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Join Me: The True Story of a Man Who Started a Cult by Accident - Danny Wallace

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11 Reviews

Genre: Biography / Author: Danny Wallace / Paperback / 397 Pages / Book is published 2004-06-03 by Ebury Press

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    11 Reviews
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      05.04.2010 01:50
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      An uplifting story which makes you feel good about the world

      Danny Wallace is now known more for his tv presenting rather than his writing but writing is where his true talent is. His writing style is hysterical, uplifting and inspiring. He is a true genius.

      This is Danny Wallace second book. (Lots of people forget the first which was 'Are You Dave Gorman?' which he co-wrote with Dave Gorman.) It is a truly inspirational true story about Danny who is bored and feeling sorry for his deceased uncle who had had the dream of starting a commune but had been unable to get people to join him. Danny decides to try and get people to join him as a sort of dedication to his uncle and what follows is a strange story of him trying to get people to have faith and join.

      Before he fully realises what he has done, he has created a cult. The main problem is that Danny is not entirely sure what he is asking people to join and It soon gets out of hand when the 'joinees' want to then know what they should now do. Eventually Danny comes up with the lovely idea that they should do something nice on a Friday. The whole process of getting 'joinees' and Danny becoming their leader is a wonderful an heart warming story. It shows that despite what the media generally leads you to believe that mostly the world is full of nice people and shows you what happens when people take time out of their busy lives to do something nice.

      One of my aims in life is to meet Danny Wallace and have my photo taken with him as I am sure that in years to come Join Me will be a bible for those who are busy and thus Danny Wallace will be a sort of messiah.

      This is an easy reading book, fantastic for reading after a long day at work. It's the kind that you relax in the bath with or curl up on the sofa with. It is not a good book to read in public however as it is laugh out loud funny and you do get some rather strange looks. It has a range of happy and sad events but I guarantee that after reading the book you will feel more positive about the world that we live in and will be thinking about what nice thing you can do on the following Friday.

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      15.03.2010 14:33
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      Another brilliant Danny Wallace stupid boy project!

      Danny Wallace is a legend. His writing style and use of the English language has my sides splitting on a regular basis. A friend bought me the book "join me" after I'd told him I'd seen the film "yes man" (another Danny Wallace special) and read the book on which it was based. I think he was trying to make a point that the book is better than the film. His point was made very well.

      "Join Me" is the story of what Danny's girlfriend Hanne would call a "stupid-boy project". Basically it's a very daft and amusing tale of one man's quest to get lots of people to join him for no apparent reason. At least no reason that he could reasonably explain at the time. Danny claims his inspiration came on hearing that his uncle had tried to get some people to start a collective with him, joining him on his farm. His uncle having recently died, Danny decides to start something similar in his name.

      Putting an advert out there with "Join me" on it inspired one man to join, sending in his passport sized photo to Danny's PO BOX. Then more and more, the numbers ever increasing. Danny recites the story of how he made a "join me" website, travelled around stickering the streets with join me adverts, appeared on foreign television shows and much more, all in the name of cause...well, a cause he didn't really know anything about. For a large period of time he was quizzed about what "join me" was all about and unable to reply. Then eventually he decides that it should be about spreading good. So he gets the "joinee's" to do a good deed every Friday.

      Later "join me" gets named "The Karma Army" and more and more people join, spreading good spirit, as the joinee numbers creep up to 1,000. All the while, Danny is trying to hide his efforts from his girlfriend who he knows will disapprove.

      How will it all end?

      Well. It won't. If you want a taste of how funny and brilliant Danny Wallace is, just type "join me" into Google, because the Karma Army is still going strong, all these years on. There's a website, a forum and much more.

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      17.01.2010 12:15
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      One man's story of how he accidentally started a cult

      When most of us are bored, we do mundane little things. We might re-arrange our books or aimlessly surf the Internet. But not Danny Wallace. When he gets bored, he enters into what his girlfriend refers to as 'boy-projects' and he rarely knows where they will end. Join Me is a first person account of what happened when Danny Wallace got bored one day and set about his new 'boy-project'.

      The premise was simple. Wanting to meet other people who shared the same frustrations with the pointlessness of life, Wallace placed an advert in his local Loot newspaper with the words Join Me. Those who are interested are requested simply to send a passport-sized photo to Wallace's home address and wait further instructions. Initially comprising a challenge to see if Wallace can get 100 people to respond, Join Me tells the story of everything that happened next and how, by the time it was all over, Join Me had become an international phenomenon and Danny Wallace's life was probably never going to be the same again.

