Newest Lifestyle Reviews

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Dress (with) sense: The Practical Guide to a Conscious Closet by Redress

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Not too long ago I didn't have any problems with clothes. They were just about all black and I wore them until they dropped off my back - and then I used what I could of the material for other purposes. I had this lovely little clothes shop in Ilkley (it says 'Oxfam' over the door) when I needed to restock. Clothes were simple. Then I encountered the lovely Numba Pinkerton and suddenly I had colour in my life: not all of it could be had from Oxfam. Sometimes I might even be buying new clothes. I needed help and more advice, because it really isn't as simple as just walking into the nearest department store. Full review...

The Telomere Effect: A Revolutionary Approach to Living Younger, Healthier, Longer by Dr Elizabeth Blackburn and Dr Elissa Epel

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I have lived my life determined not to age: I see nothing aspirational in the dependence of old age, whether it be on other people, government in all its forms or the NHS. I'm prepared to put effort into this: it's not the cosmetic image of youth I seek, but rather the ability to do as I do now - running a business, regularly walking for miles in our glorious countryside and enjoying life - for as long as possible. So far it's working out, but what else could I do and why does this work for some people and not for others? Full review...

Living With Depression by Nick Weatherhogg

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Nick Weatherhogg has been diagnosed as suffering from severe depression. Many of you will be nodding wisely and thinking that you know how he feels: but there are two points he wants to make here. You don't know how he feels. This is his depression and only he knows what it feels like - if he's able to think or express how he's feeling. The other point is that there's a big difference between feeling depressed and being depressed - fepression and bepression as he terms them. He's right: I've been there. My feelings, my experience will have been different, but I do know that it was hellish. He describes the experience as a mental state in which your brain regularly and consistently lies to you. Full review...

Web to Success by Jo Bird

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Jo Bird (illustrator, designer and… errr.. .wall tattooist) had a lightbulb moment about positive thinking, self-improvement and success. The road to an improved self isn't linear in a 'change this thing and all will be fine' way; it's a web that connects and intersects several paths and subjects that can be summarised under three headings. All successful people (socially as much as professionally) know about self-awareness, personal development and emotional awareness. After having a shot at principles of self-improvement herself, Jo shares the fruit of her experience across a wealth of fields to make one heck of a self-help book. Full review...

Vietnamese Voices by Mary Ellen Guiney

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Mary Ellen Guiney has been diagnosed at various times with schizophrenia and bi-polar disorder. The resulting treatment of choice is the conventional western medicine approach and drug regimens that brought with them unpleasant side-effects. Determined to find a better way of symptom control, using her biochemical background, Mary Ellen begins to investigate alternative eastern medicine and therapies in addition to looking at the effect of nutrition and exercise. The results are here: this is Mary Ellen's story written in her own words. Full review...

My Brain Is Out Of Control by Patrick Mbaya

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Dr Patrick Mbaya was enjoying life as a consultant psychiatrist, husband and father. His career was going well and he enjoyed making ill people better. His marriage was solid and fulfilling and his two children were exploring their potential, often through the uplifting power of music. Life was good. But then... Full review...

Lean Gains by Jonathan S Lee

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I don't often begin a book by telling you what it isn't but in this case I think it's important. If you're a fairly sedentary person or a casual sportsman or woman looking to shed a few pounds then you won't get the best out of this book. You'll find some good advice about diet, but I'm afraid that much of it is going to go over your head. Of course you could always take up a sport seriously... On the other hand, if you are a serious sportsman then you could find that the advice in Lean Gains could lift you up to the next level of performance. Full review...

