Tag Archives: Memoirs

Survival by Stuart Diver

Overview

Title: Survival: The Inspirational Story of the Thredbo Disaster’s Sole Survivor
Author: Stuart Diver
Rating Out of 5: 4 (Really good read!)
My Bookshelves: Australian authors, Australian history, Memoirs, Natural disaster
Pace: Slow
Format: eBook, Novel
Year: 1999

Thoughts

I’d never actually heard about Thredbo until recently. When I read Bad Ground. It might be a big moment of Australian history, but it’s not one that’s memorable from my recollection of local history. So when I did a little research, I was completely intrigued. And boy am I glad that I actually decided to buy this book.

The start of this book very much reads like a love letter to Sally. It wasn’t until around the 8th chapter when Stuart starts actually talking about the landside that I was able to concentrate and read this in a big hit. Before that, my heart just kept breaking and I had to keep putting this down to wipe away a tear.

I love how this book talks about Stuart’s point of view and experiences. But balanced with this is the factual account of what Australia and the rest of the rescuers were also witnessing and experiencing. It was a pretty stark and brutal reality. One that I’m honestly surprised didn’t give me nightmares. I don’t like small spaces, reading a memoir about being trapped underground for 65 hours… literally one of my worst nightmare. All I’d need is snakes to make it the worst thing ever…

Although my edition of this was on my kobo, it’s one that I want to add to my physical library. I love reading about Australian history and I think its important to keep adding to my knowledge and collection.

<- An Appetite for WonderVanilla Beans & Brodo ->

Image source: Pan Macmillan Australia

My Life with the Chimpanzees by Jane Goodall

Overview

Title: My Life with the Chimpanzees
Author: Jane Goodall
Rating Out of 5: 4 (Really good read!)
My Bookshelves: Conservation, Memoirs, Nature, Non-fiction,
Pace: Slow
Format: eBook, Novel
Year: 1988

Thoughts

I absolutely loved In the Shadow of Man. This wasn’t quite as good, but still, it was wonderful. I think, though, that anything by Jane Goodall will leave me feeling pretty damn happy. I mean, she’s a goddamn icon and an inspiring woman. My Life with Chimpanzees gives a much broader outline of Goodall’s personal history and a brief overview of her entire lifetime. Where In the Shadow of Man focused on the short time period in which Goodall started her work at Gombe, My Life with the Chimpanzees was a much broader overview of a whole lifetime.

This was a very simple read. The language in this novel was very accessible and obviously geared towards a younger audience. Each chapter covers a very large chunk of Goodall’s life and only gives a brief glimpse into each moment of her history and journey towards being the internationally recognised figure that she is. It makes for a quick and very easy read. But one that I will possibly try to sink my teeth into again in the future.

I enjoyed how the last three chapters of this novel really focus on the future of our planet. It’s not about Goodall’s own experiences like the rest of the novel, but rather about what she hopes for the future. It’s a bit of a cold dose of reality because there are so many things truly wrong with the world. But it’s also incredibly hopeful. A balance that is hit perfectly.

I thoroughly enjoyed this novel. It wasn’t as in depth as most of the memoirs that I’ve been reading, and it was definitely only a snapshot into the world of Gombe and Goodall. But it was also a great overview. And now I want to pick up even more Goodall books

<- My Friends the Wild ChimpanzeesPerformance and Evolution in the Age of Darwin ->

Image source: Booktopia

Lone Rider by Elspeth Beard

Overview

Title: Lone Rider: The First British Woman to Motorcycle Around the World
Author: Elspeth Beard
Rating Out of 5: 4 (Really good read!)
My Bookshelves: Memoirs, Travel
Pace: Slow
Format: eBook, Novel
Year: 2017

Thoughts

This is one of those books that is very easy to put down and walk away from. Yet, it isn’t boring or easy to stop thinking about. It just doesn’t have you totally gripping the edge of your seat and wondering what exactly is going to happen next. The perfect memoir to read before bed – it’s actually safe to pick up because you can read just that one chapter and then walk away for a little bit. Not something that I necessarily experience with all of my books and can make being responsible and catching up on sleep somewhat difficult.

