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In their own words or from the pen of a biographer, the lives of others hold a magnetic intrigue. Indulge your curiosity here… Read and find out more about the lives of well-known figures.
A thoughtful, sometimes emotionally painful, yet unforgettable medical memoir I feel everyone should read. Our expectations of our medical and emergency teams are high, we trust, we rely, we hope. When a best-selling novelist, with the most beautiful way with words, tells the story of her time as a junior doctor, you just have to sit up and listen. Each chapter begins with thoughts from different people and roles within the medical profession. Joanna Cannon opens her arms wide and lets you in to her story, her way with words ensures you can see a full and vivid picture. Heartbreakingly honest, we see how she is overstretched, twanging like elastic that is on the point of completely fraying. A number of times her words resonated so strongly, they gave me goose-bumps. She not only made me look with different eyes at our medical practitioners, she also made me think about my own thoughts and words. I don’t think I will ever forget her “we each measure words with different scales”. Breaking and Mending is one of my Liz Robinson picks of the month, and a LoveReading Star Book... I smiled, I cried, afterwards I sat and hugged it!
An eye-opening wander (and sometimes adrenaline ride) down memory lane for a life-long hillwalker and mountaineer. John D. Burns has spent forty years trekking and climbing mountains, he grew up in industrial Merseyside and escaped to the wilds as often as he could. He opens by admitting a mistake that could have cost lives, his raw honesty hits home, this isn’t a playground. In his early years he learns through near catastrophes and calamitous events that he needs proper equipment and to never take the outdoors for granted. He basically learns through his mistakes - TAKE NOTE! As the author grows more experienced he later becomes a part of the rescue team and starts to really become aware of the beauty around him. The majority of this memoir runs in a straight line through time, occasionally though it deviates, and sometimes stories just stop, to carry on at a later point. This memoir is more about the thrills and escapades, than the beauty of where he is and yet that joy is also there. I would recommend reading The Last Hillwalker followed by his fictional Sky Dance, as once you have finished both, you get more of measure of this man. A fascinating read.
A captivating, amusing, yet provocative novel set in the Scottish Highlands. If you have read a book by John D. Burns before, it is likely to have been one or both of his memoirs, The Last Hillwalker and Bothy Tales. The author has spent much of his life walking and climbing in the mountains, here he turns his hand to fiction, and ponders the future of the landscape he so loves. We enter what could be called a battle, between environmental protesters and landowners, with the two main characters seasoned hillwalkers. From winter (much beloved by our author), turning through the seasons back to winter again, we spend time on a fictional island in the Scottish Highlands. Using his knowledge, his passion for our wild places John D. Burns has written an engaging and satisfying read. I actually recommend starting with his memoir The Last Hillwalker, as it really sets the scene, and you can appreciate the experience and love that has gone into Sky Dance.
Uncovering the mystery of her mother's disappearance as a child: Laura Cumming, prize-winning author and art critic, takes a closer look at her family story. In the autumn of 1929, a small child was kidnapped from a Lincolnshire beach. Five agonising days went by before she was found in a nearby village. The child remembered nothing of these events and nobody ever spoke of them at home. It was another 50 years before she even learned of the kidnap. The girl became an artist and had a daughter, art writer Laura Cumming. Cumming grew up enthralled by her mother's strange tales of life in a seaside hamlet of the 1930s, and of the secrets and lies perpetuated by a whole community. So many puzzles remained to be solved. Cumming began with a few criss-crossing lives in this fraction of English coast - the postman, the grocer, the elusive baker - but soon her search spread right out across the globe as she discovered just how many lives were affected by what happened that day on the beach - including her own. On Chapel Sands is a book of mystery and memoir. Two narratives run through it: the mother's childhood tale and Cumming's own pursuit of the truth. Humble objects light up the story: a pie dish, a carved box, an old Vick's jar. Letters, tickets, recipe books, even the particular slant of a copperplate hand give vital clues. And pictures of all kinds, from paintings to photographs, open up like doors to the truth. Above all, Cumming discovers how to look more closely at the family album - with its curious gaps and missing persons - finding crucial answers, captured in plain sight at the click of a shutter.
