Archive for the ‘Books’ Category

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.

The Wim Hof Method

Thursday, November 16th, 2023 | Books

Wim Hof wants us to tracend our limits and push ourselves outside of our comfort zone. He is known as the ice man and held several records for running on and swimming under ice.

I tried to push beyond my limits and finish the book. But I failed. I did however test The Wim Hof Method which says that if you take a cold shower of 1-2 minutes per day for 10 days, your heart rate will drop 15-30 bpm. It did not work.

I’m now hack having warm showers because they are much nicer. But I don’t dispute that they can be a useful tool in acclimitiing to cold water.

The Thursday Murder Club

Saturday, October 14th, 2023 | Books

The Thursday Murder Club is a murder mystery novel by Richard Osman.

It was pretty good. I listened to the interview with the author after the book and it won be around, or maybe made me feel stupid for not seeing how much the book has to offer. It does have a lot: there is incredibly character depth and a beautiful human touch in the way it explores life in a luxury retirement village. There are some twists and turns and a lot of story going on. And I finished the whole thing willingly.

That said, so many books are described as “unputdownable” these days. I could put this down. In a way that was easier to put down than The Trial or Neverwhere. I always picked it back up again but I was happier to read a bit and then go to sleep than trying to balance whether I really needed a full night’s sleep or whether I wanted to start the next chapter. That is no fault, though, and maybe just a reflection on how much I enjoyed the other two.

I am alo not against reading further books in the series so it was enjoyable.


Thursday, October 5th, 2023 | Books

Neverwhere is a fantasy novel by Neil Gaiman.

I put off reading it because I wasn’t sure if I would get all of the London Underground references but you really don’t need to understand the tube to enjoy it. And enjoy it I did. More than American Gods which was good in itself.

The Trial

Wednesday, October 4th, 2023 | Books

The Trial is a murder mystery novel by Rob Rinder.

I was briefly ensure about the overly descriptive language and characters announcing their beliefs in an Atlas Shrugged manner but this soon gave way to a fascinating narrative that provided intrigue, drama and human interest. I can’t wait for the next one.

Rich Dad Poor Dad

Monday, August 28th, 2023 | Books

Rich Dad Poor Dad: What the Rich Teach Their Kids About Money That the Poor and Middle Class Do Not! is a book by Robert T. Kiyosaki.

In a lot of ways, I don’t recommend the book. It comes with an irritating self-help tone that fails to acknowledge the systemic oppression many people face. And seems rather insensitive to refer to his actual dad, rich in education and love for his family, as poor dad while idolising his friend’s dad.

That said, this book articulates something I have struggled to articulate for a long time. It is this: if you want to be wealthy, you need more money coming in than going out. That sounds obvious so let me break it down.

Most people in the working class (people who work for a living, like me and most of you) think that buying your own home is the most important thing to do in life. They talk about their home being an asset. But it is not an asset in a profit and loss sense, it is a liability. Your house costs you money. Even after you have paid off the mortgage, you have council tax or property tax, utility bills, maintenance work, etc.

When we don’t have any money coming in, we’re forced to use our last resort: selling our bodies and our time in the form of labour to pay our bills. We forfeit our liberty, and often our health, to make someone else rich just to try and cover our rent or our mortgage.

What a lot of people do is try and buy a house and build a small pension. Essentially, they are trying to minimise their liabilities (eliminating the mortgage) and hoping that they can live on the small amount of income their pension brings in because they have reduced their outgoings to a pittance. But by this point, we’ve already lost what youth we had, and our majority of time on this earth.

Instead, we should focus on building assets: businesses, property, intellectual property, stock and bonds. Things that generate money so that our income can match our outgoings.

There are a couple of counterarguments to this. First, is this a fair world and should we be subjected to the oppression of capitalism? I think we should build a fairer, more equal world. But I don’t know how to do that. Nor is there any political appetite to alter capitalism. Yuval Noah Harari goes as far as to say it might not even be possible. I don’t think the outlook is quite that bleak but I don’t know what to do in the short term.

Second, is it fair to say Kiyosaki ignores the very real effect of oppressions, and then suggests everyone can aspire to be a member of the bourgeoisie? I honestly don’t know, but I do know that from a personal perspective, this book might do a better job of explaining why I focus on starting businesses rather than buying a home.

Working at Relational Depth

Wednesday, August 2nd, 2023 | Books

Working at Relational Depth in Counselling and Psychotherapy is a book by Dave Mearns and Mick Cooper that expands on Rogerian concepts of relational meeting and describes the idea of relational depth: a profound meeting on contact in the therapeutic relationship.

The author argue that relationship depth goes beyond the surface level of professional caring. They suggest that professional boundaries, while important, get in the way of really being with your clients in the encounter. Instead, they suggest we should allow ourselves to truly care for our clients and bringer a greater level of honesty, openness and immediacy into the room.

Eating disorders textbooks

Thursday, April 13th, 2023 | Books

Clinical Manual of Eating Disorders

Good overview of different eating disorders and the literature around them. It is very much written for doctors looking at medical management. There is a chapter on using psychotherapy but it just talks about what the literature indicates works rather than going int detail about anything.

Outpatient Management of Eating Disorders

This book is somewhat older. from 2001, but is a great read. It has a short introduction to the conditions but goes into detail about CBT and family therapy. There is a section on basic counselling skills that would make a great read for any health professional outside of psychology. It also includes chapters on nutrition and nutrition coaching.

Handbook of Adult Clinical Psychology

This has one chapter on eating disorders but it packs a lot in. There is practical advise on treating eating disorders with both CBT and interpersonal therapy. Oddly, the chapter on EFT is much harder to read.