Book Review: Recovery by Russell Brand #1/28/2018

First off, let me just say that it’s been a while since I’ve posted anything to my blog and I’m so sorry about that for those of you who are following. Life got so crazy for a while there but I’m back into a regular schedule now and my goal is to post a review for every book I read this year. So, without further ado, let us begin with my first review of 2018: Recovery: Freedom from our addictions by Russell Brand.


Based on the 12-step Alcoholics Anonymous program, Brand brings this otherwise inaccessible, and rather stereotypical, model for overcoming our addictions into a fresh and relatable light. One of the things I found most interesting about this book was how Russell “branded” (you see what I did there?) it to make it more accessible to anyone who has an addiction to anything; from chocolate, to social media, gambling, sex, alcohol or drugs, you can see from the cover that this book is probably for you.

I’m not usually a fan of the quote-unquote “self-help books” and tend to find them rather misleading in the sense that they might help you in the short term but your problems either come back, or they just spout common sense at you over and over again page after page. I have to say that this book took a refreshing departure from that tradition and I actually found myself quite enjoying what Brand had to say.

Some of his key insights were things that I had either never thought of before, or were phrased in such a way as to make me revel in them all over again. Surprisingly (or maybe not so surprisingly if you’ve read any of Russell’s other books) Brand is quite a proficient writer and wordsmith. In fact, I actually had to look up over 40 new words while reading this book which, for a bibliophile like me, was absolutely amazing. Here’s a short excerpt that I hope will demonstrate the succinct yet poetic prose that pulls you ever so gently through the book:

What I used to think of as happiness was merely distraction from the pain. The pain of disconnection, of separateness from you. All longing, all yearning, all thirst, flung on unworthy surrogates, false idols, unsated by unworthy objects still pulling us unwillingly back together.

One of the main themes throughout the book is how addictive behaviour is used to mask some sort of pain that one is going through and can’t seem to face alone.

Now to get on to the reason why in particular picked up this book as my first read of 2018 is not only because of my admiration of Russell Brand as a comedian and a human being, but because I too have struggled with an addiction and self-destructive behaviour throughout my life. Physically it manifested as an addiction to sugar, but psychologically, mentally, spiritually and emotionally there were some deeper issues there that I’ve had to learn how to overcome, and can say with some certainty that this book has definitely helped me make a positive change in my life.

One of the only issues I had with the book was that there were some steps in the 12 step program that seemed to be a bit too much for someone with a “less complex” addiction to say sugar or shopping like myself. For example, having to make an extensive inventory of all of the harm I’ve done other people and then apologize to them seems a bit silly for a sugar addiction and I was left wondering if Russell’s belief was that all twelve steps should be done no matter what addiction you display.

Either way this is a book that I feel everyone could benefit from reading because whether you think you have an addiction that has negatively impacted your life or not, there are some real solid ideas and practices you can pick up from this book if you simply want to change the way you experience the world.

The point of undertaking this program, of picking up this book, is to change the way it feels to be in your own head because on some level you don’t like it in there. It is making you unhappy. You think thoughts and feel feelings that are unpleasant to experience. – Brand, pg. 192

Let me know if you’ve read this book and what you thought? And as always, happy reading friends 🙂


Book Review: The Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood

As Atwood says so eloquently in The Handmaid’s Tale, there are two types of freedom: Freedom to and freedom from. Freedom to do what ever you want, or freedom from women being shouted at in the streets. I’d argue that you cannot have both at the same time. There is, however, a fine line in between these two types of freedom that we, as a society, must walk. The Handmaid’s Tale provides a fascinating examination of the intersection of these two types of freedom, and left me questioning whether good will win in the end.

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Book Review: The Book Thief by Markus Zusak

IMG_0496What started out as what I thought was just going to be another piece of historical fiction set in Germany during WW2 turned out to be one of the most beautifully written pieces of prose I have ever read. It’s not until you get about halfway through the book that you begin to realize just how much thought and careful planning went into the writing of this novel. Every sentence is carefully crafted to evoke a sense of imagery and immerse you in the world of Liesel Meminger.

Plot Summary:

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Book Review: Born a Crime by Trevor Noah

I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again: I love reading the memoirs of people who’ve lived extraordinary lives, and Trevor Noah is no exception to this rule. Born in South Africa during apartheid, Noah takes the reader on a critical, yet comical ride, with short stories, essays, and his observations about life. Born a Crime is sprinkled with profound insights about race and culture, with just a touch of humour, and succeeds in telling one of the most thought-provoking works of our time.

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Books that I started to read but couldn’t finish

I’d say I’m a moderate to avid reader. People who know me think I’m a book worm (I’ll take that as a compliment). Often times, however, people might assume that just because I love reading, I love every book I read. Let me assure you, this is not true. In fact it’s quite the opposite. I rarely come across a book that I absolutely love, and sometimes I have to force myself to continue reading until I finish the book. But I’m not always able to finish. Therefore I’m sharing the list of books that I started to read but couldn’t finish, and my explanation for why I gave up on that book, below: Continue reading

Book Review: Stardust by Neil Gaiman


This was my first foray into fantasy, and it went amazingly well.

Centred around a young man, Tristan Thorn, who sets off to find a fallen star in faerie land after he promises his love that he will do anything to win her over, this beautifully written novel had me absolutely hooked around the third chapter when we find out that there are other more mysterious and sinister characters trying to get the fallen star for their own reasons. On his journey to find the fallen star, Tristan encounters a number of obstacles, mystical and magical creatures, and just enough luck to save his skin a number of times.

What I really loved about this book was the fact that it was easy and accessible fantasy. As someone who has tried (and failed) to get through the likes of J.R.R. Tolkien and George R.R. Martin’s respective Lord of the Rings and Game of Thrones series, I thought fantasy just wasn’t my thing. I’m happy to admit that Neil Gaiman proved me wrong.

While the prose is not overly complicated and the vocabulary not too extensive, I felt that this only added to the overall magical feeling and found myself thinking I was a kid again (despite several graphic sexual encounters sprinkled throughout the book). This novel had everything you could ask for in a fantasy story: action, adventure, romance, suspense, mystery, murder, ghosts, witches and more!

The way different characters are introduced at different times, and how the stories all come together in the end was so intricately woven and expertly executed that I had several “ah-ha” moments during the last couple of chapters after finally realizing how some people who I had thought were unimportant side-notes ended up being crucial to the plot.

In the end, I was swept up and away in the magical world created by Neil Gaiman and can’t wait to delve into this newly discovered universe that is the fantasy genre. Please leave me some suggestions below for what I should read next and what your favourite fantasy novel is.

Casual Friday Office Attire, part 2

In most workplaces, Fridays mean you can finally wear blue jeans to the office. Today I went for a laid back look with a bit of a bookworm theme. 

If you don’t already know this about me, I love to read. So naturally I have a few items of clothing with words on them. One of my favourite button down shirts is covered with random sentences. I paired this with a sweater with the word “smile” written in bold letters across the bottom. 

Word shirt from Simons

Sweater from Reitmans

I also wore my Burberry sneakers for the first time because I felt they go nicely with the preppy vibe I was giving off. 

Burberry sneakers

This outfit is versatile in the sense that you could also wear it if you’re a student. I’m thinking more college/university, but if you’re a very studious high school student you could wear something like this too! 

How do you like to dress on “blue jean” Friday at work? I admit this is one of my more laid back looks; usually I like to keep it extremely professional even on Fridays, but today I was in training all day so I wanted to be comfortable. 

Finished with a wool grey coat and hat, both from Roots