Some people are born to be a certain thing. And I was a born fighter. At the age of eight, Michael Bisping began his training in martial arts. By the time he was 15, he was fighting in his first no holds barred competition. When he turned professional and joined the UFC he was sure about one thing: only a world championship title would do. A British underdog in the greatest fighting championship on earth, he spent the next decade winning some of the championship's most sensational contests to achieve his dream, becoming the first-ever British UFC world champion in 2016. From his boyhood years learning to fight in the gyms of Lancashire to his most shocking clashes in the cage, in Quitters Never Win Bisping tells the raw and unfiltered story behind his legendary career for the first time, including his greatest wins, his fiercest rivals and the harrowing injury that forced him into retirement. As audacious, entertaining and as candid as the man himself, it's a backstage pass to one of the world's most extreme sports and an unbridled account of what it really takes to become a champion, from sleeping in his own car to reaching the summit of the world's fastest-growing sport.
For more than 25 years, David Nott has taken unpaid leave from his job as a general and vascular surgeon with the NHS to volunteer in some of the world's most dangerous war zones. From Sarajevo under siege in 1993 to clandestine hospitals in rebel-held eastern Aleppo, he has carried out lifesaving operations and field surgery in the most challenging conditions, and with none of the resources of a major London teaching hospital. The conflicts he has worked in form a chronology of 21st-century combat: Afghanistan, Sierra Leone, Liberia, Darfur, Congo, Iraq, Yemen, Libya, Gaza and Syria. But he has also volunteered in areas blighted by natural disasters, such as the earthquakes in Haiti and Nepal. Driven both by compassion and passion, the desire to help others and the thrill of extreme personal danger, he is now widely acknowledged to be the most experienced trauma surgeon in the world. But as time went on, David Nott began to realise that flying into a catastrophe - whether war or natural disaster - was not enough. Doctors on the ground needed to learn how to treat the appalling injuries that war inflicts upon its victims. Since 2015, the foundation he set up with his wife, Elly, has disseminated the knowledge he has gained, training other doctors in the art of saving lives threatened by bombs and bullets. War Doctor is his extraordinary story.
The brilliant, inspirational next book by the author of the incredible No. 1 bestseller FIRST MAN IN. Without fear, there's no challenge. Without challenge, there's no growth. Without growth, there's no life. Ant Middleton is no stranger to fear: as a point man in the Special Forces, he confronted fear on a daily basis, never knowing what lay behind the next corner, or the next closed door. In prison, he was thrust into the unknown, cut off from friends and family, isolated with thoughts of failure and dread for his future. And at the top of Everest, in desperate, life-threatening conditions, he was forced to face up to his greatest fear, of leaving his wife and children without a husband and father. But fear is not his enemy. It is the energy that propels him. Thanks to the revolutionary concept of the Fear Bubble, Ant has learned to harness the power of fear and understands the positive force that it can become. Fear gives Ant his edge, allowing him to seek out life's challenges, whether that is at home, pushing himself every day to be the best father he can be, or stuck in the death zone on top of the world in a 90mph blizzard. In his groundbreaking new book, Ant Middleton thrillingly retells the story of his death-defying climb of Everest and reveals the concept of the Fear Bubble, showing how it can be used in our lives to help us break through our limits. Powerful, unflinching and an inspirational call to action, The Fear Bubble is essential reading for anyone who wants to push themselves further, harness their fears and conquer their own personal Everests.
February 2011 Non-Fiction Book of the Month. Ten centuries' worth of French historical 'facts' bite the dust as Stephen Clarke looks at what has really been going on since 1066... It's a light-hearted but impeccably researched account of all our great fallings-out. With Clarke's trademark humour and lightness of touch that will be remembered with fondness from A Year in the Merde and Talk to the Snail, among others this is a brilliant take on the history of our near neighbour.
As well as perfecting your stiff upper lip, the thoroughly English person might also want to get a bit out of their comfort zone in achieving their 102 English Things to Do. How about (after having a nice tea) a spot of rioting or, braving the weather, (cue the Shipping Forecast) try bottle-kicking or cheese-rolling. There are, I hasten to add, some far gentler things to try, apologising and saying please and thankyou a lot doesn’t take much effort and we can all fail to learn another language and eat fish and chips very easily. However, punting or climbing Scafell Pike are, at my age, a bit unlikely so I shall content myself with savouring an English apple but I absolutely refusing to do the very last challenge, boiling vegetables for as long as it takes to lose flavour, texture and colour – I mean to say - that’s just going too far. Like for Like Reading Watching the English: The Hidden Roles of English Behaviour, Kate Fox How to be an Alien: A Handbook for Beginners and Advanced Pupils, George Mikes
This work presents an intimate history of Shakespeare, following him through a single year that changed not only his fortunes, but the course of literature. How did Shakespeare go from being a talented poet and playwright to become one of the greatest writers who ever lived? In this one exhilarating year, we follow what he reads and writes, what he saw, and who he worked with as he invests in the new Globe theatre and creates four of his most famous plays - Henry V , Julius Caesar , As You Like It , and, most remarkably, Hamlet.
