Tag Archives: Non-fiction

Radio Okapi Kindu by Jennifer Bakody


Title: Radio Okapi Kindu
Author: Jennifer Bakody
Rating Out of 5: 3 (On the fence about this one)
My Bookshelves: Africa, Memoirs, Non-fiction
Pace: Slow
Format: eBook, Novel
Year: 2017


I wanted to love this story a whole lot more than I did. I mean, I am completely in love with Africa and fascinated by the politics. I have been since long before I actually got to travel to that amazing continent. Thus, the idea of a memoir that recounts working for the UN in the Congo sounded amazing. And it was GOOD. But not amazing.

I think one of the aspects of this story that was so difficult was the idea that this radio station was helpful to so many, many, many people. But after reading this, I honestly have no idea HOW. A lot of the information that might exist helped to understand just how a radio station was helpful was assumed knowledge. I might love Africa, but I know very little about the politics as a whole, let alone the specifics of the Congo.

I did enjoy the background on each of Bakody’s team and the tale of their journey to Radio Okapi Kindu. Again, it was hard to gain context because there was no timeline, and I would’ve liked to slot their experiences with the others in a bit more order. But this may just be how my brain processes information and memoirs.

All in all, I did enjoy reading this, I just didn’t love it. It’s not a tale I’m going to overstate and breathlessly recite to my friends. But it’s also not one that I will suggest they NOT read. Mostly for me, this was pretty ambivalent writing.

<- Confessions of a School NurseWorking Class Boy ->

Image source: Goodreads


My Life with the Chimpanzees by Jane Goodall


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


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

Babies & Toddlers by Kaz Cooke


Title: Babies & Toddlers
Author: Kaz Cooke
Rating Out of 5: 5 (I will read this again and again and again)
My Bookshelves: Children, Humour, Non-fiction
Pace: Slow
Format: Novel
Year: 2018


Since I absolutely adored Up the Duff and found it incredibly calming and useful while I was pregnant, I figured that it was probably a good idea to get the follow up book. After all, I’m a first time mum and there is SOOOO much advice. Which is really quite overwhelming and scary. Plus, I’m now responsible for this tiny squishy thing and, like all first timers, I really have no freaking idea what I’m doing.

Like Up the Duff, Kaz Cooke is able to deliver information and advice in a fun and engaging way. As someone who had to have a c section and is struggling to breastfeed, the lack of judgement for the different alternatives was amazing. It made me feel safe and that there was information that was actually accessible.

I like that this book is logically laid out and follows a pretty good pattern of topics. It makes it incredibly easy to have a quick read through (as I did) in preparation for a baby coming. But then also makes it very easy to go back and troubleshoot your new human. The index at the back just helps that all the more.

Furthering the awesomeness of the information imparted in this… Kaz Cooke is an Aussie so the information is ACTUALLY RELEVANT. The information is updated every year with a new edition so you don’t sit there wondering what the heck to some of the advice. And, lastly, after each small subtopic, there are a bunch of links and contacts to further deep dive if needed. Definitely a fantastic book for all parents… existing and first timers.

<- Up the DuffMore Kaz Cooke ->

Image source: Booktopia

How to Grow a Baby by Clemmie Hooper

How to Grow a Baby and Push It Out: A guide to pregnancy and birth straight  from the midwife's mouth: Hooper, Clemmie: 9781785040382: Amazon.com: Books

Title: How to Grow a Baby
Author: Clemmie Hooper
Rating Out of 5: 2.5 (Readable, but not worth reading again)
My Bookshelves: Medical, Non-fiction, Pregnancy
Dates read: 17th August – 21st October 2021
Pace: Slow
Format: Non-fictional text
Publisher: Vermilion
Year: 2017
5th sentence, 74th page: It is around 37.5cm long (from head to toe, but it is curled up inside you).


Everything you wanted to know but were too embarrassed to ask – a guide to pregnancy and birth straight from the midwife’s mouth.

Mum to four and midwife to many, Clemmie Hooper wants to share her knowledge, wisdom and stories about pregnancy and birth. Based around the time of your antenatal appointments, she’ll guide you through each crucial stage of pregnancy as well as fully preparing you for labour, birth and beyond. From how to prevent tearing to what you really need in your hospital bag, Clemmie reveals everything pregnant women need to know with a good dose of humour and wit.


Probably not one of my favourite pregnancy books of late. I think partly that was because this was very UK based, and it was a little more decisive in advice than others. Plus, Up the Duff was amazing, and I don’t think much actually compares to it.

