A Beginner's Guide to Changing the World: A True Life Adventure Story Info

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Tired of half-hearted attempts to effect change in the world,
Isabel Losada decides to walk the talk and embarks on a
journey that takes her from protests in the streets of London to India
and back again.

Sometimes you just have to do something, don't
you? Sometimes an injustice comes along and you think, "No, this cannot
be," and -- rather than just turn off the TV, or throw away the
newspaper one more time -- you know it's time to act.

If you or I
decide to take an action for a cause beyond ourselves, one in which we
have no historical reason to become involved, will we be greeted with
cynicism and become a laughingstock? Perhaps. But I enjoy making people
laugh. So that's the first problem solved.

It doesn't matter what
the injustice is that's got you hopping about. It could be the
destruction of the rain forest, the war in the Middle East, or the drug
addiction in your neighborhood -- it's all the same. It's making a
difference I'm playing with here.

So begins Losada's fast-moving
narrative, a tale of romance, history, travel, politics, Buddhism, human
rights, lively interviews, and, above all, humor. From visits to Nepal
and Tibet to meetings with the Chinese ambassador and Tibetan
awareness-raising groups, Isabel single-handedly hatches a stunning PR
coup involving Trafalgar Square, a sixty-foot banner, and a base-jumping
parachutist launching from Nelson's Column who captures headlines
worldwide ... then she meets the Dalai Lama. Warm and funny, moving and
thought provoking, this astonishing book celebrates the fact that no
matter what our passions are, we can make a difference.

Isabel's
List of Ten Indispensable Things You Need to Change the
World:

  1. A cupboard. To put your TV in.
  2. A crazy,
    wonderful, foolish plan.
  3. Selective deafness. (The complete
    inability to hear the word no.)
  4. A coffee addiction (impossible
    otherwise).
  5. Unconditional love for others --
    24/7.
  6. Deranged friends.
  7. An irrational desire to do mad
    things -- called fundraising (jump out of planes, etc.).
  8. A Web
    site that you made yourself and can maintain yourself. No,
    really!
  9. An unbalanced sense of humor.
  10. Persistence. Joy.
    Persistence. Joy. Persistence. Joy. Persistence.

Average Ratings and Reviews
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4.55

468 Ratings

5

4

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Ratings and Reviews From Market


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Reviews for A Beginner's Guide to Changing the World: A True Life Adventure Story:

5

Oct 21, 2010

Amazing. Can't believe I wrote it. Stare at it in amazement and wonder how I ever did all that. Honestly I think this is a great book because it has history, geography, politics, a marketing and communication seminar... it has Buddhism, romance, humour and adventure. And, most importantly of all, it has inspired people to go out and change the world in their own way.

If you only ever read one book - this would not be a bad choice. And it takes pride in a book to say that about something that you Amazing. Can't believe I wrote it. Stare at it in amazement and wonder how I ever did all that. Honestly I think this is a great book because it has history, geography, politics, a marketing and communication seminar... it has Buddhism, romance, humour and adventure. And, most importantly of all, it has inspired people to go out and change the world in their own way.

If you only ever read one book - this would not be a bad choice. And it takes pride in a book to say that about something that you have written yourself.

I offer it to you with all the love in the title. xxx isabel ...more
5

Jan 19, 2009

I loved, loved, loved this book. It was exactly the right book for me. I almost didn't buy it, though. I'm on a must-resist-book-buying sort of budget, but this book caught my eye at the bookstore. After reading the "Ten Indispensable Things You Need to Change the World" on the back flap, I knew I had to buy this book. (#1 is "A cupboard. To put your TV in." Something I know I should do but don't.)

The book is structured around the author trying to get a better grasp on the serenity prayer, which I loved, loved, loved this book. It was exactly the right book for me. I almost didn't buy it, though. I'm on a must-resist-book-buying sort of budget, but this book caught my eye at the bookstore. After reading the "Ten Indispensable Things You Need to Change the World" on the back flap, I knew I had to buy this book. (#1 is "A cupboard. To put your TV in." Something I know I should do but don't.)

The book is structured around the author trying to get a better grasp on the serenity prayer, which she has carried with her for years:
"Grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change
The courage to change the things I can
And the wisdom to know the difference."

That first bit is where I get stuck. I feel this immense responsibility to devote my life to "changing the world" but I just end up feeling overwhelmed (duh, can you imagine?) and frustrated when I see that there's no silver bullet solution to anything. This book spoke to me in a way that no one ever has. No matter how many times someone has said to me "There is no silver bullet" or "You can't change the world in a day" or whatever, I nodded in agreement but didn't really agree. Deep down, I truly believed that there is a silver bullet and I just had to find it.

