The Thirty-Nine Steps by John Buchan

The Thirty-Nine Steps by John Buchan

My first introduction to The Thirty-Nine Steps was through the 1935 Hitchcock thriller, The 39 Steps, starring Robert Donat and Madeleine Carroll. It’s one of my Dad’s favourite films and I remember the excitement of Richard Hannay escaping north from London, evading capture at the Forth Bridge and trekking across the Scottish landscape to meet the man with the missing fingertip. The book never interested me until I found the paperback when staying at my Grandparents’ house. I read the…

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My Beliefs (2017)

My Beliefs (2017)

A while ago, I found a post on Github by a favourite writer of mine, Buster Benson. He sets out, in public, his personal beliefs. It made perfect sense for me to adapt his process to my life. Each year I reflect on and review my beliefs, below is my 2017 update. You can see the list develop over time at lukemcgrath.co.uk/beliefs. The Purpose of Life The purpose of life is to find enlightenment. This is not religious, but personal If…

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Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland by Lewis Carroll

Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland by Lewis Carroll

It seems strange that I have never read Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland before, in fact I had always thought the title to be Alice in Wonderland as most films based on the novel are. The short book feels like a childhood memory, yet to my knowledge I have never read it before, or had it read to me. Like many, it’s the 1951 Disney film that means the most to me in the canon of Alice adaptations. Reading the original…

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My Writing Habit Review

My Writing Habit Review

At the start of the month, I wrote out a habit plan inspired by one of my favourite books, Zen Habits: Mastering the Art of Change. The goal was to develop a daily writing habit of 750 – 800 words. My Plan To make the habit simple to begin with, I reduced the core habit to: write for 10 minutes a day. I then picked a time and a trigger: 6:50am – 7:00am, as soon as I wake up. I…

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My 23andme Experience

My 23andme Experience

Towards the end of last year, I bought a DNA testing kit from 23andme. I was interested in finding out more about where I come from, what genetic traits I have and if I could find any long-lost relatives. I kept a log of the process for my amusement and wanted to share the experience here. The 23andme Kit The DNA testing kit comes in a neat little box and is easy to use. All you do is open the…

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The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald

The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald

Alongside The Big Sleep and Wuthering Heights, I was introduced to The Great Gatsby in high school. I wrote an essay about the themes of illusion and reality in both Gatsby and a novel called The Last Resort, which I thoroughly detested. Part of that may have been the incredibly disparity in my instant affection for the former and tedious acceptance of the latter. Since the first few pages, The Great Gatsby has captivated me like no other novel. It’s…

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100 Things 2017

100 Things 2017

A good while ago I found an article that contained a potentially life-changing idea. Then I forgot about it. I guess potential and life-changing need separating out a little. Despite this, the idea was kicking around in the depths of my mind for a while and this week I set out to give it a try, Spurred on by the success of my Seven Minutes Exercise experiment, I finally sat down with real motivation to follow Laura Vanderkam’s advice of…

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The Hound of the Baskervilles by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle

The Hound of the Baskervilles by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle

More years ago than I like to think about, my dad bought me a complete Sherlock Holmes collection from a bookshop in Newark marketplace. I’ve still got the same book today and return to it every few years, unable to do anything but read each mystery in order. The cover has come off and the font is tiny, but it includes illustrations by Sidney Paget and mimics layouts from The Strand. The volume seems so dense that it’s countless passages of…

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My Plans for 2017

My Plans for 2017

At the start of a new year, I always find it interesting to look ahead at the upcoming 12 months and write down my plans for them. Of course, many such plans can change and fail, but I find writing them down and sharing them helps solidify the ideas and gives them a fighting chance of success. To help me work out what I want from 2017 and what’s most important to me, I wrote down a number of ideas…

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Seven Minute Workout Review

Seven Minute Workout Review

At the start of September I decided to try a seven minute workout once a day and tracked my progress over the month. Here’s my honest review of the routine and the apps I used to develop the exercise habit. What is the Seven Minute Workout? The Seven Minute Workout was popularised by a 2013 article in the New York Times written by Gretchen Reynolds. The article drew on a study published in the American College of Sports Medicine’s Health &…

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