I tried so hard to like this book because I requested it for review. I was expecting it to have actionable points to improve my life. Instead, I got some serious navel-gazing by the author that didn’t encourage me to keep reading. I am a fan of ‘believing’ in yourself, but I’m also not a subscriber to the idea that if you ‘just believe’ you’ll find everything you need coming your way. Sam’s words around her anxiety and depression didn’t work for me, but might appeal to others. I’m always hesitant to recommend a book that suggests you can just think your way out of being anxious and depressed – sometimes medication is a must, and books like this one can occasionally actually make people think drugs are optional or the easy option. It wasn’t for me.
Hachette | 30 March 2022 | AU$32.99 | paperback
Who doesn’t like Bear Grylls? Known for his survival beyond the odds, Bear Grylls has plenty of tips to share of how to overcome fears and achieve feats! I’ve grouped this book with ‘Believe’ though, because once again it’s all about the power of the mind. I was hoping for a inspirational read of some of the science behind surviving crazy environments, and instead got a series of quotes from other people that Bear Grylls seems to think are important. I’m never fond of quote books at the best of times, and this one, with random quotes for a year, I just couldn’t get into. I tried reading from the beginning, reading one a day, jumping into the middle of the book – nope, no good. I’m not even really sure who to recommend this book to, because liking Bear Grylls didn’t make the book more accessible for me.
Hachette | 11 October 2022 | AU$34.99 | paperback
You Can Do It
How to find your voice and make a difference
Marcus Rashford & Carl Anka
This lime-green book is the final one in this set of three horrible self-help books that I couldn’t get into and enjoy (and thus left them sitting on my shelf for almost a year before calling it done). This book promises a nice mix of stories, hot-tips and advice to keep you on your footballing toes. For me though it ended up just being more ‘believe in yourself’ advice. I really wanted to like it! I felt sure that I’d enjoy it – I absolutely think that young people need more support to become themselves. The big print text and shoutouts didn’t work for me as I’d much prefer to read a bit more dense text. I think I’ll give it to my local teenage reader and see what she thinks of it. Ultimately though, I think it’s destined to leave my house.
Pan Macmillan | 26 July 2022 | AU$19.99 | paperback
The Prison Doctor
“Dr Amanda Brown has treated inmates in the UK’s most infamous prisons – first in young offenders’ institutions, then at the notorious Wormwood Scrubs and finally at Europe’s largest women-only prison in Europe, Bronzefield. From miraculous pregnancies to dirty protests, and from violent attacks on prisoners to heartbreaking acts of self-harm, she has witnessed it all. In this memoir, Amanda reveals the stories, the patients and the cases that have shaped a career helping those most of us would rather forget.”
I’m always keen to read medical stuff. I’m not quite sure what I expected from this book though. I think I could have had more juicy medical stories in terms of ailments treated, rather than the somewhat introspective tone approach taken here. As the Prison Doctor says though, it’s not her job technically to judge based on the prisoners’ crimes, it’s up to her to treat their medical problems.
Perhaps reading this sharply on the heels of I am a Killer has desensitised me to crime and criminals? They did what they did, now they do their time. Sometimes I wonder whether death would be a kinder sentence, particularly with how many try to kill themselves or self-harm in horrifying ways. We have to remember though that this book only addresses some of the criminals in the system, and the doctor can’t possibly see everyone. That means there’s some people whose stories are hidden – and will continue to have this. I’m not going to pretend to be an expert in criminology.
Are my complaints going to prevent me from reading the next book in the series? Hmm, probably not. I wouldn’t bother purchasing this book though, I’d just find a copy at my local library or borrow from a friend. It’s an easier read, and I’m not judging it for that.
We’ve Got This
Stories by Disabled Parents
“How do two parents who are blind take their children to the park? How is a mother with dwarfism treated when she walks her child down the street? How do Deaf parents know when their baby cries in the night? In We’ve Got This, twenty-five parents who identify as Deaf, disabled or chronically ill discuss the highs and lows of their parenting journeys and reveal that the greatest obstacles lie in other people’s attitudes. The result is a moving, revelatory and empowering anthology.”
I read this non-fiction right on the back of Kay Kerr’s Love & Autism as part of my local library’s promotion for Diversity Month. I found it fascinating how many of the stories featured Queer people. I loved that! At the same time, I possibly felt too seen. This novel forced me to confront some of the assumptions I’ve made about people with disabilities.
I still feel a bit iffy having read it. Some parents I felt that it was totally ok that they had kids (not that I need to ok them having kids!) and others I found myself really uncomfortable. I guess I should identify as ‘a person with a disability’ because I have a mental illness, but I don’t think I’m disabled. While I’ve come to terms with my own problems and identity, I would never want to pass them on to someone else. Medically, I still feel like some disabilities that are heritable are perhaps too cruel. I am seeing many more discussions of how miscarriage is more common and how crippling that can be to potential parents. Is not wanting to avoid miscarriages, still-births and infant deaths not reasonable?
