Book Review: When All Else Fails

Title: When All Else Fails
Author: Mark Lages
Genre: Nonfiction; Memoir; Autobiography
Year Published: March 24, 2023

Date Started: April 3, 2023
Date finished: April 9, 2023

This is a memoir of sort about the author, Mark Lages. There’s a bit of autobiography and researched information throughout the story as well. However, overall, I’d say it leans more toward memoir but without the familiar fiction structure.

Lages had a normal life growing up in the west coast. His younger years were very typical of an American household with his mother the main caretake of him and his siblings. He was very intelligent and was able to attend university and become an architect. Throughout his life journey, he picked up other skills/talents and also experimented with smoking and alcohol and took a liking to both. The alcohol led him into a downward spiral leading to a life he regretted at times. He was able to pick himself up and continued to build his career and family life. Through it all, he shares his thoughts, feelings, and what he’s learned about all his experiences.

I’ve been a fan of Lages’s writing style and this one didn’t disappoint. Like his other books, there’s humor and a few jokes that got me to smile, and unlike his other books, this one was nonfiction. Lages focused quite a lot on religion in a way that a young child would be curious about it. It got me thinking and I realized that a lot of nonbelievers see religion this same way. I’ve come across a lot of people who blame God for so many things and it’s funny because I’d like the opportunity to explain the whys but there’s just never the opportunity. Don’t get me wrong, I’ve blamed God for a whole lot of things myself, but I always come to terms. If anything, I would say, believe in it in an adult way, not the symbolic way that young children are taught. Of course, that’s harder said than done. Having said that, this was a very interesting insight. Lages also talks a lot about politics and alcoholism. I’m not political myself but I also don’t have any addictions to anything. I’ve read a couple of books this year on addiction (drugs and cannabis) and I’m still fascinated as to how people become addicted to things. I’m aware that there are multiple types of addiction genes out there and I’m wondering why that is and what the purpose of that gene was/is for.

I enjoyed this memoir. I learned a lot about Lages and how we all have certain things we can relate to. For instance, just like Lages, I’ve had multiple dreams where I can’t find my way back home (or back to where I started from) or I’m still in college and I’m taking a math exam, but I don’t remember how to do the math, etc. I’m reading these parts and going, “Same here!” I love it when I can relate to a person in this strange way. It just means as humans, we go through very similar thoughts and mind experiences even if our life outside of our head is very different. I also enjoyed the informative sections on the flies, human mind, paper clips, etc. These little pieces of knowledge were insightful.

Who should read this book: This is one of those books you want to take with you on a long vacation or if you have ample time to read. There are books you can rush through and then there are books like this where you want to read every word.

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