Love With a Chance of Drowning grabbed my attention for two reasons: Firstly, doing a crazy thing for love isn't exactly unfamiliar to me (hello movin...moreLove With a Chance of Drowning grabbed my attention for two reasons: Firstly, doing a crazy thing for love isn't exactly unfamiliar to me (hello moving to the other side of the world for someone I'd never met in person), and secondly, sailing around the world sounds like one of the worst possible kinds of torture I could ever imagine.
And for both of those reasons I immediately felt a kind of affinity with Torre DeRoche. With a morbid fear of deep water and an extreme worrier, I could completely relate to everything she went through - if not the same situations but instead the same kinds of feelings that doing something so far outside your comfort zone can evoke.
Her boyfriend, Ivan, is hell-bent on sailing acrross the Pacific, but Torre kind of falls into the whole thing, almost blinded by love, but still stressing to the max, and that makes her story feel so much more realistic. There's no moment where she wakes up and realises she has overcome all of her fears, and although it could have become a little bit grating as she continues to stress out while Ivan's attitude is very laid-back, it actually makes both of them far more likeable.
The writing style is very easy to read - the story flows from one event to the next, and even the sailing, equipment and navigation terminology is written in a way that even though it's not something I'm particularly interested in, it was understandable and wasn't info-dumped.
Torre and Ivan have some quite funny, and some quite serious parts of their story, and it's incredible readable - from jellyfish attacks to accidentally shooting a native islander with a spear gun, it's all done with a sense of respect towards the people and the places they encounter on their travels.
Could I have done what Torre did? Um, hell no. And for that she has all of my admiration, as she pushed herself through situations that would have had me demanding a rescue fleet. She came out of her adventure a little braver, but also embracing her own limitations and realising that although love can pull you outside your comfort zone, it shouldn't change who you fundamentally are.(less)
Last week I posted a review of Hospital Babylon, the story of one day in an English A&E Department, which I really enjoyed. Because I enjoyed it s...moreLast week I posted a review of Hospital Babylon, the story of one day in an English A&E Department, which I really enjoyed. Because I enjoyed it so much I went through my books on search for something similar, and stumbled across Confessions of a GP, which I picked up a couple of years ago. I was interested in reading a book from the perspective of a General Practitioner, because it promised to be more intimate and perhaps more focused on specific patients and scenarios.
However, Confessions of a GP is more a series of vignettes across the career of Benjamin Daniels, both as a GP and as a doctor in training in a hospital setting. Several of the stories were sad, others almost funny, but the vast majority came across to me as being rather condescending.
I'm sure that as a GP, Benjamin Daniels has more than his fair share of frustrations with people - from those that treat their doctor like a get-out-of-work-free card, or take up their time with seemingly inane problems with unrealistic expectations of what their GP can do for them. But as a book, it's rather disappointing, and his overall attitude comes across as knowing more than the average person, which in some cases is perhaps true, but left me more than a little disappointed.
The only character that consistently appears throughout the book is Benjamin himself, and as he is a locum GP, rather than having a permanent practice, there's not even the relief of having a receptionist or nurse play any type of recurring role. And seeing as I liked him less and less as the book progressed, my enthusiasm for his stories lessened too.
Perhaps I'm being a little unfair because I'm comparing Confessions to an almost similar book, but surely writing about real people with a little more compassion isn't such a big ask. There were a handful of patients that I was interested in their outcomes, but Daniels was so negative that it also started to rub off on me and I just stopped caring.
I really can't recommend this book to anyone, even if you are interested in medical non-fiction. It was just one man's whinging rant, and I just didn't buy into it at all.(less)
Although I enjoy the occasional non-fiction book, it's very rare that I read memoirs - I can't even really say why, but perhaps I'm just not that inte...moreAlthough I enjoy the occasional non-fiction book, it's very rare that I read memoirs - I can't even really say why, but perhaps I'm just not that interested in the lives of 'famous' people and I'd just rather throw myself into a made-up world. Miranda Hart is one of my favourite English comedians, and I've been a huge fan since the first episode of her sitcom, Miranda, and her awkwardness had me snickering and also feeling a sense of camaraderie with her semi-fictional character so I put aside my normal aversion and gave her memoir a try.
I was a little tentative about her book however, as it is essentially a conversation with her eighteen-year-old self in parts, and what I really wanted was just some of her funny observations about life and stories of her funniest life moments. However, although there are conversations with her younger self, the funny stories and awkward moments were far more prominent and had me smirking and even laughing and reading parts out loud to my boyfriend occasionally. Structured into subjects such as beauty, dating and weddings, this is one of the rare books that had me smiling almost all the way through.
