Keep updated on Built Environment industry insights and thoughts from UCEM Principal: Ashley Wheaton.
Five books which inspire me: Guest blog by our PR and social media manager, Andrew Belt
Posted on: 18 December, 2020
With Christmas fast approaching, you may be seeking inspiration for last-minute gift ideas. If it’s books you’re after, our ‘Five books which inspire me’ blog series may do the trick.
Our fourth and final staff member, after Janet Hontoir, Lucy Roper and James Ritson, to select the five books which inspire them is our PR and social media manager, Andrew Belt. Take a look at Andrew’s choices below.
One which is life-affirming
Yes Man by Danny Wallace (2005)
I read this in my late-teens and had never read a book like it. It was the first book to make me truly laugh out loud.
A true story, Danny recalls being at a low ebb having been dumped by his girlfriend and consequently gone on to live a miserable existence for the six months afterwards. He makes excuses not to see friends and isn’t doing much with his life. This all changes when a random man on the bus turns to Danny and says: “You should say yes more.”
This proves the catalyst for Danny to say ‘yes’ to everything for a year and, while on occasions this proves problematic (saying ‘yes’ to everything includes emails from supposed royalty asking for your bank details), this radical approach transforms his life.
A truly inspiring read which reminds you to be an active participant in life and endorses the maxim that you only get out what you put in.
One for lockdown
A Gentleman in Moscow by Amor Towles (2016)
Set in the early 20th century in newly Bolshevik Russia, this novel sees the main character, Count Rostov, sentenced to house arrest at the Hotel Metropol for the rest of his life; his crime being a member of the aristocracy.
Rather than mope (which clearly would make for a terrible read), Count Rostov befriends the hotel’s staff and guests, making the very best of his circumstances and ultimately, living a fulfilling life.
This is a charming book which encourages you to make the best of your circumstances, with the lessons proving particularly apt for the challenges faced this year during lockdown.
One which awakens an appetite for social justice
To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee (1960)
A classic, this novel focuses on a trial against a black man wrongly accused of assaulting a white woman in a sleepy town in Alabama in the 1930s.
The story, told through the eyes of six-year-old Jean Finch, sees her father, Atticus, pilloried for being the lawyer for the defendant.
Accurately depicting the widespread racism in America at this time, Atticus is the hero of this tome, representing hope that things may change, and you root for justice to be served throughout.
This book, more than any I’ve ever read, inspires you to do the right thing.
One which calls for understanding
Fathers and Sons by Ivan Turgenev (1862)
This novel tells the story of Arkady returning to his father, Nikolay’s estate from university with a friend called Bazarov.
Nikolay finds his son much changed due to the influence of Bazarov and his devotion to nihilism – a school of thought which advocates the pursuit of knowledge above all else.
Arkady no longer finds pleasure in the things he used to and finds his father’s lifestyle ridiculous and ostentatious. This clash of ideologies and generations – the latter coming in to focus when Nikolay speaks to his friends about his son’s behavior – causes obvious tension but, whereas, Bazarov remains virtually unmoved in his position, Arkady slowly lets go of his stubborn outlook as the book progresses.
More than anything, the book teaches you to try and find common ground with one another and respect the different lifestyle choices others take. It teaches you to be open-minded and not to disregard the people who matter most to you due to differences of opinion.
One which inspires a sense of wonder
The Fantastic Flying Journey by Gerald Durrell (1987)
When I think of the books I read as a child, this is the book which stands out the most. It tells the story of three children and their great-uncle travelling around the world in a hot-air balloon.
I remember being fascinated by all the different countries and animals vividly described and illustrated, and it made me want to visit Australia and meet the unique wildlife indigenous to that part of the world.
My fascination with different countries, animals and travel was sparked by this book. It teaches you to look at the world around you with curiosity and a sense of wonder which you should try and maintain throughout life, and I would recommend this book to any parents to read with their children.