Book Review: Limmy’s ‘Surprisingly Down To Earth, and Very Funny’

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Limmy: Surprisingly Down To Earth and Very Funny. (Credit: Chortle)

You might know comedian Brian Limond, aka Limmy, for his surreal sense of humour and sometimes inflammatory tweets.

Every time a celebrity dies, Limmy will tweet, without fail, ‘Had the pleasure of meeting … at a charity do once. He was surprisingly down to earth, and VERY funny.’ I can’t think of a more fitting title for his autobiography, which made it a book that made me laugh before even getting past the front cover.

I had never read an autobiography before so I didn’t really know what to expect. I knew what Limmy’s humour was like: weird, confusing, but utterly hilarious. I know Limmy to be a natural storyteller from his improvised stories that he live-streams on Twitch, and reckoned I’d enjoy his writing too. But it’s not always just what Limmy says that’s amusing, but the way he says it. I knew an audiobook was the way to go to get the full experience out of Limmy telling his life story. I never would have expected that I’d ever laugh out loud at the way a man is describing his suicidal thoughts, but it happened.

Mental health is the ongoing theme of the book, a topic Limmy has discussed often on Twitter and in interviews. He was asked to write a book on mental health, but it ended up taking the form of an autobiography. He’s brutally honest in his descriptions of his mental state, talking about his alcoholism, experiences using antidepressants and the few times that he has contemplated suicide, starting with him trying to drunkenly slash his wrists when he was fifteen. That was tough to listen to.

But in the darkness is a lot of humour. Not so much in the topic of discussion, but the way it’s written. Even when talking about some of the darkest moments of his life, he adds comedy. It doesn’t feel like comedy in its traditional sense: it’s morbid, but it’s natural, and his strange outlook on life is as compelling as it is hilarious.

The book begins at his first memory, and goes all the way to where he’s at in his life now. He goes on about how he was arrested for car theft when he was a teenager, and how he gained the nickname ‘Limmy the Tripper’ because he took so much acid. It was surreal getting such a deep look into the past of someone who I’m a big fan of. I wasn’t particularly surprised about what he got up to, but it was strange nonetheless. Most fascinating is his journey from a layabout, often in trouble with the police, to the person he is today: a successful comedian and father.

I’d absolutely recommend getting the audiobook version of Surprisingly Down To Earth, and Very Funny. His own narration compliments his humour wonderfully, and even adds more humour to some bits that aren’t meant to be funny (such as his questionable impression of an English accent, and the subsequent apology). Although it might not be what was intended, the telling of Limmy’s life is an excellent underdog story, one that I found difficult to stop listening to.

 

 

Museum of Childhood

A trip down memory lane.

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The Museum of Childhood, 8th October 2018. Photo by Ross Hempseed.

Initially, looking at the impressive facade of the Museum of Childhood, you might feel overcome with giddy enthusiasm as you prepare to take a trip down memory lane. This is as close as you will come to entering a real-life time machine, and into a work of youthful innocence. The museum’s latest exhibit, entitled Growing Up with Books, showcases some of the oldest and most beloved children’s books throughout history.

The new edition boasts a wonderful collection of early works for children including some well-known titles such as Alice in Wonderland, Peter Pan, and Little Women. All centred around specific themes, many of the books date back hundreds of years. Throughout time,  they have all been loved by generations of children who have grown up to learn important life lessons taught within the pages of their favourite childhood literature.

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Picture of Alice in Wonderland book, 8th October 2018. Photo by Ross Hempseed.

The exhibition is split into themes such as ‘Worlds of Imagination’, in which you find classic fairy-tales. Interestingly, back in the late 19th century, some of these stories were seen as a danger to the growth of children’s minds as they perpetuated worlds which were fictional and unrealistic. However,  for most children, it opened up a whole new world where they could immerse themselves in adventure and explore the impossible.

Since their publications, they continue to be a popular influence in many childhoods; even today books such as Alice in Wonderland, which was first published in 1865 and remains one of the best-selling novels of all time with an excess of 100 million copies sold, are loved worldwide. Other novels from the late 19th century such as ‘Black Beauty’, ‘Pinocchio’ and ‘20,000 Leagues under the Sea’ have all sold over 50 million copies, which shows both the longevity and the relevance of the underlying message of these books, which is to use your imagination.

“Imagination is more important than Knowledge.” Albert Einstein.

