How To Be a Bawse

Hello Everyone and Welcome Back to The Boss Book Club!

Today we will be looking at a book that is deceptively empowering, inspiring and motivating: How To Be a Bawse by Lilly Singh.

Now I shall be honest- I received this book for my birthday. My husband got it for me as a joke because of the hilariously ridiculous misspelling of the word Bawse, and he thought I would giggle. He didn’t even think I would read it. But I did.

And I loved it.

I had never heard of the author Lilly Singh before, but chances are, many of you have. She is the creator and star behind the Youtube channel Superwoman. She has successfully garnered over a billion views, travelled around the world, and made over a million dollars. This book is an advice/ self help book of 50 chapters, divided into 4 parts, with the aim of encouraging you to be the best you can be.

When I first opened the book I was ready to laugh at it.  I snickered and rolled my eyes at the use of hashtags and abbreviations; her definition of what the difference is between a Bawse and a Boss; and her advice to seek motivation by watching a Justin Bieber documentary. However, by the time I’d reached the end of page 315 I was asking my husband to be quiet so as not to disturb my concentration as I devoured it to its very last page, my attitude completely checked, and was indeed grateful for the motivating ‘kick up the butt’ this book gives you.

Each chapter, written with frank and honest humour, gives straightforward life advice on how to identify your goals and pursue what you want in life. As well as motivating you towards financial and career success, Lilly addresses ways to improve yourself as a person, including how to develop a more positive mindset, be grateful for what you have, and to make your own world a more pleasant place to live. The format of the book is easy to read, each chapter being only a few pages long, with lots of colour, photographs, and large text, which is perfect for making it easily engageable and interesting. The shortness of the chapters lend themselves well to rereading, or using it as a motivational tool- a chapter before you get up each morning.

This book will not be for everyone. Her advice is certainly applicable to anyone of any age, however certainly her style and language is suited towards a younger audience. It wouldn’t be unfair to say that her main demographic would be young women- perhaps from 13yo upwards- and if they have ambitions in the entertainment industry (actors, Youtube broadcasters etc) so much the better. Certainly, a lot of her examples draw on her experiences in this field. However, if you keep an open mind, the principles apply universally, wherever your ambitions lie.

This book would make a fantastic gift as a graduation present, or to congratulate someone on the completion of an exam or other important milestone. It’s also perfect if you feel you have lost your focus in life and need some motivating!

Thank you for joining us today at TBBC. We will see you again next week. Happy Reading!

 

The Elephant Vanishes by Haruki Murukami

Hello Everyone and Welcome Back to The Boss Book Club!

Today we return to one of my favourite authors, Japanese writer Haruki Murukami. We will be looking at his collection of short stories, originally released in 1993, titled The Elephant Vanishes.

The Elephant Vanishes is a medium sized volume of 17 short stories, each one unique and bizarre, where realism meets with elements of fantasy, science fiction and dream-like qualities. Each story will take you to an alternate version of reality where things are very much as you expect, but always with a twist of the unnatural.

Amongst the stories included are Barn Burning, where a man at a party makes an odd confession to his passion for starting barn fires; The Last Lawn of the Afternoon, where a casual gardener mows his last lawn before retirement from the business; and TV people, where a young man, relaxing on his couch, is confronted with little people walking out of his television. My personal favourite was Sleep, a tale where a married woman discovers one day that she no longer needs to sleep, and is given the freedom to live a second life at night. This is something I’ve often thought about (“Imagine what I could do with all that time!”) so I was intrigued by the concept, and the ending to this one had a big impact.

If you are yet to read Murukami, and he is on your list, then I recommend starting with one of his novels and leaving The Elephant Vanishes for afterwards. Whilst I enjoyed the short stories immensely, I think Murukami is much stronger as a novelist, as his stories require space and go along at a meandering pace that is much better suited to a longer style.

If you are a fan of Murukami, then of course this is worth a read. You will recognize subtle references and characters that link with some of his novels. You will, however, probably be left with wanting more, as the stories tend to fly by!

For those who love short stories, I also recommend picking up this volume. You will easily read the whole thing in the space of a day or two, and his short stories have gained international recognition, one of which was printed in The New Yorker.

Have you read The Elephant Vanishes? Which story did you enjoy? Please leave a comment below!

