The Travels and Travails of Grandpa Howard is a delightful memoir chronicling the personal and professional life of the author, Howard Johnson. I loved the exciting stories of his childhood life in England, circa 1935. Oh, such freedom! As a much younger person myself, I can only imagine what having such ‘dangerously high’ levels of freedom must feel like.
From the moment I read about a 5-year-old Howard who believed he was old enough to go off to boarding school, I prepared my mind for an adventure-filled story. I wasn’t disappointed. As a wee child, Howard dreamed of becoming an architect, but his father never believed in that dream. In fact, it was the senior man’s conviction that Howard could never amount to anything in life. But life happened; Howard grew up to achieve great successes in architecture, working in multiple countries and opening his own firm at a point. He experienced some regrettable losses as well, especially in his adult life. He also shares events in recent years, involving his family, personal and professional life.
My high point of reading a memoir has to do with what I can learn from the experiences. There are many pertinent ones to be taken from this book. One is to always know and believe in yourself, even in the face of mockery. Howard’s belief in his dreams contributed greatly to his success. Another is to stick with what you know, when it comes to investments and financial decisions. That is one I’m definitely taking to heart. You should read this book if you love memoirs too.
Throughout the book, the author includes pictures of various people and places mentioned to help the reader visualize his story. I must say they achieved this aim. I mention these pictures specifically because they greatly contributed to my understanding this story and finishing the book. I also love that the entire book was arranged in chronological order.
I rate this book 3 out of 4 stars. As delightful as I found this story, the first few chapters were a little boring for me. They felt as though the author was trying hard to recollect a distant memory, which I guess he probably was. As a result, I sometimes found it hard to follow his train of thought. There were also several missing and incorrect punctuations, as well as misspellings I found here and there. I’m sure I would have had a better reading experience without them, and a professionally edited version of this book would be just wonderful.