Bonus Book Review: “The Unknown Unknowns: Bookshops and the delight of not getting what you wanted” by Mark Forsyth

The Unknown Unknowns

Bear with me while I continue to clear the books off my end table and reading list…

The Unknown Unknown: Bookshops and the delight of not getting what you wanted A is by Mark Forsyth, the same author of one of my previous reviews Short History of Drunkenness. It was the subtitle of this book that drew me to it after my recent tour of used bookshops in Baltimore. I love going in bookstores…especially used bookstores. But I digress…

I guess I should have paid a little more attention to this books description before buying a paperback copy online, as it appear in my mailbox in a thin brown envelope! The book measures just about 4″ x 5″ and is only 23 pages long. It reminds me of those little word search books you find out the checkout counter at your local grocery store.

Still, it’s an amusing little book that’s probably just as witty in the $1.99 ebook version as it is in the $5.94 + shipping paperback version! Mark Forsyth has proven to me with both the books I’ve read of his that he is capable of tickling my funny bone in his British humor sort of way. If you’re bored and have an extra $1.99 in your account, download a copy.


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Bonus Book Review: “Bella Figura: How to Live, Love and Eat the Italian Way” by Kamin Mohammadi

Bella Figura Kamin Mohammadi

So here I am, behind on my reading again. The past 2 1/2 weeks have turned my world askew. Not only did my son’s girlfriend move in with us while they save to buy a house, my husband got laid off from his job last week. My quiet reading time is now very limited due to the extra people needing my attention. But, I’m determined to get caught up with the ever growing stack of books on my end table and in my e-reader, so let’s get right down to it…

Bella Figura: How to Live, Love, and Eat the Italian Way by Kamin Mohammadi is another ebook I requested from First to Read.  According to Amazon, the book is 6″ x 8.5″ and is 304 pages (it was 290 pages on my iPad). It’s due to be published on May 8, 2018.

Bella figura translates to ‘beautiful figure’ in Italian, but means a whole lot more than that. It’s about taking care of yourself and showing your best ‘you’ to the world at all times. It’s one of the many lessons learned by author Kamin Mohammadi from her cast of real life characters that she meets after she left her high powered job in the publishing industry in London, England, to move into a friend’s apartment for several months in Florence, Italy to write a book.

Bella Figura is very much a chick book. I’ve never read Eat, Pray, Love (or seen the movie), but I can assume that it’s very similar and would appeal to the same crowd. I enjoyed the book and looked forward to reading what Kamin experienced in her year long, month to month adventure in the Tuscany region of Italy. Each month is presented with a new Italian word, lesson, seasonal food and adventure as Kamin learns to live the Italian way. And as someone who spent two weeks in Italy in 2000, I can tell you, it’s nothing like America or the U.K. The lifestyle and people are unique and even I have been known to say that I would love to retire to the countryside of Abruzzo, Itlay. One of the few drawbacks of this book is that Ms. Mohammadi tends not to translate some of the conversations she has with her acquaintances, leaving the reader to guess what was said even when there is very little context to go on. I can only recommend that you’re either familiar with the language or keep your computer open to Google translate when reading this book. I have no doubt that I will be recommending it to my grown daughter who spent a semester in Rome during her college years as I think the lessons contained within it’s pages are for every woman. And for that reason…

I rate this book, 3 out of 4 Beetles!






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Bonus Book Review: “A Short History of Drunkenness” by Mark Forsyth

Last month, I was informed that the Blogging for Books program that sent me free books to review would be coming to an end this month. They recommended another program called First to Read which is basically the same deal, but I can only get the books in ebook versions. I’m really not a fan of ebooks. I’m old fashioned and want to actually turn pages and display my books on my bookshelf. Still, I decided to take the plunge and this is the first book I chose. On another note, I’m probably going to go off topic for the next couple of weeks as I give my brain a little rest from the Beatles so I can dive into more Fab Four adventures later this month with a clear head.

