The Prophet and the Idiot – Jonas Jonasson

Translator – Rachel Willson-Broyles

So, let’s talk about the elephant in the room … the last word in the title. It’s offensive. It’s awful. I hate it.

If I hadn’t told someone that yes, I was absolutely going to read a Jonas Jonasson book, my journey with this book would have ended as soon as I read that word. Because more than a year has passed since I made my bookish commitment, I moved on to reading the blurb and it intrigued me. It’s a shame, really, because I expect a lot of people won’t make it past the title.

If you do manage to put blinders on every time you come across that word, this is actually a fun read. The characters are quirky, there’s a road trip in an RV with a super fancy kitchen and there are wrongs to put right because the world is ending.

Everything felt right.

At which point nothing went as planned. It rarely does.

Johan, who the offensive word refers to, believes that’s what he is because his brother has called him that his entire life. Johan is not book smart but he’s a genius when it comes to combining ingredients in unique and apparently delectable way. I would very much like to sample his mango bread. Johan has also memorised a bunch of American movies.

Petra is convinced the sky is falling. Literally. And very soon. She has the calculations to prove it.

‘Who’s going to what now?’

‘The atmosphere. It will fall flat to the ground and the temperature will drop to 273.15 degrees below freezing. In a split second.’



‘Indoors as well?’

Besides being a doomsday prophet, Petra is also a very big fan of flowcharts.

At 75, retired manufacturess Agnes’ hair is more violet than it used to be. Her alter ego, ‘Travelling Eklund’, has seen much more of the world than she has, although that’s about to change.

This is a book with grappa decisions, an endangered bird and unfinished cheese business. A bunch of famous people have parts to play, including Obrama, which, even though it very much looks like it, is not a typo.

Our road trip takes us to multiple countries and the impact of this found family is felt worldwide, even as they paint themselves into so many corners you begin to wonder how they can ever get out of them.

Ultimately, this book encourages you to live your life while you have the chance because you never know when a prophet’s calculations are going to be correct.

‘Isn’t now the time to embrace the world? With what little time you have left.’

Although I still hate the title, I enjoyed spending time with this unlikely trio.

Content warnings include bullying and suicidal ideation.

Thank you so much to NetGalley and 4th Estate, an imprint of HarperCollins Publishers, for the opportunity to read this book.

Rating: 4 out of 5.

Once Upon a Blurb

Sweden, late summer of 2011. Self-taught astrophysicist Petra has calculated that the atmosphere will collapse on the 21st of September that year, around 21.20 to be more precise, bringing about the end of times.

Armed with this terrible knowledge, Petra meets Johan and Agnes, a widow of 75 who has made bank living a double life on social media as a young influencer. Together, the trio race through Europe as they plan to make the most out of the time they have left, in more ways than one.

But of course, things rarely go to plan, even the end of the world…

Good Girls – Hadley Freeman

Anorexia was in some ways like a security blanket for me because it allowed me to hide from the world, it provided structure and rules, and there was always one simple right answer: don’t eat.

I love memoirs. Sometimes they make you feel seen through shared lived experience. Other times they invite you into a world that’s unlike what you’ve known. You are given the opportunity to see your struggles in a new light and may discover new ways to cope, survive and maybe even thrive. There are just so many possibilities when you open yourself up to accompanying someone as they do life in their own unique way, even if you only meet one another within the pages.

I have read about eating disorders since I was an early teen. Although never officially diagnosed, I absolutely had one at the time. I was lucky enough to stumble upon the right book at the right time, something that allowed me to change some of my eating habits before the slope got too slippery. That’s not to say that disordered eating didn’t follow me into my adult life. But this book reminded me that Hadley’s story could have very easily been my own.

Hadley stopped eating when she was fourteen and spent several years living in psychiatric wards.

I had developed, the doctor said, anorexia nervosa. He was right about that, but pretty much nothing else he told me about anorexia turned out to be correct: why I had it, what it felt like, or what life would be like when I was in so-called recovery.

Hadley’s experience was so different to my own and pretty much everything I’ve ever read about eating disorders. But that’s a good thing. Eating disorders, much life like itself, aren’t one size fits all. (Pun purely accidental but now my brain can’t come up with an alternative.) When we’re only looking for a specific presentation of something, we’re likely to miss more than we see.

That’s what I remember perhaps most of all: the loneliness. I genuinely didn’t understand what was happening to me, and nor, it often seemed, did anyone else.

Content warnings include mention of addiction, attempted suicide, death by suicide, eating disorders, mental health and self harm.

Thank you so much to NetGalley and 4th Estate, an imprint of HarperCollins, for the opportunity to read this book.

Rating: 4 out of 5.

Once Upon a Blurb

From Hadley Freeman, the bestselling author of House of Glass, comes her searing and powerful memoir about mental ill health and her experience with anorexia. 

This is how the Anorexia Speak worked in my head:

‘Boys like girls with curves on them’ – If you ever eat anything you will be mauled by thuggish boys with giant paws for hands

‘Don’t you get hungry?’ – You are so strong and special, and I envy your strength and specialness

‘Have you tried swimming? I find that really improves my appetite’ – You need to do more exercise

In this astonishing and brave account of life with anorexia Hadley Freeman starts with the trigger that sparked her illness and moves through four hospitalisations, offering extraordinary insight into her various struggles.