 

Happy Reading and thank you for joining us at TBBC!

Over the Top and Back: The Tom Jones Autobiography

Hello Everyone and Welcome Back to The Boss Book Club!

I trust you have been enjoying your own reading adventures. This week I will be reviewing the one and only autobiography of the one and only Tom Jones. I received this book as a gift from my husband- we’re both big Tom Jones fans. We saw him perform live and he was fantastic, an incredible voice, and a warm and energetic entertainer that obviously loves what he does…

But what’s his book like?

This book ticks all the essential boxes for an autobiography- it gives a detailed account of his family and childhood life, and all the steps that lead to his successful career. It details the places he played, how he signed his first record deal, and the television and recording opportunities that put him at the top. The book goes into detail about his love of different music styles and the musicians that inspired him, as well as the diverse array of famous faces he’s rubbed shoulders with- including some special stories about his interactions with such people as Frank Sinatra, Elvis Presley and even the Queen. These stories are great and make you appreciate the hard work and determination that goes into building a career with no guarantees, and give you an insight into the glitz and glamour of being top of the charts.

Where this book differs is that Tom Jones also goes into a lot of detail about the downsides of his career. He talks a lot about some of the bad decisions he’s made, the regrets that he has about who he’s worked with, the places he stayed at too long, and the songs or performances he didn’t like. It’s hard to read these parts sometimes- he seems a bit too hard on himself. It reads  like he’s being defensive- particularly when he’s justifying to the reader why he chose to play Vegas for so many years rather than work hard on his recordings. He contradicts himself sometimes- on the one hand saying that Vegas was a great time and a steady paycheck, but at the same time lamenting that it gave him the label of a “Vegas Performer”, which he states he never thought fit what he did. It seems a bit condescending to try and distance yourself from a venue that has given you so much success, money and, well, employment, but then resent it and try and distance yourself from it at the same time. Tom spends a fair bit of time in this book trying to convince the reader he is a legitimate musician.

Tom, you don’t need to do that!

You don’t have a succesful career that spans sixty years without being a legitimate, dedicated, talented musician. And that’s the most frustrating bit in reading this book- he justifies where there is no need. You wouldn’t be reading this book unless you already know that Tom Jones is awesome!

 

All in all, this book is great for any Tom Jones (of course) or music fan. It will add value to your collection.

 

Thank you for joining us this week- please let us know if you’ve read any great autobiographies lately in the comments section.

 

Happy Reading Bosses!

 

Kafka on the Shore

Hello everyone and welcome back to The Boss Book Club!

 

Today marks Day Four of our Five Day Blogging Bonanza to mark the return of TBBC. Today we will be having a look at Haruki Murakami’s Kafka on the Shore. The novel by one of Japan’s greatest living authors was written in 2002.

 

This novel follows the story of a 15- year old boy named Kafka, who is running away from home. Mature beyond his years, Kafka trains himself physically and mentally to be strong enough to survive on his own, and sets out with no clear plan, travelling by bus across Japan. An avid reader, he comes across the Komura Memorial Library and makes friends with the enigmatic librarian Oshima and the beautiful Miss Saeki.

 

On the other side of things is an old man named Nakata. Due to a mysterious illness when he was younger he has a low IQ and therefore simple way of living, and he can talk to cats. He embarks on a journey, assisted by a trucker named Hoshino who he meets along the way. What exactly that journey is, not even they are certain of, but it includes finding an important stone, and sealing an entranceway.

 

The story of these characters intertwine in such a way that blurs the naturalistic, realistic elements of life: ie a boy running away from home and an old man making his way across the country, with the bizarre, surreal and dreamlike qualities- including accessing the other side- whether that’s the other side meaning death, an alternate world, or an alternate state of mind is up to the reader to decipher. This book journeys firmly into the weird, and contains one graphic, violent scene that made me feel a little ill to be honest. However, apart from this one scene, the book is nonviolent. Murakami always includes a lot of the everyday things in life- a lot of descriptions of cooking meals, doing laundry and attending day to day activities, and then before you know it there’s a violent, bizarre or sexually explicit scene put in there and then it’s straight back to ironing shirts again. You would think this would be jarring or uncomfortable to read, but Murukami’s writing is so well done, and the pacing so perfect, that it poses no problem.

