that define and secure us, and the consequences of our actions - what we owe for what we've done.

I say: How utterly disturbing and yet so beautifully written.

Every fall the boy and narrator, his father, grandfather and his father’s friend Tom drive up to Goat Mountain to hunt. This year, at age eleven, he is to finally make his first kill. But before they even get to the base camp, as the synopsis so conspicuously reveals, the boy shoots and kills a poacher. What follows is a few days of the men arguing about how to deal with the situation, while the boy calmly observes.

The narration is that of the boy as an older man reminiscing about that time and in retrospect compares his kill to the story of Cain and Abel. Time and again he questions what he was thinking at the time, and it often feels like his telling is a form rationalisation in order to come to terms with his crime.

What is the difference between killing a man and killing an animal?

That question lies at the base of the distressing elements of this novel, and with it comes the way that the three men deal with the corpse. Each man looks at the situation, and the boy, from different angles, and it is their inability to understand each other that leads to even more tragedy.

I did not see the end coming and was shocked when it did.

Vann’s prose is straightforward and somewhat repetitive, which is part of what makes it so unsettling. I kept hoping for more emotions from the boy, but he tells the story with such unnerving detachment and matter-of-factness.

5/5 because as troubling as this was, I actually want to re-read it sometime in the future.

Monday, 14 April 2014

Så Går en Dag från Vårt Liv och Kommer Aldrig Åter av Jonas Gardell (4/5)

Publiceringsdatum: 1998
Antal sidor: 170

Baksidan säger:
Sverige inför tusenårsskiftet. Vad gör vi? Vilka är vi? Hur ser våra liv ut? Denna vecka gäller gula rabattkuponger, nästa vecka blå. Livet går ut på att leta så långt bak i mjölkdisken som möjligt för att hitta en förpackning med en dag bättre bästföredatum, och då har man överlistat den lokala Ica-handlaren.

Skriven med lika delar humor och förtvivlan, och med ett absolut gehör för samtidens alla detaljer är detta berättelsen om en handfull människor, deras drömmar, tillkortakommanden och längtan i det lilla landet långt upp i norr under stjärnorna.

Jag säger: Ångestframkallande till tusen, men ack så sann.

Här får vi träffa Pia som är över 30, ensam, arbetslös och bitter över allt i sitt. Hennes syster Anna är gift med Håkan och har två söner, och trots att ingen av dem är lycklig med tillvaron så vågar de inte lämna varandra. Håkans far Henning bor ensam ute i skogen och spenderar sin tid med att skriva insändare och undvika människor. Medan Pia och Annas mamma försöker och försöker men lyckas aldrig nå fram. Alla är de olyckliga, men ingen gör någonting åt saken.

Detta är en bild av mina värsta mardrömmar.

Gardell beskriver avskalat denna längtan efter något mer; något till synes ouppnåeligt och något som man kanske inte förtjänar. Och det är där skon klämmer på alla karaktärerna; de tycker inte att de förtjänar mer än de har. Detta är livet de valt och nu måste de leva ut det till slutet. Alla utom Pia, som trots att hon förstår att det är hennes val som lett henne dit hon hamnat aktivt letar efter någon att skaffa barn med – aktivt försöker ändra sin situation. Iof gör även Anna och Håkan några tafatta försök till förändring, men i slutändan så vet de att det hela är symboliskt.

Och det är just det som är så sorgligt.

Hur många där ute lever liv de inte vill men inte vågar ändra?
4/5 för en tacksam inblick i Svenssonlivet i slutet på förra seklet.

Thursday, 10 April 2014

Clash of Civilizations over and Elevator in Piazza Vittorio by Amara Lakhous (4/5)

First published: 2006
Original title: Scontro di civiltà per un ascensore a piazza Vittorio
Original language: Italian
Translation to English by: Ann Goldstein, 2008

Page count: 131


The back says: A small culturally mixed community living in an apartment building in the center of Rome is thrown into disarray when one of the neighbors is murdered. An investigation ensues and as each of the victim's neighbors is questioned, the reader is offered an all-access pass into the most colorful neighborhood in contemporary Rome. Each character takes his or her turn “giving evidence,” recounting his or her story - the dramas of racial identity, the anxieties and misunderstandings born of a life spent on society's margins, the daily humiliations provoked by mainstream culture's fears and indifference, preconceptions and insensitivity. What emerges is a moving story that is common to us all, whether we live in Italy or Los Angeles.

This novel is animated by a style that is as colorful as the neighborhood it describes and is characterized by seemingly effortless equipoise that borrows from the cinematic tradition of the Commedia all’Italiana as exemplified by directors such as Federico Fellini.

At the heart of this bittersweet comedy told with affection and sensitivity is a social reality that we often tend to ignore and an anthropological analysis, refreshing in its generosity, that cannot fail to fascinate.

I say: What an absolutely delightful read. This is social satire at its finest and most hilarious. I laughed out loud a lot.

As well as shaking my head at some of the nonsense that was spouted.

