Cassell’s Guide To Written English by James Aitchison

I read this book because I wanted to improve my writing by gaining a better understanding of the formal structure of written English, so I would know what the rules are and when I am breaking them. The author makes the point that breaking the rules unknowingly will alienate some of your readers, undermine your authority in your chosen subject area, and just plain distract and annoy more pedantic types; so you'd better be aware of when you're doing it.

The book does an amicable job of covering the various different types of speech, sentence construction, use of rhythm in writing, avoiding repetition and monotony; and more. I found the sections on the deeper intricacies of phrasing almost sleep-inducing; "almost" being a shame because I was suffering quite bad insomnia at the time, and could have done with something that forcibly made me nod off.

The author makes seemingly arbitrary … Continue reading…

By Graham, ago

The Elements Of Style by Strunk and White

I'm embarrassed to say that when I decided to become a writer, it was about 18 months before I got around to picking up this seminal work on the craft. To my folly, I had churned out two drafts of my first book, and hundreds of other pages of content for other works before even acquainting myself with the basic wisdom enshrined in this book.

This is a thin book, and deliberately so; one of its main points is that good writing should be concise. "Let every word tell." It's got lots of great advice, but maybe it's a bit too thin, so I suggest you also check out the Cassell's Guide To Written English too.

If you want to be taken seriously in the written word, Strunk & White is essential reading, if only so you can drop the name around other writers and boost your street cred.… Continue reading…

By Graham, ago

Cry of the Damaged Man by Tony Moore

This relatively short, easy to read book describes the author's physical, psychological and emotional recovery from a near fatal traffic accident while on his routine drive to work.

I got the feeling that Tony Moore has only just scratched the surface of describing the tumultuous emotions which came to the surface when his previous busy life was halted and replaced with one where initially survival took precedence over everything else. And later on with the enforced suspension of his career he had the time to start dealing with emotional, personal and spiritual issues which many of us manage to push to the back burner in our business. The book seemed somewhat fragmented and a little detached to me, which perhaps reflects his state of mind during the period described.

One of the most interesting points for me was the author's almost clichéd change of priorities and mindset about what was … Continue reading…

By Graham, ago

Chasing Bohemia by Carmen Michael

In this book, subtitled A year of living recklessly in Rio de Janeiro, Carmen recounts her adventures seeking a bohemian existence during her first year in Brazil. I was first attracted to it for two reasons: my own somewhat less adventurous attempts to embrace a bohemian lifestyle of my own, and the fact that it was about Brazil; which I found interesting given that I play in a samba band in my home town of Sydney.

Carmen's accounts of her intrepid adventures in the favelas (slums) of Rio make for interesting reading, and her immersion in the samba culture of the lower classes seemed pretty much complete. At one point she when she ran out of money, she resorted to running tours of the favelas for overly-game tourists, who probably had no idea what they were in for. I'm not sure whether the book has made me more or … Continue reading…

By Graham, ago

The Secret and The Law of Attraction

Rhonda Byrne's book The Secret is a follow-up to the phenomenally successful movie of the same name, both of which describe The Law of Attraction and how to make it work for you in your life. I am a strong believer in the Law of Attraction, even though I don't go along with much of the new-age mumbo-jumbo in the book and movie.

Attraction is a function of the way our brains work. The universe doesn't just magically provide whatever we focus on, nor do our thoughts broadcast or receive information, nor can we just sit back and wait for whatever thoughts we have to manifest themselves in our reality. Yet I still believe The Law of Attraction works when it comes to improving our experience of life; so let me explain why.

There's really nothing supernatural or extraordinary about what's going on behind The Secret; it all comes down … Continue reading…

By Graham, ago

Emotional Intelligence by Daniel Goleman

Do you ever get the feeling that you're the only one on the planet with feelings? Does it sometimes seem as though your life is at the mercy of your moods? Does everyone around you seem to be cruising along just fine with their emotional barrier up, making it difficult for you to connect with them, and leaving you feeling like there's something wrong with you? Do you feel out of place because you're a man, and men aren't supposed to have feelings; or do you feel that because you're a woman with feelings, you're playing second fiddle to the cold, hard men that rule the planet?

I can relate to these feelings sometimes, and with this in mind I recently tackled Daniel Goleman's book, Emotional Intelligence. It seemed to me that the message I'd received from my family, my all-boys high school and my society at large while … Continue reading…

By Graham, ago

Not Everyone is Going To Like You

Ever since I was a kid, I've felt a burning desire to have other people like me; to be accepted. It's not unusual to want to fit in with other people, and perhaps you can relate. Often when I didn't feel accepted by other people, I thought the problem lay with me. But a recent interaction with a rather extreme neighbour was an opportunity in disguise to learn otherwise.

A few years back I moved into a block of flats in a neighbourhood not far from where I'd previously been living for several years. I knew the area well, but the immediate neighbours were all new. It wasn't long before I met a neighbour who I'll call Edward, who lived upstairs in the same building quite close to me. At first he was friendly and appeared very charming. A little too charming perhaps, to the point of being a bit … Continue reading…

By Graham, ago