 

Of all his books so far, this contains the most definite plot and story arc, and would serve as a great introduction to Murakami if you prefer a structured story. This book, as with all Murakami’s novels, lends itself to multiple re-readings, as its rich in symbolism and hidden meanings.

 

Murakami has become one of my favourite authors, and if you’re willing to walk on the weird side, you will find his novels a truly rewarding experience. I enjoyed this book so much that I read A Wild Sheep Chase (by the same author) immediately afterwards.

 

Please join us for the review of A Wild Sheep Chase tomorrow.

 

Thanks for joining us at The Boss Book Club!

 

 

 

 

 

Wyrd Sisters

Hello everyone and welcome back to the Boss Book Club!

 

Today we’re continuing on with the Terry Pratchett Discworld Series by jumping into one of the books from the Witches Collection: Wyrd Sisters.

 

Wyrd Sisters tells the tale of three witches: the strict and foreboding Granny Weatherwax, the fun drunkard and eccentric Nanny Ogg and the enthusiastic but inexperienced newcomer Magrat. When the King of the Kingdom is murdered and the baby prince thrust unexpectedly into their care, it is the job of the witches to find the prince a new home. Many years later, with the kingdom thrown into turmoil under the dictatorship of a madman (the replacement King, the poor bugger) and a psychopath (that would be the Queen- think Lady Macbeth on steroids), it again falls to the witches to reinstate the proper order of things and, hopefully, save the kingdom.

 

This book is filled with the wonderful sense of adventure and humour that is instilled in all of Terry Pratchett’s novels. This book sees a return of Granny Weatherwax, who featured in the previous witches novel, Equal Rites. Her no-nonsense, cut the rubbish attitude will remind you of that teacher you had in high school, but you can’t help but like her all the same. The comraderie and humour shared between the witches is the highlight of the story; they are all loveable in their own right and make for great leading characters.

 

As always there is an element of satire in the book as well- this time the world of the theatre gets a serve. There is a parody on the famous globe theatre, as well as the crafts of acting and scriptwriting getting some attention. If you are a person who has acted in a play before, or would like to, then you will find these parts of the book funny and endearing.

 

What I love about the Discworld Series is that you can easily digest one of these books over a lazy weekend, they are easy to read and you’re guaranteed a laugh no matter what age you are. Terry Pratchett’s writing style is warm and welcoming, like being read a bedtime story by an eccentric uncle. Enjoy!

 

Please join us tomorrow for a review of Huruki Murakami’s Kafka on the Shore.

Moby Dick

Hello Everyone!

Thanks for joining us today at The Boss Book Club!

The Boss Book Club has been in hiatus over the past few months, but a lot of reading has been done in that time. To celebrate the return, over the next five days will be five book reviews- to catch up on what we’ve missed!

Today, the classic American novel Moby Dick.

I’ve attempted to read Moby Dick approximately 4 times over the past five years, each time giving up after the first 50 pages, overwhelmed by the old-style language or the sheer size of the thing. This time I persisted and pushed on, and I’m very grateful I did.

If you’re yet to read the classic but have been tempted to, it’s certainly worth your time. Written by Herman Melville in 1851, the story gives you an immersive look at the life of a whaleman in the 1800s, where great ships would head out to find and slaughter the sperm whale in order to collect and harvest the oil- which was predominantly used to light lamps across the country.

The story is told in first person narrative by Ishmael, a somewhat experienced seaman (don’t you giggle) but a first time whaler. This book shows you the perils and dangers of whaling from his point of view, as well as captures the sense of excitement and comradery that goes along with voyages that could last years.

The other central character is that of Ahab, the ship’s captain, a psychologically tormented man, whose motives in the voyage are entirely centred around the capture of one particular whale- the legendary Moby Dick.

There are many reasons why this book has been given its rightful status as a classic. For me, it shows me everything there is to know about what the whaling life was like. Herman explains everything about the experience in amazing detail, from what the ships were like, to the customs and traditions shipmen had, to the type of equipment they used- even how they would rig and cut the whale. It shows me a life I would never have known about- being a landlubber myself. It does, however, go into lengthy details of what a whale looks like, which I’m sure in its time would have been wonderfully informative, but can be a little dry in the reading now.

