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.