Tuesday, 19 March 2013

If you want the truth...

For those of you who prefer a dose of reality to counteract the fantasy you're living in, here's a list of new books that are completely true. Or at least, mostly.

Inside their pages you will find almost incredible stories, the truth behind the headlines, and uncover dastardly crimes. (Does anyone actually use that word anymore?) How 'bout nefarious? Or reprehensible?

At all events, be inspired, be horrified - believe it.

The Spark
The Spark is Kristine Barnett's memoir about being mother to a genius. His story is remarkable, and all the more so because his prodigious mind and talents were almost lost after he was diagnosed with autism at age three. Jacob was assigned to life-skills classes, his parents told not to expect much. The goalpost was to be tying his own shoes at sixteen. Jacob is today, at age twelve, at university, working on extending Einstein's theory of relativity. An extraordinary true story of what it is like to live with an exceptional child, The Spark is a testimony to the power of hope, and the dazzling possibilities that can occur when we keep our minds open.

Facts are Sacred
You've all heard of the "austerity measures" governments are dishing out - but what effect are they actually having? What's the real cost of the war in Afghanistan, to people and society? For those who like to know more than what's in the soundbites, here's a book that crunches the data, with a liberal sprinkling of fact.

Lost Cat
Perhaps Gareth Morgan should read this one. Caroline Paul was recovering from a bad accident and thought things couldn't get worse. But then her beloved cat Tibia disappeared. She and her partner anxiously waited for his return, before resigning themselves to their loss. But weeks later Tibia waltzed back into their lives, and his owners were overjoyed. But where had their cat disappeared to? Had he become a swashbuckling cat adventurer? Did he love someone else more? His owners were determined to find out. Using a range of technology, like a GPS system, cat psychic, cat whisperer and cameras, they investigated just what their pet got up to while he was gone...

Brain on Fire: My Month of Madness
The story of twenty-four-year-old New York Post reporter Susannah Cahalan and the discovery of the autoimmune disorder that nearly killed her - and that could perhaps be the root of "demonic possessions" throughout history. Cahalan chronicles her sudden bout with bizarre symptoms and behavior initially diagnosed as various psychiatric and physical illnesses. She reports on how a newly identified rare autoimmune disease (anti-NMDA-receptor autoimmune encephalitis) was ultimately determined to be the cause, detailing her doctors' search for the cause, her slow recovery, and her attempt to understand this "lost" period in her life.

Mirror Mirror, Off the Wall
When Kjerstin Gruys became engaged to the love of her life, she was thrilled - until it came time to shop for a wedding dress. Having overcome an eating disorder years before, Gruys found herself struggling to maintain a positive self-image as her pending nuptials imposed a new set of impossible beauty standards. She decided to embark on a bold plan for boosting her self-esteem while refocusing her attention on the beautiful world around her. She gave up mirrors and other reflective surfaces, relying instead on her friends and her fiance to help her gauge both her appearance and her outlook on life. The result? A renewed focus on what truly matters, regardless of smeared makeup, crooked eyebrows, or messy hair.

The Bling Ring
The story of a gang of privileged LA kids and minor reality TV stars who stole from celebrities' homes, causing an ongoing saga in the press. Stars targeted included Paris Hilton, Orlando Bloom, Rachel Bilson and Lindsay Lohan. They even robbed Brian Austin-Green in hopes of stealing Megan Fox's wardrobe. Now a movie starring Emma Watson and Paris Hilton herself.

Confessions of a Sociopath
Told by a real, diagnosed, sociopath, this book confirms suspicions and debunks myths about sociopathy. It is both the memoir of a high-functioning, law-abiding (well, mostly) sociopath and a roadmap for dealing with the sociopath in your life, be it a boss, parent, spouse, child, colleague or friend. While sociopaths aren't like everyone else, and some of them are incredibly dangerous, they are not inherently evil. In fact, they’re potentially more productive and useful to society than “empaths,” as they like to call “normal” people. How can you live among sociopaths without becoming victims, and even beat sociopaths at their own game?

The Girl with No Name
At the age of four, Marina was kidnapped, then abandoned in the Colombian jungle. She managed to survive by copying the Capuchin monkeys. Marina gradually became part of the family for five years, developing extraordinary super-human abilities such as tree-climbing, stealth and animal communication. Discovered by a pair of hunters, she was sold into slavery in exchange for a parrot. She escaped after a year and lived on the streets, picking pockets to survive, eventually leading her own gang of thieves. From being forced to work in a brothel to cooking for the Duke of Kent, from encountering pythons, crocodiles and big cats to surviving car crashes and bombs, from facing three seemingly insurmountable tragedies to finally finding love in the UK, this is one incredible journey.

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