      Wallace's writing style is effortlessly readable. London commuters may be familiar with the author from his regular column in the free men's weekly Shortlist (which is generally hilarious). Others may know him from other published works; he co-authored a book with his former flatmate Dave Gorman outlining another boy project. He also wrote the novel Yes Man, on which the recent Jim Carrey film was based. His style is something of an acquired taste, but admirers of Wallace's work will almost certainly find this amusing and intriguing in equal doses.

      Join Me is written in the first person and, at times, feels a little like a diary or journal but it isn't presented as such. The narrative structure is fairly conventional; the tale flows in a logical, chronological order and even manages to work the events into appropriate chapters, with dramatic conclusions and turns of event at the end of most. Those looking for excitement or innovation should look elsewhere, however. Whilst Join Me is stuffed full of bizarre events and genuine moments of comedy, it's not particularly exciting and, because it's based on true events, it's really quite an ordinary tale. But that doesn't mean it hasn't got some interesting things to tell us.

      It's an intriguing tale because, written in 2003, it's set a short time before the world became utterly obsessed with the Internet and, in particular, social networking sites. In Join Me, Wallace has the web at his disposal, but it's only a small part of what he does, and you can't help thinking that his experiences would have been rather different had he the likes of Twitter and Facebook at his disposal. As it is, we find out how the Join Me campaign came to be and literally everything that happened step by step thereafter. The book also contains photographs and reproductions of excerpts from newspapers that ran stories on some of the more bizarre aspects of Wallace's endeavours. Of course, there are also picture of what he terms his 'joinees' along with a count of how many recruits he has changed at the start of each chapter.

      'Join Me' is one of those tales that has both a serious and a comical side. The comical side is, as you'd expect, the more superficial side of things. The humour is born both of what happens to Wallace and, more often, from how he describes them. I can never decide whether Wallace's writing style is as natural as it seems or whether it's all a big show, but it's very engaging. His writing seems to reflect the way that he thinks, so he often corrects himself, justifies himself or explains himself at length about minutiae because he thinks we need to understand him better. He seldom swears, which means that when he does it seems to have even more comedy effect. He is also extremely observant, noting the details of what people do and say and describing it in that way that 'puts you in the room'. In his Shortlist column, Wallace often jokes about situations where 'you had to be there', when in fact, he has an ability to recreate exactly what it was like to be there. Whether he exaggerates or elaborates any of the dialogue with his joinees remains to be seen, but I'd vote that he doesn't and that everything here is 'how it is.' It would be wrong to say that Wallace's narrative is gripping or exciting but it is very easy to read and very engaging. At around 350 pages, I polished this off in a couple of days over the winter holidays. It would seem to appeal more to men. Wallace's writing style and subject matter usually does, but I think this would appeal to most readers looking for something witty and light-hearted.

      It's quite an interesting social observation too. As the Join Me movement gains momentum, Wallace is forced to reflect upon his role in the proceedings and (as you might expect) events take unexpected turns. But, importantly, it looks at the social needs of human beings. It looks at the way in which we seem to need to belong to something and how people differ. Wallace's joinees react in very different ways; indeed, people react very differently to becoming (or not becoming) joinees in the first place.

      It is, however, entirely self-indulgent. Wallace may come across as witty, clever and upbeat but he also seems to be selfish and irresponsible. He seems to make a living from doing arse all, and spends most of the book's narrative travelling around the UK and Europe without any real responsibilities. His crumbling relationship with his girlfriend does provide a grounding backdrop to this, but you never get the impression that Wallace particularly gives a shit. It's curiously unrewarding too. The book romps along in a bubbly, enthusiastic manner but somehow just seems to run out of steam. So 'Join Me' is an interesting read and an entertaining read too, but it does rather lack substance. It also requires some fairly significant tolerance of Wallace's 'inimitable' nature, which many readers may find a bit of a turn-off.

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        06.10.2009 23:41
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        Great Read

        Danny Wallace, author of the recent hit film starring Jim Carey "Yes Man", writes about a similar crazy scheme he had! One day whilst "between Jobs" Wallace posts an ad in a local paper, with just a note saying join me and an address, to which he receives a response from one person. People continue to join him, and Wallace ends up the leader of a "cult" with followers from around the world. He sees joinees from Belgium, France and across the UK as well as from Scandinavia. Wallace is funny from start to end, his inner monologues are at times ridiculous but always funny and the relationship between him and his girlfriend and his joinees always make for good humour. Overall this is a great read, and good if you can get through it in one go as I did on a plane flight. The Book follows the actual occurrences, and it spirals and gathers pace, just as the cult actually did!

