Review: The Soundtrack to My Life by Dermot O’Leary

The Soundtrack to  my LifeThe Blurb

Dermot O’Leary has always loved music. Throughout his life and career, music has been a constant companion, best friend, confidant and at times, tormentor.

The Soundtrack to My Life is Dermot’s personal memoir of a life in music told through the songs that were playing at key moments in his life. With a wonderful gift for storytelling, Dermot describes his journey from a childhood in Colchester with his Irish family, to some of the biggest jobs in TV and radio in the UK. It’s a story which is accompanied, in every scene, by music.

Dermot would be the first to admit, they are not all great songs. This isn’t Desert Island Discs; the songs chose him, not the other way round. Dermot went to his first gig at the age of nine, and saw Irish troubadour Brendan Shine, he roller-skated to Baby I Can’t Wait by Nu Shooz and got his first job in TV while the Macarana was playing everywhere. Constantly.

But, other songs playing in the background to his life – songs by The Smiths, Elbow, The Pogues or Bruce Springsteen, are tracks & artists which he truly loves and will always love, and not just for the memories they evoke.

Funny, engaging and full of surprises, this is Dermot’s memoir and his essential soundtrack to his life.

(Amazon)

The Review

Let’s face it, we all love Dermot O’Leary and if you don’t then a) you’re in the minority and b) what the heck is wrong with you?

In his brilliant memoir The Soundtrack to My Life, Dermot tells tales of his growing up and associates them with songs (some good, some downright awful) that have shaped his existence. Now some might say, why has this fresh faced presenter of TV and Radio wrote a memoir, he only, like, 12 (I’m possibly being a tad hyperbolic here) but believe it or not but Dermot is in fact in his forties. Furthermore, his career – which makes up a large portion of his memoir – took years of hard graft, perfecting a craft that we, as audience members, take for granted. I know for one I couldn’t present live TV….that doesn’t mean that I don’t pretend to…at home…to my audience of no one….anyway…awkward.

What is really good about this memoir is that you can hear Dermot O’Leary throughout. I know that sounds a little obvious but I have read memoirs that have been written by ghost writers and you get the sense that the subject of the memoir hasn’t really had much input. Not The Soundtrack to My Life. It screams Dermot O’Leary. His little asides seem natural and truly make you smile. Dermot comes across as self-effacing, humble and most importantly (to me, anyway) a true lover of music.

This is a brilliant memoir, even if Dermot is not your favourite person The Soundtrack to My Life makes you think of your own personal soundtrack. Keep your eyes peeled for my soundtrack post coming soon on LisaTalksAbout.com.

The Soundtrack to My Life by Dermot O’Leary is available now.

Follow Dermot O’Leary (@radioleary) on Twitter.

4 Stars

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Review: The Harm in Asking by Sara Barron

The Harm in AskingThe Blurb

Welcome to the perverse and hilarious mind of Sara Barron. In “The Harm in Asking,” she boldly addresses the bizarre indignities of everyday life: from invisible pets to mobster roommates, from a hatred of mayonnaise to an unrequited love of k.d. lang, from the ruinous side effect of broccoli to the sheer delight of a male catalogue model. In a voice that is incisive and entirely her own, Barron proves herself the master of the awkward, and she achieves something wonderful and rare: a book that makes you laugh out loud. Simply put: if you read it, you will never be the same.*

*That’s not true. You’ll probably stay the same. But you’ll have laughed a lot. And you’ll have learned a fun fact about Jessica Simpson’s home spray. See? You didn’t even know she had a home spray! The learning has already begun.

The Review

Admittedly, I bought The Harm in Asking on the recommendation of one of those articles that pop up on facebook. You know the ones: “30 Books to Read Before You Turn 30/Once you have Finished College/If you have Ever…” see you know the ones. I saw the cover of The Harm in Asking and thought it looked interesting. I didn’t know anything about the premise of the book besides the tiny recommendation blurb; I didn’t know the author and if I am really honest I think that to appreciate The Harm in Asking I really should have known more about her.

It isn’t that The Harm in Asking isn’t good; it really is. It is just that reading a memoir of someone that I don’t know makes the writing seem a bit self-indulgent. Books life this have been written before and I have accepted them graciously because I’ve had some knowledge of the writer – Tina Fey, Sarah Silverman, Amy Poehler etc.

Detracting from my lack of knowledge of the author, some of the stories in the collection are humorous and they did wiggle a little chuckle from me. However, I still was left with the overall feeling of what is the point? I began to feel like The Harm in Asking because an arduous task to read.

Give it a try yourself folks and see if you are of the same opinion.

The Harm in Asking by Sara Barron is available now.

3 Stars

Review: Hot Dudes Reading by Anonymous

Hot Dudes ReadingTitle: Hot Dudes Reading

Author: Anonymous

Pages: 208 Pages

Publisher: Atria

The Blurb

Humans of New York meets Porn for Women in this collection of candid photos, clever captions, and hilarious hashtags about one of the most important subjects of our time: hot dudes reading.

Based on the viral Instagram account of the same name, Hot Dudes Reading takes its readers on a ride through all five boroughs of New York City, with each section covering a different subway line. Using their expert photography skills (covert iPhone shots) and journalistic ethics (#NoKindles), the authors capture the most beautiful bibliophiles in all of New York – and take a few detours to interview some of the most popular hot dudes from the early days of the Instagram account.

Fun, irreverent, and wittily-observed, this book is tailor-made for book lovers in search of their own happy endings – and those who just want to get lost between the covers for a while.

The Review

Oh, I’m a little torn about this book. We can look at the book one of two ways.

The first is that Hot Dudes Reading is just a bit of fun. It is a cheeky use of social media that allows the anonymous author and its followers (all 848k of them) to have a sneaky perv at, essentially, hot dudes reading. Like Ronseal, this does what it says on the tin.

The second way to look at Hot Dudes Reading is a little less favourable. If we slightly change the context of this book it becomes a little sinister. Let’s call it Hot Chicks Reading. Offended yet? I certainly would be. I would feel a little bit creeped out. I would find it to be lascivious and a little bit voyeuristic as well as feeling like all the people in the book are seen as is a piece of meat.

The latter makes Hot Dudes Reading a quite degrading read when you think about it.

So let us air on the side of caution and just see Hot Dudes Reading as a little bit of fun. The word play is witty and sharp, the choice of ‘Dudes’ are not personally to my taste but I can see how they are generically handsome. Mostly though – and please make room for my inner geek – I wanted to have a closer look at what books they boys were reading rather than their biceps.

Hot Dudes Reading can be seen as a harmless bit of fun, however, if you are going to see it this way then you have to accept the opposite ‘Hot Chicks Reading’ if that ever comes out. Tit for tat, people.

Hot Dudes Reading by Anonymous is available now.

Follow Hot Dudes Reading (@hotdudesreading) on Twitter and visit their official website www.hotdudesreading.com

35 Stars