Working class boy by Jimmy Barnes

Kate workingclassboyBeing memoir, my favourite genre, ‘Working Class Boy’ is a book I considered many times but, not really a fan of Jimmy Barnes and or knowing anything about his life, it really didn’t appeal to me. Not until, that is, he won the biography category at the Australian Book Industry Awards, and then I quickly borrowed the ebook before anyone else could!

‘It is the story of what shaped my life,’ Jimmy said. ‘The good, the bad and the very, very ugly.’
His brutally honest storytelling, about things I would rather not know, made this a difficult book for me to read, and I felt he wasn’t giving me any credit as a reader, repeating things and telling me not showing me. After the third time he wrote, ‘as I said before …’ I vowed to quit if he wrote it again. But he didn’t, and I became captivated by the sense of healing I was witnessing as Jimmy searched for hope in his story, quite often using a wicked sense of humour at what seemed inappropriate times. I soon realised this was his way of coping with the ugliness of it all. The book felt like a confession, an opening up by Jimmy. At first he sounded hesitant and unsure, but I could sense him settling into his new role as an author and imagined the healing tears flowing along with the healing words.
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When breath becomes air by Paul Kalanithi

Amy When Breath Becomes AirWhen Breath Becomes Air is the memoir of a man who realises that his life is to be cut short, dramatically. Paul Kalanithi was 36, and about to complete his training as a neurosurgeon, when he found out he had terminal cancer. I didn’t find the book as emotionally harrowing as I thought I might. It is the story of a man with many gifts and interests, who strived to find the best way to help people make life meaningful. At the very end of his medical training, before he was able to bring to fruition all his plans, he was given a terrible gift; that of experiencing life as a patient facing his own death. It is, of course, very sad, but it is also hopeful, and uplifting, and encourages the reader to live thoughtfully.

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As you wish : inconceivable tales from the making of The Princess Bride by Cary Elwes

Amy As You WishI saw The Princess Bride at Roseville cinema, when it came out. I loved it then, and have seen it many times since; it is a classic. There are lots of interesting stories about the making of the film in this book, and some insights into the people who made it. I was a little in love with Andre the Giant, in the 80s, so very much enjoyed reading about him. Ultimately, I didn’t like this book as much as I had hoped, because Elwes does that thing where every single person is described as amazingly talented, and extraordinary to work with. I find that relentless fawning over everyone rather wearisome, but it was still an enjoyable trip down memory lane, and I may watch the movie again this weekend….

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Hunger by Roxane Gay

Amy HungerI think this is a really important book. Something terrible happened to Roxane Gay when she was twelve, and part of how she dealt with it, was to eat and eat until she was very overweight. Thirty years later and she is still trying to find where she fits. Hunger is Roxane Gay’s story of her body, and it is far from my story, and yet much of it is familiar. Ultimately, it encourages us to be kind; to see and care for people, not just their bodies.

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What would Beyonce do?! by Luisa Omielan

what would beyJust finished the most hilarious audiobook, it was like being at a comedy show where the laughs (briefly interrupted by moments of tears) are non-stop for seven hours. I guess the paperback or ebook would be just as funny but not as enjoyable as hearing Luisa Omielan narrate it herself with such passion, conviction and enthusiasm, so much so I had to stop myself from yelling ‘go sister!’ time and time again with such passion, conviction and enthusiasm. Continue reading

First we make the beast beautiful by Sarah Wilson

Amy First we make the beast beautifulIt was really great to get a picture of what anxiety can be like to live with; how it feels, and how easy it can be to misunderstand an anxious person. I found that element of this book fascinating and helpful. Otherwise, I found it confused and confusing, contradictory and scattered. There are many more questions in the book, than answers, but perhaps the journey will be helpful to other travellers.

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Not drowning, reading by Andrew Relph

Amy not drowning, readingAndrew Relph was born after a tragedy in his family. The event left his parents unable to respond to him, emotionally, as they should have. Though he, himself, had great difficulty reading, his mother read to him, and in books he found the connection, relationship, conversation and emotion that he was missing. There is a fair bit about psychotherapy in this book, the author became a psychotherapist, and perhaps because the particular books he has written about, are not ones I have loved, I didn’t connect with this book so much. It is about the immense power of reading, but I found How Proust can Change Your Life , by Alain de Botton, a far more engaging book on the subject.

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The hate race by Maxine Beneba Clarke

Amy The Hate RaceThe Hate Race is a thoughtful, nostalgic, confronting, funny, sad, and important book. Maxine Beneba Clarke grew up in Sydney, not too far from where I grew up, in the 90s. Though she is younger than I am, there is so much that is familiar in her childhood, including her feelings of being different , being left out, being made fun of. Her “fault”, however, was not being uncool, or failing to meet the current standard of beauty, it was that she is of Afro-Caribbean descent. The racism she experienced, and continues to experience, is both insidious and in your face; from those you’d expect, and those from whom you would expect protection. It is relentless, shocking and destructive. We need to know what it is like, so we can do our part in resisting this element of our culture. Clarke is a great storyteller, and this is a great story for us all.

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The Astronaut Wives Club by Lily Koppel


What a wonderful read this hidden little treasure of a book is.  Not only does this detail the strength of these women, it documents how smart they were despite the times determining their destiny to a large degree.  They were conditioned to support their men in their space quests and largely take a back seat to their accomplishments and fame, however, this book really individualises these amazing women, their daily lives, and how they coped with the stress, loss, danger and least of all the unrelenting press of the day!  It was difficult to have a favourite; they were all amazing and admirable women in their own right. 

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The happiness project by Gretchen Craft Ruben

caitlin-happiness-projectBook lovers – is there anything much more exciting when planning your holiday than deciding what to take to read?
The beginning of a new year brings a mental refresh of your life, a chance to examine the way you are living and the impetus to change it if desired.
Gretchen Rubin’s memoir The Happiness Project provides a thoughtful template for examining your life and inspiration for ways to change it, should you wish.
Rubin is the first to admit she has little to be unhappy about, as such, this book is not directed at overcoming adversity, rather it is about small changes, actions or resolutions you can make and setting yourself a plan to make it happen. Continue reading