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Bookshelf and Reviews

Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance  by Robert Pirsig

It is no random act my putting this book first. This is my overall favourite book. I cannot remember how many times I have bought it, read it and given it away. Even here in China I currently have a paperback and a copy of it on my Kindle. It is both an  exploration into his Metaphysics of Quality and a fictionalised autobiography. 

Highly recommended read. 

I really enjoyed reading this book. I bought it in London in one of those two books for £5 places for reading on the plane back to China from London. To be honest it was unputdownable. Really interesting stuff about the Sex Pistols and PIL. I was a little too old to be a punk but I had Never Mind the Bollocks and like what he was doing with PIL. Never one to talk himself down and coming across brighter than his public persona might suggest ( well I guess my notion of his public persona as Johnny Rotten more than John Lydon) its a good read.

Have a go you might be surprised if you like autobiography of the warts and all, and forthright speaking sort.

I'm an armchair mountaineer like most people who read books like this. Although I have done the 3 peaks in Great Britain, Scarfell, Snowdon and Ben Nevis. I read this book in one day cover to cover, un put downable. What a remarkable story and as I have said many a time its not the destination that matters its the journey. And while I might well be an armchair mountaineer I am also a traveller and am currently living and working in China.  So I am well aware of the struggles of not quite settling down at home, going from job to job, moving around, in my case, country to country, going to university as a mature student, and finally taking the leap over to China. 


What Ellis did took balls and determination and true grit. He, for me, sums up the essence of what it means to be British and why, in the past, we managed to make our mark upon the world, and why? 'Because it's there' someone famous - a mountaineer once said. This is no 'Heroic Failure'. The man got higher, on his own two feet than the rest of us will ever achieve (apart from sitting in an airplane) and then to be on the mountain (spoiler) and witness the disasters points not to a guy being in the wrong place at the wrong time but someone who has taken life by the balls and run with it.


An epic tale. I loved it. Bravo Ellis, if you ever read this.

As someone says in the book - I am just so grateful to be alive at the same time Bowie was. What a life, what a man, what a musician. I can remember the first time I heard Bowie, I was in bed, listening to late night radio - probably John Peel and Changes came on - that changed my life. I saw Bowie a couple of times life and what a show, I saw Ziggy Stardust in Bristol Colton Hall. Fantastic. Then more recently I saw the exhibition at the V&A - wonderful. And this book is the same as my little anecdotes. Bowie's life laid out by those people who knew him and worked with him. It's a brilliant book and a must for every Bowie fan, I guess I'm late to this book, but I'm so glad I found it. I recommend it. I read it on Kindle.

Woke up this morning
Looking for a book
Opened up ma Kindle 
Just to take a look

Got the Fat Man Blues
Yeah the Fat Man Blues

Took me to Mississippi 
Read about t' Delta Blues
Met up with Hobo John
Walked a mile in his shoes

Got the Fat Man Blues
Yeah the Fat Man Blues

Foller'd him to t'Yeller Dog
And the other juke joint bars
And all I gotta say
Fat Man Blues is worth five stars

Got the Fat Man Blues
Yeah the Fat Man Blues

Fascinating book - I was glad to see Chantelle is a Janner (a female from Plymouth - where I live) We forget about all the women on the frontline, putting their lives at risk day in day out. Modern war is a dirty business and Chantelle tells us how it is. A Good Read For Sure

II'm going to make no bones about it. This was a (bone) cracking read. Plenty of meat to get into in this story. I will not mince my words about this one as I don't want anyone to beef about this review. 

Theres a lot at steak in Scotland and Logan McRea has to sort out who the actual killer is. There is a stew of suspects - but he also has to deal with his affairs of the heart. Often just missing the criminal by the skin of his teeth he has to flesh out the investigation, while at the same time stopping his boss crashing around like a bull in a china shop. This is not tripe, in no way is this offal writing. 

It had me transfixed and appalled in various degrees. I looked at my chilli con carne with new lights this evening. You need balls to read this because it will cut you to the core and make your blood run cold. 

Your guts might well be turned into garters if you don't read this book

You have been warned. 

I think this is possibly the first and only poetry book I have ever purchased. I mean only teenagers in love buy poetry books don't they? Not grumpy old gits like me?

I mean I like poetry, I even teach it in a Chinese University and I can even pen a few verses myself and had a poem published just last month (April 2021) but buy a poetry book? Me? Nah!