A short history of drunkenness Mark ForsythA Short History of Drunkenness: How, Why, Where, and When Humankind Has Gotten Merry from the Stone Age to the Present by Mark Forsyth is 256 pages long and will be released on May 8, 2018, but is available for pre-order on and other online booksellers. It is exactly what it says it is and it is as witty as it sounds!

A Short History of Drunkenness starts at the very beginning of the invention or discovery of alcohol. Though there is no record of exactly when man found out about the inhibition releasing effects of fermented berries, Forsyth followed the clues and research the best he could to draft the story of early man’s drunken life. The author goes on to tell the history of the early Greeks, Romans, Chinese, Vikings and other cultures beliefs and rituals involving alcohol, and that of their Gods of beer, wine, gin and other libations.

This book follows the chronological history of intoxication from early man to American prohibition. I had hoped when I offered to review it that it would include modern day stories, like that of John Lennon getting drunk in L.A. and walking around with a sanitary napkin adhered to his head in the 1970’s, but unfortunately it did not (I’m sure if Mr. Forsyth had tried to include drunken stories of the rich and famous, the book would have been proven to be way to long!). Still, the lack of our living gods of music didn’t take anything away from this book.

The one drawback to this book is when the author (who’s born, bred and still living in London, England) breaks into a strange tirade in the last pages of the Prohibition chapter at the very end of the book:

All non-Americans agree that America is stupid. For that matter, quite a lot of Americans agree that American is quite peculiarly stupid, like an embarrassing cousin at a family wedding. American stupidity is famous, and of a quite special kind. It’s a unique sort of stupidity that allows them to put a chap on the moon…

There’s more, but I’ll let you read it. It’s a little offensive and I’m not sure why we deserved such a tongue lashing. I mean we (and by that I mean not me!) did elect a stupid teetotaling President who says and does stupid things and is hated by most of the world, but… I guess I can forgive Mr. Forsyth his discretions since the monarchy has never seemed to get over the fact that they no longer own the colonists! And for that reason…

I rate this book, 3 out of 4 Beetles!






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Book Review: “Sticky Fingers: The Life and Times of Jann Wenner and Rolling Stone Magazine” by Joe Hagan

Sticky Fingers Jann Wenner Joe HaganFinally! A book that could hold my attention for entire week. Sticky Fingers: The Life and Times of Jann Wenner and Rolling Stone Magazine by Joe Hagan was published on October 24, 2017 and is 511 pages strong.

As the story goes (and was told to me by the guy who recommended it to me), Jann Wenner asked writer Joe Hagan to write his biography. Wenner opened up to Hagan with over 100 hours of interview time and allowed him access to all his personal archives, diaries and scrapbooks. But after Joe finished writing this very detailed tome, Jann refused to authorize it because Hagan had dug so deep (he interviewed hundreds of friends, family and colleagues about Wenner), the story was a little too intimate for Wenner’s liking.

This isn’t just the story of Jann Wenner, the narcossistic, egomaniac who drank, smoked, snorted and slept his way through the last 3 decades of 20th century. It’s also the story of his wife Jane, photographer Annie Leobovitz, writer Hunter Thompson and so many more people that were vital in the success and creation of Rolling Stone magazine. This book tells of the Wenner’s hidden homosexuality, his wife’s affairs with both men and women and all the casualties of their sometimes reckless lifestyle.

Hagan interviewed the likes of Mick Jagger, Bruce Springsteen, Paul McCartney, Elton John, Keith Richards, Pete Townshend, Yoko Ono, Billy Joel, and many more who survived a love/hate relationship with Jann Wenner, but knew the importance and success that came with not only getting interviewed for Rolling Stone, but gracing it’s cover. If you want to know why it took for more years for Paul McCartney to get into the Rock n’ Roll Hall of Fame after he gave the speech at John Lennon’s induction, and why Stella wore a t-shirt that said, “About Fucking Time!” to the ceremony, you’ll find out the story in this book.