Having said that, I didn’t mind this book. It was interesting and did have some good information. Just not much that is pertinent to me. I mean, I’m Australian, it makes somethings hard to relate to in a UK based book.

Regardless of the fact that I didn’t necessarily love this, it was still worth the read. Still a book that I enjoyed and found some useful information in.

I’ll probably flick through this book another few times our if interests sake. But, not one I feel the need to ever read cover to cover again.

<- More pregnancyMore medical ->

Image source: Amazon

Up the Duff by Kaz Cooke

Up the Duff by Kaz Cooke - Penguin Books Australia

Title: Up the Duff
Author: Kaz Cooke
Rating Out of 5: 5 (I will read this again and again and again)
My Bookshelves: Humour, Non-fiction, Pregnancy
Dates read: 5th June – 17th October 2021
Pace: Slow
Format: Non-fictional text
Publisher: Viking
Year: 1999
5th sentence, 74th page: According to one American pregnancy book cover, this is when you will wear an Alice band and a hideous lemon doona cover with a Peter Pan collar, and stare out the window holding a cup and saucer like a demented fool.


Kaz Cooke tells you everything you need to know about your pregnancy and birth. No bossy-boots rules, just the best, funniest and most reassuring practical advice, plus lots of cartoons. Up the Duff is backed by heaps of medical and other experts.


The moment I found out I was pregnant I told one of my close girlfriends. She immediately recommended this book. And wow. Am I glad that she did.

This book is realistic and fun. It gives you a whole heap of information without sounding preachy. And it just makes you feel less overwhelmed about the whole first time mother thing. Or at least, that’s what it did for me.

The sass and humour with which this book gives you important information makes some pretty scary topics feel much… less scary. I mean, whole chapters on labour that didn’t make me want to run to the bathroom and throw up. I can’t begin to explain how much better that made me feel.

Any expectant (or wanting to be expectant) mothers really need to invest in this book. Its amazing. It’s informative. And it most definitely made me feel less stressed and scared.

<- More humour booksBabies & Toddlers ->

Image source: Penguin Books Australia

Expecting Better by Emily Oster

Expecting Better, Why the Conventional Pregnancy Wisdom is Wrong and What  You Really Need to Know by Emily Oster | 9781409177920 | Booktopia

Title: Expecting Better
Author: Emily Oster
Rating Out of 5: 3.5 (Liked this)
My Bookshelves: Medical, Non-fiction, Pregnancy
Dates read: 17th August – 25th September 2021
Pace: Slow
Format: Non-fictional text, Novel
Publisher: Orion Spring
Year: 2013
5th sentence, 74th page: In one study the miscarriage rate was 4.4 percent for women under 20, 6.7 percent for women 20 to 35 and almost 19 percent for women over 35.


Award-winning economist Emily Oster debunks myths about pregnancy to empower women while they’re expecting.

When Oster was expecting her first child, she felt powerless to make the right decisions for her pregnancy, so she drew on her own experience and went in search of the real facts – by using an economist’s tool.

In Expecting Better she overturns standard recommendations for:

  • alcohol
  • caffeine
  • sush
  • bed rest
  • miscarriage
  • induction

She also puts into context the blanket guidelines for antenatal testing, weight gain, risks of pregnancy over the age of thirty-five, and nausea, among others.


This was an incredibly unique take and spin on the whole pregnancy thing. Most of the time it out and out disagreed with what we see as the conventional wisdom. And, whilst I may not agree with everything in this, I was most definitely intrigued with the ideas and discussions set forth.

Although I didn’t necessarily agree with everything in this book, I did love how the evidence was presented. That, and the fact that as Oster pointed out, everyone has different cost / benefit analyses and so should be equally educated. It also made me feel better about the little bit of caffeine I consume every week in my one or two coffees… that alone made me incredibly happy.

I also loved that throughout this Oster used numbers to weigh up the evidence. I may not be great at doing statistical analysis, but I am good at understanding it and using this to weigh up my decision making. In fact, there’s been a few more controversial topics / decisions in my pregnancy which have used pretty much the same system.

All in all, I found this to be a very, very worthwhile buy. As I said, there were some things I just didn’t agree with, but as Oster points out, she looked at the numbers and made her decision. I (or her friends) look at them and make another choice. It certainly made me feel a lot more settled and comfortable in my pregnancy decision making.

