When I was growing up, my role models and heroes came from the world of music, books, television and film. I bopped around my bedroom to the sound of Boyzone (who I went to see the other week, woop!), I wished I could be best friends with Stevie Lake from The Saddle Club books, and I kept a flickering candle of hope inside me that one day I would get to be in Byker Grove (didn’t happen).
Nowadays though, the role models and heroes of many teens and pre-teens come in a different form; there are still the expected musicians, film stars and sports personalities, but now there’s the added pool of ‘reality’ stars and, increasingly, bloggers and vloggers.
Recently I spent some time with my friend’s daughter and listened as she chatted to another child who was a few years younger than her. The sole topic of conversation between them was the different YouTuber’s they watch and which videos were their favourites. Times have changed and kids of today are starting to look for inspiration from people who are more like them – those seemingly Average Joe’s and Josephine’s who come across as their own self and much more accessible than the Kardashians of the world, being just the other side of their smart device’s screen. A distant brother or sister type figure for them.
One of the big UK YouTube stars is Jim Chapman, a 29-year old who posts videos on his channel about a huge variety of topics. He starts all of his videos with “Hello best friends” and seems to always have an element of barely-restrained excitability about him. He’s worked with a whole array of other big YouTube stars and married one of his fellow online content creators, Tanya Burr, back in 2015.
In the past few years, a lot of the big-name internet personalities have begun to release both their own range of merchandise and their own books, whether it be in the form of autobiographies, young adult fiction, or advice and inspiration guides. Personally, I’ve never read any of them – mainly because my chosen genre of reading is always true crime, but also because none of the subjects have ever really grabbed me, but Jim’s foray into the literary world is another matter; it is very much my kind of thing.
147 Things is a collection of all the little facts and snippets of information that Jim has gathered over the years and stored in his brain, explaining everything from why being hungry makes us moody, to what makes people attack others online, to just how incredible it is for us human beings to even be here, existing as we do.
As someone who LOVES random facts and has an endless curiosity about life and everything that makes it up, I knew that this was going to be a book I’d enjoy and was expecting it to be a little something like the books that are released on the back on the QI television show, but I stand here now, corrected – 147 Things is so much more than that.
Along with all the random documentation of various facts and figures, there is something else within these pages that really made me stop and think. Something I didn’t expect but made this book so much more than just simply a way to while away your time and expand your knowledge. Throughout it there is a constant thread of positivity and reassurance, and numerous mentions of how incredible the reader is as a living, breathing creature.
“Sometimes the world has a way of making you feel ordinary, when the truth is, according to maths and according to physics and according to biology, you are the among the rarest and most special things within it”
With the balance of Jim’s palpable excitement and wonder about absolutely everything in life and statements like the above, it’s near-on impossible not to feel buoyed when you take in the words on this books pages.
I finished this book not only feeling enlightened and with an army of facts to add to my existing battalion of useless knowledge, but with a spark of something else as well.
I’ve always seen the world as an incredible thing, and with the events of this year on both a personal and worldwide level, I lost sight of that a little bit, becoming weighed down with the stresses and strains of life, but this book reminded me of how I used to feel and made me stop and take stock. The very act of me sitting here right now – thinking, typing, communicating – and the act of you – breathing, reading, processing – is something so wondrous and so incredible, but in the past year I’ve stopped noticing just how magical that all is.
I cannot recommend this book enough for anyone, no matter their age. It’s interesting, informative and so feel-good that I defy anyone not to read it and have their spirits lifted.
Hats off to Jim, you’ve put together something really special and helped this 30-something remember how to see the world.
* In Association with Brand *