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Philosophy For Life, And Other Dangerous Situations by Jules Evans

If you could imagine a perfect school where twelve of the greatest philosophic minds of the ancient world came together to teach then you can imagine the dream school that forms the premise of Jules Evans’ hit e-book, in which he explains how philosophy saved his life.  As someone with no real knowledge of philosophy, I approached this book with trepidation: but I’m pleased to report that it was immensely readable, whilst being very knowledgeable at the same time. It was accessible, clever, and proved that learning something new isn’t just for the classroom and can be a fun and pleasurable experience too.

What to Expect                                                                                  

If you’re looking for standard philosophy textbooks (perhaps the kind that you could cite as part of your college or university coursework) then this probably isn’t the book for you. But if you’re looking for a fascinating and engaging book about one man’s personal experiences with ancient philosophy, and how it can be applied and still be useful in the modern world then this certainly is the right book! The author, Jules Evans, is  one of the co-organisers of the London Philosophy Club, a club which has the distinction of being the  largest philosophy club in the UK. He gives regular talks and lectures on philosophy both around the country and around the world, and this passion for his subject really does shine through the book. It really is a fascinating piece, which includes interviews with a huge variety of different people (such as soldiers, gangsters, astronauts and hermits) in a bid to find out what philosophy means to them. The lessons you learn for the book can be applied to your everyday life no matter what you do for a living (including hermit or gangster!) and the teachings you are given by Evans will stay with you long after you have finished reading the book.

Philosophy For Beginners

If, like me, you’re new to the world of philosophy and you aren’t entirely sure you know the difference between Socrates and Plato, then this book provides the perfect introduction to the world of ancient thought. It isn’t dry or academic though, rather it explains the concepts of these great philosophers in layman’s terms, and applies their theories into the practice of everyday life. It’s more than simply a book about philosophy for beginners though: in fact, there are several other books that could do that job more thoroughly. Instead, this book gives a fairly broad overview of all of the different schools of philosophy and blends them with snippets of social commentary that makes those schools seem so relevant and accessible. What sets this book apart though is that it combines these lessons with one man’s seeringly honest account of how he came to be so fascinated with ancient philosophy, and how he believes it saved his life as it was his interest in philosophy that drew him back into the world when he was suffering from a severe bout of depression.

Reading this book made me think about my life and my own life philosophies, and what I could do to make myself feel happier and more at peace with the world. I have heard this book referred to as a self-help book for that reason, but it doesn’t actually offer advice in a traditional self-help way: rather, it helps you think about your own life and decide how you’d like to help yourself. If you’d like to know more about the world of philosophy, or would simply like to read an autobiographical account of how one man feels that philosophy is so important, then this book comes highly recommended. I found it fascinating, and find myself regularly quoting from it during everyday conversation. It’s easy to digest and comes with plenty of easy-to-remember sound bites that you’ll refer back to again and again: Why not give it a go?

Book Review. Thin Wire: A mother’s journey through her daughter’s heroin addiction [Kindle Edition] by Christine Lewry

Thin Wire: A mother’s journey through her daughter’s heroin addiction [Kindle Edition] by Christine Lewry

[Available in Amazon Kindle Edition for £1.53)

There are some e-books that you pick up and then can’t put down until you’ve devoured every single word. Thin Wire is one of those books. It’s the heartbreaking tale of Amber, who becomes addicted to heroin at an early age, and the devastating effect this has on Amber and her family. It will leave you on the edge of your seat, desperate to turn each page, and wishing your commute to work lasted just a few minutes longer.

The unique thing about this book, as opposed to others in this massively popular genre of addiction biography, is that it is written from both the perspective of Amber, and from the perspective of her mother Christine. To have a daughter who turns to hard drugs like Amber is every parent’s worst nightmare, and it is the passages written by Christine that break your heart and bring the wider devastation of drug addiction to life. The book chronicles Amber’s descent into full-blown addiction, and also looks at her subsequent attempts to leave drugs behind. This book will strike a chord with every parent who has teenagers at home, and the guide to dealing with addiction (both from an addicts and a parents point of view) at the end of the book is informative and infinitely useful should you ever have the misfortune to find yourself in a similar situation, from either perspective.

The Plot

It isn’t often you get to explore the devastation a situation like drug addiction can have on a family from two separate perspectives: one the addict and the other someone who loves the addict unconditionally but doesn’t know the best way to deal with the situation. Amber leaves her mother’s home and (unbeknownst to her mother) moves in with a drug addict. Their flat is raided by the police and it is then that Amber’s mother is made aware of her daughters problems: Amber is bailed to her mum’s house but still has a £200 a day heroin addiction that she just can’t control. She is then charged by the police on two serious counts: for dealing Class A drugs and also for handling stolen goods. Will Amber go to prison? Will she succumb to temptation when she is offered the money she needs for her drug addiction in exchange for her body? How does her mother cope, and what does she decide to do to help her daughter? Does Amber ever become clean from drugs? To reveal too much would ruin the page-turning aspect of the book, but the novel answers all of these questions and more than will have you on the edge of your seat every single step of the way.

This book isn’t just a straight biographical story about addiction. Initially it is written like a novel, and Christine Lewry is a very talented author. Thin Wire is her first novel, and one almost hopes more tragedy befalls her so that she can write another novel to liven up the daily commute. The writing is both engaging and honest, and whilst the subject matter can be difficult to come to terms with (and sometimes you want to give Amber a good shake so she realises how stupid and selfish she is being) you entirely empathise with Christine and all of the difficult decisions she had to make. People often talk about how difficult the path to recovery can be for drug addicts, particularly those addicted to high profile drugs such as heroin. But less is written about how this affects the loved ones, particularly the parents, of those addicts. Reading this novel enables you to see the plight of those parents with fresh eyes. And as you finish the book you only hope that it is a tragic tale you never have to experience first-hand.