Holiday Reading – June 2014

This month’s holiday reading features two books which couldn’t be more different.

First up is The List Of My Desires by Gregoire Delacourt which has been translated from French and is now an international bestseller.  It follows the story of Jocelyne, a middle aged, married lady who runs a dressmaking shop in a small French town and also runs her own blog all about crafts.  She feels that she lives a pretty ordinary existence and often wonders what happened to the dreams she had when she was younger.

She then wins millions on the lottery and finally has the chance to make her dreams a reality.  But, is that really what she wants?  Instead she writes a list of her desires……..

I loved this book.  From the very beginning you just want Jocelyne to like herself a bit more.  She’s not self-pitying or anything, she just doesn’t seem to realise that she can want more for herself and expect more for herself, especially from her husband, oddly enough also called Jocelyn, or Jo.

The secondary characters are written so well from her friends who own a neighbouring hairdressers and are the reason she bought the lottery ticket in the first place, her dedicated blog fans and her Papa, who suffers from dementia, who she visits and reinvents stories of his life every six minutes as he can’t remember anything.  Even the characters who aren’t alive in the book feel like they are through the descriptions of them and Jocelyne’s memories.

Before reading the book I just assumed it was written by a woman, I don’t know why, maybe it was the front cover which is pretty girly.  So I was surprised at the end to discover the author was a man, and I know this sounds sexist, but it’s because he wrote the female characters so well.

It is definitely worth a read and is a perfect holiday book as it is so life affirming.  And it’s guaranteed that you won’t be able to help yourself wonder what you would do if you won millions too.

Book Covers

The Psychopath Test and The List Of My Desires

The second book, The Psychopath Test by Jon Ronson, is one that I have come to a bit late really.  One of my friends, Mrs G, recommended it to me as she said she couldn’t put it down when she read it.  I don’t often read non-fiction but I found this fascinating, but scarily so.

Basically Jon Ronson, an award winning writer and documentary maker, goes on an adventure into the world of madness.  Not only does he meet real psychopaths but he also meets those who are tasked with identifying psychopaths from the police to medical professionals.  Armed with The Psychopath Test, a checklist devised by  Bob Hare,  intended to determine who could be a psychopath Ronson discovers madness could be at the heart of everything.

The bits I found most interesting were those that covered people who aren’t criminal psychopaths but more the fact that a lot of our leaders and successful business people could show psychopathic tendencies, according to this checklist. I did also determine for myself though, and I’m not sure if it’s something Ronson would want to explore more fully, that toddlers also display an alarming number of characteristics used to identify psychopaths too including ‘grandiose sense of self-worth’, ‘failure to accept responsibility for own actions’, ‘impulsivity’….I could go on but it’s too scary.

It’s definitely worth a read.  If you take it on holiday you can consider your colleagues whilst you are away from them and draw up a list of potential contenders.  Also, worth a follow is Jon Ronson’s Twitter account (@jonronson) as his tweets are pretty interesting and entertaining.

 

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