Beard is a great writer who takes you along with her on her epic journey. For me, someone born in the early 90’s, it is impossible to imagine much of the world that Beard travelled through almost a decade before my birth. Yet, she is able to write about her adventures in such a way that I can’t help but picture them. Particularly the hardships she experienced as a solitary woman travelling around the world. I can’t imagine trying to do that now. Doing that in an age before phones and in a time way before now… yup, that’s completely unfathomable to me.

The ending to this journey is probably one of the most sad that I’ve read in a long time. Especially in a memoir. The fact that this is a travel memoir meant that I really wasn’t expecting the way that Beard rounds out her phenomenal story. There is a lot of love in her final chapters that highlights her journey and how difficult some of it was for her. Particularly the journey that she takes to find herself when she returns home. I can’t even fathom going on such an epic multi-year adventure. But the returning home and figuring out who you are and what to do next? Unimaginable.

This was a fantastic adventure. One that I will probably reread in the future – there are so many moments throughout this that took me completely by surprise and swept me away in a whirlwind adventure. Some of the locations throughout Australia were so familiar and made me feel a comfortable welcoming home. Many others were totally unexpected. Moments and places that I will probably only ever dream of visiting…

<- Spy PrincessSix Legs Walking ->

Image source: Booktopia

A Gift from Darkness by Patience Ibrahim & Andrea C. Hoffman

Overview

Title: A Gift from Darkness
Author: Patience Ibrahim & Andrea C. Hoffmann
Rating Out of 5: 4 (Really good read!)
My Bookshelves: Africa, Memoirs, War
Pace: Slow
Format: Novel
Year: 2018

Thoughts

This was one of those books that I had to read in fits and starts. It’s incredibly intense and horrifying. And I just can’t fathom the horrors of what Patience has been through. The fact that I was reading this not long after giving birth… It was just far more gruelling for me, emotionally.

I’m struggling to write this review because of the emotional turmoil that this book put me through. It is well written and so drags you into those emotional moments that you just don’t quite expect. Or see coming. It honestly blind sides you. And, unlike most of the fiction books I read, there are no happy endings here. Sure, you finish reading this with Patience and Gift safe and sound… for now.

Andrea uses 2 timelines to tell the story of Boko Haram. Firstly there’s Patience’s story. The one that honestly reached inside and tore apart my heart. Then, there’s Andrea’s journey to meeting Patience. Her own emotional journey as she sees and understands what has happened in a more personal way to the Christians under Boko Haram torture.

I will definitely read this again. Its an incredibly powerful story. And a stark reminder of how lucky I have it down here in Australia.

<- The Not So Subtle Art of Being a Fat GirlLab Girl ->

Image source: Booktopia

Six Legs Walking by Elizabeth Bernays

Overview

Title: Six Legs Walking: Notes from an Entomological Life
Author: Elizabeth Bernays
Rating Out of 5: 4 (Really good read!)
My Bookshelves: Australian authors, Essays, Insects, Memoirs
Pace: Slow
Format: Novel
Year: 2019

Thoughts

I loved the balance of science and personal throughout this collection. The old me who aspired to be an entomologist was completely enthralled by the science. But the me in my new life loved that balance of the relationships one makes in academia. And just life in general. It was the perfect balance.

I read this book while I was seriously distracted. A newborn will do that to you. Which means I can safely recommend this to people who have zero science background. If I can grasp what’s going on when I have a screaming baby throat into my arms, then the language used is very happily accessible. There’s nothing worse than wanting to read about something different to your own life just to find the language totally overwhelming and bizarre.

Not going to lie. While I was reading this, I dreamt of grasshoppers. Frequently. And bugs. And running through fields trying to catch said bugs. Ah, the memories. Bernays is able to bring to life the realities of working in the field. In all of its confusing and bizarre glory. Hot days under the sun and slight madness brought on by long hours… Bernays was able to take me back to my best Uni days.