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        25.09.2009 20:49
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        INTRO

        Danny Wallace is a british humorist who has done work in various capacities such as radio presenter, tv broadcaster, writer as well as author. Join me was his first solo book having had cult success with his collaborative book 'Are you Dave Gorman', written with...Dave Gorman. A few books later Danny wrote 'Yes Man' in which he says 'Yes' to everything, and his popularity grew as a result of it being made into a film starring Jim Carrey.

        JOIN ME

        Join Me started when Danny found out that his deceased uncle had tried to start a community on his swiss farm. Unfortunately he couldnt get more than 3 and Danny decided to put out an ad in a local paper that said something along the lines of 'Join Me - by sending a passport sized photo to this address'.

        The senders would be sending without knowing the cause, or purpose for this and this was something that couldnt even be cleared up by Danny himself. To his surprise he started gaining 'Joinees' and the book becomes a story of stories of what became of the man who started a cult by accident.

        Danny's mate bet that he couldnt get to 1000 and the story centres around that challenge as well as the ongoing saga of Danny's relationship with his girlfriend of whom he neglects to mention anything about Join Me due to the strain his 'stupid boy projects' puts on their love.

        GOOD FEATURES

        Ive never been a big reader yet have read two of Danny Wallace's books in the past couple of months. My lack of reading is due to the concentration needed but I really got into 'Yes Man' and equally enjoyed 'Join Me'. His style is quite tongue in cheek but has a good way of describing things so much that I felt like I went through his emotions at the time reading them back.

        At 400 pages the story really is told in great depth and I enjoyed the journey. A journey which involved travelling to different countries to spread the word, even though he didnt really know what the word was. Join Me escalated into a collective of people performing good deeds which gives the whole project a feel good factor to it.

        BAD FEATURES

        I guess for someone like me who isn't a big reader 400 pages was probably 100 too many, and some of the stories were embelished somewhat and I felt the book could have been shorter and not lost any of its good features. The story is a little tedious and some of the stories make you think it was fictional but that is his style and its not something that would put me off his other books.

        OVERALL

        This book is now a few years old so I would expect most people to be able to buy a copy for under £5. At this price it would be a bargain as it is a good read, a funny tale of how a man starts a cult by accident. I would recommend to anyone who has read his other books, or likes light hearted comedy reading.

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          10.09.2009 22:29
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          Danny Wallace is extremely entertaining and funny

          Join me is a story based on true events from the author Danny Wallace. Danny is an extremely positive and humorous writer, I'm not sure how much of it is an act, but he's a little naive in his positivity and I find it very appealing.

          Danny goes to Switzerland to attend a funeral for his late Uncle Gallus, who he's never met. He finds out from a family member that his uncle attempted to form a community/cult on his own, but failed miserably. This inspired Danny to form a cult, I mean a collective, to honour his uncle.

          He simply put an ad in a local magazine which said 'Join Me'. To join, all you had to do is send him a passport photo with your name on. Curiosity takes over people and he gets 'Joinees', but neither Danny or the 'Joinees' know what they are going to do.

          More and more people join and the pressure mounts as people want to know what they are joining, and all the while he trys to keep the collective a secret from his girlfiriend who hates his immature 'boy projects'.

          Danny travels around the world to promote his collective, meeting various types of people, and getting himself in to all sorts of situations. This book is very light-hearted, and easy to follow. It contains many funny moments, and I would highly recommend it to anyone wanting a positive influence. Danny makes a fun situation and excitment out of any dull or ordinary situation.

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            19.07.2009 17:33

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            Brilliance

            Danny Wallace's Join Me is a true story of a bunch of strangers joining a collective, (which is not a cult in any way shape or form). This collective which quickly takes over Danny's life has no real aim or purpose and many joinees' start to become disillusioned. So Danny becomes a man with a plan, a plan to find a purpose for his joinee's, everything hangs in the balance as Danny has to choose a path between good and evil. This book documents an extraordinary phenomenon that is Join Me; and Danny's struggle with managing his collective without his girlfriend finding out. As join me gains international fame Danny finds himself proclaimed as the "leader". However he is the leader of a group of complete strangers; realising that something is clearly wrong with this idea, Danny doesn't decide to stop the madness that has become him; instead he sets out to meet his joinee's all while avoiding telling his girl friend. This book is second to none, just when you think you'll lose interest or there is nowhere else for it to go it reaches a whole new level of brilliance!