Hollywood Beauty: Vintage Secrets by Laura Slater

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I have vivid memories from my youth of seeing the Hollywood beauties on the television or at the cinema and wishing that I could look like that and - of course, no matter how I tried, I never could. The look of Marilyn Monroe, Rita Hayworth, Audrey Hepburn, Brigitte Bardot, Ava Gardner and Sofia Loren always eluded me. To begin with, I lacked knowledge. Despite being reasonably petite my oblong face was never going to look anything like Audrey Hepburn's. I lacked quite a few of Brigitte Bardot's attributes too. Gradually, I realised that developing my own style was the best way to go, but I'll confess that there are still elements of the stars' looks which I'd love to copy. That's where Vintage Secrets: Hollywood Beauty comes in. Full review...

A Food Guide to Lowering Blood Pressure: 6 Simple Steps by Yuchi Yang

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Yuchi Yang has been a registered dietitian for over twenty years and she's allowing us the benefit of her knowledge to help us to reduce our blood pressure without taking medication, although she does stress that if you are taking medication you shouldn't stop doing so without consulting your doctor. You can reduce your BP in six steps, which are actually a lot simpler than they sound. Does it work? Yes, it does: I've been eating this way for more than two years and I've gone from having 'very worrying' blood pressure readings to getting a smile when they're taken and being told that my BP is perfectly normal - and that's without taking medication of any sort. Full review...

The Mock Olympian by Michael Long

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It started with an idle conversation just before the 2012 London Olympics: Michael Long's friend Sarah gave him a book as part of his birthday present. It was Time Out's guide to the history of the Olympics and it covered each of the summer Olympics in chronological order from the inaugural games in Athens in 1896. Sarah's boyfriend James commented that with all the running Michael did, he'd probably have run in most of the Olympic cities. Although Long had done a goodly number of runs, bike rides and triathlons he'd only competed in two of the twenty three cities - London and Athens. Now most of us would have left it at that, but that's not the Michael Long you're going to come to know and love. He saw it as a challenge and what's more he blogged about it and then wrote this book. Full review...

The No Black Project by Numba Pinkerton

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I don't like shopping for clothes, but there's no valid reason why. I'm small, but reasonably slim - a size 10 petite usually fits me perfectly - and I'm lucky to be able to afford to buy whatever clothes I want. The trouble is that I lack the confidence to know what is going to suit me and to be honest it's very difficult to get excited about a trip which will almost certainly end up with another pair of smart black trousers and a matching top. I never feel that I look particularly good in black, but I've resorted to it because it can usually take me anywhere and is unlikely to cause offence. So, how did I feel when I was given a copy of The No Black Project? Well, to be honest, I felt a little scared... Full review...

101 Things To Do When You're Not Drinking by Robert Short

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If you're thinking about giving up alcohol long term, short term or for Dry January then you might be wondering if it's going to leave one helluva hole in your social life. You might be thinking about what you'll do with the time you normally spend out socialising (just having a quick one before you get the train home...) as well as the time you spend recovering from having had just one too many the night before. Sunday mornings will loom large as uncharted and largely unknown territory. Robert Short has a few answers for you - well 101 of them in fact - in a pocket-size book which should give you some inspiration. Full review...

Keep Your Brain Stronger for Longer by Tonia Vojtkofsky

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On the front of the book it says that our brains need a well-rounded workout just like our bodies. A decade or two ago I wouldn't have given very much thought to this - my body and my brain seemed to get all the workout they needed without me adding to their burdens, but close on the beginning of my eighth decade I've noticed something. I keep losing words: nothing major, you know, but this morning I couldn't remember the name of a flower which I hadn't seen since this time last year - until about half an hour later, when, of course it was no longer relevant. When you're young you don't worry about what you'll suffer from in old age. As you get older you develop dreads and one of the biggest for people who are still hale and hearty is that they'll develop dementia. Full review...

Beloved Old Age and What to Do About it: Margery Allingham's the Relay by Margery Allingham and Julia Jones

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We remember Margery Allingham as a novelist from the golden age of crime, perhaps not as famous as Agatha Christie or Dorothy L Sayers but certainly well regarded by those who appreciate good writing and excellent plotting. Her last completed book was not a novel but The Relay, a combined account of caring for three elderly relatives, (Em, Maud and Grace) between 1959 and 1961 and suggestions as to how other people might achieve a good old age for their relatives. Margery died in 1966 and The Relay was never published in the form in which it was written. Full review...