What? Me buy a poetry book?
You know, that just not a good look.
It's for girls and teenagers In Love
Not for old gits like me, kind of
I mean I really just don't have the time
To read something that has a funny rhyme
Yeah Ok its on Facebook and Twitter?
But BUYING a book could just leave me bitter
Yeah, the author does deserve my spare change 
And yes, it would be a fair exchange
For his words and thoughts and witty rhythm 
So I guess I must really go with him
So I bought it right, and read it through
And laughed until my lips were blue
So who'd a thought it, it's so bizzare
I had to give the book 5 star(s) 

It was the best of times it was the worst of times - a Tale of Two Jonnies might have been a better title.

I've already complained about the obsessive listing of stuff and details that I'm not sure that at his advanced age without the judicious help of Drs Google and Wikipedia he could remember.

I'm not too far away from my 70's myself and what I can remember is seeing JCC at Bristol Colston Hall supporting Siouxsie And The Banshees  - a tour of which he never mentions and which according to Dr Google I saw on July 31st 1981. This gig was fantastic, JCC was great - we'd bought the albums and he was at the top of his game. Siouxsie And The Banshees were also fantastic... I'd been turned onto them by the punks in my next door flat playing their albums LOUD - so thanks guys.  Fast forward many many years JCC was performing at the Plough Arts Centre in Great Torrington North Devon.  A group of us had booked to celebrate a mates birthday there. It was a disaster. JCC couldn't remember his lines, he could barely remember his name - what an embarrassment and a huge let down for us fans.  Even Dr Google couldn't put a date on this one.

So a Tale of Two Johns in real life as in this book.

To be fair I preferred the book from around the middle when he seems to have given up on the lists and name dropping although it does continue but I continued to read to the very end.  I am glad that he got his life together, found love, a family and got straight - because I really did enjoy his early work - and props to him for fulfilling his dream of being a working professional poet.

The book is as fantastic as the film. Its eyeopening in its description of how the American Dream has failed so many people.  I have personal experience of this meeting a former house builder and his wife from Florida who were living said Dream before it crashed around their ears. I met them when they turned up to tech English in China - another way out of the mess. I believe they are now in Cambodia in their 60's and the wife suffering from early onset dementia which effectively stops them from return to the US because of healthcare costs.


I would love to know if Linda has actually built her dream house yet.

If you want an unputdownable travel book then this is it and it has added cats!  


I really enjoyed this book, I live in China so Im a bit of a traveller myself and enrolee have rescued a couple of cats a dog and so on, but never while actually travelling cross country and getting through borders. Plus the guy raises money, finds himself and does good things.  


I really loved this book and hope that dean follows it up with another and who knows, maybe a film? 



Wow, what a book. Un. Put. Downable. I had been waiting for this to come onto kindle and was stoked to see it at just 0.99p deal of the day. Deal. of. the. year. That was my GREENLIGHT to buy it. I read it in 3 days. Part autobiography, part self help, part meditation, part spiritual, part confessional and many other parts. A huge, raw, revealing insight into this, in my opinion, great actor. I have always enjoyed watching Matthew McConaughey and now with this insight into his life and methods I admire him even more. 

If, you only ever read one book a year make it this one. Give yourself the Greenlight.

When I can, I will buy the hardback because of the extra notes and photos I found hard to read on my kindle app on the phone and also I'm currently in China so pretty much impossible to get atm.

Having read the New Zealand running book I then had no choice to move on to the South American cycling book - the choice really made form me cos I bagged it at 0.99p on kindle. Another rollicking read, I'm a sort of armchair traveller who, although now living in China and travelled a lot, I'm getting a bit too old for this sort of stuff so I have to live vicariously through these great adventures.

My advice to young people, especially to those who want to write is to get "on the road" and have some adventures and find out who you really are. Some people nowadays are so risk averse they do nothing - Go to South America? Two women on their own? On Bikes? Are you Mad? They say as they turn on another episode of Wheeler Dealers. Not me.

Get on yer bike I say

A great trip and a great book. recommended.

I really enjoyed reading this book. I had just started running again myself (not whole countries - but just down the road and back as you do) But Anna gave me some perspective. Running is not about going fast or breaking records - its just about getting out there and doing it. So good work Anna - your also put me on to the book Adventureman as well so double well done. Im into one of your other books as well.

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