Another theme was ‘Worlds of Knowledge’, in which educational children’s books are displayed, highlighting the ongoing importance of books as a learning tool to help children examine the world around them and develop a healthy curiosity. Sadly, nowadays many children look to the internet rather than books to solve simple questions and explore their curiosities, which often undermines the need for books at all. This section of the exhibit proves why it is important for children to be familiar with books, as it showcases books focusing on science, humanities and religion. These give a fascinating insight into children’s learning and how they developed a relationship with these books as learning tools through notes and scripts within their pages.

“The more that you read. The more things that you will know.” Dr Seuess.

Museum Curator Susan Gardner was able to highlight some of the key aspects of the exhibit and how it developed from the back catalogue of over 16,000 books to the 150 that are on display now. These books are a representation of all key themes such as learning, imagination, growth and identity:

Having spent time with the books they speak to you as they do to all children who get lost in the images of dragons and damsels in distress, misty mountains and ancient castles, thunderous giants and promises of gold and adventure. Yet for adults who grew up reading rather than playing video games or surfing the internet, the exhibition offers a gentle reminder of how these books helped shape and define them as adults today.

 

My (Not So) Perfect Life by Sophie Kinsella – Book Review

Many of us use Instagram. Posting pictures of our lives, selfies, our pets and holiday snaps. We add filters to make these picture look better, but in doing this, are we filtering our lives to appear better as well?

Lighthearted, clever and humorous, ‘My (Not So) Perfect Life’ tells the story of Cat (Katie), who has the perfect life, including a flat in London with friends, works a high-profile advertising job and shares everything she does on Instagram. However, all is not what it seems. In reality, Katie rents a tiny room in a flat with people she is not friends with, hates her boss and uses Instagram to cover it all up.

When her not-so-perfect world comes crashing down, and she is fired from her job, she is forced to move back home to the countryside. In time, she gets the chance to get sweet revenge on the woman who ruined her life, but will she do it? And does her ex-boss really have the perfect life herself?

Coming from someone who is overly active on Instagram, Katie is easy to relate to. In this novel, author Sophie Kinsella explores the judgements that we all make between online perception and reality. What I loved about this book was that it is so relatable. Protagonist Katie learns life lessons that most readers can compare with, This book is relatable to anyone who uses Instagram, and doesn’t just add filters to their pictures but also to their life. We are all Katie, but pretend to be Cat, online.

Credit: Leila Wallace

Exploring themes of living life to the fullest, romance, friendship and family, this novel is a refreshing read for everyone. The tale is captivating and thought-provoking – Kinsella knows what the reader wants and delivers it while still holding on to the perfect balance of humour and wit, as she delves into what really happens behind our social media feeds.

Themes of ‘Bridget Jones’ and ‘The Devil Wears Prada’ spring to mind when reading this novel, with characters and situations that we can all relate to. The book is made for those who are perhaps not looking for a serious, tragic read, but a fun, lighthearted story to lift their spirits and make them laugh.

Kinsella is known for her spirited characters, having written the best-selling ‘Shopaholic’ series. She has a variety of books which all explore different paths of life, and ‘My (Not So) Perfect Life’ is no exception, bringing together a modern day story that presents what an ideal life may look like on the outside, but showing that reality is far from it. Reminding us all that, no matter what their Instagram feed implies, nobody’s life is perfect.

Waterstones Sauchiehall Street celebrates 20th anniversary

Christmas isn’t the only thing employees at Waterstones Sauchiehall Street are celebrating.

 

Scotland’s largest book store has turned 20 and what better way to commemorate this milestone than a week long series of events this November?

 

Frankie Burr, who works at Waterstones Sauchiehall Street, helped organise the events. She excitedly tells of why they decided to celebrate now.

 

“We wanted to bring together a programme of events to help celebrate and now, in the run up to Christmas, it seemed like the perfect time.”

 

What can we expect to see during the week? Frankie explains the importance of accommodating to their customers’ range of interests, from sci-fi books all the way to academic.

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Fans eagerly waiting for their signed copy of Viz

 

Frankie explains: “It’s such a massively wide range that we wanted to try and replicate that in the events we’re celebrating of the 20 years. The only way to get anywhere near that is to try and hold a week of events. We hold events here all the time but we usually try to spread them out a bit more.

 

Already, the store has showcased talks by author, Charlotte Peacock, on Friday, who wrote the first ever biography of Nan Shepherd published this Autumn. A Q&A with Rick Stein (author of Road to Mexico) was held on Saturday, and on Sunday there were a few family events featuring popular character The Gruffalo.

 

“Today we’ve got the guy from Viz comic. Viz is the most irreverent comic on the market. If you haven’t encountered Viz, you need to. It’s so funny and so rude. So close to the bone. So perfect for people you don’t know what to get for for Christmas.”

 

Along with the events, five floors have been refurbished and the store now also features a bar – which was opened by Rick Stein.