Cigarette Lighter (Object Lessons) by Jack Pendarvis

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I have a favourite cigarette lighter. That sentence may become more strange to you when you consider the fact that I have never smoked. I don't know how but I got it as a freebie donkey's years ago, and I loved its curvy bronzed lines, and the fact that I had to click down on a button instead of rub against a flint-wheel to light it. I optimistically took it with me at uni in case I found a girl good enough to be with even though she smoked (which took almost another twenty years, but that's a different story) – therefore I was carrying something so evidently not a match as a potential match-maker. Later, its semi-art deco styling made it perfect for a play I was in once, after which it dried up. Now it's more or less a paperweight. But if I can imbue such personal relevance in a bleeding fag lighter, just think what all of culture can do? Full review...

Bookshelf (Object Lessons) by Lydia Pyne

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Could you imagine a whole book dedicated to a single lump of wood, or a few sections of metal? I can't assume it would be great – with or without said item being an object with physical, historical and psychological components. But shove some distorted tree by-products on to said wood or metal, and lo and behold you have a bookshelf. Now you're talking – but could you even now imagine a whole book dedicated to it? Full review...

Peace of Mind: A Book of Calm for Busy Mums by Georgina Rodgers

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The promise of a book bringing me calm was too much to resist! There it is, in the title, my job description (busy mum...well, that's just one of my jobs!) and that elusive state that many mums seem to be trying to find, peace of mind. I have to say, I was looking forward to some insightful revelations into changing my life. I think the problem, however, was quickly apparent in that like a busy mum, who is trying to wear a hundred masks at the same time, and carry out a multitude of roles, this book isn't entirely sure what it's trying to be, with everything from poetry and colouring to mindfulness and recipes. Full review...

The Essential Guide to Your Prep School Journey (Head Teacher in Your Pocket) by Merinda D'Aprano

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As you might have gathered from the title, The Essential Guide to Your Prep School Journey is pitched at parents who intend on using the private sector to educate their children. And clearly, these are the parents who will benefit most from reading the book. However, there is a great deal of general advice within its pages which will prove helpful even to parents whose children will be travelling through the state sector. So if this is you, don't discount this book immediately. Such advice includes Why is reading so important?, How can I promote a brave learner? and Is the internet safe for my child? - you can see that these are universally applicable topics and topics that all parents appreciate advice about. Full review...

Winnie-the-Pooh's Little Book Of Wisdom by A A Milne and E H Shepard

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For a Bear of Very Little Brain Winnie-the-Pooh talks an awful lot of sense and we should be honoured that he's chosen to share with us a few of his wise words. You see, occasionally (well, an awful lot of the time, if we're honest) we look for wisdom in the wrong places and forget about those who have a very simple approach to life and who may well have discovered the secret of happiness. Pooh's take on life is very simple and none the worse for that. Full review...

One Second Ahead: Enhance Your Performance at Work with Mindfulness by Rasmus Hougaard, Jacqueline Carter and Gillian Coutts

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Have you ever worked at a task and found your mind wandering to something else? Do you find yourself breaking off what you're doing to answer an email? Do you try to multitask, thinking that you're being more efficient? Do you have far too much to attend to, to complete and nowhere near enough time to do it all?

You do? Me too. You need this book. Full review...

How to Sound Cultured by Thomas W Hodgkinson and Hubert van den Bergh

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Sometimes it can be hard to run with the big dogs, and while I know the names to drop in my field of work, some wider cultural references can pass me by. This is especially true for those from before my time and so I was delighted to find icons from all decades and centuries featured in this book. Badged as the 250 names that intellectuals love to drop into conversation this book features quotes and biographical titbits covering big names from every sector – science, the arts, philosophy. Full review...

