Archive for the ‘Books’ Category

Be Useful

Saturday, April 27th, 2024 | Books

Be Useful: Seven Tools for Life is an inspiration-style self-help book by Arnold Schwarzenegger. It is part auto-biography with each rule taken from his life and illustrated by the success it brought him.

The rules are typical for what you would expect in this kind of book: set a vision and work your arse off to get it. But Schwarzenegger places an emphasis on humility and listening, documenting his failures as much as his successes. For example, he hates the term “self-made man” because it ignores all of the people who helped him.

There is a dichotomy in the message. You have to ignore the nay-sayers. But you also have to work together and build consensus with others.

People without vision are threaten by those who have it

It is written in a very conversational style, or at least read this way. Schwarzenegger narrates the audiobook and it is peppered with jokes, apologies if his dog makes any noise and a sense of wonder at some of the amazing people’s stories he uses in the book.

I did take exception when he talked about Reg Park coming from a “small industrial town” in the north of England. Reg Park came from Leeds. It is the second biggest city in the sixth largest economy in the world. And we didn’t even get a name-drop 😆.

Counselling Adolescents: The Proactive Approach

Friday, April 26th, 2024 | Books

Counselling Adolescents: The Proactive Approach is a textbook on youth counselling by Geldard & Geldard. It’s one of the classic textbooks on counselling young people.

It’s an interegrative counselling philosophy. There are bits of SFBT, Person-Centred, Transactional Analysis, psychodynamic and behavioural approaches in here. It’s also a little dated but not out-of-date. That said, I didn’t find it quite as useful as many of my colleagues have.

The Godfather

Thursday, March 14th, 2024 | Books

The Godfather is a 1969 novel by Mario Puzo which famously produced two amazing films and a third film.

The novel itself was so good. I read it on a recommendation not sure if I would like the genre but it was a gripping read and I really enjoyed it.

I Heard You Paint Houses

Tuesday, February 27th, 2024 | Books

I Heard You Paint Houses is non-fiction story written by Charles Brandt. It tells the story of Frank Sheeran and his involvement with the American Mafia as part of the Bufalino crime family.

The book was originally published in 2004 but has since been updated with a significant amount of extra content (30% to 50% more) detailing all of the evidence that has come out since Sheeran’s death that corroborates his story. It was also adapted into a film in 2019 by Martin Scorsese.

It was a good read. Not as gripping as The Godfather but I didn’t know much about the inner works of the mob so that was interesting to learn about.


Wednesday, February 7th, 2024 | Books

Stardust is a novel by Neil Gaiman. It’s in the fantasy genre and billed as a fairytale for adults. I enjoyed it. It’s not as dark as Netherwhere or American Gods but very much still an adults fiction book.

The Last Tram

Monday, December 25th, 2023 | Books

My new novel is out!

I did NaNoWriMo for a second time this year and the result was an urban fantasy adventure set on the Dublin Luas. They say everyone has one great novel in them. This is not mine. But it is 30% bigger than my previous one thanks to increased line spacing.

It’s only available from Amazon. Why not nag your local Waterstones about stocking my books?

It’s OK to Be Angry About Capitalism

Sunday, December 17th, 2023 | Books

It’s OK to Be Angry About Capitalism is a book by Bernie Sanders. He sets out what is wrong with capitalism and what to do about it.

It’s a good but highly depressing read. Sanders sets out a lot of important problems in detail and he does offer some solutions (universal healthcare, trade unions, independent media, etc). But what there isn’t is a roadmap for how to get there. Still, if you get the audiobook, it is read by Bernie himself.

None of This Is True

Wednesday, December 6th, 2023 | Books

None of This Is True i a novel by Lisa Jewell.

It was recommended to me by an algorithm, I think, based on reading a few murder mysteries. It’s more of a psychological thriller and I started it a month or two ago but had to put it down because the material: grooming, domestic abuse, incest, eating disorders and more, was just too depressing when I wasn’t feeling great.

I’ve finished the book off now and it’s a gripping read. But it doesn’t have a happy ending so the sadness hangs around, too.

Donegal Table

Wednesday, November 29th, 2023 | Books, Food

Donegal Table: Delicious Everyday Cooking is a cookbook by Brian McDermott. I cannot recommend it enough. It’s down to earth and the food is delicious. I tend to measure cookbooks but how often I reuse them. River Cottage is at the top, Mary Berry is close behind and others rank somewhere below that. Donegal Table isn’t quite River Cottage, but it’s not far off, either. I’ll be using some of these recipes again and again.

My photos don’t do it justice. But here they are anyway.

Surf and turf sliders.

Eggy bread with bacon.

Mammy’s Irish stew.

Sausage and pasta bake.

Honey roasted vegetables.

Lemon and black pepper chicken.

The Obstacle Is the Way

Sunday, November 19th, 2023 | Books

The Obstacle Is the Way: The Timeless Art of Turning Trials into Triumph is a nonfiction book by Ryan Holiday. I really enjoyed his book Ego si the Enemy so I had been meaning to reard this one for quite a while.

In the book, he puts forward the case for stoicism. In particular, living our lives in the philosophy of perseverance and acceptance. Expect the worst while trying to achieve the best and almost never give up. When things do go wrong, accept that it happened and be determined to rebuild.

In some ways, this is one of those books when, once you have the title, you really have the book. The text itself is just an elaboration, and part sales pitch, on why you should do what the cover says: see obstacles as your path to success rather than something to be avoided.

The book is broken down into many mini lessons. Many of them useful, although some difficult to see how I would integrate them into my personal development work. For example, Holiday urges us to buil resilience by training our physical bodies. I’m currently trying to figure out whether running is a useful tool for maintaining my mental health, or I’m literally running away from my problems. Most likely it is both.

He also puts forward the idea of the pre-mortem. Before you even launch your project, imagine how it has gone wrong and why, so you can troubleshoot problems before they even begin. This sounds like a really useful tool in business. But also dangerous when used in our personal lives for those of us who are high in trait neuroticism.

Some bits are both depressing and inspiring. The more successful you are, the more obstacles you encounter. Behind mountains are more mountains. This reminded me of that meme that suggests being an adult is just a series of “I’ll get just through this and then I’ll have a break and recover” endlessly for the rest of our lives.

I did really enjoy the idea that beyond acceptance, there is feeling great about something because it was meant to happen. The idea that when a relationship breaks down, we don’t get the job we want, or something else unfortunate happens, we reframe it as something that will ultimately turn out to be a positive force in our lives.