But this book taught me that though there may be a silver bullet out there, devoting your life to finding out what it is isn't nearly important as *doing* something that brings you joy and makes you feel as if you're contributing something to the solution. I don't want to ruin the ending, but I will if I say much more than that.

I just really, really loved this book. It's exactly what I needed to read. Thank you, Isabel Losada. ...more
5

Jun 23, 2013

Reading Isabel Losada gives me an unending pleasure and continuing inspiration in life. Her wit makes me feel at home and the beauty and warmth in her writing stays with me always. Professionally, Isabel is forever at hand for help with madcap schemes and ideas a bookseller is forever having to come up with to stand out in the cut throat retail industry, never one to tire of promotion or her brave search for success. Her empathetic approach to the subjects she covers are fresh and unique in a Reading Isabel Losada gives me an unending pleasure and continuing inspiration in life. Her wit makes me feel at home and the beauty and warmth in her writing stays with me always. Professionally, Isabel is forever at hand for help with madcap schemes and ideas a bookseller is forever having to come up with to stand out in the cut throat retail industry, never one to tire of promotion or her brave search for success. Her empathetic approach to the subjects she covers are fresh and unique in a trade that is insistent on producing bulbous hardback parchments of the same thing from the never ending roundabout of celebrity nobodies. Isabel is herself a star, she transcends every other author I have ever met and I feel eternally blessed for having her work by my side at night. I hope that is always the case. I eagerly await the next book with baited breath and an obsessive thirst for her humour and enlightenment. ...more
5

Apr 14, 2011

I found Isabel's book when I was in high school. It was the summer i felt most infinite but didn't know how to call it that yet because there had not been a Chbosky in my life yet. Anyway, this was her adventure in Tibet. i was drawn to it because she really outlined the ways in which everyone could make a difference.

She has since become a friend and though we've never met face to face, we send notes to each other every now and then. She's truly a mentor and her book is worth the read for anyone I found Isabel's book when I was in high school. It was the summer i felt most infinite but didn't know how to call it that yet because there had not been a Chbosky in my life yet. Anyway, this was her adventure in Tibet. i was drawn to it because she really outlined the ways in which everyone could make a difference.

She has since become a friend and though we've never met face to face, we send notes to each other every now and then. She's truly a mentor and her book is worth the read for anyone who has ever dreamed of doing something crazy positive! ...more
4

Aug 09, 2011

Funny and informative, well written and interesting. An unexpectedly successful find!
5

Nov 23, 2014

I absolutely love, love, love this book. It was a hard one to put down. If you are at all interested in Tibet this is a not to be missed.
2

Jan 30, 2012

I really wanted to like this book: it had an interesting topic and it promised laughs through all the book.

So I was quite disappointed when I didn't laugh a single time and saw how desperately the writer tries to be funny without actually being able to...

I still think the topic was quite interesting, but at times it became boring due to all the mixed information we were provided with; I know all that information and confusion has to be part of the book, but it was a bot too much for me.

And, I really wanted to like this book: it had an interesting topic and it promised laughs through all the book.

So I was quite disappointed when I didn't laugh a single time and saw how desperately the writer tries to be funny without actually being able to...

I still think the topic was quite interesting, but at times it became boring due to all the mixed information we were provided with; I know all that information and confusion has to be part of the book, but it was a bot too much for me.

And, according to the story, Losada is a super-dooper person liked by every person that crosses her path... sorry, but I don't buy it! ...more
5

Jan 07, 2009

Fabulous! This is great for any activist that has ever gotten frustrated with the unorganized, bureaucratic nonsense involved with attempting to raise an issue or concern to direct awareness and discussion on a government level. I love the author's unflappable enthusiasm for her cause, the issue of Tibet's occupation by the Chinese. I can relate to her utter committment to positivity, especially in the face of some of the negativity and "you can't do that"-isms of some of the other activists and Fabulous! This is great for any activist that has ever gotten frustrated with the unorganized, bureaucratic nonsense involved with attempting to raise an issue or concern to direct awareness and discussion on a government level. I love the author's unflappable enthusiasm for her cause, the issue of Tibet's occupation by the Chinese. I can relate to her utter committment to positivity, especially in the face of some of the negativity and "you can't do that"-isms of some of the other activists and organizations she attempts to work with. Isabel (you totally feel like you're on a first name BFF basis with the author) manages to travel to Tibet and check out the situation for herself, directly observing and experiencing the chinese oppression. She goes back home to London and attempts to work with some of the local organizations who are working to raise this dicey international political issue, ultimately ends up creating her own organization and staging a big event on her own and is offered a big reward -- an audience with the Dalai Lama himself!
This book is for anyone wondering if one person really can make a difference in the world through positive thoughts and actions-- YES YES and YES!!! ...more
5

