Title: The Scribblings of a Madcap Genius

Author: Noel Fielding

Pages: 300 Pages

Publisher: Canongate Books

The Blurb

Enter the surreal, diverse, self-styled madcap universe of Noel Fielding, comedian extraordinaire (Mighty Boosh) and the maddest man on TV. Originally trained at art college, this collection represents some of his superbly original paintings, drawing, thoughts, scribbles, portraits, designs, defacing’s and much more. Essential for both fans and anyone else.

The Review

I love Noel Fielding, that androgynous bird of prey! He is, as the title of his book suggests, a ‘Madcap Genius’. I think the reason why I love Noel Fielding is that he is so very silly. He takes his stories or his characters to places that you would never think that they could go to. This is definitely the vibe that you get when you look at his book of art The Scribblings of a Madcap Genius. It is crazy, silly and to some extent very serious. You can see that Fielding takes his talent seriously and if I was being a bit pretentious I would say that his work is a reflection of postmodern society but since I don’t have a clue about art, I won’t.

Either way, if you like Noel Fielding you will like this book.

The Scribblings of a Madcap Genius by Noel Fielding is available now

For more information regarding Noel Fielding (@noelfielding11) please visit www.noelfielding.co.uk.

For more information regarding (@canongatebooks) please visit www.canongatebooks.co.uk.

3 Stars

The Blurb

WHAT DOES IT MEAN TO FEEL TRULY ALIVE?

Aged 24, Matt Haig’s world caved in. He could see no way to go on living. This is the true story of how he came through crisis, triumphed over an illness that almost destroyed him and learned to live again.

A moving, funny and joyous exploration of how to live better, love better and feel more alive, Reasons to Stay Alive is more than a memoir. It is a book about making the most of your time on earth.

‘I wrote this book because the oldest clichés remain the truest. Time heals. The bottom of the valley never provides the clearest view. The tunnel does have light at the end of it, even if we haven’t been able to see it . . . Words, just sometimes, really can set you free.’

The Review

Some books are read for fun, some for education, some of them are read for escapism but then a book like Reasons to Stay Alive comes along and it falls into that elusive category – books you NEED to read. There are people that would question as to why they need to read a memoir. My answer to this is because Reasons to Stay Alive is so much more than a memoir of a person but it is an insight into one of the scariest most heartbreaking illnesses that there is – mental illness.

Now I don’t claim to be an expert on mental illness but I can only go with my own experiences – both as a spectator and (at times) sufferer of panic attacks to know how harrowing it can be. Matt Haig has opened the door to anyone who has no personal knowledge of this chronic condition.

In my own personal case I can justify my panic attacks; mine are down to suffering from Ulcerative Colitis. My IBD closes me off somewhat. Long journeys, walking to the local shops that are literally three minutes away – in fact, travel in general causes a stir in me that I find difficult to control. Going out is like a military operation. Routes are planned ahead with maximum places to stop in mind should my IBD play up. It probably won’t but that doesn’t stop the slow crawl of panic. The reason I am telling you this is because in Haig’s book he wrote my experience. Not something about me but his experience is exactly what I go through on a daily basis. It was eye opening and I felt – for want of a better word – ‘normal.’

The difference between Haig and I is that I know when my brain closes off and I can’t find that ceiling to the panic. Haig, it seems, does not have that luxury. That he deals with mental health issues on such a vast scale (everyday, no less) makes him a superhero in my eyes. Equally, I am eternally grateful to him for writing a book that, without a shadow of a doubt, will help those who read it. It helped me.

Whilst Reasons to Stay Alive is a book about mental health disorders should be depressing it is somewhat ironic that it leaves you feeling upbeat and positive after reading it. Matt Haig, in his almost painful honesty, may have written the book of 2015.

Reasons to Stay Alive by Matt Haig is available now.

Follow Matt Haig (@matthaig1) on Twitter.

Reasons to Stay Alive

As you may have seen (if you have read my previous post A Month in the Life of a Book Addict) I am addicted to books. I am not ashamed of this addiction…although I am slightly worried about my inability to stop buying books and also the structural integrity of my home under all the weight of the paper. I love books of all kinds and from most genres. If there are words on something I will give it a read – there is no prejudice here. An often told anecdote in my family is how I used to take forever with my breakfast because I would be reading the cereal packet.

