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I was in the situation recently when somebody I work with gave me a book saying I had to read it, and whilst it wasn't my usual kind of thing I felt obliged to read it. My colleague knows I'm a cat owner and crazy cat lady, and so lent me 'A Street Cat Named Bob'. ~Plot~ This book is the true story of a man named James Bowen. He had an unsettled childhood moving between and around the UK and Australia, and eventually ended up on the streets in London and addicted to heroin. The book starts when he is living in a supported housing flat, and one night he comes across an injured stray cat. The book follows James and the cat, whom he names Bob. He nurses Bob back to health and is inspired by his new responsibilities as a pet owner to sort his own life out and come off the methadone replacement he's on for his heroin addiction. ~My thoughts~ I read this book and thought it was fairly average. I felt there's not much of a story, and what could have been a 75 page novella was stretched out for 300 pages (and these pages had massive font and were really spaced out) The author managed to write a whole paragraph on taking the cat to be neutered. It felt like a thin story stretched out very far. I did find that the book got better as it went on, and towards the end I was feeling more positive about it than at the beginning. I didn't think the book was particularly well written, but then given James's background I guess that's understandable - he never set out to be an author. Whilst he seems like a really good guy who made some bad choices at times, I found him to be incredibly defensive. Simple things like taking Bob to be microchipped and neutered would involve about 5 pages of justifying his decisions. He would explain how he knew some people wouldn't agree with it but he did it due to x y and z reasons (which seem like basic pet care to me) I wondered if James's experiences on the streets and the treatment he has received from people have made him assume that people always think the worst of him, which I found very sad. I wanted to tell him just to have confidence in his own decisions and not worry about what other people thought about them. After I finished this book I looked online and saw that readers have generally rated this book 5 stars across the board. I was completely amazed at what I felt was an average book was so loved. I was a bit worried that I am just a cold hearted cow to be honest! I liked the book because of the link to the cat, I'm a big cat lover and my own kitty is ginger so I could imagine Bob with his love and loyalty supporting James through his own battles. Bob is certainly an intelligent cat with real character and you can youtube them to see him in action! I come into contact with homeless people and people with drug/alcohol addiction through work so I don't think James's story was particularly shocking or surprising to me. Maybe it appeals to a wider readership who might not come into contact with people like James and so it is an insight into a section of society we don't usually hear about. I hope this doesn't sound like I'm trying to make myself out as some kind of martyr as that is not the intention, but I don't think the book had the same impact on me due to my familiarity with the subject area. However I can see how people could get a real insight into the way some people in live and some of the challenges and difficulties they face. Many comments online seem to be people saying it has changed their perception of Big Issue sellers and the homeless so that's a real positive. Overall I felt that a sweet little story was stretched out too far into a fairly average book. The cat was a cutie and I enjoyed hearing about him, and I was touched by the relationship between James and the cat. There is a second book in this series but I don't think I'll be seeking it out. I hope James (and Bob) are in a safe and happy place at the moment. I'm trying to work out what is missing for me to feel so differently about this book - is it just a subject matter I'm familiar with or am I just a cold girl named Staceymylove?? I wouldn't say the story is up to much but it's an easy read and if it means people thinking more about the people they walk past in the street then that has to be a positive. It just didn't do much for me, but it would be a boring and less creative world if everybody liked the same things!