Busy: How to Thrive in a World of Too Much by Tony Crabbe

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Serendipity often brings you to the important books. Recently I heard myself say to a friend: I'm far too busy to do some of the important stuff. It pulled me up short: there was definitely something wrong here - and then I had the opportunity to listen to an audio download of Busy and I knew that it was something I had to do and take notice of if I was to stop going backwards. Because that was what I was doing. Full review...

Walking on Sunshine: 52 Small Steps to Happiness by Rachel Kelly and Jonathan Pugh

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How would you like 52 tips on how to be happier? No this isn't an offer to sign up to a dodgy website - it's a small book which you could pop into a bag and which will give you tips, tools and positive idea about how you can make your life happier, less complicated and more fulfilling. Open it at random, if that's what you feel like doing, or work your way through it reading one tip per week - they're helpfully divided into the four seasons - and savour just a couple of pages of elegant writing which will give you something to think about or something positive to do (or not do - if you see what I mean). Full review...

101 Things to do Instead of Playing on Your Phone by Ilka Heinemann

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There's a great joke I saw online recently. One cartoon person says to the other, What's your favourite position in bed? and the other replies Closest to the plug so I can still use my phone while it's charging. It's funny because it's true. Full review...

Rising Strong by Brene Brown

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This is Brené Brown's fourth book. Like Elizabeth Gilbert, she is well known for her TED talk. As a professor at the University of Houston, she has spent the last 13 years working with people's stories. Such a qualitative approach, based on anecdote and experience, is relatively rare in the social sciences but certainly makes her work more accessible to laymen. Her books fall into the 'self-help' arena, but without any of the negative connotations of that term. Here she makes her research relevant to everyday life by weaving in pop culture references and telling stories from her family and professional life. Full review...

How to Be Happy (or at least less sad): A Creative Workbook by Lee Crutchley

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I gave up hoping for happiness many years ago and settled instead for enjoying contentment when it arrived and trying to make the most of it. 'Happiness' seemed to be rather like 'privileges' - something which you shouldn't expect as of right. Most of the time it works well, but just occasionally an extra boost - a new approach - is needed. Lee Crutchley has suffered from depression and he knows that this book is not going to help when you're clinically depressed, but those of us who have been down that road know that there are certain laybys where you stop and possibly turn around. Full review...

The Sty's the Limit: When Middle Age Gets Mucky by Simon Dawson

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Simon Dawson has met something he cannot beat. He can't come to terms with it either. It's called Getting Older: not the 'getting older' which we all do day by day, but that moment when you realise that you've moved on to an entirely different stage in your life - and no one actually asked you if you wanted to go on the journey. For Simon it's Middle Age that's taken him by surprise: bits of the body have stopped working as they ought to and he's realised that if he's going to look in the mirror, bare-chested, then he shouldn't do it when he's standing next to a fit teenage boy. Full review...

My Depression : A Picture Book by Elizabeth Swados

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If you have ever suffered from depression you'll find it very difficult to explain to other people how you're feeling. You're not feeling just a little bit down. A treat or a dollop of positive thinking will not miraculously cure you. You're definitely not swinging the lead, but suffering from a legitimate illness which deserves to be recognised. Elizabeth Swados is a long-term sufferer from severe depression: she's also a talented storyteller and has told her the story of how depression feels for her - complete with drawings, which fill in those gaps which words can never fill for any sufferer from depression. Full review...

Flirting With French by William Alexander

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I am not a bad linguist. I don’t tend to struggle with languages too much, especially when the goal is communicative fluency rather than precise grammatical accuracy, and I’ve taught English as a foreign language in a handful of countries too, so I have some ideas of what does and doesn’t work with language acquisition in adults. William Alexander is, perhaps, not so lucky. An American with a longing to be a Frenchman, he is devoting himself to learning the lingo and much more, and chronicles his efforts in this book. Full review...