Sunny Side Up by Susan Calman

Let me start by saying that I think that this book should be required reading for everyone! It’s fabulous.

Sunny Side Up by Susan CalmanIt’s not an autobiography as I half expected, instead it’s a book about the virtues of kindness and why it’s so important. There are examples of different acts of kindness that have touched people and stayed with them, and Calman’s own story about how kindness has made her life better and more joyful. 

I loved reading this book, in a time when every country seems to be fractured due to views on Brexit, Scottish Independence, Trump, gun reform, racism, homophobia etc etc, this book was a joy to read. The chapter about Brexit was fantastic and I found myself nodding my head and agreeing with everything Calman said. 

Right now everyone seems so angry all of the time and at each other, and yes there is a lot to be angry about, but if we could try to do something kind for someone everyday then I truly believe that the world would gradually get better. If we listened to each other and tried to understand why people held the views they did rather then judging them, cutting them off and staying in our echo chamber, then maybe we might actually get somewhere. 

This book is really well written, you feel like you’re just sat having a chat with a friend, it doesn’t jump about or do anything to interrupt your concentration – it just flows. Read the book! My review just cannot do it justice. Read the book, open your mind and heart and be kind. 

P.S. I’m pretty sure Susan Calman and I would be great friends if we met – so far I haven’t found a single thing that we disagree about!

First Man In by Anthony Middleton

I got introduced to Ant (as he is known) on the most reason series of SAS: Who Dares Wins. When I saw that he had a book coming out I was quite interested to read it and learn about his time in the military so I made sure to reserve it at my local library.

The front of the book states “Sniper. Soldier. Survivor” I was intrigued about what I was going read. Is he going to talk about his work as a sniper, what it was like to be a soldier or how he survived fighting in the military? I was slightly disappointed by what I found. Yes the book is an autobiography, yes Middleton talks about what it’s like to take a life (right at the beginning in fact), but the stories are all based around examples of leadership. There doesn’t appear to be any depth to the stories – I think I may have been spoilt by what I’ve read of Bravo Two Zero. 

Don’t get me wrong, the book is very good – it reads like Middleton is talking to you and giving advice, it’s about the qualities of a good leader and how to be one. But rather than be a ‘full’ autobiography, it’s just a handful of examples from Middleton’s life where he has shown good leadership skills, in fact each chapter ends with bullet points summarising the lessons in the chapter. This is less an autobiography and more a self help book for someone trying to learn how to lead – and even then some of the advice is… well, different to that given in other books (stand looking in a mirror and list every negative attribute you have, really tear yourself down etc…).

Middleton is honest and upfront about the mistakes that he has made in life, and shows that it is possible to turn your life around. I was quite surprised by a lot of what he’s gone through and he didn’t shy away from sharing incidents that paint him in a less than positive light. 

However I feel short changed. I don’t think this book should be advertised as an autobiography, it doesn’t feel like there is enough there. It is definitely a book for the self help section. It was easy to read and I read it quickly but it’s not a book that I feel compelled to buy so that I have my own copy, nor one I want to read again. 

Police, Crime & 999 by John Donoghue

John Donoghue has had a variety of jobs in the past including sailor and soldier, and is currently working as a policeman (and obviously an author). (I will admit that I have found myself wondering if he is starting up his own ‘Village People’ tribute band, is construction worker his next job of choice?)

PoliceCrime999Police, Crime & 999 is Donoghue’s second book (the first being Shakespeare My Butt), but his first about being a police officer. It runs through a number of incidents and events that occurred during his first year at ‘Sandford’. There are an increasing number of nonfiction books out there that are based on the jobs people have where they have to deal with the public, from people who have worked in the police, to paramedics, and GPs. With the other books out there, why decide to read this one? The simple answer? Because it’s brilliant.

I feel that I should at this point advise, strongly, that you not read this book in public (most definitely not in a library), or anywhere you would rather not draw attention to yourself or you need to be quiet. It is extremely likely that you will laugh, chuckle, and groan loudly – a lot. I know I did.

Donoghue has a great way of writing, he has a very conversational style with regular tangents that are actually quite informative and educational. Whilst reading this book you feel like you’re sat having coffee with a friend as they fill you in on the happenings of the week – and there has been a lot happening!

Right from the introduction, as Donoghue recounts the story he was told that made him realise joining the police was the best way to escape a boring job, you start to realise how bizarre situations and people really can be.

From the neighbourhood dog mess inspector, to Donoghue’s very different approach to attempting to talk someone off a ledge, and then the strangest 999 calls, this book gives you an insight into what it’s like to work for the police, deal with the public, and put up with the office politics.

‘Sandford’ could really be any town – I recognised a number of the ‘characters’ Donoghue wrote about, from places I have lived – both past and present. You could despair about society when reading this, but I think that the fact that there are people like Donoghue dealing with it should give you some hope… maybe… Just don’t let him near a snowman. And you should probably ask him to take off his shoes before inviting him into your home and offering him a cup of tea.

To sum up, if you want to read a book that makes you laugh (and appreciate your job a lot more) you can’t go wrong with Police, Crime & 999. This is one person who is grateful to have been gifted a paperback book last Christmas, and it’s not even because I have a wobbly table!