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            21.05.2009 12:03
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            A heartwarming story of a pointless pursuit. You will want to join.

            I have a really big smile on my face. Why? Because I've just finished reading Join Me by Danny Wallace.

            Please note, Danny Wallace is nothing like Jim Carrey! He is however; witty, charming, slightly odd and writes in a style that is very easy to read.

            Join Me is the true story of how Danny, in tribute to his Swiss, late uncle Gallus placed an ad in Loot that simply read "JOIN ME." Before he knew it people were joining him from all over the country, he was travelling to Europe, appearing on chat shows and in Asian newspapers. All in the name of JOIN ME! Unfortunately, nobody knew what they were joining, least of all Danny.

            So we follow his exploits as he tries to figure out what he has started and, more importantly, how to keep it from his long suffering girlfriend Hanne. There are some incredibly funny moments in the book and I found myself really laughing out loud on many occasions. "You said when you dumped me it would be somewhere neutral, I didn't think you meant Switzerland!" It is also very touching in parts too. Such as when Danny eventually figures out how to harness this collective of people and how they embrace his "Stupid Boy Project" with such vigour. The ending had me smiling from ear to ear, as I have been whilst writing this review! Some of the transcrips of conversations should maybe be taken with a pinch of salt and the story looses a little momentum half way through, but these are minor when you are ultimately left with such a glow.

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            05.04.2009 01:49
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            A fantastic book by the brilliant Danny Wallace

            'Join Me' is an exciting and hilarious book that you won't be able to put down. It is written by Danny Wallace, a witty and talented writer whose optimism and enthusiasm about everything in life will have you cheering him on as he begins his adventure.

            'Join Me' is the true story of how Danny Wallace set up a cult by accident. Whilst sitting in his flat bored one day, Danny decided to stick an advert simply saying 'Join Me' into a newspaper and see what happened. All people had to do to join was to send a passport photo of themselves to a PO Box address, and they would become 'Joinee's. The result? Over 1000 people from all over the world sending their photo to Danny without knowing what or why they were joining. (In fact, Danny didn't come up with a cause until later either!). Danny decided to make these Joinee's his 'Karma Army', and together they set of to do random acts of kindness every Friday.

            Along the way, Danny finds himself in some bizzare situations, including appearing on a Belgium TV show, trying to catch an OAP fraudster, and confusing his long-suffering girlfriend Hanne whom he kept his 'Join Me' mission from.

            'Join Me' is an absolute gem of a book, Danny is the unlikely hero who can only see the good in people and who you would love as a best friend. He is enthusiastic and excitable and when he starts a mission there is no stopping him. In fact, you may find yourself wanting to Join Him yourself! (The 'Karma Army' is still going strong today).

            The book is published by Ebury Press and is available on Amazon and other book shops. I defy you not to find this funny!

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              29.06.2008 17:16
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              Interesting book idea

              This is an engaging, true and funny account of one mans attempt to form a cult, in fact the author Danny Wallace would dny that in fact he formed a cult as this was never his intention but in the end it seemed to be the easiest way to describe his join me concept so the label has stuck, indeed he was on Jonathon Ross a couple of weeks back and he used the word then so I guess he has come to terms with it.

              This i an amusing book that tells the story of how a simple advert in the London free paper Loot snow balled into a membership of over a million people spread across the globe. It all started after attending a great uncle funeral in Switzerland for rather obscure reasons Wallace decided to form a group by posing the simple request Join Me in an advert with a PO Box address and the request for people to send a passport sized photo.

              The story follows from the first person to reply to it achieving certain landmarks along the way that has Wallace travelling to meet people all across Europe for a concept that many have no idea about even when they actually join.

              This is an amusing book written in a lads mag style and as such it is one of those books that is ideal to read in short bursts. There is a nice under stated humour to the whole thing. There is even a website to check out and it is a boo that is well worth reading.

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                18.01.2007 20:52
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                Story of the formation of join me.

