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4.7 out of 5 stars4,611
4.7 out of 5 stars
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on 10 April 2012
I am a huge cat lover and when my mum told me of this book I was instantly drawn to it, the very idea of a cat companion finding and saving you is intriguing and really tugs at the old heart strings. I haven't even finished the book yet but I can't put it down and I absolutely adore it. This true story of James and Bob really touches my heart; I really sympathise for the pair of them and admire their strength and commitment to each other. It really fascinates me and being brought up around cats myself and having my own feline companion for over a decade, I whole heartedly agree that a cat friend is just as fulfilling and life changing as they really are wonderful gorgeous creatures.

James' story is rather a sad one; we've all experienced loneliness at some point in our lives but maybe not quite to the same degree as him. From reading his book you come to understand exactly why he ended up in the dregs of London's streets and you get a real insight and an inkling of understanding as to how hard it must really be to be a true outsider struggling in society.

His story has really opened my eyes and made me very thankful that I haven't been so hard up and really appreciate and sympathise with the hardship they must have put up with having both lived a tough survival life out and the rough streets of London. It has made me rethink about all those hard up people begging or busking for coins that I've in the past brushed past, keen to avoid. Next time I'll stop by the `Big Issue lady' and buy a copy or two.

I love this book so far I've even learnt quite a lot of cool things about cats that I never knew before, as well as the very obvious difference in human psychological, mental and physical behaviour towards someone in James' position and to be less judgemental to say the least (as well as a few survival tips if I'm ever misfortunate enough to end up on the streets ... Hopefully not) and I'm sure it has a lovely ending or hopefully for James and Bob, a new beginning from their long lonesome and sometimes very difficult journey together.
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on 20 March 2012
In its own way this is Orwell for the 21st century. Yes, the cat is cute, yes the story is a simple one. But it's genuinely revealing about the kind of life led by people who live at the bottom of society's net - if not underneath it. It's plainly but surprisingly well written, and very readable; and if you live in London some of the details of how such things as busking and Big Issue selling work are riveting. Most of all though, it's a window on motivation - on how and why people who've apparently given up on themselves might finally be spurred to get their life together. Everyone who works in the benefits and charity industry ought to read this book because the answer probably isn't the one they get given in their seminars. Oddly enough it's an answer human beings have been giving each other since time began - it's love, giving as much as getting, that can make the difference, even if the love object in question has fur. Being responsible for another creature's health and happiness can give even the most hopeless drug addict a reason to change. And services which help those who are down and out need to recognise that truth and make their facilities pet friendly wherever possible. Too often homeless people can't access housing, medical care, and the rest simply because their dog or cat is banned - treated as an optional extra rather than a member of their family and a possible motivation to a better life.
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on 27 March 2012
SUPERB.

I haved not enjoyed a book as much as this for a long, long time.
It is primarily a happy book, so refreshing in these days of ever depressing doom and gloom.
Simply obtain, sit down, and read.
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on 18 March 2012
This is a great story and very moving. James, a street musician, rescued Bob a sick, street-battered cat, when he found him sheltering in his block of flats five years ago. This is the tale of two people, a man and a cat, who found each other and gave each other hope and a future.

James writes honestly about the life he led when he was a recovering heroin addict, about the battles he's had to fight, about the loneliness of life on the streets and about how meeting Bob helped him turn his life around. I have nothing but admiration for him - it takes guts to beat an addiction. It takes a special sort of bravery and determination to pull yourself back up when you are alone and down. When one dreary follows another, when it's hard to see any future.

James wasn't looking for any reward when he took Bob in, he couldn't possibly have known what the future would bring. Now, because of his own act of kindness, James has hope and a new life. It's a lovely heartwarming book, full of humour as well as courage and determination. I really hope it will help a lot of people be more understanding.
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on 5 April 2012
This has to be one of the best books I have ever read. The story really opened my eyes to how life can deal its worst sometimes. The way James writes about his life and how Bob the cat gave him the determination and purpose to clean his life up was really touching. It has changed my perception of people selling the 'Big Issue'. So many times have I hurried past and not buying a mag thinking 'get a job' but now after reading this very real story it will make me think twice. People in the world that want to help themselves get back into society need a helping hand; there are the exceptions to the rule as James points out!