In total we are dealing with 11 testimonials from people who are all somehow connected to the elevator in Piazza Vittorio; some because they live in the apartment building, and others because they deliver goods or have friends there. The 12th person we hear from is the detective that has been handed the case, and as usual with detective stories, the person I thought had murdered “The Galdiator” wasn’t the one. It doesn’t really matter that much since the murder is more of a plot device to get the characters to show their prejudices against and little quarrels with each other.

And there were many of them.

When I was studying Conflict Resolution at uni The Clash of Civilizations by Samuel P. Huntington was referred to in pretty much every class. As wiki simplifies it, it is the theory that people's cultural and religious identities will be the primary source of conflict in the post-Cold War world, which is what Lakhous is embodying in this novel. There is no need to have read Huntington to get the message, I just thought I’d put it out there as an explanation of the title.

At the heart of this story is the elevator and the one person that everyone gets along with, Amedeo, whom they all assume to be Italian because he speaks the language like a native. Amedeo himself never gives a clear answer as to where he is from, but responds with a vague “south”. He is also the only one who doesn’t use the elevator – until one of the tenants gets so overweight they forbid her to use it. Here we naturally segue into what the elevator symbolises; which I’m not going to go into because it will entail spoilers.

The humour and satire of the novel lies in the different parts of roman society that the characters represent and how they interact. We have the immigrant who seemingly hates Rome, but is unable to go back home; the immigrant without papers and therefore afraid to report crimes against her for fear of being deported; the old native lady that blames the immigrants for everything bad that happens; and so on (I can’t name all 11 characters). At the end of each testimony we are treated to excerpts from Amedeo’s journal where he speaks about their relationship. As a result we get to know all the characters through their own, Amedeo’s and their acquaintance’s eyes which leads to equal parts hilarity and frustration. Prejudices run rampant and I couldn’t help but consider how I view myself and those around me.

4/5 because it is more profound than one initially thinks.

Wednesday, 9 April 2014

The Kreutzer Sonata by Leo Tolstoy (3.5/5)

First published: 1889
Original title: Крейцерова соната, Kreitzerova Sonata
Original language: Russian
Translation to English by: David Duff, 1983

Page count: 144


The back says: Love can be murderous

Pozdnyshev and his wife have a turbulent relationship. When her beauty blossoms after the birth of their children, men begin to flock around her and he becomes increasingly jealous. Convinced his wife is betraying him with a young musician, he is driven to ever more dangerous lengths by his overpowering suspicion.

I say: I have been meaning to read this for the longest time, and am glad that I finally did, but I also wish that I had done it with a book club because it contains a lot of subjects to discuss.

On a train ride a man, Pozdnyshev, engages in a conversation about marriage, divorce and love, presenting some really interesting views. When only one man remains, the narrator, Pozdnyshev tells him the story that led him to the conclusions he previously shared. It’s a confession that we’re listening to – and a very candid one with extremely misogynistic views. There is such an intense bitterness that seeps through every page that made it fascinating to hear him tell the story of his life, refusing any responsibility for his actions. He admits to them and regrets them, but maintains throughout that he was led to them by his wife, her lover, society’s misguided views on love, and more.

Without going too far into it all, what he affirms is that men exploit women and he equates it to slavery which he defines as “the exploitation by the few of the forced labour of the many” (p. 62). Woman is an instrument of pleasure, is brought up to view herself as such and that is the reason she’ll stay enslaved. Furthermore, children are a burden and a torment.

Yeah...

I was more impressed by the ideas presented than the actual writing. Not that I think Tolstoy could have done that much more with it; it was a confession by an unyielding misogynist.

3.5/5 for the endless discussions this can lead to.

Tuesday, 8 April 2014

A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Future...: Twists and Turns and Lessons Learned by Michael J. Fox (4/5)

First published: 210
Page count: 100

The back says: Michael J. Fox abandoned high school to pursue an acting career, but went on to receive honorary degrees from several universities and garner the highest accolades for his acting, as well as for his writing. In his new book, he inspires and motivates graduates to recognize opportunities, maximize their abilities, and roll with the punches--all with his trademark optimism, warmth, and humor.

In A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Future, Michael draws on his own life experiences to make a case that real learning happens when "life goes skidding sideways." He writes of coming to Los Angeles from Canada at age eighteen and attempting to make his way as an actor. Fox offers up a comically skewed take on how, in his own way, he fulfilled the requirements of a college syllabus. He learned Economics as a starving artist; an unexpected turn as a neophyte activist schooled him in Political Science; and his approach to Comparative Literature involved stacking books up against their movie versions.

Replete with personal stories and hilarious anecdotes, Michael J. Fox's new book is the perfect gift for graduates.

I say: I waited for a very long time to buy and read this, which is strange since I bought and read his two previous books the week they were released. And not having read the synopsis, I was surprised at the content.

Pleasantly surprised, mind you.

I’ve had a crush on MJF for over 20 years as well as an admiration for his candour about his life, so it was nice to read this book of compressed wisdom accompanied by personal anecdotes. I would love to give this to my niece who is about to graduate the Swedish equivalent of high school, but I fear she’ll never read it. Which is a shame because it has a lot of life lessons in it that I wish I had been given at that age.

4/5 because it manages to capture the essential in only 100 pages long and effectively does what it says on the tin.