The other thoroughly enjoyable element of this book is Ahab, the dark, brooding Captain, and the book explores many religious, philosophical and psychological themes regarding his and Ishmael’s journey as characters.

Many schools and Universities over the years have included this book on the read list as the book is rich in religious and social metaphors and analogies. It reflects the development of America and man’s relationship with himself and God. You can read as much or as little into this novel as you like and I’m sure repeat readings would offer something new each time.

On a final note, if like me you struggle somewhat to get through classic novels, I have a good tip. Each time you start a reading session, start with one chapter of a classic, followed by whatever other novel you like. I found this helped me focus on the chapter I was reading, and after you’re half way through you’ll find it much easier to plough through and finish it!

 

Happy Reading everyone, see you tomorrow for a review of Jonathan Franzen’s Purity.

 

 

 

The Wind- Up Bird Chronicle

Hello Everyone and welcome back to The Boss Book Club!

Today we will be looking at The Wind Up Bird Chronicle, the next book for review by Haruki Murakami. The book was initially published in three volumes in 1994 and 1995 in Japanese. The translation I read, printed by Vintage in 2003, also includes two chapters that were printed in 1995 and 1997 that were written as short stories, but fit within the novel.

I’ve read and reviewed a few books now by this thoughtful author, after being impressed with his laid back style of writing, so naturalistic that there was scarcely any plot, and so relaxing it was like taking an afternoon stroll with a friend.

This book is very, very different.

The story starts out plain enough, and  focuses around the main character, Toru Okada, who is currently unemployed, but happily so, and is spending his days completing the household chores whilst his wife goes to work. Then his wife goes missing. Don’t be fooled, this is not a straightforward missing person crime novel.

After his wife disappears Toru starts to try and find out where she is, and in the process encounters a variety of characters that tell him their stories, including a spiritual medium who is lost, a young girl skipping school who may or may not have good intentions, and an ex-military man who feels he cannot die.

This book is not written naturalistically. At all.  It is full of metaphor and symbolism. The chapters are many and divided into small sections that you have to piece together. In this book there are alternate dimensions, dark, surreal moments, and even a sex scene that occurs between two people that aren’t in the same room (yes, I know, I told you it was weird!)

All of these bizarre, interlinking stories and characters do come together in some way, and the ending pieces it together in a way that is thought provoking and satisfying. As strange as it is, this book was a very interesting read, and presents a mystery that is greatly enjoyable. All of the bizareness is cleverly interwoven with the mundane, and the everyday activities of life. Toru will take himself down into a water well to think for four hours (why? you’ll see..) but then afterwards does the grocery shopping. There is a strong spiritual element to this story.

This is a very well written book that, if you choose to delve into it, will have you thinking about the bigger questions in life, and the nature of light, darkness, good and evil. It is greatly enjoyable, as long as you expect it to be strange, and are willing to go along with the journey. It marks a definite shift in Haruki Murakami’s writing style that certainly has me interested in what comes next.

 

This book contains mature themes and is suitable for an adult audience.

 

Thanks for joining us and happy reading!

 

 

Hear The Wind Sing and Pinball, 1973

Hello Everyone and Welcome Back to The Boss Book Club!

Do you wish you could spend your life drinking coffee, hanging out at your local bar, smoking cigarettes and occasionally doing some writing?

If your answer is yes I have the perfect book to accompany and inspire you!

Hear the Wind Sing and Pinball, 1973 are two short novels recently released in the one volume. They are the earliest novels by contemporary Japanese author Haruki Murakami. Their release marks the first time these two stories have been published in English outside of Japan, and they make up parts one and two of a trilogy.

Hear the Wind Sing is written in first person viewpoint from our unknown narrator who is home from University for the summer break. During this time he smokes cigarettes, hangs out with his friend the Rat at J’s bar, listens to music, and contemplates the three serious relationships he has had so far. Then he has another cigarette. That’s it. That’s all that happens in this book. And it’s greatly enjoyable.

Pinball is set three years later, from the viewpoint of the same narrator. He is now working in Tokyo, translating papers. He is currently living with a set of identical twins. He sets out to find his old favourite pinball machine. He smokes a lot of cigarettes. It also follows the story of the Rat, who has remained behind in the old home town and is struggling to move on from J’s bar. He is also smoking many cigarettes.