I thoroughly recommend buying this book, I really enjoyed it and really hope James and of course Bob are now in a better place as they so deserve. It's a book you just can't stop reading.
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on 19 March 2012
If the book was fiction i would think it was a bit far-fetched and the fact it's true makes it the ultimate feel-good story. I absolutely loved the tale of how they found each other and then became inseparable - such kindred spirits are rare even amongst members of the same species. It's well written, touching and funny and if you don't feel that little bit better after reading it you must be made of stone.
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on 15 March 2012
Seeing Bob and James together on the street puts a smile on my face every time I see them and the book does the same.
Reading their story not only gave insight to their background but was very uplifting and heart warming as well.
Good luck to them both.
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on 23 March 2012
Somehow, I'd missed all the publicity before the book.

But I'd seen James and Bob because I live yards from where they do, and I'm often in Angel and around Islington Green. Last time I saw them was outside Seven Sisters station, and it sort of made my night, and I hadn't seen them since, and I fretted a bit since. It is quite a magic feeling to see them in different places where you feel like home, knowing nothing about how (doh) everyone else around the world already feels the same way.

One night the other week I was in Angel, walking past the Waterstone's where this book was launched, the one James talks about in the book. In the window was a picture of Bob, and I got really excited. The words said that there was now a book by James about him and Bob, and that the launch was in the store that night. I checked my phone and it was about 45 minutes after the start of the signing. The bottom floor looked deserted with a single member of staff looking about pensively.

I managed to worry myself again on the basis of this. I assumed it had been a terrific flop, and everyone had gone home despite the lovely gesture by the staff.

I am so glad I am such an idiot! I told my girlfriend and she knew I always talked about them, so she ordered it from Amazon. I chowed it down compulsively. I could be even more of an idiot and point out that maybe there are moments in the book where you feel the hand of a professional co-writer in a way that sticks out, but really I am just really impressed with the achievement of James and his co-writer Garry. Thankyou.

If you don't believe in love anymore, you must read this. If you do, I'm glad, but you still must read this.
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on 19 March 2012
This book was amazing. I really liked reading about someone who feels the way I do about cats.Animals can change your life and be your family. A very touching story, highly recommend it!
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on 24 April 2012
Please don't think me churlish, but I beg to differ with others about the writing style of this book - it's not terribly well crafted - it's repetitive and poorly copy edited - hence the four stars, as this is a book review, not a review of James Bowen, Bob or their achievements. Thus, if you're snobby about writing, look elsewhere. That said, it'll be your loss, as this is a heartwarming book with an important message, for reasons other than its prose.

Bowen describes how he was `invisible' when he was homeless, and the difference it made when he found Bob and took him busking with him. Suddenly people - the public - saw James, interacted with him, respected him. Having Bob humanised the man who was with him, and helped James turn his life around.

It echoes why this book matters: were it entitled `A Man Named James' I strongly suspect it would be invisible too. I doubt it would be published, let alone topping the bestseller charts, with James on TV sharing his experience. As a cat lover, it was Bob that made me gravitate to the story, and I'm sure I'm not alone (he is a particularly fine feline for all sorts of reasons) but there's so much more to this than fluff: through telling us about Bob, James is also able to share what it's like living on the streets, to busk, to sell the Big Issue and to come off drugs - all things most of us would otherwise shy away from reading about.

James Bowen isn't a writer, and he acknowledges at the end that he had some help in putting his story together anyway. But whilst A Streetcat Named Bob might not be great literature, it increases our understanding of people who often don't have a voice, and for that deserves its plaudits.
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