Pig Wrestling by Pete Lindsay & Mark Bawden

Pig Wrestling by Pete Lindsay & Mark Bawden

Alongside reading plenty of fiction, I’m a bit of nerd when it comes to self-help or self-improvement books. If they’re short, snappy and s-motivational I’ll give them a go. A lot of the time, they become a short-lived test until I revert to my old behaviours, but from time to time something or other sticks. I read Pig Wrestling a few weeks ago and have so far used the methods several times at work to simplify my processes and get results faster. …

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Paint a Landscape

Paint a Landscape

A few years ago, I spent some time writing out 100 things I would like to do in my life. The idea was popularised by Laura Vanderkam in her book What the Most Successful People Do Before Breakfast and based on an exercise developed by Caroline Ceniza-Levine. The short version: write down all the things you really want to do – absolutely all of them, from ‘write a poem’ to ‘win the Nobel Prize in Literature’ – then start doing them! You’ll find…

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The Sign of Four by Sir Arthur Conan-Doyle

The Sign of Four by Sir Arthur Conan-Doyle

Once again, it’s time to delve into my complete Sherlock Holmes collection for another mystery with the world’s most famous detective. This time, it’s The Sign of Four, sometimes called The Sign of the Four but who really cares, there are four people and they make a sign. Unlike the more celebrated Holmes novels, A Study in Scarlet and The Hound of the Baskervilles, I’ve never been fond of The Sign of Four. Where Scarlet has the nostalgic pull of being our introduction to the…

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A Clockwork Orange by Anthony Burgess

A Clockwork Orange by Anthony Burgess

After a short break from reading, I’m thrilled to return to my Library series today and to one of the most compelling novels of all time. A perfect way to start reading again, thanks to its short yet intense burst of genius, A Clockwork Orange is an unparalleled masterpiece. A Clockwork Orange was the first, and to date only, novel I’ve read in a single sitting. I can’t remember why, but I was staying at my grandparents’ house for a…

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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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