If you are a person who loves a strongly driven plot with peaks and troughs and build and twists and turns then forget about it, walk straight past this book and don’t look back!

If you are strongly against cigarettes and hate the thought of people smoking then you may want to put this book in a fireplace and watch it burn.

But if you are a person who can sit by a window and do nothing else but watch the rain come down for an hour, or if you like to wander about your local neighbourhood just to soak in the atmosphere, or if you love to sit by train windows and watch the world go by you will love this book.

This book is the equivalent of a lazy Sunday with your friends, drinking beers, or a long leisurely stroll. The narrator is interesting, you may or may not find him likeable but I doubt the author would care. It details the daily goings of his life and what he is contemplating at the time. It is one of the most relaxing, most enjoyable reads I’ve ever had. After the book was over I struggled to remember what had happened, or what any of it was about. This may seem bizarre but the book has a way of making you live the moment with the narrator. What comes before or after doesn’t matter.

This book is for adults, because it talks about adult things. There’s no swearing or adult scenes, no violence or explicit content. It just talks about subjects only adults would understand, like the feeling of staying in a town too long when your friends have left; when you break up with someone without having a conversation about it; or when you decide to go hunt down a pinball machine you loved three years before, just to see it again.

I can’t recommend this book highly enough for a relaxing read. It would be perfect to enjoy with a coffee at a cafe.The third book in the trilogy is titled A Wild Sheep Chase. I will certainly be looking into that next.

 

Thank you for joining us today at the Boss Book Club!

 

Happy Reading!

 

By the way, I’m not kidding about the smoking. The narrator lights a smoke on every single page. Every one…

 

 

 

 

 

Twenty Thousand Leagues Under The Sea

It’s time for a seatime adventure!

 

Hello everyone and welcome back to the Boss Book Club!

 

Today we will be reviewing the classic novel Twenty Thousand Leagues under the Sea!

 

Seeing as this is a classic, here is just a little bit of the history and background in order to appreciate this book properly! Firstly, it is written by Frenchman Jules Verne, who lived from 1828 to 1905, and whose other numerous novels most notably include Around the World in 80 days and Journey to the Centre of the Earth.

Twenty thousand leagues under the sea was originally published over a two year period as a serial, so readers originally received the tale in installments between 1869 and 1870, with an illustrated version released a year later.

That’s all the basics, so let’s get down to the story.

The story is told in first person perspective by a doctor, Mr M. Annorax after he, his servant Conseil and a friend (a harpooner named Ned) are taken hostage on board a mysterious submarine called The Nautilus. In charge of the vessel is Captain Nemo, a mysterious character with an unknown motive and past.

This book is labelled one of the great adventure novels of all time, and with good reason. If you are a lover of the sea or of exploration then you will be delighted with this book. The book reads as one long, extroadinary adventure of the sights, sounds and occurings of underwater exploration that spans “twenty thousand leagues” or over six months underneath the ocean. Jules Verne uses the character of Annorax, who is a specialist in marine biology, to great effect to provide detailed explanations of the flora and fauna of the underwater world.

These detailed explanations of the various species of fish, crustaceans, seaweed and coral would have certainly captured the imaginations of readers at the time, however I found these detailed listings both a blessing and a curse as I read. At times they would stretch to almost a page long, and if I recognized what he was describing, they helped paint a beautiful scene of what the crew were observing. However, a lot of the time, the names of the various fish were unrecognizable, and unless you went through the effort of looking up every single one, it made for tiresome reading, slowed down the pace of the story, and left me wanting to skim over some of these sections.

This book is classified as a science fiction novel, which surprised me initially, until I found out that Verne’s explanations of the mechanical workings of the The Nautilus were way ahead of their time, and that submarines were only primitive when he wrote this novel. Verne goes into great detail as to how The Nautilus operates, which may be of interest to those who have an eye for technical details in their stories. However, if you have no interest in the mechanics behind submarine operation, these parts may drag for you as well.

Ultimately though, this book provides a unique and special experience for the reader as it is the ultimate underwater adventure story. In today’s world we can fly to any country, board any train, plain, tram, cart or donkey to do it. We can explore mountains, and desserts, and now they’re even talking about commercial trips to the moon in our near future! However, most of us cannot say we’ve ever been in a submarine, or have experienced what it’s like to explore the whole world, landscapes and life that’s at the bottom of the ocean. You will be hard pressed to find a novel that gives you that experience, and that’s why this book remains one of the best of all time.