Mar 21, 2010

What an incredible book this was! I loved reading Isabel's descriptions of her travels as well as the path she took in trying to make a difference for the people of Tibet. It's completely raised my awareness on a subject that I knew very little about, and I'm horrified by what I've learned regarding China and Tibet. It's disgusting (though sadly, not surprising) that the world has chosen to turn a blind eye to China's activities and outrageous human rights abuses, and Isabel deserves praise, not What an incredible book this was! I loved reading Isabel's descriptions of her travels as well as the path she took in trying to make a difference for the people of Tibet. It's completely raised my awareness on a subject that I knew very little about, and I'm horrified by what I've learned regarding China and Tibet. It's disgusting (though sadly, not surprising) that the world has chosen to turn a blind eye to China's activities and outrageous human rights abuses, and Isabel deserves praise, not only for bringing this subject to the forefront, but also for trying to make a difference.
The horrific earthquake in Haiti occurred while I was reading this book, and this book inspired me to act. Thanks to "A Beginner's Guide to Changing the World", I initiated contact with a local humanitarian organization and am doing what I can to help effect change. This book will inspire you, and if you let it, it can change your world. At the very least, you will never look at China in the same way again.For Tibet, with Love ...more
5

Feb 23, 2016

I really enjoyed this book. It is way out of my usual genres, but I wanted to ease my ignorance of Tibet and the issues involved in a gentle way. Having read another of Losada's books (The Battersea Park Road to Enlightenment), I decided that this was the way to do it. And I was so right. It is an enjoyable read, fun and easy. But it also left a current of disquiet which led me to think far more about the issues of Tibet and China and the people involved.

It also demonstrated the power of the I really enjoyed this book. It is way out of my usual genres, but I wanted to ease my ignorance of Tibet and the issues involved in a gentle way. Having read another of Losada's books (The Battersea Park Road to Enlightenment), I decided that this was the way to do it. And I was so right. It is an enjoyable read, fun and easy. But it also left a current of disquiet which led me to think far more about the issues of Tibet and China and the people involved.

It also demonstrated the power of the individual. Well worth reading! ...more
5

May 27, 2010

I've read this very fast, over three days, as I got it to send to one of my charity recipients and a friend on Bookmooch. It is a stunning book, managing to discuss difficult and tragic issues and yet still be light and humorous too. I am still digesting its content and really do not want to say much about it, except READ IT!
5

Mar 15, 2012

I just re-read this book and it is particularly painful thinking of the protest going on in tibet.

Every person who fancies themselves an activist should read this before they go out to save the world.

4

Oct 31, 2007

A bit oddly written, but captivating and very real. Much more of a delight to read than I'd expected.
4

Dec 14, 2013

Full of the innocence and enthusiasm we should all have in abundance - a remarkable telling of the Tibetan tale.
3

May 15, 2009

This was a nice read. Losada's personal odyssey kept me engaged and added to my sense of Tibetan issues.
3

Jan 24, 2008

I learned much about the Tibeten cause from reading this book. It was slow in parts, but the chapter about her trip to Tibet was interesting.
5

Jul 24, 2011

Keep on banging my head against the wall! Another reason not to support the Chinese regime. If only Britain had done the right thing when they originally took over......
5

Dec 01, 2007

My sister recommended this to me and I'm so glad I read it! It is one of those books that is hilarious in a very real-life comedic way. I loved it and highly recommend it.
5

Apr 06, 2011

This is a MUST read - eye opening, humbling, awesome and just a brilliant Isabel Losada book yet again.
4

May 18, 2019

A really thought-provoking, inspiring, yet funny read. I like Isabel Losada`s way of fear-ignoring exploration of unknown territories and dedication once she has set her mind on something. The book is really honest, too, when it comes to judging her own successes and failures. She takes her readers along on all parts of her journey, the exciting ones as well as the tedious ones. The book values friendship, curiosity, and the power of knowledge - a typical Losada, it would say! A really thought-provoking, inspiring, yet funny read. I like Isabel Losada`s way of fear-ignoring exploration of unknown territories and dedication once she has set her mind on something. The book is really honest, too, when it comes to judging her own successes and failures. She takes her readers along on all parts of her journey, the exciting ones as well as the tedious ones. The book values friendship, curiosity, and the power of knowledge - a typical Losada, it would say! ...more
5

May 27, 2019

Good read about this most depressing situation. What can we do? Not a lot apart from bring awareness and be the change. I don’t see that changing the minds of the Chinese authorities any time soon. The Dalai Lama can’t live forever and the Panchen Lama, who will recognise him in his next reincarnation, was kidnapped by the Chinese when he was 5. They will likely replace him (and who would know) with their own version. No prizes for guessing what will happen then
4

Nov 23, 2019

This book is such a gem! How is it possible that I had never heard of this author before? Isabel Losada is funny, witty, honest and human - all of her qualities shine through in this account of her adventures as an ordinary person trying to make the world a better place. Go read it!
5

Feb 15, 2019

I absolutely loved this book! Isabel writes in a way that really captures the human spirit. It was such a funny, inspiring, uplifting book and I am so happy I discovered her writing. I can't wait to read more of her work!
4

Dec 12, 2011

I almost certainly bought this book because it was a good deal on Kindle. It is not the type of book I usually buy.