This is a book that true rock n’ roll fans are not going to want to miss reading. Not only does it verify all the stories of sex, drugs and rock n’ roll of the ’70’s, it tells of the glamour, glitz and excess of the ’80’s, and the inside and personal story of Jann Wenner’s relationship with John Lennon and Yoko Ono from not only Wenner’s perspective, but that of Yoko Ono’s too (May Pang gets only a few mentions). And for that reason…

I rate this book, 4 out of 4 Beetles!






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Bonus Book Review: “21 Ways to a Happier Depression” by Seth Swirsky

21 Ways to a Happier Depression: A Creative Guide to Getting Unstuck from Anxiety, Setbacks, and Stress seth swirsky21 Ways to a Happier Depression: A Creative Guide to Getting Unstuck from Anxiety, Setbacks, and Stress written by Seth Swirsky was released on April 4, 2017 and is just 112 pages from start to finish. If you’re wondering where my current obsession with Seth Swirsky came from, I’m going to have to lay the blame on Paul McCartney’s stepmum Angie McCartney! Angie interview Seth on her Tea Fix Tuesday show last week and now I can’t seem to get enough Seth in my life (but fear not, my Hollywood crushes only last about 2 weeks!) You can watch Angie’s interview with Seth below.

As I said above, this book is only 112 pages and most of those are filled with watercolor pictures and quotes. But don’t let that deter you from getting a copy of this book for either yourself or someone you know who suffers from depression or has tendencies to just get in a funk now and then. Seth has tackled his own occasional depression and his clients (he holds a masters degree in Clinical Psychology from Antioch University) with the 21 very simple suggestions that he used to write this book.

This book is an easy read…almost too easy in its writing. There were times when I felt like it could be written for a child if the topic weren’t so adult in nature (though, I believe parents could use some of the techniques to help a depressed child). Another slight flaw is that several of the suggestions involve going out and spending money to help bring you up when you’re down…and for a lot of people, that’s just not feasible, which (I believe) might make a depressed person sink even lower. To Seth’s credit, none of his spending suggestions are outrageously expensive, but I have to wonder about a single mother on government support with little to no spare income? None the less, I will be keeping my copy of 21 Ways on my nightstand where I’ll be able to pick it up when I need a little pick me up from the daily grind. And for that reason…

I rate this book, 3 out of 4 Beetles!






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Documentary Review: Beatles Stories

Beatles StoriesBeatles Stories is an 85 minute documentary film by Seth Swirsky released in October 2012. You may remember me mentioning Seth Swirsky in an earlier review of his band The Red Button‘s new CD back in October. Well, it seems this guy is multi-talented! A singer/songwriter, producer and psychologist all wrapped up in one amazing package. In fact, he wrote Taylor Dayne’s 1988 Grammy nominated hit song, “Tell It to My Heart”

Well, enough about Seth…let’s move on to the review…

An adorable look back at the amazing and interesting ways that so many people interacted with the Beatles over the course of time. But don’t expect any deep discussions or elaborate stories. With this film being just 85 minutes long and with over 40 interviews, Swirsky keeps each clip down to about 2 minutes or less. Personally, that’s what I liked best about this documentary…how in just a brief moment each celebrity (I think I recognized all but 3 interviewees) can emote the joy and elation of their encounter with a Beatle or the Fab Four. I think one of my favorite stories was Henry “The Fonz” Winkler at the height of his career walking down Lexington Avenue in New York City and walking towards him was Paul McCartney. Paul immediately recognized Henry and said that he had always wanted to meet him, much to Henry’s surprise.

This is without a doubt a film that any Beatles freak would find entertaining. In fact, most of you probably already have seen it since I’m so late to the boat in seeing it myself. If your a member of Amazon Prime, you can watch it for free. In the meantime, I’ve heard that Seth is in the process of making a Beatles Stories 2 and is asking people to tell him their stories for possible inclusion in the next edition. If you have a story, you can contact Seth through a form on his website:

And for all the above reasons…

I rate this film, 4 out of 4 Beetles!


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