I like that this collection isn’t in any kind of order. Rather there is a bit of a sensible rambling through the years of work. Everything is clumped into experiences and locales, not in any order. It makes you feel like you’re sitting down with a cup of tea reminiscing on days gone by…

<- Lone RiderCork Dork ->

Image source: Booktopia

On Writing by Stephen King

Overview

Title: On Writing: A Memoir of the Craft
Author: Stephen King
Rating Out of 5: 4 (Really good read!)
My Bookshelves: Biographies, Memoirs, Writing
Pace: Slow
Format: Novel
Year: 2000

Thoughts

Stephen King fascinates me. And terrifies me. I mean, that is a twisty man who writes the kinds of stories he writes. Which all leads me to be fascinated by the idea of his take on writing and his own writing history. Who wouldn’t be? He’s one of the most famous writers…

I really enjoyed how this book was set out. It starts with a more autobiographical account if King’s life. And then heads towards tales and information on how he actually goes about the writing process. It males a complete logical sense and still provides insights to the man behind the writing.

Personally, although I enjoyed all of the writing on HOW to write. It was the autobiographical aspect of this novel that I loved. And it’s this first half that I would read again.

<- Needful ThingsThe Outsider ->

Image source: Bookdepository

My Caesarean edited by Amanda Fields

Overview

Title: My Caesarean: Twenty-One Mothers on the C-Section Experience and After
Author: Amanda Fields
Rating Out of 5: 5 (I will read this again and again and again)
My Bookshelves: Essays, Memoirs, Pregnancy
Pace: Slow
Format: Anthology
Year: 2019

Thoughts

Surprisingly, considering one third of Australians have a caesarean, after being blindsided by mine, I realised I had ZERO CLOSE FRIENDS who’d been through this. In the weeks after my daughter was born, this fact left me feeling surprisingly disconnected from my fellow mums. In a moment when I thought I’d feel even more connected by shared experiences. So I decided to do what I always do… find a book that could help me with this. And this was the perfect book to do that.

Every birth story is different. Including caesareans. Like everything, our stories run the gambit from seriously enjoyable to downright terrifying. My own sits somewhere in the middle, but leaning towards the positives. I love that this collection includes the different emotions and experiences. It’s not trying to paint caesareans in any light other than what they are… a modern medical intervention that has let countless mothers and children live. But one that is contentious and can leave people feeling like they somehow “failed”.

Although many of these stories take place many years ago (quite a few before I was was born), they still have that relatability. Even if the technology and process has continued to drastically alter and evolve, the process is still the same. This gave me so many moments of empathy and points that I could just smile and relate to. For someone that doesn’t have anyone in their personal life that can do this… it was incredibly cathartic. In some instances, this was a laughing moment or a secret smile. In others, I cried a few tears as I finished processing my own birth story.

Even if you haven’t or never will have a caesarean. If you don’t know anyone who has, or are just plain curious. This is well worth a read. It gives insight into the feelings and experiences of women who are unafraid to share their experiences and feelings. The good, the bad, the ugly and the out and out joyful.

<- More essaysMore pregnancy ->

Image source: Goodreads

It’s Not You, Geography, It’s Me by Kristy Chambers

Overview

Title: It’s Not You, Geography, It’s Me
Author: Kristy Chambers
Rating Out of 5: 5 (I will read this again and again and again)
My Bookshelves: Australian authors, Humour, Medical, Memoirs, Nursing
Pace: Fast
Format: Novel
Year: 2014

Thoughts

We may have made leaps and bounds in our understanding, but mental health is still a pretty hard topic to broach. There is so much stigma remaining and it can be hard to convey what its like to live with a mental health issue to someone who has never had one. Which is why whenever I see a book that talks about it openly and honestly, I’m pretty quick to jump on it. The fact that I’ve JUST read another book by Kristy Chambers that I thoroughly enjoyed made me dive into this with much more excitement and impatience than I normally would.

Combining travel narratives with mental health just helped to draw me in further and further. I’ll be the first to admit that I am a pretty major home body. So I do love to live vicariously through other people’s travel adventures. I loved doing this with Chambers. She is so damn honest and sassy that you got the ugly alongside the good. Which is what travel is all about.