===The Product=== A Street Cat Named Bob: How One Man and His Cat Found Hope on the Streets By James Bowen and journalist Garry Jenkins. Paperback: 288 pages Publisher: Hodder Paperbacks (13 Sep 2012) ISBN-13: 978-1444737110 ===Cost=== On Amazon the full cost would be £7.99 but currently selling for £3.85. Also on sale for £2.81 second hand. ===Other Formats=== Kindle Edition £3.49. Hardcover £14.65. Audio Book read by Kris Milnes £9.99. ===Other Bob Books=== The World According to Bob: The Further Adventures of One Man and His Street-wise Cat. £8.00. Hardcover: 304 pages published 4 July 2013. Bob: No Ordinary Cat [Paperback] £5.24 and published 14 Feb 2013. A special edition for children age 11 and above, featuring 8 pages of photographs. Where in the World is Bob? [Hardcover] £9.09 and to be released on October 10, 2013. My Name is Bob [Paperback] £6.99 and to be released on May 1, 2014. ===Brief Synopsis=== Basically the story is of James Bowen, a recovering drug addict, originally from Australia but who is now busking on the streets of London. The story follows his meeting with Bob, a stray ginger tom cat - who teams up with him. The book details their first few years together. ===My Opinion=== My sister got me this book last Christmas as she knows I love cats - we have three. I had not read the book before but I have seen James and Bob on a few TV talk shows. This is an easy to read book and was written by James Bowen with assistance from journalist Garry Jenkins. This is not a depressing book even though it is about a drug addict. James came to the UK from Australia but descended into drug taking and was eventually a heroin addict living rough on the streets. James had evidently hit rock bottom but was beginning to try and turn himself around as at the beginning of the book we learn that he is on Methadone and now has a little flat - though still busking on the streets to support himself. James was acquainted with pet cats from his childhood but never knowingly sought out any pet at this time. Bob, as he later came to be called, just turned up one day and the pair of misfits found that they had a common bond which grew daily. This is a heart warming tale of how having a pet to look after can give your life a certain purpose and meaning. The book details how the pair became inseparable and managed to spend lots of time together - despite some scary episodes on the streets. This is written in an easy and familiar style and you can get through this book reasonably quickly. There has now been a sequel plus the book has been brought out in a junior version for over elevens and there is a book for even younger readers coming out in 2014. Both James and Bob make a great pair of characters and it is evident that they were destined to be together and are good for each other. Lovely to see how love can help people and animals - as they were giving each other just what was needed. An uncomplicated story but still heart warming and enjoyable. Quite eye opening for someone who did not know much about life on the streets of London and realise how difficult it can be to finally come off drugs. If you are unacquainted with Bob just google 'Bob Street Cat' and you will be able to see him on Youtube. ===Star Rating=== 5 stars. ===Would I Recommend?=== Yes. ===Website=== No website as such but James and Bob have a Facebook page - www.facebook.com/StreetCatBob and a Twitter account - https://twitter.com/StreetCatBob
I absolutely adored this book. A Streetcat Named Bob is the story of James Bowen, a recovering drug addict just getting back on his feet and living in sheltered housing, who comes across this ginger tom cat (Bob) one evening and develops an instant bond with him. Bob is in quite poor health, but still has real character and James soon establishes that Bob has no home and battles with the bond so quickly developed as well as his own personal difficulties to make a decision about what to do. Ultimately the bond and instinct is too strong, and James takes him in and resolves to restore Bob to full health. The book covers the relationship between James and Bob, as they become inseparable including Bob taking an active role in James' day time activities too - James is earning his money from busking when the book starts. Bob soon recovers to good health and proves to be a real hit when James is out and about. Bob helps James to confront and battle his own demons and although corny, it really does seem that they each saved the others' life. The book spans their first few years together, covering a variety of anecdotes, scares and scrapes. In Bob, James has a real focus as well as a true soul-mate, and their love for one another is deep and evident at every step. The book is extremely easy to read, I took this book away with me and read it in a couple of sittings - although I'm naturally a fast reader. After a few chapters I was wondering how the book would manage to stretch out for 21 chapters, but they really rattle by at a pace and in the end there is no feeling that the story has been dragged out, it's a really lovely story arc. It's also quite moving in places, with some real "feelgood" moments in there. James' style of writing is very easy-going and open, you feel close to both James and Bob, and through that style, I found that I really cared about them both very quickly. For a cat lover like me it really is a must-read book. It's not just a lovey-dovey cat story though, it also gives a really good insight into life on the street for people like James trying to find their way back. I can honestly say (perhaps to my shame) it has made me look at some of my own attitudes in a different way. I was left wanting to know more about James & Bob and have since seen a couple of pieces online about their story, and some footage of the two of them. Looking online now, I see that there is a second book to be published in 2014, as well as a younger readers version of the story. I would recommend this book to anyone, but certainly anyone who has ever had a cat in their lives should definitely read James & Bob's story at some point. Five stars all the way!