In 1966 England won the World Cup at Wembley. Sir Bobby Charlton, England's greatest ever player, was there on the pitch. Now, fifty years on, Sir Bobby looks back on the most glorious moment of his life and England's greatest sporting achievement. In 1966 he takes us through the build-up to the tournament and to the final itself, describing what he saw, what he heard, and what he felt. He explains what it was like to be part of Sir Alf Ramsey's team, gives us his personal memories of his teammates, the matches, the atmosphere; the emotion of being carried on the wave of a nation's euphoria and how it felt to go toe-to-toe with some of the foremost footballers to ever play the game.
The heartfelt and uplifting story of how a project to scatter 60 Postcards in memory of her mother helped a young girl come to terms with her loss. On 11 February 2012 Rachael Chadwick lost her Mother to cancer, just sixteen days after first being diagnosed, and her world shattered right in front of her. Utterly fed up of the milestones and reminders, in December of that year she decided she would do something different and created a project based around her Mum's approaching 60th Birthday. Desperate to spread the word about the wonderful person she had lost, Rachael had the brainwave of leaving notes around a city in her memory. Deciding she would take it a step further she wondered what would happen if she could ask people to respond to her? Full of hope and energy she hand-wrote sixty postcards, each with her email address at the bottom asking the finder to get in touch. But one question remained, where should she go? Knowing how much she longed to visit Paris, the last gift that Rachael's mum had given her was Eurostar vouchers, and so it seemed fitting that this would be her chosen city. So off she went with a group of friends to celebrate, discover, and to scatter her memories. Filling their time in Paris with sight-seeing, food and drink, laughter, and of course postcards. When Rachael returned to her London home, she desperately tried to switch off, switch off from the wondering (and hoping) whether she might actually hear from a postcard finder. And then, they started flowing in…
The heartfelt and uplifting story of how a project to scatter 60 Postcards in memory of her mother helped a young girl come to terms with her loss. On 11 February 2012 Rachael Chadwick lost her Mother to cancer, just sixteen days after first being diagnosed, and her world shattered right in front of her. Utterly fed up of the milestones and reminders, in December of that year she decided she would do something different and created a project based around her Mum's approaching 60th Birthday. Desperate to spread the word about the wonderful person she had lost, Rachael had the brainwave of leaving notes around a city in her memory. Deciding she would take it a step further she wondered what would happen if she could ask people to respond to her? Full of hope and energy she hand-wrote sixty postcards, each with her email address at the bottom asking the finder to get in touch. But one question remained, where should she go? Knowing how much she longed to visit Paris, the last gift that Rachael's mum had given her was Eurostar vouchers, and so it seemed fitting that this would be her chosen city. So off she went with a group of friends to celebrate, discover, and to scatter her memories. Filling their time in Paris with sight-seeing, food and drink, laughter, and of course postcards.
Hardly a week goes by without Dickie Bird visiting a county or Test match arena where he can keep up to date with all that is happening in the cricket world, while at the same time taking the opportunity to reflect, in the company of old friends and acquaintances, on his own colorful contribution to the sport that lasted for over half a century. Dickie remains the most famous umpire of them all and is still highly respected throughout the world. A lovable eccentric with a joyful sense of fun, he has decided, as he approaches his eightieth birthday, to recall the highlights of his life in cricket, while also providing an illuminating insight into what he has been up to since his retirement.
