Wild by Cheryl Strayed

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Visiting the Pacific north coast of America is on my bucket-list. Not exactly sure why… it might have started when I had to do an in-depth investigation on the Douglas fir at uni  (I did a couple of forestry subjects as part of my hydrology studies). Anyway, it’s this bucket-list item that prompted me to read Cheryl Strayed’s Wild.

Actually, to be perfectly frank, I’d avoided Wild because I thought it was going to be all look-at-me-Eat-Pray-Love-Oprah-is-raving-about-it but when it popped up on an audio list I figured I could just listen to the Oregon bits and abandon the rest if Strayed was giving me the pip.

I was wrong. Continue reading

Avalanche by Julia Leigh

There’s all sorts of reasons why I don’t feel I’m in a position to comment on Julia Leigh’s Avalanche, an account of her experience with IVF. However, Leigh makes a statement early in her memoir that made me pause and think –

“In the public imagination – as I perceive it – there’s a qualified sympathy for IVF patients, not unlike that shown to smokers who get lung cancer. Unspoken: ‘You signed up for it, so what do you expect…?'”

“Qualified sympathy” – it’s an interesting phrase. Have I ever been guilty of qualified sympathy? Probably, although certainly not in relation to someone’s desire to have a baby. It’s these kind of gritty bits that lodged as I was reading Avalanche. Continue reading

Antarctica on a Plate by Alexa Thomson

If you’re looking for a memoir about exploring, ice and braving the extremities of Antarctica, then Alexa Thomson’s Antarctica on a Plate is not for you. Yes, there’s ice but the focus is on the challenge of cooking large quantities of food on a small stove, and the fact that in Antarctica you never run out of freezer space. Continue reading

Sample Saturday – short books for book groups

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Sample Saturday is when I wade through the eleventy billion samples I have downloaded on my Kindle. I’m slowly chipping away and deciding whether it’s buy or bye.

All three samples this week came from Sarah’s list of short books that are great conversation starters for book groups. I agreed with many of Sarah’s picks (the Phillips, Koch and Wood) and have a couple of others already in the TBR stack, so I thought I’d check out her other suggestions. Continue reading

Two books, both difficult to review

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I’ve thought so much about two excellent books I finished this week – Behind the Beautiful Forevers by Katherine Boo and An Exact Replica of a Figment of My Imagination by Elizabeth McCracken.

They’re very different books – one is about the slums of Mumbai, in India; the other an account of the author’s pregnancy and subsequent stillbirth. Both books are painfully honest, emotionally raw and made me look away. Both tell the story of a death, yet the circumstances around those deaths couldn’t be more different. Both are confronting. Continue reading

Top Ten Sports Novels

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In honour of what’s roughly two solid weeks of sitting on my arse watching sport, I thought it would be appropriate to list my favourite novels about sport.

I don’t read lots of sports books but felt confident that I could find novels that were of slightly higher quality than this. So, some that I have read and some that are still in the TBR stack –

01. The Art of Fielding by Chad Harbach – not only the greatest sports novel but one of the best books I’ve ever read. Continue reading