The Philosophy of a Mad Man by Steven Colborne

I was unsure what to expect from this intriguingly titled book but I was quickly engaged by the author’s simple, candid style and his clear intention to help others gain from his challenging personal experiences, which include losing his mother and one of his best friends to cancer and developing mental health problems that were sufficient to have him sectioned.

Having always been somewhat in awe of philosophers, I really liked his democratisation of philosophy:

“I would hate the idea that you would consider yourself to be any less of a philosopher than Aristotle or Plato, than Kant or Descartes, or any of the other philosophers studied throughout the world.”

When he expounds his own philosophy, he makes it both accessible and acceptable. It was a privilege to share his thoughts and I really appreciate the courage and conviction that it must have taken him to do this.

Without aggressively preaching, but rather by reasoned, very sane argument, he persuaded me to reconsider my self-professed atheist status. I’d now think twice before choosing that tag rather than agnostic. It’s that powerful a book.

On a more prosaic note, having bought the paperback rather than the Kindle version, I really appreciated its design and layout. The flamboyant front cover, reminiscent of a Victorian fairground (I guess you’d have to call it Steampunk these days!), turned out to be appropriate for the colourful character of this highly individual writer. (He really does wear a top hat!) The page layout within, with a blank page after every chapter, worked really well as a kind of palate cleanser between short, intense discussions of single topics, and it provided the reader with the mental breathing space needed to digest this unusual book. I don’t think I’d have got that effect from an ebook  – a great example of how format can really affect the way a book is read.

By the way, I bought this book as a paperback, just after it was published, via Amazon, because they had a special launch offer, reducing the price from £8.99 RRP to just £2.39 – something that I  believe came as a surprise to the author at the time. Maybe Amazon had spotted it as something interesting and different and wanted to give it a helping hand to raise its profile and sales. But as with all Amazon issues – who knows?! Their discount certainly swung my decision to purchase and to take a punt on an unknown author. If anyone can shed any light on this phenomenon, I’d be very interested to find out about it! The book’s also available on Kindle, by the way, though its arresting, unusual cover will look pretty nice on any physical bookshelf! 

The Philosophy of A Mad Man by Steven Colborne is published by SilverWood Books as part of their growing “Memoir and Biography” section. It’s available to order via SilverWood’s online bookshop, via Amazon and to order from any good bookshop. Please support your local high street bookshop if you can – use it or lose it!

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