<- More pregnancy booksMore medical books ->

Image source: Booktopia

Pack of Thieves? 52 Port Arthur Lives by Hamish Maxwell-Stewart & Susan Hood

Pack of thieves? : 52 Port Arthur lives

Title: Pack of Thieves? 52 Port Arthur Lives
Author: Hamish Maxwell-Stewart & Susan Hood
Rating Out of 5: 3 (On the fence about this one)
My Bookshelves: Australian history, Crime, Non-fiction
Dates read: 15th – 30th August 2021
Pace: Slow
Format: Non-fictional text
Publisher: Port Arthur Historic Sites
Year: 2001
5th sentence, 74th page: On the same day he was punished with a beating of one hundred strokes for breaking gaol while awaiting trial – he had been recaptured by the guard at Eaglehawk Neck.


George Arthur, Lieutenant-Governor of Van Diemen’s Land from 1824-36 is credited with constructing an intricate system of convict management. The idea behind Arthur’s grand plan was that convicts would sink or rise through the tiers of his multi-layered system according to their conduct. Thus, the intention was that the wicked would be punished for their sins and the good rewarded for unerring servile toil. In 1830 Arthur ordered the construction of a new penal station on the Tasman Peninsula named Port Arthur in his honour. This was to be the foundation stone of Arthur’s scheme for regulating the lives of his colonial charges – a place to which prisoners incurred the wrath of the convict administration could be sent as a lesson to all.

Arthur likened his convict system to a prison without walls. This was because the lives of ordinary prisoners were regulated by paper work rather than guard towers and iron bars. Every detail that could be gleaned about a convict was entered into a set of enormous registers which ere used to separate those considered worthy of indulgence from those whose conduct was thorught to merit further punishment. At times Arthur appeared to sit astride his system like a colonial puppet master pronouncing judgement on his charges.

This book charts the lives of 52 prisoners who served time at Port Arthur in the 1830’s. It looks at the impact of transportation upon their lives and charts the ways in which they negotiated a passage through Arthur’s labyrinthine penal colony.


After visiting Port Arthur, this was a fun and easy read. It was also seriously fascinating. If you read it in parts. I mean, most of the stories were someone stole something, they got sent to Port Arthur. And repeat. But then some of the daring just had me smiling… you can’t predict human nature after all.

All in all, this was an interesting journey into the world of Australian history. But, like most Australian history, it was a bit white-washed and turned softer. I remember visiting Port Arthur fifteen years ago, and the stories that you were told were a lot more honest and gritty. Not like the ones that are told now…

<- More non-fictionMore Australian history ->

Image source: Abebooks

What to Expect When You’re Expecting by Heidi Murkoff

What to Expect When You're Expecting :HarperCollins Australia

Title: What to Expect When You’re Expecting
Author: Heidi Murkoff
Rating Out of 5: 1 (Couldn’t get past the first page)
My Bookshelves: Non-fiction, Pregnancy
Dates read: 26th July – 21st August 2021
Pace: Slow
Format: Novel
Publisher: Harper Collins
Year: 1969
5th sentence, 74th page: This therapy uses physical manipulation of the spine and other joints to enable nerve impulses to move freely through an aligned body, encouraging the body’s natural ability to heal.


Expect the best! A brand-new fifth edition – filled with the most up-to-date, accurate, and relevant information on all things pregnancy. Realistic, supportive, easy to access, and overflowing with practical tips covering everything you’ll need – and want – to know about life’s most amazing journey, from preconception planning to birth, to those first few miraculous weeks with your new baby. It’s all here: the lowdown on lifestyle trends and life in the workplace; the latest in prenatal testing and alternative therapies; the best in birthing options.


I know that this is one of those recommended books for when you’re expecting. And I did read some not positive reviews before buying it. Turns out that I probably should have listened and not bothered.

There is nothing inherently wrong with this, but i honestly just didn’t find it informative or useful. I’ve got some other pregnancy books on my shelves that I’m finding far more informative. But, I suppose, each to their own.

<- More Non-fictionMore pregnancy ->

Image source: Harper Collins Australia

The Girlfriend’s Guide to Pregnancy by Vicki Iovine

The Girlfriends' Guide to Pregnancy by Vicki Iovine | 9781416524724 |  Booktopia

Title: The Girlfriend’s Guide to Pregnancy: Or Everything Your Doctor Won’t Tell You
Author: Vicki Iovine
Rating Out of 5: 4.5 (Amazing, but not quite perfect)
My Bookshelves: Humour, Non-fiction, Pregnancy
Dates read: 17th June – 3rd July 2021
Pace: Slow
Format: Novel
Publisher: Pocket Books
Year: 1995
5th sentence, 74th page: Second, save the home births, midwives, and underwater deliveries for second, third, and fourth babies.