Another reason this book is great is because it contains one of the most interesting classic literary characters: Captain Nemo. The tension and relationship between Nemo and Annorax runs as almost a second plotline, second only to the exploration of the sea. Is Nemo friend or foe? Villainous loner or solitary genius? Finding out the secret of Nemo will keep you interested from beginning to end.

I will be honest and say it was a bit of a hard slog to read at times, mainly because of the density of the language and the lengthy descriptions, however once I had completed it I was very glad that I had. This book remains the classic underwater adventure, and opens you to a whole world that many of us would not otherwise experience. Jules Verne is the ultimate storyteller of life under the sea.

 

Thank you for reading, see you next time on The Boss Book Club!

 

Did you enjoy 20000 Leagues Under the Sea? Let me know what you thought in the comments below!

Reaper Man

Hello everyone and welcome back to The Boss Book Club!

Today I am going to be reviewing The Reaper Man. This is the second book of the “Death Collection” which comprises of four books within the Discworld series by Terry Pratchett. If you would like to read about the first book of the death collection, or about the Discworld series in general, please see my review of Mort.

In this collection, the main character is Death himself, a skeletal figure, adorned with scythe and black hood who sends people on their way from this dimension to whatever comes next.

The premise of this fantasy novel is that Death is inexplicably given the sack, plunging the Discworld into chaos as the dead refuse to… well… die. Meanwhile for Death, he is given a chance to experience human life for the first time, as his immortal status is revoked and he is to face his own demise as soon as a new Death is hired.

 

This is the second book I’ve read of the Terry Pratchett series and Reaper Man has certainly reinforced my desire to read through all 41 of the series. If you enjoy fantasy, quirky humour, and interesting characters, then Terry Pratchett is for you.

Of course, at the beginning of the novel, Death is largely absent (which is the whole point) and the story focuses on a wizard, Windle, and his group of friends. The wizards are an enjoyable bunch of characters, who make a great parody of stuffy professors who have spent their lives locked away in learning establishments, having very little to do with the real world. This makes them both knowledgeable, but lacking in common sense, and their buffoonery (there’s a word you don’t get to say very often!) makes for an enjoyable read. I found that I did miss the character of Death though in these first sections. It’s a bit like watching your favourite television show, in an episode where they focus on one of the supporting characters. It’s still enjoyable, but you’re really just waiting for everyone to reunite and the main character to get back into the story.

However, I would say the second half of the book supersedes Mort in terms of action, pace, and building towards a suspenseful showdown of an ending. The last third of the book is full of excitement as it leads to the climactic scenes that will leave you unable to put it down. It features touching moments too, as Death goes through his own journey as to what being mortal is all about. This book will make you reflect on life and death, but it’s all approached in a lighthearted way that may leave you feeling a bit better about your own mortality!

One of my favourite parts of these books is when Pratchett will put a little asterix * amongst the text which will guide you to some extra information on the bottom of the pages. The “information” is almost always a quirky bit of Discworld trivia, history or fact which is sometimes insightful, but always funny. It is like Pratchett is prodding you with his elbow and winking, an extra little joke for you. Throughout the whole book Pratchett’s humour and love of oddness and nonsense come twinkling through the pages.

Whilst Mort has a protagonist who is young (16 years old), the main protagonist of this novel is Windle, who is very, very old. Pratchett therefore shakes up the formula and steers away from making these novels for any particular age group. Anyone of any age can enjoy these books! Also, I would say it is not necessary to have read any of the Discworld books beforehand, as both this and Mort were completely self-contained stories. However, I would recommend reading Mort first if you can, as it gives a bit of background into the Death character which will make this read more enjoyable.

I hope you enjoy reading this book, I’ll be reviewing my next Pratchett in two weeks time, called Soul Music!

 

Next week we’ll be taking a break from Pratchett and reviewing a classic, Jules Verne’s Twenty Thousand Leagues Under the Sea.

 

Until then, happy reading and take care, and thanks for joining us at The Boss Book Club!

 

Feel free to comment below on your thoughts of Pratchett, The Discworld Series, or any recommendations of what to review next!