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William Cohen (Bournemouth)
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The Essays of Warren Buffett: Lessons for Investors and Managers
The Essays of Warren Buffett: Lessons for Investors and Managers
by Lawrence A. Cunningham
Edition: Paperback
Price: £9.45

4.0 out of 5 stars Sobriety for investors, 8 Feb. 2016
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I've got Poor Charlie's Almanac on my bookshelf (Charlie Munger is Buffet's sidekick) so I found much of this material familiar. There's the good writing, memorable quotations and stories and sensible insight into human affairs. He quotes Peter Drucker on dealmaking:

'I will tell you a secret. Dealmaking beats working. Dealmaking is exciting and fun, and working is grubby. Running anything is primarily an enormous amount of grubby detail work..dealmaking is romantic, sexy. That’s why you have deals that make no sense’

That accounts for a huge amount of activity in the City. Since I'm not an investor, some of this book is a bit dry. I prefer the shorter and more colourful presentations of 'Worldly Wisdom'. That said I've enjoyed being reminded of the prosaic but comforting realities of business.


Finding Meaning in the Second Half of Life: How to Finally, Really Grow Up
Finding Meaning in the Second Half of Life: How to Finally, Really Grow Up
by James Hollis
Edition: Paperback
Price: £14.99

4.0 out of 5 stars Lots of useful perspectives, 1 Feb. 2016
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I bought this for a friend and ended up reading it for myself. It's got some solid insights, the style is spiritual rather than scientific. It's influenced by Jung, who I admire. It was mildly uplifting and inspirational. Though I'm not sure it's quite right for my friend, who would not be used to this kind of literature.


Jesus and Money: A Guide for Times of Financial Crisis
Jesus and Money: A Guide for Times of Financial Crisis
by Ben Witherington III
Edition: Paperback
Price: £12.99

4.0 out of 5 stars Useful background to Biblical insights into getting and spending, 1 Feb. 2016
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I got through this quite quickly. It's well written, sober and helpful. It gave me some ideas on giving and some insights into what a Christian is supposed to consider when making donations. Recommended.


Inventing the Individual: The Origins of Western Liberalism
Inventing the Individual: The Origins of Western Liberalism
by Larry Siedentop
Edition: Paperback
Price: £6.99

1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars The plot of the Godfather as the history of Western Europe, 9 Jan. 2016
I read Democracy in Europe and I enjoyed it. This was a longer and harder read. It's an engaging thesis, but a bit unusual.

He's summed up the plot of The Godfather as a history of Christianity. I'll explain. The Godfather is a paterfamilias and he is in charge of the 'family'. Michael wants to be his own man and not get involved in the crime that taints his upbringing. The Italian family expects total loyal and the women and more vulnerable members have to suffer in deferential silence. But Kay won't tolerate Michael being involved - she rejects the lies and wants to be free from coercion.

Kay rejects the hierarchy and the 'family' and leaves Michael. There you have it - the family worship of the ancient world is rejected for the modern (some might say subversive) Christian values of integrity and individuality. Many of us can see similar forces at work in our own families in the 20th century.

I liked the intellectual history, but I felt the ideas he was talking about are still very much with us. David Cameron talks about the Conservative 'family' - it's still a hierarchical tribe with favouritism going on.

I read a lot of Jewish books - I enjoyed Yoram Hazony's book on the Philosophy of Hebrew Scripture which made the case for God supporting individuals (shepherds) over conformists (farmers) from Abel and Cain onwards. That too was a good read, but I'm not sure I could reconcile such ambitious works of sweeping ideas.


Confessions of a Ghostwriter (The Confessions Series)
Confessions of a Ghostwriter (The Confessions Series)
by Andrew Crofts
Edition: Paperback
Price: £7.99

5.0 out of 5 stars Wry reflections on anonymous success, 19 Dec. 2015
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I'm a speechwriter and I didn't know much about my sister career - a ghostwriter. I picked up lots of hints and tips from these vignettes from Andrew Crofts' writing life. Writing bestsellers but rarely being acknowledged for them has its rewards but also a few poignant disappointments. I like the fact that he's built a fascinating life around an advert in The Bookseller offering his services. He's seen the high and seedy sides of life.

He's not afraid to admit that freelancing has its downside, and he has some sobering things to say about the way publishing works, but I found the book inspirational and I will be trying to dream up ways to get some of the foreign travel Mr Crofts has enjoyed over the years. He also makes ghosting sound quite straightforward, when actually it's very difficult to make a compelling narrative out of the random memories of often not very reflective people.

I first heard about him from reading his book quoted in the Robert Harris novel, The Ghost. I was surprised to read that he forgot to ask for a fee when they asked permission to use his work!


Into The Woods: How Stories Work and Why We Tell Them
Into The Woods: How Stories Work and Why We Tell Them
by John Yorke
Edition: Paperback
Price: £6.99

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Good thought food, 15 Dec. 2015
I heard the author being interviewed at the 26 event in London and it made me want to buy the book. I loved it. I write speeches and I found most of the examples were familiar and the theories were persuasive. I've read Syd Field and Robert McKee and I found this was in a similar vein.

It made me think how I could structure a best man speech using three acts. Books like this are a stimulus to creativity. I don't use them as Bibles, but they get me questioning my own work and contemplating alternative solutions to writing problems. It's fun to test the theories on things like children's programmes, adverts and all other manifestations of story.


Denver
Denver
by David McKee
Edition: Paperback
Price: £5.99

0 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Glorious, 8 Dec. 2015
This review is from: Denver (Paperback)
This book made us sit up. It seems as if it has a strong political message in favour of the rich. But if you think about it, it's about envy.

The dark character embodies those negative attitudes to those who've made a success of their lives. It's not as if Denver is bourgeois. He's an artist who brings joy to lots of people. The story also suggests that those who are smart enough to make one fortune, can probably make another if they lose it all. There's some truth in that. I'm glad my son is getting to grips with some uncomfortable truths at 18 months.


The British Constitution: First Draft
The British Constitution: First Draft
by Guy Browning
Edition: Hardcover
Price: £7.99

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Britishness, codified, 8 Nov. 2015
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This little book packs humour into lists, grand statements and footnotes. There are witty insights into Parliament, the Monarchy and Parish councils, and many other wry observations on contemporary British life.

It manages to make some dry topics rather fun. 'It's quite difficult to define the modern British home. For the older generation it's where your washing line is. For the younger generation, it's where your phone charger is.'

The writing is gentle, elegant and every once in a while quite striking - if Ted Baker wrote books, it would be like this.

It made me feel amused, uplifted and patriotic.


The Year of Reading Dangerously: How Fifty Great Books Saved My Life
The Year of Reading Dangerously: How Fifty Great Books Saved My Life
by Andy Miller
Edition: Paperback
Price: £6.74

4.0 out of 5 stars Book Talk, 1 Nov. 2015
I heard Andy Miller speak at the writers' conference Wordstock in London and he was witty and fun. It sold the book to me. I read it within two weeks and I really enjoyed it. He makes a case for reading the classics as the antidote to all the triviality of C21st life. From time to time he's a bit self-indulgent, but I could forgive him for it because he's my generation. A man to watch...


The Ghost
The Ghost
by Robert Harris
Edition: Paperback
Price: £8.99

2.0 out of 5 stars Airport fiction, 3 Oct. 2015
This review is from: The Ghost (Paperback)
The story is well-written, although the prose is a little soulless. The pace can be very slow at times. Obviously it's a curiosity because we think Adam Lang might resemble Tony Blair, but if that wasn't a factor, this might be a very dull book indeed. I enjoyed the insights into ghostwriting, because I work as a speechwriter.


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