Filth, music and art – inspirational reading for weirdos

A million years ago, when I started in coaching, I tried to read as much mind/body/spirit-type inspirational guff as I could. Every week I would go back and forth to North Library off the Holloway Road and plough my way through Self Esteem for Beginners, Confidence for Idiots, Motivational Shit for Horrible People etc.

Whilst there are some gems amongst the reams of books like that (particularly anything by Wayne Dyer or Susan Jeffers), eventually they do pretty much start to cover the same old ground.

So lately I have been finding inspiration in other places. Here are three non fiction books I’ve enjoyed recently. They were all gifts from my family, who, as it turns out, know me better than I thought they did.patti-smith-book-cover

Just Kids by Patti Smith is the story of the author’s growth as an artist and performer, and her relationship with fellow artist Robert Mapplethorpe. I can’t recommend this enough, it’s a beautifully written, captivating portrait of the emergence of two dynamic, inspiring souls.

Life lessons to learn from Just Kids: Follow your bliss and get a cool haircut. If Bruce Springsten offers to write a song with you, snap his hand off.




terri-hooley-book-cover Hooleygan: Music, Mayhem and Good Vibrations by Terri Hooley and Richard Sullivan is the story of Ireland’s Godfather of Punk, and the founder of legendary record label, Good Vibrations. If you know anything about Northern Irish music, you will have come across Terri Hooley. I used to go into his record shop, Good Vibrations, to sniff the vinyl. And Norn Irn being the small world that it is, I also used to babysit his daughter from time to time (not in the shop). It’s quite a funny read, as you would expect when a major part of the cast are drunken lunatics. And yet somehow the music kept coming. It’s the Belfast bomb nobody warned the rest of the world about.

Life lessons to learn from Hooleygan: John Peel was right all along. Don’t worry if all your shit gets burned by yobbos, at least there’ll always be Teenage Kicks


Role Models by John Waters – How fantastic would it be if the legendarily scurrilous film maker john-waters-book-coverJohn Waters  was to write a motivational tract? I don’t think he’s in a hurry to, so this is the closest we’ll get. Role Models is a collection of essays about people Waters admires, ranging from Johnny Mathis to the scariest barflys you ever did encounter. It’s random, upbeat in the face of perversity, and engaging in its charm. You don’t have to be slightly deranged to like this, but it helps.

Life lessons to learn from Role Models: Again, follow your bliss is a major theme here, along with the importance of personal grooming. It’s OK to be filthy, as long as you do it with verve and style. Dullness, and not making an effort, are the worst crimes of all.

Great reads, and I recommend them wholeheartedly, Dale Cooper Thumbs Up all round. Now, what to read next? Thinking about ploughing through this list of 50 Essential Non-Fiction Books for Weirdos, whaddya reckon?