To cut a long review short: I enjoyed it.

In a bit more detail: this is all creative non-fiction. I suppose all of it is true (or within the general realm of truth). The book tells us about Isabel Losada's decision to try and make a difference in the world, and choosing the topic of Tibet as the issue she cares enough about to want to contribute a meaningful change.

Quickly, the book I almost certainly bought this book because it was a good deal on Kindle. It is not the type of book I usually buy.

To cut a long review short: I enjoyed it.

In a bit more detail: this is all creative non-fiction. I suppose all of it is true (or within the general realm of truth). The book tells us about Isabel Losada's decision to try and make a difference in the world, and choosing the topic of Tibet as the issue she cares enough about to want to contribute a meaningful change.

Quickly, the book turns into a travel tale of her visit to Tibet, and this is by far the most enjoyable section of the tale. Then, she returns to London, where she noses around all the various Tibet supporting groups to see if she can help in any meaningful way.

This is where things get bogged down.

Oh, very bogged down.

But fear not, towards the end, things briefly become exciting again, but I won't give away the details.

However, a spoiler:
I don't think she manages to do anything meaningful or effective at all - at least, none of the things she does in this book fall into that category. (She might have a different opinion, although she never really puts forward a conclusion about whether her activities were effective or not). However, in a meta-fictional way, I would argue her book is the most meaningful and effective outcome of her adventures - it educated me, a non-Tibet-caring person, about Tibet, and made me more aware about the issues. One could argue that that is ineffective, too, since I won't do anything about Tibet, but hey, maybe some of her other readers will. And maybe they will think about her thoughts and opinions and questions regarding the slogans and rhetoric and methods of campaigning.

Now, all of this might sound like the book should really be a little frustrating to read. And it sort of is: young(ish) woman goes out to change world, has some adventures along the way, does not change world, gets rewarded. As plots go, it won't really make for a good action movie, will it? But the narrative voice and energy of Isabel Losada make for a winning combination. As reader, you end up really liking her, and wanting her to succeed, or at least to find some wisdom, an epiphany, or some kind of success. She comes across as a really genuine person, without the slight smirk that other creative non-fiction writers sometimes obtain. (Say, for example, Jon Ronson, whose work is similarly educational and tongue in cheek, but always just a little aloof and distant - some of the entertainment value of his stuff derives from the outlandishness of the people around him, just like Paul Theroux's TV documentaries do. But Isabel Losada does not do passive bemused smirky stuff: she throws herself into the middle of things and wonders about stuff not with an air of superiority, but with the energy of a participant...)

All in all, I'd give it about 3.5 out of 5 stars (if Goodreads did half stars), but rounded it up because, as reader, I grew rather fond of this particular narrator, even if the book felt frustratingly inconclusive...

I suppose the answer to the question "can an individual change the world?" is "probably not, but that's no excuse for not trying". ...more
4

Jul 25, 2013

Inspirational book. Enjoyed it and would definitely recommend. Introduced me to the trouble of the t8bet and Chinese relations in total truth - without being really upsetting which it looks like a lot of books on the subject could be. Unlike some of losadas other books, the focus seems to be less on herself and more on learning and trying to help others. It is also an adventure-travel true story. I liked her visiting the monks and talking to one. It was quite interesting learning about them and Inspirational book. Enjoyed it and would definitely recommend. Introduced me to the trouble of the t8bet and Chinese relations in total truth - without being really upsetting which it looks like a lot of books on the subject could be. Unlike some of losadas other books, the focus seems to be less on herself and more on learning and trying to help others. It is also an adventure-travel true story. I liked her visiting the monks and talking to one. It was quite interesting learning about them and their way of life and the way native Tibetans live and things imposed on them by the Chinese. The ending is good except the last few paragraphs seem to make it a bit abrupt. I do feel like she doesn't keep up with campaigning for this cause enough even though she investigated thoroughly throughout the book. I also get the feeling she knows she is heroic. Most of it is down to earth and an informative yet entertaining read. At the back there is a list of books, films etc recommended for further reading/learning which I appreciate. ...more

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