It has been said (although not over my aforementioned breakfast table) that when you see someone reading a book you like it is the book recommending the person…or something to that effect. What I have noticed about myself recently is that a new reading habit has emerged. I like reading books about books. I am drawn to knowing what authors are recommending, why they liked the book, what was going on in their lives during this time. Frequently, the books that they mention make it to my book wish list even though I have far too many to read as it is. My Kindle books are in the thousands, my NetGalley downloads are becoming silly and my actual physical copies already manifest two small shelves, one large double layered shelf and I have had to purchase a further six tier double layer shelf for the overspill.

Quite frankly, this amount of literature is daunting. When you think about it and you do the maths I will probably never read all the books that I own. This will not be through lack of trying. At thirty years old, let us say that I am (optimistically) a third of the way through my life. Let us also imagine that I average one book a week (this is a very conservative estimate) that means I only have approximately 3,120 books left to read. This is terrible. In those optimistic sixty years that I have left there are bound to be more books that are released that I want to read. I am mathematically screwed.

However, that does not stop me reading books about books which kind of negate the whole point of reading books; books which deserve to be read.

That being said, here are three of the best ones that I have read recently.

 

The Novel Cure: From Abandonment to Zestlessness: 751 Books to Cure What Ails You by Ella Berthoud and Susan Elderkin

As some of you may or may not know, I almost died this year. If you didn’t know then you can read all about it here – My IBD Story. However, I didn’t die but recuperation has taken (and is still taking) a long time. Since being out of hospital I have spent my days reading; consuming books with a vociferous appetite. A book that I happened to stumble across was this delightful little gem – The Novel Cure: From Abandonment to Zestlessness: 751 Books to Cure What Ails.

Broken down into its simplest form it is a book that looks at what illness or condition that you have and directs you to the best literature to make you feel better. So say you are fatigued or you suffer from insomnia or you are an alcoholic or you have period pain this book has the answer for you. It is great because you can dip in and out of it or you can do what I did and read it from A to Z. A lot of the joy comes from seeing the writers mention a book that you have read.

This is definitely the quirkiest book that I have read this year and one that I will probably be giving out to my friends at Christmas time.

 

The Year of Reading Dangerously: How Fifty Great Books Saved My Life by Andy Miller

Ok. I admit it. I was seduced by the title. Escaping near death made me hungry for adventure; safe adventure mind, nothing more daring than perhaps a paper cut from a new book purchase. Also, having nearly died this year (have I mentioned that I nearly died?) I wanted to see if literature could save my life too. Heck it had already cured my ails; and it had also cured my boredom – seriously sitting in bed getting better for a few months takes its toll on the levels of boredom. So with eagerness I picked up this tome from Andy Miller and you know what, I am awfully glad that I did.

Why you may ask. Well let me tell you. This book was special. The premise being that we all fib a little bit about literature. We have said we love a book when never having really read it just so we can stay in the conversation or even just to make ourselves look smarter.

I myself have never lied about this…well that is technically not true. I have a mini confession. Well two really. The first is that I have never made it all the way through Anna Karenina. I got to the book about the fields and I just kind of gave up. Yet on my Goodreads account I still have this Tolstoy classic listed as a book that I am currently reading. I have technically been currently reading it for near on fourteen years. I will finish this book one day. No. I will start it afresh. I will not be beaten by a man and his love for his fields.

My second confession is that I can’t actually remember if I have read Little Women or not. I know what you are thinking. How could someone not remember reading a classic like Little Women? The thing is that I know the story so well. I just can’t remember if that has come from watching the movie or reading the book. Therefore I have added this to my ‘to-be-read’ list. At least then I will know that I am not a literature fraudster.

What I liked about this book was that Miller allowed you to see how and why books mean so much to him and how they shape aspects of his life. I both respect and relate to that. Again, the titillation came from knowing that I had read certain books. Miller did have a lot on his list that I had never even heard of and so I am now keen to read some of them too.

My book wish list had increased by at least 20 at the end of reading it. This does not bode well for me.

 

Stuff I’ve Been Reading by Nick Hornby

I have recently found myself on a Nick Hornby kick. I read Juliet, Naked and A Long Way Down among others. I even did a crazy eBay order which mean accidentally purchased two copies of High Fidelity. I loathed the film even with my bizarre crush on John Cusack but I wanted to give the book a whirl.

Anyway, when I was in my local library I saw this book and I thought to myself “Hey, I like Nick Hornby’s writing. I wonder if we have any books in common.” Out of the plethora of books featured in this book (which happens to be a collection of his articles from Believer magazine – which is, to my knowledge, not affiliated with Justin Bieber or his fan base) I had read three of them. Three. Now I consider myself well read so this low number is shocking but I guess this is what happens when you read books about books rather than reading book books.