 

“Who doesn’t like the idea of a pint and a book at the same time?” Frankie jokes. “It works for me!”

 

 

If you fancy some wine and light reading, why not spend head down to Waterstones to listen to lectures from authors and publishers and help celebrate the store’s birthday?

 

Don’t forget to check out Waterstones Sauchiehall Street’s Facebook and Twitter for more information on all the events to come.

Celebrating Scotland – Greatest Scottish Literature Writers

Burns Night – the annual celebration of one of Scotland’s greatest literary figures – is less than a week away. So, as we celebrate all things Scottish it seems only natural that we look at some of the most celebrated figures in Scottish literature – from poets, playwrights and novelists – from the past to the present.

Robert Burns

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The man himself. Scotland’s national poet and,  according to a 2009 public vote organised by STV, the greatest ever Scot. Some of his works include Hogmanay favourite ‘Auld Lang Syne‘, ‘A Red, Red Rose‘, and ‘A Man’s A Man For A’ That‘. A vast majority of Burns’ work is in the public domain so there is no excuse to not brush up on your knowledge of the Bard – it can be found here: http://www.robertburns.org/works/ 

Sir Walter Scott

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The Edinburgh-born novelist, poet and playwright, Sir Walter Scott remains a popular historical figure in Scottish literature. His influence can be seen clearly in the captial city – his novel ‘Waverley’ gave Edinburgh’s main train station its name and a monument in his honour towers over Princes Street. In addition, his face adorns Scottish banknotes. A huge figure in Scottish history.

Robert Louis Stevenson

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Sticking with Edinburgh-born writers, his most famous works include the pirate adventure ‘Treasure Island’ and the influential horror ‘Strange Case of Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde’. His stories have remained popular for over a hundred years and have received numerous adaptations over the years. Stevenson was also a keen poet and traveller, he died in Samoan Islands in 1894.

J.M. Barrie

by George Charles Beresford, vintage print, 1902

Pirates also played a big part of this author’s best known work, Barrie being primarily known as the author of ‘Peter Pan’, the timeless tale of the boy who would not grow up. Starting its life as a play in 1904, it was not until 1911 that the novel was released. The story continues to resonate with children and adults alike with an abundance of film and television adaptations – the best known of which is easily Disney’s 1953 animated film.

Alasdair Grey

Moving onto more modern figures now and Alasdair Grey is probably best known for his first novel ‘Lanark’ which was written over a period of 30 years. The book is still considered to be one of the most important of the past century, with its surreal yet realist depiction of Glasgow helping it take its rightful place as part of Scottish culture.

Iain Banks

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A celebrated Science-Fiction author whose Culture series continues to influence the genre today. Born in Dunfermline in 1954, his first novel ‘The Wasp Factory’ was released in 1984. However, it was with the release of 1987’s ‘Consider Phlebas’ that he moved the genre away from its cyberpunk obsession and in turn helped to revive the space opera genre. He passed away at the age of 59 due to cancer, but lives on through his work.

Ian Rankin

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A hugely prolific author, Rankin is the author behind the Inspector Rebus series of novels. Since 1987, there have been 21 novels in the series, which found a large audience as a television series between 2000 and 2007. Rankin’s series has cultivated a large following and looks to continue for a long time.

Irvine Welsh

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Welsh’s first novel, ‘Trainspotting’ was published in 1993 and since then he has garnered a reputation for being a raw, controversial but excellent author. His stories depict a brutal side of Edinburgh that is rarely seen – sex, drugs and violence are major themes in his works. The film adaptation of Trainspotting had a huge impact on Scottish culture. With the imminent release of Trainspotting 2 it seems Welsh will continue to have an impact as one of Scotland’s modern literary greats.

Of course, this is just a small selection of Scottish literature greats. We would like you to tell us some of your favourites, either in the comment selection below or on Twitter @en4news2016

Top 7 reads for 2017

In an age of technology, social media and endless time-devouring apps, what better gift to give this festive period than a quality book to unplug from the world with? As this week is Book Week Scotland here is our top 7 best reads published in 2016 that will keep you and your beloved ones enthralled during the winter months through to the New Year.

Small Great Things (Jodi Picoult)

imgres#1 New York Times bestselling author for Leaving Time Jodi Picoult, now presents an empathic novel which tackles race, privilege, prejudice, justice and compassion through the story of Ruth Jefferson, an Afro American labour and delivery nurse at a Connecticut hospital. After being reassigned to a different patient at the request of white supremacist parents, the baby goes into cardiac distress. Ruth hesitates to perform CPR, and as a result is charged with a serious crime.

