My latest reading is varied

I have just finished reading A Working Class Boy by Jimmy Barnes. 

I wasn’t sure what to expect in this book but I was certainly surprised by the amount of violence he endured as a child.  He is someone who has shown remarkable resilience to overcome all that was thrown at him during his childhood.

Working Class Boy is a powerful reflection on a traumatic and violent childhood, which fuelled the excess and recklessness that would define, but almost destroy, the rock’n’roll legend. This is the story of how James Swan became Jimmy Barnes. It is a memoir burning with the frustration and frenetic energy of teenage sex, drugs, violence and ambition for more than what you have.

I hadn’t realised when I borrowed the book that it was only the story of his childhood and I kept thinking that he would soon get to when he started his musical career. . . .that didn’t happen.  This book is solely the story of his childhood and I will now need to read Working Class Man, the second instalment of his autobiography, when it is released in October 2017, to read about his musical career.

The second book I read was Honolulu by Alan Brennert. I bought this book at the airport in Honolulu as I had finished my previous book while in Hawaii.

Honolulu is the rich, unforgettable story of a young “picture bride” who journeys to Hawaii in 1914 in search of a better life.

Instead of the affluent young husband and chance at an education that she has been promised, she is quickly married off to a poor, embittered laborer who takes his frustrations out on his new wife. Renaming herself Jin, she makes her own way in this strange land, finding both opportunity and prejudice. With the help of three of her fellow picture brides, Jin prospers along with her adopted city, now growing from a small territorial capital into the great multicultural city it is today.  But paradise has its dark side, whether it’s the daily struggle for survival in Honolulu’s tenements, or a crime that will become the most infamous in the islands’ history…

I thoroughly enjoyed this historical fiction about mail-order-brides from Korea in the 1920’s. I loved the fact that many aspects of the story were based on actual events that had taken place in Honolulu.  This book certainly gave me an insight into the background of how Honolulu is as it is today.  It was also pleasing to be able to recognise places named in the novel.

I have just bought Molokai which was the first Hawaii book by this author.  I will let you know how I like it when I am finished.

The Flying Scotsman

The Flying ScotsmanI was checking out the biographies in the library and spotted this title, The Flying Scotsman, and I thought it would be about David Millar, a cyclist but was surprised to find it was about Graeme Obree.  I had not heard of him but thought it would be an interesting read.  He was also a cyclist and holder of the world hour cycling record.

The book ended up being a really sad story.  Obree had a miserable childhood and his feeling of having no self-worth was what dictated his life. The story of his life was one that linked in with events happening in Australia at the time I was reading the book.  Grant Hackett, an Olympic Gold medal winner was having mental health issues and Dan Vickerman, a former Australian Rugby Union player had died.  Both of these sports personalities were having difficulties adjusting to life after sport. In the case of Graeme Obree he suffered highs and lows and when he was not on the high of achieving his cycling goals he plummeted to the depths of despair.

This is a sporting biography that should be read by those interested in cycling but also by those who participate in competitive sport.  I am pleased to see that Obree has gone on to write other books and now has his depression under control.

When checking out whether Davd Miller had written a biography, he indeed has, I discovered that he also suffered depression and alcohol abuse as a result of the consequences of doping in cycling.  That is another biography I will need to read.


Love the title of this book.

non-fictionI love the title of this book but when I read the book and found this particular sentence I had an incredible feeling of sadness.

Why Be Happy When You Could Be Normal? is a memoir about a life’s work to find happiness. It’s a book full of stories: about a girl locked out of her home, sitting on the doorstep all night; about a religious zealot disguised as a mother who has two sets of false teeth and a revolver in the dresser, waiting for Armageddon; about growing up in a north England industrial town now changed beyond recognition; about the universe as a cosmic dustbin. It is the story of how a painful past, which Winterson thought she had written over and repainted, rose to haunt her later in life, sending her on a journey into madness and out again, in search of her biological mother. It’s also a book about other people’s literature, one that shows how fiction and poetry can form a string of guiding lights, a life raft that supports us when we are sinking.

I knew of Jeanette WInterson from Oranges are not the only fruit.  That novel was her first and had also been shown on television. There was much discussion at the time as to whether the novel was actually biographical and now having read this autobiography I can say that there were certainly many links to her life in Oranges.