Throughout every chapter and adventure, Chambers draws back to her mental health and numerous breakdowns. Yet, where this could feel quite serious and negative, she talks about it in such an open and honest manner that you end up laughing. It takes a special someone to talk about their mental health. It takes someone even more special to joke about it with such abandon. Definitely my kind of woman.

I loved, loved, loved this book. It was that perfect blend of travel adventure and realistic recountings of the trials that this entails. Mental health and depression are unabashedly talked about and often joked about. And there’s even a beautiful happy ending that makes you want to read MORE about Chambers’ life, but content if you can’t do so.

<- Get Well Soon!An Appetite for Wonder ->

Image source: Booktopia

Get Well Soon! by Kristy Chambers

Overview

Title: Get Well Soon! My (un)Brilliant Career as a Nurse
Author: Kristy Chambers
Rating Out of 5: 5 (I will read this again and again and again)
My Bookshelves: Australian authors, Humour, Medical, Memoirs, Nursing
Pace: Fast
Format: Novel
Year: 2012

Thoughts

Nursing is a career path and life choice that holds a lot of fascination for me. It’s such a powerful thing to do, but I honestly can’t imagine dealing with people’s shit (both literally and figuratively) like that. I also have a couple of girlfriends who are nurses I’m different fields, so understanding their day to say lives is also enthralling.

Chambers manages to write about a pretty hectic and serious career with an amazing amount of sass and humour. I particularly like when she points out that ultimately her decision between teaching and nursing came down to who do I hate less, teenagers or sick people… and teenagers are assholes. It’s a sentiment that had me laughing out loud.

Alongside all of the wit and humour throughout this, there are some pretty powerful emotional moments. It’s a start reminder of the intensity of this kind of career. But, also a brilliant way to highlight how some people are able to deal with the horrors of a fairly intense career path.

This is one if those memoirs that I will read again and again. It has my preferred level of dry, witty humour; plenty of sass; and a subject matter that ceaselessly fascinates me. I may have read this through my kobo plus account, but its going on my wish list for a physical copy too…

<- Rolling with the PunchlinesIt’s Not You, Geography, It’s Me ->

Image source: BookDepository

Confessions of a School Nurse by Michael Alexander

Overview

Title: Confessions of a School Nurse
Author: Michael Alexander
Rating Out of 5: 5 (I will read this again and again and again)
My Bookshelves: Medical, Memoirs, Nursing
Pace: Medium
Format: Novel
Year: 2015

Thoughts

After reading through Confessions of a Male Nurse, I knew that I needed to get Confessions of a School Nurse. I did start reading a book on Thredbo (Survival) before I actually put this onto my Kobo. But then I couldn’t stop myself from also picking up this book. And, because it is such a great and easy read, I managed to read this before I’d even finished the first chapter of the other books that I had started… I mean, there is something kind of humorous about the fixes that people find themselves in in the medical world. And there is just a sweetness about Alexander that I can’t get enough of.

Having never been to boarding school, or come from the kind of money that Alexander talks about in this novel, I was transported into a whole new world. One that I’ve only imagined from some of the more ridiculous movies that I’ve watched. This might have taken me a little step closer to such an unfathomable world. But, honestly, that’s as close as I ever want to get. It was most definitely an interesting world to step into for a few hours, but one that I found a little terrifying. Although, I suppose that those who Alexander sees and writes about are the extremes – there’s no point in writing about the boring, everyday occurrences now, is there?

Not only did this memoir give me an insight into what it is like being a school nurse and treating children in a boarding school, it also gave me insight into the school system and realities for some people in Europe. Actually, a lot of the different students and people that are discussed in this novel are from the Northern Hemisphere. A totally different life to immerse myself in, one that I enjoyed doing so. I  mean, a lot of my  memoirs lately are based around some pretty horrific moments in modern history, so it was nice to read about something that was a little lighter and fluffier.

As with Confessions of a Male Nurse, I absolutely adored this novel. It was fun and engaging. A little lighter than the other memoirs I have on the go at the moment and just, generally fun. Definitely the kind of memoir that I will be buying a physical copy of. And one that I look forward to sharing and recommending to others.

<- Confessions of a Male NurseWorking Class Boy ->

Image source: HarperCollins Australia