But I found more than I thought I would as the book progressed - as well as telling the outrageously funny stories of her own social awkwardness, Miranda Hart also talks about how although her life hasn't turned out the way she imagined as a teenager, she is completely comfortable and happy with her life as it is and the things she thought would make her life complete are not the things that she really needed in life. This was something that I wasn't actually expected to come away with from this book, and it also gave me more respect for Miranda herself.
This is really a book for Miranda Hart fans - I think you'd need to be familiar with her to really understand her sense of humour, because hearing her voice in my head whilst I was reading was what made it really hilarious. Or just imagine someone in a bit of a posh, yet panickedly-shrill voice reading it aloud to you.
There is nothing as compelling as a real-life story - whether it's a love story, a war story or a personal journey through an unimaginable horror. Jac...moreThere is nothing as compelling as a real-life story - whether it's a love story, a war story or a personal journey through an unimaginable horror. Jack and Rochelle is all three of these stories, melded and meshed together into an unforgettable story of the terrible things that human beings can do to each other and the power of love and determination.
Told simply, in a conversational format and alternating between Jack and Rochelle, it is a story that I found completely and utterly riveting from the beginning until the end. Starting with the story of Jack and Rochelle's parents, they talk about their childhoods and teenage years, how they knew each other and the way their lives changed with the beginning of the war.
As they meet again in the forest after escaping from the Nazis and living as partisans in underground bunkers, their story goes from a sweet narrative about growing up to a nightmare where they are forced to endure terrible conditions as they fight to survive against the Germans and the harsh Polish weather.
I've read several non-fiction accounts of World War II, but this is the first partisan account that I've read, and it was really quite shocking to read about the realities of living every day in a cramped bunker, with death an ever-present possibility. But amid the horrors that they are forced to endure, there is also a gradual love that emerges between the two of them, and in their telling of the story their continued love really shines through.
Written by Jack and Rochelle, and edited by their son, Lawrence, the book is obviously a labour of love, and despite the terrible things that have happened to them in their lives, it really reflects their love for each other and how very grateful they are to have each other.
Orange is the New Black grabbed my attention simply because I cannot imagine what it would be like to be in prison, with everything you do dictated by...moreOrange is the New Black grabbed my attention simply because I cannot imagine what it would be like to be in prison, with everything you do dictated by some higher power, living up-close-and-personal with a bunch of strangers, not knowing who your friends are, and only seeing your family and friends when someone else says it's OK. Scary thoughts, right?
The thing that I found most intriguing with Piper's story is the fact that she had several years between being sentenced and actually going to jail. What must it feel like to have the spectre of prison time hanging over your head for so long? I wish there had been some more focus on this aspect of her story - although she does explain how people reacted, I wanted to know more about how it affected her day to day life. But perhaps, with several years intermission, she just got on with things as much as possible.
With a large cast of characters, I did sometimes find myself a little confused as to who was who, and what their relationship to Piper was - although I understand that some of them were very private and didn't share their lives with Piper, so it would have been difficult to write about them in a way that made different people easily identifiable.
Easily the most disturbing part of her story came towards the end, when she was moved to Chicago to be a witness in another case - her trip on Con Air, and her stay in Chicago Metropolitan Correctional Centre really highlighted the terrible faults in the prison system, although Danbury was certainly no picnic.
Unfortunately I didn't find Piper easy to connect or empathise with, which was both a negative and a positive. A negative in that I couldn't put myself in her shoes, but a positive in that I could see the bigger picture of what was happening around her, without being caught up in emotion.
I did expect Orange is the New Black to be a little tougher, and a little grittier, but it was the stories of friendship, co-operation and unity between the majority of the prisoners that really made this book for me.
Told in a straight-forward, slightly detached manner, The Sum of My Parts is an emotional, intriguing and haunting read. Olga’s openness about the horrendous abuse she suffered as a child is admirable, and she has done her best to reach a medium of revealing enough of her story to make an impact on the reader, whilst respecting the feelings and potential reactions of other DID sufferers.
The psychology and treatment of her condition make for fascinating, gut-wrenching reading, from spiraling into agoraphobia, her struggle to keep her career and to save her marriage. As Olga relives the memories that she has compartmentalized in order to keep herself from falling apart, she also discovers a side of herself that she never even knew existed.
I really enjoyed this book – it was very emotional and quite disturbing in parts, but it was also uplifting and inspirational. If you have an interest in psychology, or in real people overcoming huge adversity and using it to their advantage, this book is for you. (less)