A Street Cat Named Bob by James Bowen --------------------------------------------------------------- Last night I looked at one of my cats, Lily, as she lay curled up snug and warm inside her wicker basket nestled in a tight ball cocooned in the warmth of her fleecy under blanket. There is nothing so calm and relaxing as the sight of a cat fast asleep. It wasn't the same though for "Bob The Street Cat" or his owner James Bowen - both sleeping rough - both lost souls fighting for survival in a material world that had left them long behind. James Bowen is the author of the book " A Street Cat Named Bob" but he is no ordinary writer. He is a man with a very troubled past. He, like so many homeless people, found himself in the predicament through a series of circumstances in which he was lost somewhere during his early years. His mother split from his father and then James found himself emigrating to Australia as a young boy as his mother took different jobs, and then further moves within that continent left him bewildered and alone desperately seeking to be needed and never finding acceptance, and enduring bullying. Eventually he found himself on the streets of London, and seeking solace in drugs his life spiralled out of control, until he was eventually helped to try to re-establish his life through the aid of a drug rehabilitation program. Busking for a living in the vibrant tourist area of Covent Garden paid just enough to live in a bedsit far away from the limelight and prosperity of the city centre, and it was here in the shadows of the hallway to this sheltered accommodation he met Bob, thin injured and frail a homeless cat desperately seeking help. Non judgemental Bob didn't know he had met a drug addict in rehab who could barely make enough money to feed himself and who needed all the strength of character to stay clean, but he had actually found a soul mate. The book is a tribute to the two of them who are mutually intertwined as they desperately seek to get in shape whether on feet or paws. I first became aware of this book in the Petplan magazine which is free to those with policies. Normally I might have just glanced at the article but the photo of James absolutely blew me away as he is the image of my eldest son. I had to look twice because the faces, hair and expressions are identical, it was a very surreal moment. Also my son is also called Robert and is often referred to as Bob so I knew I had to read the book. I ordered the book from Amazon just before Christmas and took it with me to read on a long ferry crossing. As the waves battered the vessel I was depending on to get me across the seas, it mirrored the storms that I am sure James faced as he battled his addiction, but somewhere in the calm as the winds died down he found a space in his life to help this beautiful cat get his life back. This is an inspirational story that I believe is now to be made into a film that is predicted to be as popular as Marley and Me. The book has already sold 250,000 copies and is now to be released next month in a childrens version which has a more simplistic approach and omits the references to drugs. It has to be said though that the book is not about drug abuse- yes it is mentioned but not dwelt on, which I think is right as James was in recovery at the time he met Bob. I think what really endears me to this book is the way that it is written. It is an easy to read book that flows beautifully and for me holds some very poignant and memorable moments. Not wishing to spoilt a reader's enjoyment by giving too much detail away, suffice to say that James portrays his first Christmas day with Bob in a way that made me feel absolutely in awe of the author in his ability to appreciate so much in so little. Loving cats I suppose makes this book an easy read for me as I have had them all my life, and have delighted in so many of their unique habits and rejoiced in so many of their self preservation rituals. Cats are such clean and proud creatures and make wonderful companions, but many remain aloof, but occasionally a gem comes along that is able to form a very close knit bond with their owner. It is however unusual, though not unheard of, to see cats out and about on leads as Bob was to do as he accompanied James to Covent Garden on his busking expeditions. It reminded me so much of a person who lives locally to me and I often see out and about with their cat on a harness. I always make a point of talking to them and am always welcomed, but told many times that the cat is their reason for living and their soul mate. This book is a heart-warming story of a chance encounter between two very lost souls who come together and offer mutual support, and it is this story that fills the book with optimism with only a fleeting glance of a life gone by in desperate times. It is also a glimpse into the sad truth about homeless people who are unique in their own personal journey as to how they arrive in this dark place. I always think about them at night when the stars are out and the winter night is cold and a biting wind blows, I imagine them huddled in doorways and freezing - it is such a sad reality of the ones we so easily forget and I hope this book will raise awareness of them and promote understanding and empathy. James is an articulate individual well educated and intelligent and this comes across in his ability to tell the story with maturity, and this also helps to highlight the fact that so many people are homeless and not all from one stereotype. Cats love three things- warmth, food and companionship and James provided them all- he even attended to his veterinary bills on his limited income. It is a tale of hope and promise and a wonderful insight into the human spirit that reaches out even when it is struggling to survive itself. It is incredible. If you are interested in finding out more James has a 7 minute video on YouTube that gives you an insight into his world and the book can be purchased from Amazon for £3.86.