Your Girlfriends, of course – at least, the ones who’ve been through the exhilaration and exhaustion, the agony and ecstasy of pregnancy. Four-time delivery room veteran Vicki Iovine, “the Carrie Bradshaw of pregnancy” (Wall Street Journal), talks to you the way only a best friend can – in the book that will go the whole nine months for every mother-to-be. Now, in this newly revised and updated edition, get the lowdown on all those little things that are too strange or embarrassing to ask, practical tips, and hilarious takes on everything pregnant.

What Really Happens to Your Body – from morning sickness and gas to eating everything in sight – and what it’s like to go from being a babe to having one.

The Many Moods of Pregnancy – why you’re so irritable / distracted / tired / light-headed (or at least more than usual).

Plus, the latest scoop on…

Staying Stylish – You may be pregnant, but you can still be the fashionista you’ve always been (or at least you don’t have to look like a walking beach ball) – wearing the hippest designers and proudly showing off your bump.

Pregnancy Is Down to a Science – from in vitro fertilization to a scheduled C-section, the latest technology provides so many options, alternatives, and tests, it can all be downright confusing.

… and much more! For a reassuring voice or just a few good belly laughs, turn to this straight-talking guide on what to really expect when you’re expecting.


So obviously I read this because I’m pregnant and, me being me, I need to know everything I possibly can about what what expect. But, I also didn’t want to read something that was preachy. This book was the perfect fit. It was funny and light in places, serious in others. And, it highlights the fact that we all experience pregnancy differently, there is no right or wrong way and it’s about getting through it sane!!

Unlike some of my other books, this isn’t split into the different times in pregnancy (week, trimester, etc). Instead, it’s split by topics. I particularly liked the section on exercise since I’ve been feeling guilty for not exercising as much as I used to. Iovine helped me to feel so much less guilty about it all.

I love that whilst you get Iovine’s own experiences. You also got those of her friends. She CONSTANTLY points out that everyone has a different experience. I think its something seriously important, and she also points out that you get to be a little selfish and insane at times…

All in all, I loved this book. And will probably refer to it multiple times throughout my pregnancy. It’s that comfort of having a friend say nope, you’re not nuts… but at any time of day or night whenever you need it… and it would be inappropriate to ACTUALLY call your girlfriends.

<- More PregnancyMore Non-fiction ->

Image source: Booktopia

The Mammoth Book of Chess by Graham Burgess

The Mammoth Book of Chess by Graham Burgess - Books - Hachette Australia

Title: The Mammoth Book of Chess
Author: Graham Burgess
Series: Mammoth Books
Rating Out of 5: 3 (On the fence about this one)
My Bookshelves: Non-fiction
Dates read: 23rd March – 11th May 2021
Pace: Slow
Format: Non-fictional text
Publisher: Robinson
Year: 2009
5th sentence, 74th page: He found an impressive solution.


A guide to the main opening gambits in chess along with hundreds of test positions for players at various levels. It includes: sections on online chess, computers and openings; courses in tactics and attacking strategy; analysis of some of the greatest games ever played; and, information and advice on club, national, and international tournaments.


I bought this book because I was working with a gentleman who was trying to shove chess knowledge into my brain. I figured that I needed all of the help that I could get. I’m not gonna lie, I don’t actually think reading this book helped me like I had hoped…

Having said that, this was still interesting. And, honestly, if I read this and actually practiced, I’d probably be able to turn myself into some semblance of a good chess player. I haven’t, so I’m not. But it’s nice to know that I now have a text sitting there that could work out well for me.

As far as the Mammoth Books go, this is by far the most dense and intellectually difficult for me. Honestly, it’s probably the most dense and intellectually challenging for me in general. This is just not how my brain thinks, so I didn’t work with it quite as well as I do with other texts.

All in all, this was an intriguing book. One that most definitely fascinated me and intrigued me. And on that I’ll probably flick through again and again over the years out of my own fascination and need to be better at something that I’m just not quite good at…

<- The Mammoth Book of Celtic Myths and LegendsThe Mammoth Book of Classic Chillers ->

Image source: Hachette Australia