My reason for reading this autobiography was I listened to a podcast on Books Plus on Radio National where Jeanette Winterson was interviewed and it sounded as though it would be an interesting read and indeed it was.

Another to add to my non-fiction Reading Challenge for 2016.

An eye opening autobiography

This particular non-fiction book was recommended to me by my older brother.  What an excellent recommendation.  It was a fantastic book.

OpenI had to wait for the book to come into the library as it was out on loan.  I made a reservation and had to wait a few weeks before it became available.  It was well worth the wait.

The book is one that keeps you enthralled from beginning to end. I liked the tennis player Andre Agassi before I read this book. He was the young brat, disliked by the press, when he first arrived on the tennis scene but by the time he retired he was the revered older statesman.  Agassi looks back on his life and on the decisions he made.  Simple, clear, truthful, it’s a confession about winning and losing, about finding yourself and about discovering when to change and how to continue despite everything that goes against you.

If you want a more detailed review you can find one here.

Without doubt, one of the best autobiographies of a sportsman I have ever read.

Almost a month ago!

I have been seriously neglectful of my blog recently but I have been busy visiting and being visited.  I think things are now back to normal and hopefully I will get back into the swing of my blog.  I will start off with an update on my reading challenge for 2016.  For those of you not aware of my challenge it was to read more non-fiction.

I have indeed done so and the books I have read have been a mixed bunch.  Here is the first.The spycatcherThis book I selected because the Spycatcher was mentioned in the Michael Kirby autobiography I read. Malcolm Turnbull is our present Prime Minister and he had been mentioned in the Michael Kirby book as the attorney who represented Wright in his trial.

The British government’s efforts to block publication of Peter Wright’s Spycatcher climaxed in a sensational trial in Australia in 1986 that cast a shadow of disrepute on the British legal system, the Official Secrets Act and the government itself.   Excerpts from the trial testimony reveal that Turnbull uncovered mendacity, hypocricsy and cynicism at the highest levels of the British government, principally during his cross examination of Sir Robert Armstrong, cabinet secretary and adviser on intelligence matters.  In 1987 the High Court at Canberra dismissed the case and ordered the Thatcher government to reimburse legal costs to Wright and Heinemann Publishers Australia.  Turnbull calls the British conduct in the affair “quite disgraceful” and adds that the experience “galvanized my determination to see Australia rid herself of its sic remaining constitutional links with England”

Had this book not been mentioned in the Kirby book I read I doubt whether I would have read it but I am glad that I did.  It reveals the real business of the spyworld that most of us would only know from film and books. It made we want to find out more about the link between the USA and Britain in the Cold War years and it also made me want to find out more about the Russian spy, Alexander Litvinenko who was poisoned in London in 2006.

The book was read quickly and I found it really absorbing.  If you can find a copy in a secondhand bookshop I recommend that you buy it.



At the opening of play – Cricket World Cup

I have been watching a lot of cricket lately and will be watching more soon with the World Cup about to commence this weekend.  This book certainly ties in well with that – Ponting – At the Close of Play

Ponting700 pages in length but at no time did it prove to be a chore to read.  Obviously if you are not a cricket fan it is not a book you would choose to read.

This is my first non-fiction book for my 2015 reading challenge.  It wasn’t one from my to-be-read shelves it was one from the library.

From the book cover:

On August 17, 2013, Ricky Ponting walked off the field in Antigua for the last time as a professional cricketer.  It was the end of a very public career and a very private journey – that began almost 30 years before, when a young Ricky, in the Under 13s, scored four centuries in a week at a schoolboys’ cricket carnival in Tasmania, to earn himself a bat contract with Kookaburra and the reputation of “a kid to watch”.

From childhood prodigy to the highs and lows of an extraordinary international career, At the Close of Play is the remarkable autobiography of one of the game’s greats.  But beyond the triumphs and scandals, records and retirement, this is the story of a life lived in cricket and of a life shaped by extraordinary talent and the people who believed in that talent.

The book covers all aspects of this cricketer’s career and gives an insight into the Aussie culture.  The book is divided into four sections:

The First Innings, At the Crease, At the Helm, At the Close of Play followed by his Career Record.

Some of the statistics from the previous World Cups show just what a successful cricketer Ricky Ponting was.

A great book for all cricket lovers.