I am a big lover of cats; I have four of my own and affectionately refer to them as my fur-kids. Dude is 9 years old, Geezer is 8 years old, Asbo is 5 years old and the baby Dexter is just over a year old and I wouldn't be without any of them. If I win Euro-millions or even the lottery then my dream would be to open a cattery for unloved and unwanted cats and kittens. A second passion of mine is reading, a total bookworm and a Kindle convert, though I do still read paper and hard back books and in my local supermarket there is usually a deal on when buying paperback books and this time I found myself purchasing a book called "A Street-cat named Bob" written by James Bowen and I was drawn to it because of the lovely face of Bob who has lovely big green eyes and appears on the front cover wearing a little scarf. There has been a lot of media hype recently about this book, rumours are that it is to be turned into a film and many have compared it to the story of Marley and Me, if that is the case then I will definitely want to go and see it. But the book is based on a simple story of Man meets cat. James Bowen is a young man whose life hasn't been easy; he had fallen on hard times. His life had been somewhat chaotic as he moved between families in Britain and Australia. James then ended up on the sleeping rough on the streets of London for two years and sadly hooked on heroin, which he says helped him forget his homelessness. James thankfully ended up being moved into some sheltered accommodation thanks to the kindness of charity and managed to get himself onto a methadone programme to help him beat his addiction and this story is about where and how he met Bob, the street cat in 2007. Bob is a ginger and white cat who was found hiding under the stairwell in the building in which James lived. Concerned for the well being of the cat whom it was discovered had an injury to his leg; James took Bob to the RSPCA for treatment on his injury and nursed him back to health, Bob wasn't micro-chipped so there was no way to trace his owners if he had any. During this time James had asked around locally to see if the cat belonged to anyone and with no one coming forward, James grew attached to Bob and likewise for Bob with James and pretty soon, despite James trying to release Bob back into the great outdoors in the hope he would be reunited with a family who might be missing him, the two became inseparable. James was a Busker in Covent Garden which is hugely popular with tourists, if you ever go to Covent Garden you will find an array of street performers and other acts such as magicians and so on to keep you entertained as you make your way through, what is a very crowded shopping area. Bob began to follow James to his Busking spot, getting onto the same bus as James and even sitting next to him on the journey to Covent Garden, worried about Bob becoming injured, James began putting a lead on him, so he could keep an eye on him. Once in Covent Garden Bob would sit on James' shoulder, this attracting even more attention of those passing by. James then moved on from Busking to selling 'The Big Issue' and with Bob by his side, life moved pretty quickly with the writing of the book and to it becoming quite a big hit in the top 10 paperback charts. For me this story isn't about some homeless man who just finds a cat, it has one or two other issues. It's a stark reminder that James lived on the streets of London, sleep rough and you do get a little bit of an insight as to what it was like, although it is a fleeting insight because it doesn't form a big part of the book. For me homelessness is one of those things that I can't quite comprehend in today's society and will quite often buy 'The big issue' and have in the past bought a hot drink and a sandwich for a local homeless guy, who has since moved on. For anyone who has no idea about 'The Big Issue' then go visit their homepage and read all about them it is fascinating. The other thing that this story is about for me is love and companionship. As I said, I have got 4 cats and I cannot imagine them being in this world with no one to look after and care for them, I would go hungry to ensure that they are fed first and cats are one of those animals who give a lot of love, they help you de-stress and whilst mine all have their own personalities they are loyal creatures who want to be loved and give love. I really liked the writing style of this book because it is full of love and James somehow manages to make Bob sound like a human being with the way he describes their life together. Finding Bob and becoming part of each others lives is fate I feel, without one another I cant imagine where James would be now, possibly still struggling with life and for Bob, who knows what might have happened to him given his injuries, I am thankful they found one another. I really hope there will be a sequel to this book, I would love to know how James managed to get himself and Bob a book deal and I would like to know what happens next and what has been happening for the two of them. I have read and seen quite a lot of interviews that James has done and really liked the fact that he had hopes and dreams for himself and Bob, one of which included taking Bob into some local Old Peoples homes so that they can meet him and feel the joy it is to know Bob in the same way James has been lucky to do so. I also now follow them on Twitter and the next time I am in Covent Garden, I intend to wander around to see if they are still around, though part of me hopes that they no longer have to rely on selling the Big Issue and that they are making enough money to live an easier life. I am glad James has managed to turn his and Bob's life around and I wish them many happy years together and one day I do hope I come across them both, if nothing more than to stroke Bob, who sounds utterly wonderful and brilliant. Whether or not you are a lover of animals, this book is worthy of a read, it does serve as a stark reminder that there are some people less fortunate than ourselves in the world who are trying to better themselves and it is also a reminder for me that there are abandoned and unloved and wanted animals out there looking for comfort, food and love, I just wish I had a bigger home to take them all in. This book can be purchased from all known retailers and it ranges in prices from £3.87 right up to £10.99 for a hardback copy and is 288 pages long.
Wow! If you are an Animal lover then you will be hooked on this beautiful tale (or should I say tail) about a man and his cat. James' writing style, warmth and honesty makes this book what it is, a simple, heart-warming read from cover to cover. James is a recovering drug addict and lives in sheltered accommodation. He comes home one day to find a scruffy, underfed ginger tom cat on the mat opposite his flat door. Thinking the cat may belong to someone he leaves it there for a few days, casually talking to it on his way to and from busking on the streets of London. Soon however, he realises that like him, this cat is homeless, and has nobody to call his own. He decides to take it upon himself to nurse the cat back to health, and spends his hard earned (and often little) cash on getting the cat back into good health. He names him Bob after a character in a favourite film of his about a Jekyll and Hyde character. The rest of the story progress's telling the tale of the many hilarious adventures and occasional upsetting incidents of these two soul mates. From busking, to Big Issue selling, you will not want to put this book down! Bob really does come alive in this book; after a chapter or two you will not think of him as a cat, he really does have a life, personality and heart of his own...and he even has his own waistcoat!