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4.6 out of 5 stars112
4.6 out of 5 stars
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on 15 May 2003
Join Me is testament to how a crazy idea can bring people together for the good of others. It proves undeniably that the majority of people wish to help each other and sometimes they just need the smallest of excuses to do it. With a cast of odd characters the story goes from a silly idea by an exceptionally bored man to the whole scheme going wildy out of control to the heady heights of appearing on Belgium's top-rated TV show. This is most certainly a book with it's heart in the right place. Every joinee has learnt from the experience. Whether it's that a small, random act of kindness can have a big effect on the recipient, that strangers truly are friends we've not yet met, or perhaps just that it's not a good idea to look at pictures of peoples flats on the internet - and then mention it in casual conversation. Did I mention that the book is very funny? -- and by the way... It's not a cult, it's a collective. Only 2% of the vote? Damn.
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on 2 July 2004
It appears I have actually been living in a cave, because the oddly successful Join Me campaign passed me by entirely in 2002 (and onwards). And also, I did read Are You Dave Gorman before this. That book was pointless, yet life-affirming - and it had something important to say about friendship, and being nice to people. Nothing you could quite pin down, though.
Danny Wallace's first solo book, detailing his quest to get 1000 people to "Join him", is hilarious. Like Are You Dave Gorman, it's occasionally a little convenient and hard-to-believe at best. But life imitates art, and strange things really do happen.
Also, unlike said novel, Join Me has a definite message, and Danny's collective isn't a "bored man's experiment" at all. It merely started as one. It's basically a religion, minus all the trappings of sermons and scripture, with just a single aim: make people happy by being nice to them. It's starkly simple stuff, and the sense throughout the novel that Danny truly doesn't see the scale of what he's done is rather humbling. Hundreds join him out of sheer curiosity and trust. Hundreds do good deeds, finally feeling they have the excuse and right to. After reading this, you'll be truly hard-pressed not to sign up.
If anything, the book makes the human race seem a warmer, more lovable breed than before. An absolutely touching, sweet (and more importantly), funny story.
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on 4 July 2003
I have been aware of Danny Wallace's existence since the first BBC showing of "Are you Dave Gorman?", I have watched the series again and again, devoured the book many times and watched 'Dave Gorman's Important Astrological Experiment'. So because I found him a)extremely funny and b) really quite sexy I bookmarked his website to follow what he did next. Which is when I came across Join Me.
I came across the idea while I was bored one afternoon and emailed to say I wanted to join him. The responce was to send a passport photo and await instructions. You see this is where I am kicking myself, I never did, after reading 'Are you Dave Gorman'I was I admit, extremely nervous of as to where it might lead.
About a year later I found he was writing a book about the experience, I ordered the book to find out what I had missed, safe in the knowledge that Mr Wallace would have wrote an extremely good book no matter what the outcome of the collective. So let me tell you - I was not wrong. This book is brilliantly funny. It tells of why Danny set up the collective, what happened as he tried to get more people and the way the idea snow balled almost out of his control. The amazing lengths both the Leader and the Joinees have gone to are frankly astounding.
You have to buy this book, it fantastically laugh out loud funny and inspiring all at the same time. So buy, laugh and if you haven't already - Join Him!
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on 4 October 2003
Absolutely bloody wonderful.
All you need to join Danny's cult is a passport photo. You don't know what the cult's for or if it has any purpose whatsoever.
Loads of men remain addicted to what Danny's annoyingly sensible girlfriend calls "stupid boy-projects" and the book is a hymn to the child that sits within the man and refuses to dislodged by adulthood.
The naughty schoolboy sets up an aimless cult in memory of a dead Uncle whose similar attempts were derided. Danny dares not tell his girlfriend because he knows she will drag him back into the real, go shopping, meet acquaintances world.
The guilt he feels about this and the absurd excuses he concocts run through a book littered with wonderful, odd people and implausible meetings - the unfrench quintessential Frenchman, the duo who write jingles for Polish butter, the rock vicar, the evil usurper, loads of characters from fiction, all apparently living in the real world.
Look at the passport photo of Joinee Jonesy grinning at you from Chapter1. It's worth buying it just for that.
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on 17 July 2003
I thought that this book, Join Me, was utterly wonderful - I read it in one sitting and plan to start reading it again this evening... it is hilarious and caused more than a few strange looks to be thrown my way as I sat in a cafe after a heavy day of shopping, laughing loudly on my own. Very embarrassing but more than worth it!
The characters Danny meets along the way are all fascinating in their own way, and you can't help but wonder what it was that drew them all to Join Me in the first place
The fact that Danny started a cult by accident is hilarious - and the fact that he had no idea what to do with all his hundreds of new followers is more hilarious still!
And then when he decides what to do with them all... it's inspiring.
Hilarious and original. Like nothing else I've read.
Buy it!
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on 8 July 2003
I bought this book on impulse at about 9:45 today. I finished it at about 9:30 this evening. I will send off my photograph tomorrow morning.