                It is not often you get the opportunity to join a cult that does not require you to had over all of your money but that is what Danny Wallace is offering people and in fact all you actually have to do is agree to do a good deed for someone every Friday, once a member, Friday becomes Good Friday as it is the day that you will carry out your deed. There is no great long initiation process and no need to learn countless mantras or religious dogma, all you need to join is send Danny a passport photo of yourself, you may even include a small item like the menu for your favourite Indian restaurant like Joinne Jonesy the first one to join the cult did but this is purely optional and was in fact something unique to Jonesy. Mind you in those days you were not joining a cult rather it was a collective.

                For those who have never heard of Danny Wallace let me explain and for those who are thinking that the name is vaguely familiar this may be because he is the former flatmate of the comic Dave Gorman who wrote a book about his own search around the world for people who share the name Dave Gorman and Wallace was co-author of this book. Wallace is a journalist and comedy writer who lives in the east end of London and is the sort of character who would write the amusing articles in men magazines like Arena and FHM.

                Join Me is a very funny account of the events that followed Wallace attending the funeral of his great uncle Gallus Breitenmoser who was from the Swiss side of the family (in case you are not up to date on your Swiss surnames). Gallus was a farmer and lived in a small Swiss village all of his life. After the funeral Wallace is invited to take one item from the house as a keepsake and decides to take his pipe as a gift for his girlfriend Hanne, at the same time he also learns that Gallus had tried to start up a commune in his village when he was a young man however the plan floundered when he only attracted three members. Returning to London and at a loose end and being the sort of bloke who enjoys rather pointless challenges he decides to honour the memory of Gallus by getting 100 people to join him in a collective. He then posts a simple advert in Loot the free London advertising paper that simply says JOIN ME and asks people to send a passport photo to his home address.

                What follows is an amusing well written book that just flows effortlessly along as Wallace begins to decide exactly what Join Me should actually mean and the book also charts the impact it has on his own life, those close to him and also those that respond to his request. The fact that the book is true and that the people featured including photos are real people certainly makes this an interesting read with some real laugh out loud moments in the book.

                There is a lads feel to the comedy however I would not categorise this as a lads book merely it reflects the life of a mid twenties metro male living in London with too much time on his hands and an ability to use his knowledge of the media to his advantage. Certainly Wallace comes across as an easy going sort of guy who just happens to stumble into a number of amusing situations. He has quite a dry sense of humour and also can be quite literal at times in the way he delivers the funny moments in his book and I think that one of the reasons I liked this book so much is that his sense of humour very much mirrors my own.

                This is more than just a funny read it is also quite an engrossing one, the style of writing makes use of short chapters which helps keep the pages turning and the text is punctuated with pictures and newspaper articles that help chart the progress of Join Me. As I got into the book I fund it very hard to put down as I had a thirst to find out whether he succeeds in his task and also to see how the number of other sub plots within the book such as a take over attempt of the collective and his relationship with Hanne (who he did not tell about his setting up of Join Me) turn out in the end.

                This is certainly quite a light hearted read and ideal as a travel companion or a couple of days on the beach if you are off to grab some winter sun.

                The book does explore a number of quite interesting themes. The way Join Me becomes an obsession for Wallace was very interesting and reminded me a little of the writing of Nick Hornby who charted his own obsession with Arsenal in Fever Pitch. It is also quite interesting to consider the fact that there were people initially prepared to join up based on a simple advert and the fact that there is a lot of people out there who are quite prepared to carry out good deeds but need that little push or a feeling that they are not alone for them to take the step and actually do something.

                Certainly this book is well worth checking out and it does make an interesting read. My copy was obtained from readitswapit however the rrp is £6.99 for the paperback and the book is currently available at Amazon for £4.89 new and from £2.29 in the new and used section.

                Published by Ebury Press the ISBN is 009189562

                Wallace has written a number of other books including Random Acts of Kindness -365 Ways to make the World a better place which is a sort of follow up to this book as well as Yes Man which is my next planned read.

                Thanks for reading and rating my review.

                If you want more information on Join Me check out www.joinme.info. however wait until you have read the book first.

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              • Product Details

                How could you refuse the polite invitation of begoggled Danny Wallace in Join Me? You don't know what you could be missing out on. It's all about living for the moment in this quirky, seemingly pointless yet addictive narrative. Finding himself with too much time on his hands after quitting his BBC job, Danny revels in sitting around in his pants and generally taking a break from the responsibilities of working life. Danny attends the funeral of his great uncle Gallus and finds out that he had set up a commune of like-minded people to escape Swiss small town small-mindedness in the 1940s. Intrigued by this idea, on his return to London Danny places a cryptic advert in the classified ads paper Loot and gets some surprising results.