“Wildflower” by Drew Barrymore is not, she insists, a memoir, as that seemed too heavy for her. She wanted something light, so this book is a collection of short stories about her adventures, challenges and incredible experiences of her earlier years. Being aware of her life as a troubled Hollywood child star, this collection is very light-hearted, and not being in chronological order, it can be a little confusing to determine when each story takes place compared to the last. But if you are fond of Drew, it is an entertaining, funny and insightful glimpse into how she evolved into the happy mother, actress, author, director, model and producer she is today.
Not the most beautifully written, A Long Way Home is an extraordinary story of a very small, lost, boy holding tight to his memories, being supported by his adoptive parents and using technology methodically and painstakingly to find his family. It is uplifting and hopeful, if not very revealing of personality.
Insomniac City is a love story, about a man who falls in love with New York City and Oliver Sacks. It must be more than twenty years since I read my first Oliver Sacks book, and I have read many since, feeling so drawn to this gentle, ever curious, genius of a man. And, while I am not especially keen on the US as a whole, New York is different, magical somehow. So, this memoir of Bill Hayes’ moving to New York and loving Oliver Sacks until his death, was totally captivating to me. A whimsical , quirky, deeply moving book about love, loss and life well lived.
Being 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.
When 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.
I 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….
I 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.
Just 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
It 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.
Andrew 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.