This is a great read. As someone who read and loved Are You Dave Gorman?, this work was welcomed into my book collection. The tale of a man who started a cult by accident makes fascinating reading, as Danny travels western Europe finding people to join him. The style is refreshingly informal and unpretentious. Wallace allows the reader to share in the depths of his despair, and lets us join him at the peaks of his success, as his commune grows towards the ominous 1000th member.
The ideal of doing a random act of kindness once a week to make someone happy is an admirable and honourable one. If you feel that the idea of several dozen people joining without knowing why to be ridiculous, then rest assured: there is a heart and a moral to the book.
I haven't enjoyed a book as much as this for quite some time (laughing out loud on the bus, reading whilst walking down the street, that sort of enjoyment), and I hope that Danny Wallace will click onto this site, and be happy.
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on 8 July 2004
This book is simply fantastic.
Having been Dave Gorman's ignored voice of reason in Are you Dave Gorman? Danny Wallace (not the one who used to play for Southampton and Man Utd) shows he too has the gift of being able to complete a daft undertaking and then recount his tale in a charming, easy to read and thoroughly amusing style.
Just like AYDG? you end up willing a total stranger to suceed at a task so marvelously pointless that even at your drunkest you'd never do it yourself.
The only problem is he writes so well someone's bound to try to get him to do a novel and stop him doing something much more entertaining instead.
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on 1 August 2003
Danny had a dream. If it was 1963 and he lived in Washington he'd have been Martin Luther-King. But he isn't. And it wasn't. He is Danny Wallace, the founding member of the collective Join Me and this is their story. A story of good deeds, of the karma army, of making old men (and one slightly misguided criminal mastermind) happy. It is a book that everyone who is disillusioned with the world should read. Not least because this book is consistently funny and had me choking with laughter on my chosen beverage at regular intervals...besides humans as a group do not smile enough. Make it right, fix this problem. Read the book, make a t-shirt, join Danny's collective and make your small happy foray back into the world.
If this book doesn't make you crack one genuine smile, provoke one slightly warm fuzzy all-is-right-with-the-world feeling in the pit of your stomach. You are, let us face it, more than just a little lebstromonous.
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on 17 May 2005
A new writer has emerged - one that throws himself into some diabolical situation, then records every move for our reading pleasure. Three such type books I have read all in the past week - JOIN ME, ARE YOU DAVE GORMAN? and the hilarious (and similarly warped) UK ON A G-STRING. Can't wait to see what these authors do next - Buy Join Me! Buy the others, trust me.
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VINE VOICEon 11 September 2003
Danny Wallace, freelance journalist is bored. Having just moved into his own place after a flat share with his friend Dave all he finds himself doing is watching TV, playing games and scratching and it doesn't seem to be getting him anywhere. Then he hear's about an uncle he didn't know who's died. At the funeral he finds out that said Uncle had a plan in his youth to buy some land and talk a hundred people from his village (total population 1000) into living there with him in a collective, working the land and getting back to nature. He managed only three, became the family joke and entered into isolation.
Danny thinks he can do better and wants to commemorate his late uncle in some way. So he puts an classified advert in Loot magazine which simply says 'Join Me' and a note asking for a passport photo to be sent to his home address.
Join Me is a semi-sequel to the fabulous 'Are You Dave Gorman?' which he co-wrote with Dave Gorman. In that book it was Gorman who was the eccentric, the person wanting to find 54 people namesakes; Wallace was the straight man; the one telling Dave to calm down, to stop the madness before it went too far.
It isn't clear how far after the previous book all this happened for it seems pretty close. It's as though Wallace secretly missed the chase he was sidekick to and needed something to fill the hole. In this book it turns out he's possibly even madder; at least Gorman has a perceptible limit to his work. Wallace shoots the ball going and doesn't even goal. But one of the joys of the book is the constant revelations as it proceeds and since I'm going to recommend you buy this at the end of the review I don't want to give too much away.
Part of the charm here is that Wallace admits that he doesn't have the writing ability of other people in the genre and name checks travel writer he thinks would be doing a better job. Ironically he's actually as good as they are. For various reasons he takes a trip to Paris and perfectly captures what it's like around the Eiffel Tower and in the cafes.
As in the Gorman book he also captures the silent majority of people in the UK who are extraordinary for no apparent reason other than they feel like they should be doing something out of the ordinary. It's not anarchy, or non-conformity in the traditional sense. It's that idea that if you want to change the way life is and expected behavior, your only course of action is to have a go. I'd say the recent craze of FlashMobbing and BookCrossing (leaving old books about for other people to pick up and enjoy) are other examples of this.
For me the most interesting aspect of this endeavor is that at no point does the reader feel that all of this happened because of a potential book deal. It was a personal project, something the journalist wanted to do so that he was at least doing something.
But I'm not going to pretend it's a book for everyone. As with the Gorman book there is a built in pointlessness about the story which will not appeal to all. There are a couple of occasions when some readers might wonder about the motives. For the rest of us, those who love the idea that moments of magic like this can happen in the world we're stuck with at present, it's a joy and reinvigorates your belief in people. Here is the bit were I recommend you buy the book. Buy the book.
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