Books

THE UPGRADE

Bored, broke and struggling to survive in one of the most expensive cities on earth, Paul Carr comes to the surprising realization that it would actually be cheaper to live in a luxury hotel in Manhattan than in his tiny one-bedroom apartment. Inspired by that possibility, he decides to sell most of his possessions, abandon his old life and spend a year living entirely without commitments, as a modern-day nomad.

Thanks to Paul’s ability to talk his way into increasingly ridiculous situations, what begins as a one-year experiment soon becomes a permanent lifestyle – a life lived in luxury hotels and mountain-top villas. A life of fast cars, Hollywood actresses and Icelandic rock stars. Of 6,000-mile booty calls, of partying with 800 female hairdressers dressed only in bedsheets, and of nearly dying at the hands of Spanish drug dealers. And, most bizarrely of all, a life that still costs less than his surviving on cold pizza in his old apartment.

Yet, as word of Paul’s exploits starts to spread – first online, then through a national newspaper column and eventually a book deal – he finds himself forced constantly to up the stakes in order to keep things interesting. With his behavior spiraling to dangerous – and sometimes criminal – levels, he is forced to ask the question: is there such a thing as too much freedom?

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BRINGING NOTHING TO THE PARTY

As a journalist covering the first dot.com boom, Paul Carr spent his life meeting the world’s most successful young Internet entrepreneurs.

In doing so he came to count many of them amongst his closest friends. These friendships meant he was not only able to attend their press conferences and speak at their events, but also get invited to their ultra-exclusive networking events in London and New York, get drunk at their New Year parties in their luxury Soho apartments and tag along when they threw impromptu parties at strip clubs after raising tens of millions of pounds in funding. And being a lowly hack, rather than a super-hyped new media mogul, Paul was able to enjoy this bizarre world of excess without actually having to be part of it. To help the moguls celebrate raising their millions without having to face the wrath of the venture capitalists himself.

There was just one problem. He wanted to be rich and famous too. So, at the age of 25, Paul decided he didn’t want to be a spectator any more. He had been harbouring a great dot.com project of his own and, with a second Internet boom on the horizon, he decided it was time to do something about it. In ‘Bringing Nothing to the Party’, Paul uses his unparalleled (and totally uncensored) access to tell the real story of a unique group of hard-partying, high-achieving young entrepreneurs – and his attempts to join them, whatever the cost.

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SOBER IS MY NEW DRUNK

Paul Bradley Carr gave up booze with the same verve and originality that he brought to his life as a drunk.

For one thing, he didn’t go to Alcoholics Anonymous, an organization that, he writes, “breeds an ‘it’s not my fault’ mentality that refuses to accept that anyone can ever truly be cured of the ‘disease’ of alcoholism.”

Instead, Carr quit in the most non-anonymous way imaginable: He posted an open letter on his popular website. The letter was both a confession and an invitation for public scrutiny. “No matter where I was,” he recalls, “there was always a chance that someone had read my post and was waiting to catch me with a drink in my hand.” To help keep himself on the straight and narrow, Carr still has a counter at the top of his site, ticking off the number of days he’s gone without a drink.

In this bracing (but zero-proof) tale of recovery, Carr delivers his own provocative twelve steps to building a life without booze. Step No. 2? Skip the AA meetings and seek sobriety through Twitter, Facebook, and the Internet. Salvation, Carr argues, lies down a path paved with social media.

His hard-earned advice, punctuated with anecdotes that are both cautionary and comic (a bender once took him to Iceland, where he drunkenly believed he’d get better Wi-Fi), is given with humility and goodwill. Along the way, Carr celebrates the simple yet overlooked pleasures of sobriety—weight loss, a renewed love life, the ability to buy a phone or laptop without promptly losing it in a bar. As he slowly discovers, a sober life actually CAN be fun. What’s more, he’ll remember it.

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