A sharply amusing and captivating memoir based on the attempt of the author to make a new life in France. Tommy Barnes and his girlfriend escape the 9-5 of the UK after being made redundant. Surrounded by animals, friendly locals, and stunning countryside, Tommy struggles to start a micro-brewery in the heart of the Loire Valley. The author is more than happy to poke fun at himself, he is also incredibly honest. His writing ensured I didn’t feel too badly as I chortled, smirked and raised my eyebrows as he somewhat stumbles through life. Rather stealing the show is Burt the dog, described by Tommy as squat, surly and defiant, Burt makes it his life mission to cause chaos wherever he is. I also just have to mention the gorgeous cover, which most definitely called out to me. ‘A Beer in the Loire’ is an engaging, ever so entertaining read, oh, and there are several recipes for beer too, how fabulous!
Frustrated by a dead end job, fed up with renting in London and the loathsome daily commute and, to cap it all, failing to make it as a stand-up comedian, Tommy Barnes was at breaking point. But he didn’t break - instead he made himself redundant and took off to France with girlfriend Rose to pursue his dream of brewing beer.
Featured on The Book Show on Sky Arts on 22 October 2009. Shappi Khorsandi gives a warm, humorous and slightly scary view of her childhood growing up in England as exiles from Iran in the 1970’s and 80’s. Well written and highly enjoyable this is an entertaining read.
Gary Barlow is one of the most successful British musicians and songwriters of all time, but 15 years ago, as he himself admits, he hit rock bottom - he was out of shape, out of work, depressed. Food for him had become an addiction, a means not only of comfort but almost of self-medication as he grappled with the cruel twists of fate of musical stardom. In 2003, as he struggled with the disappointment of an underperforming solo career alongside the tireless media taunts, Gary turned to food. Relentlessly. In the space of nine years he had been on 20 diets in the hopes of a resolution to all his woes. After asking the doctor what the 'cure' for obesity was, it sunk in that he was the only one who could take control of his health. Gary describes this realisation and the task that lay ahead - 'it was like being at the foot of a massive mountain'. So how did he go from an obese, out-of-work and depressed pop icon to a superstar of music and TV and an accomplished musical songwriter and producer who is full of vitality, fitter, happier and more successful than ever before? What happened? In his extraordinarily honest memoir, A Better Me, Gary tells of his journey back to professional success and mental and physical health. From reforming Take That to critical and commercial acclaim and reigniting his own legendary songwriting career; to overcoming his weight problems and crippling obsession with food; to TV judging panel stardom on The X Factor and Let It Shine and at last finding balance in both his personal and professional lives. A Better Me is a remarkably frank memoir of Gary's life as he battled with weight, stress, fitness and depression and staged one of the most thrilling professional comebacks in years. In his warm, witty and authentic voice, he recounts his story with compelling insight, captivating honesty and a human side that people rarely see. Here is one of the UK's most beloved pop stars, open, honest and raw and as we've never seen him before.
Gary Barlow is one of the most successful British musicians and songwriters of all time, but fifteen years ago, as he himself admits, he hit rock bottom - he was out of shape, out of work and depressed. Faced with an underperforming solo career, tireless media taunts and the other cruel twists of fate, Gary turned to food. For nine years, he struggled with his weight and went on every diet imaginable before eventually asking a doctor what the 'cure' for obesity was. That was when he realised that he would have to change his life dramatically. So how did he go from an obese, out-of-work pop star to becoming a hugely successful superstar of music and TV, as well an accomplished musical songwriter and producer who is full of vitality, fitter, happier and more successful than ever before? In this extraordinarily honest memoir, Gary tells of his journey back to professional success, as well as mental and physical health. A Better Me is a remarkably frank account of Gary's life as he battled with his demons, endured personal tragedy, and staged one of the most thrilling professional comebacks in decades. In his warm, witty and authentic voice, Gary recounts his story with compelling insight, captivating sincerity and a human side that people rarely see. From returning with a critically and commercially successful Take That and reigniting his own legendary songwriting career, going beyond recorded music to forge success on TV with The X Factor and Let It Shine, to overcoming his weight problems and crippling obsession with food, this is the story of how Gary found balance in both his personal and professional life. Here is one of the UK's most beloved pop stars, more open, honest and raw than ever before.
There are people who just read biographies, interested only in the details of the lives of real people. There are others, like us, who enjoy dipping a toe, every now and then, into the deep inviting waters of the biography pool, to see first-hand the experiences of a person, past or present, who captures our imagination or pique’s our interest. From the First Man on the Moon to the latest winner of a jungle-based reality TV programme; sport-star to leading politician; religious leader to Arctic explorer, the choice is vast!