Before the Fall (Noah Hawley)

imgres-1This book has made it to the Goodreads final round for Best Mystery & Thriller novel. Going from the tragedy of the disappearance of ten people in the ocean after a crash near New York, and their back stories, Before the Fall raises questions of fate, human nature, and the ties that bind people together.

The Summer Before the War (Helen Simonson)

imgres-2Touching, profound and inspiring, The Summer Before the War is set at the end of the last calm summer at East Sussex before the First World War starts. The arrival of a free thinking and attractive Latin teacher at the coastal town of Rye, stirs up the small village. Meanwhile the unimaginable is coming and soon the limits of progress, as well as the old ways, will be tested as the people from Rye go to war.  

A gentleman in Moscow (Amor Towles)

imgres-3Modern Russian history will get you hooked quickly with this historical fiction written by Amor Towles. Count Alexander Rostov is the main protagonist, who is sentenced to home arrest for writing a poem. Rostov is confined to the corridors of Moscow’s Metropol Hotel, just across the street from the Kremlin. Rostov adjusts to the life inside the hotel, while the most tumultuous decades in Russia are happening outside. He explores the hotel, creates bonds with the staff and ends up having a meaningful relationship with the attractive and spirted young girl Nina. Reviewers agree that “this book more than fulfils the promise of Towle’s stylish debut, Rules of Civility (2011)”.

Homegoing (Yaa Gyasi)

imgresThis is the story of two half-sisters with very different fate: one is sold into slavery and the other married to a British slaver. Homegoing is a portrait of the memory of captivity, along three centuries of history and two continents. Gyasi was born in Ghana and immigrated to the United States and now has given voice to those suppressed people in a very captivating novel.

All the Birds in the Sky (Charlie Jane Anders)

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All the Birds in the Sky is a fantasy novel about the end of the world, and the beginning of the future. Patricia Delfine and Laurence Armstead are childhood friends living in the hipster mecca San Francisco, and the planet is falling apart around them. The first is a genius engineer working to avert catastrophic breakdown through technological intervention into the changing of global climate, and the latter has been educated in the hidden academy for the world’s magically gifted. Let your imagination fly with this story of love, life and a dark future.

The Nest (Cynthia d’Aprix Sweeney)

imgres-5Family and money are the mainstays of this warm and funny novel by Cynthia D’Aprix Sweeney. Four siblings reach a breaking point when an accident endangers the family’s joint trust, “The Nest”. They need the money to pay daily american expenses such as a mortgage, university tuition fees or give back money they had borrowed. This is a story of how money affects relationships, what happens to human ambitions over the time and ties we share with the ones we love.

Book Week Scotland 2016

Scotland’s annual November Book Week Scotland is back in town this week until the 27th of November. It is a week not only for book lovers but people of all ages who want share their passion for literature.

According to the Daily Record, even the First Minister Nicola Sturgeon has joined the week’s endeavours and dared students at St Conval’s Primary in Glasgow to write reviews of books they have read, inside the books themselves, for future readers to pick up.

She went on to explain the importance of building and expanding the “reading culture” across schools.

“Book Week Scotland’s dares are a great way to excite children about reading and […] encouraging children to develop a love of reading from an early age through fun activities,” stated Sturgeon.

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This is a week event hosted by the Edinburgh UNESCO World City of Literature Trust, a registered charity that that goes by the name “The Trust”, a team of enthusiasts with a “story-fuelled passion” for books.

The Trust’s CEO, Mark Lambert, explained; “Book Week Scotland is the perfect time for teachers and parents alike to get their children enthused about the First Minister’s Reading Challenge.”

The Trust have organised for Scottish talents, poets, illustrators, authors, storytellers, to engage with book-aficionados from all walks of life across the city in libraries, community venues and schools, to talk about the inspirations in their work.

Creative Scotland’s Arts and Engagement Director, Leonie Bell, also expressed her excitement about the fifth year of Book Week and how it is “a real celebration of Scotland’s incredible literary culture, from new writers to old favourites.  With an outreach programme ensuring that everyone across Scotland is able to enjoy the magic of reading and a plethora of book-related events, talks and dares to embark on, Scottish Book Trust is taking us on a reading adventure like no other.”

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Book Week Scotland challenges you to get involved and be dared. So how can you take part? Click here to be assigned a ‘random dare’ and perhaps read a new genre you’ve never explored before. Share your dare with the hashtag #BookWeekScot and get your family and friends to join in too.

To learn more about Book Week Scotland go to www.bookweekscotland.com. Follow them on Twitter @Bookweekscot and on their Book Week Scotland Facebook page.

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