Presto!: How I Made Over 100 Pounds Disappear and Other Magical Tales, by Penn Gillette (Simon & Schuster, 2016)

A stage magician’s account of his weight loss, and the unorthodox methods used to achieve this. A forceful, loquacious, funny and quite possibly at times too-salty-for-some diet memoir. Interesting and a fun read into the bargain, even if the approach used might not translate. As the author notes, though, this is a case study, not a recipe to follow.

My own books are here, if that’s your thing. Newest is noir thriller East of England.

Downsizing, by Tom Watson & Jo Lake (Kyle Books, 2020)

The former Labour politician’s account of his eight-stone weight loss, and the reversal of Type 2 diabetes. A scrappy book: equal parts name-droptastic autobiography, diet book (keto, basically), and Big Sugar polemic. While the core messages are sound, the scattershot approach – which reads as padding –  might be frustrating for some looking for focus.

My own books are here, if that’s your thing. Newest is noir thriller East of England

Altitude, by Olivier Bouquet & Jean-Marc Rochette [trans. Edward Gauvin] (SelfMadeHero, 2020)

A talented young artist develops an obsession with mountaineering. An excellent autobiographical graphic novel about climbing, growing up, finding yourself, and losing yourself above the snow line. Beautifully sketched and told. Recommended, like the many routes to different mountain summits recounted in this volume.

My own books are here, if that’s your thing. Newest is noir thriller East of England.

Vacationland, by John Hodgman (Viking/Penguin Random House, 2017)

Ruminations on, among other things, owning two holiday homes. Similar in its approach to that of its follow-up Medallion Status, Hodgman discusses the advantages and the minor pitfalls of almost being a celebrity, rural v city life, and the odd responsibilities of homeownership. Deft, pleasant, amusing, melancholic as ever.

My own books are here, if that’s your thing. Newest is noir thriller East of England

Medallion Status, by John Hodgman (Viking/Penguin Random House, 2019)

Reflections on perceived dwindling fame and airline loyalty schemes. We don’t really have humourists in the UK; maybe we should. Anyway, this is a funny, melancholy and perceptive look at Hollywood and other places thanks to Hodgman’s temporary access to the outer parts of the inner sanctum.

My own books are here, if that’s your thing. Newest is noir thriller East of England

 

Middlefield, by Ian Waites (Uniform Books, 2017)

A personal geography of a Lincolnshire housing estate. Photographs and text blend to offer a discussion of the uses made and lived experiences of post-war estate dwelling. Experiential rather than nostalgic, the book celebrates modernist planning, the egalitarianism of what might be seen as bland conformity, and the ways in which use reinscribes space. Lots to think about.

My own books here, if that’s your thing. Newest is noir thriller East of England.

‘Broadsword Calling Danny Boy’: on Where Eagles Dare, by Geoff Dyer (Penguin, 2018)

The author comments on a favourite and formative film (and reading) experience. Like a transcribed audio commentary, or a fledgeling BFI Classics monograph that didn’t make it. An odd little book, but one that’s at least well-written and engages with the flick interestingly, even if it takes unprofitably to snark on occasion.

My own books here, if that’s your thing. Newest is noir thriller East of England.