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Ayoade on Top by Richard Ayoade — book review

Ayoade on Top is a hilariously strange book. Richard Ayoade’s critical analysis of ‘View from the Top’ (a 2003 romcom starring Gwyneth Paltrow) is a delight to read. Throughout the course of this short book Ayoade argues that this long-forgotten film is a modern masterpiece.
I found Ayoade’s dry wit and his clever observations regarding the film’s many ‘subtexts’ and his asides on Paltrow’s career to be ‘on point’. Ayoade’s humour may not be for everyone but I found Ayoade on Top to be a thoroughly diverting book.
You can watch him talk of this book here.
I would definitely recommend this to those who like in-depth takedowns of bad movies. Adroit, satirical, and whimsical, Ayoade on Top is a really entertaining read.

My rating: 3.75 of 5 stars

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Making It Up As I Go Along by Marian Keyes

In this collection of articles and diary entries, Marian Keyes provides readers with plenty of fun. She writes in a way that is always genuinely relatable; her observations, accounts, ramblings, are witty and heartfelt. It isn’t easy to be consistently funny, but I found myself always smiling, giggling and laughing out loud, while reading Making It Up As I Go Along. Her voice is so vivid that by the end I was talking about what happens to her as if I personally knew her.
Keyes talks about the little every day things as well as her travels and experiences. We become her confidants, eager to listen to her funny and charming stories.

My rating: 3 stars

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On Writing: A Memoir Of The Craft by Stephen King

“If you feel you need permission to do all the reading and writing your little hearts desires, however, consider it hereby granted by yours truly.

Cheers for that!

‘Good’ books about writing are not easy to find. Too often, the writer comes across as being rather (which is British for extremely) condescending. Their tips and advice brim with their own superiority. Stephen King instead is just plain honest: he tells you what he believes and shows us why he believes that. If he says writing this way is bad, he shows us why it is bad. And he knows that we, the readers, will understand him. He assumes that we are intelligent or clever enough to understand him. He says things as they are, and I loved him for that.
Moments of his private life and amusing literary-related anecdotes pepper On Writing: A Memoir of the Craft. so that I was always entertained (then again, I would probably find King’s shopping list interesting so…). It has do, funnily enough, with King’s writing, especially the way in which he tells a story. Wherever fiction or not, his words hold my attention. There is a fluidity in his style that makes anything he writes a pleasure to read, and in this case, he also gives ‘aspiring’ (he would probably wouldn’t like the term but…) writers solid and useful advice as to improve their own writing.

My rating: 5 stars

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Why Be Happy When You Could Be Normal? by Jeanette Winterson

“She was a monster but she was my monster.”

Despite addressing ‘heavy’ topics, Why Be Happy When You Could Be Normal? is a fast read.
Earlier this year I read Oranges Are Not the Only Fruit. For the most part I liked it (I gave it 3 stars) but I wasn’t too taken by it. So I was quite surprised by how much I ended up liking Why Be Happy When You Could Be Normal? . Although liking perhaps is not the right word. I didn’t like reading about Winterson’s painful childhood and of her more recent ‘troubles’. However, I did think that her words, and story, heartbreaking. I found her memoir to be incredibly affecting. Her words struck a chord. Why Be Happy When You Could Be Normal? is a poignant and heart-rending memoir that explores love, family, loss, happiness and many other things.

“Love. The difficult words. Where everything starts, where we always return. Love. Love’s lack. The possibility of love.

Winterson’s voice relates here past in a genuine and matter-of-fact way while also being able to make her past behaviours and to make sharp reflections.
Her self-examination is honest. She does not shy away from writing about all of it: the good and the bad, and the downright awful.

“I have always tried to make a home for myself, but I have not felt at home in myself. I have worked hard at being the hero of my own life, but every time I checked the register of displaced persons, I was still on it. I didn’t know how to belong.
Longing? Yes. Belonging? No.

An emotional and contemplative journey that offers many acute observations.

“Pursuing happiness, and I did, and I still do, is not all the same as being happy– which I think is fleeting, dependent on circumstances, and a bit bovine.

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

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