It’s a good thing I try not to judge books by their covers because ugh, look at that thing! It makes it seem like a mass-printed cheap paperback when in fact that’s doing it a disservice. My suggestion is to just jump in, and if the first chapter doesn’t appeal to you, skip to the next one. It’s non-fiction, so no-one is judging you for somehow missing a main character (like in those multi-perspective giant fantasy novels).
I feel undecided about this review. I’ve been brutally honest about my feelings, but I also don’t want to discount other people’s beliefs and feelings too. Please take my review as it is meant, not as offensive.
Love & Autism
“‘Love has always intrigued me, in part because I have carried for a long time a feeling that I am doing love wrong.’ Through the intimate writing of critically-acclaimed autistic author Kay Kerr, Love & Autism presents an uplifting celebration of neurodivergent love, the search for it and a deeper look into the lives of autistic Australians.”
What’s unique about this book? It has multiple, nuanced perspectives of people with autism in Australia. What are the strengths and weaknesses of autistic people when it comes to love? It turns out – a lot of things. The most important part for me was how each of these people learnt to love themselves, even despite or because of loving others. It’s not just romantic love, it’s also love for a family and a friend. Love is diverse, just as autism is diverse.
If you don’t identify as autistic but perhaps have autistic tendencies this may be a confronting read. The author states that it’s actually quite rude to say that ‘you’re on the spectrum’ if you aren’t actually diagnosed, but that doesn’t mean that it’s wrong for some of what you read about to resonate with you.
I never did finish reading ‘Please Don’t Hug Me’ (I received an ARC eBook) because I hate eBooks. … I have to admit that I read Love & Autism as an ebook! I was scrolling through my Borrow Box from my local library and it turns out that it’s diversity month or something. This caused me to stumble onto this, and a couple of other non-fiction in this genre.
I’m really enjoying non-fiction at the moment, so expect a few more reviews from me. It’s strange because I’ve always been a fiction/fantasy reader because I’d rather not know about what bad things are happening around me in the real world. Maybe it’s time to strike a happy medium? I at least know that the ‘main character’ will survive if the author is alive!
The Flying Nurse
“Prue Wheelwright is still in her thirties but she’s already had a fascinating, action-packed career. As a nurse and midwife she has worked in remote Australia as well as parts of the world that are remote to Australia, thanks to her work with Médécins sans Frontières. From treating patients at the most basic bush hospital in Ethiopia to looking after members of the Saudi royal family in Riyadh to the work she has just begun with the Royal Flying Doctor Service, Prue has seen the extremes of humanity and has the stories to prove it. Above all this is the story of a woman who is passionate about her work – that work just happens to be in a profession that means she puts her heart on the line, every single day. And she wouldn’t change a thing.”
Is this allowed to be a memoir when its author is still so young? Prue packs a lot into these pages and I am keen to read more! This seems like part 1 of her career, and I can’t wait to read more. There’s plenty of variety in her stories and the opportunities that she’s taken up are mind-boggling in their differences. From letting her mom pick nursing (or teaching) as a career for her, Prue has thrived in the unique environments she’s found herself in.
I was particularly tickled by Prue’s descriptions of her time in Riyadh, which is in a very strict Muslim country. Imagine not being able to treat your patients because they are royalty! Not to mention her creative approach to clothing under the Abaya or niqab in public places…
What I enjoyed about this book compared to Frontline Midwife, was that the author didn’t seem to hold the view that everyone should be able to, and should aim to, have children. It’s also interesting to have another view of Médecins Sans Frontières (Doctors without Borders) and how the experiences are similar yet literally countries apart. I’d highly recommend this book as a must-read for anyone considering nursing as a career. I’ve got a niece in mind to give this book to!
It seems to me that medical professionals are some of the most valuable people world-wide. As an educator, I’d like to argue that education is the way forward but basic medical care perhaps has to come first. I’m going to keep living vicariously through these medical memoirs (The Combat Doctor, Frontline Midwife, Aussie Midwives) and know that there is no way I could be a nurse.
Hachette | 29 March 2023 | AU$34.99 | paperback
The Girl in the Green Dress
Jeni Haynes & George Blair-West
“An unforgettable memoir from a woman who refused to be silenced. Jeni Haynes is an inspiration and her bravery and determination to live shows how MPD or DID saved her life. It is a powerful reminder of the resilience of the human spirit. ‘I didn’t know that you’re only supposed to have one personality. I didn’t realise that having lots of voices in your head was abnormal. But you are protecting yourself. You are protecting your soul, and that’s what I did.‘”
Normally I think of myself as being quite iron-stomached. This book though proved that there’s some things that I simply can’t read. I appreciated the authors’ foresight and use of stars to tell me where I could skip a section if I wasn’t feeling strong enough. I also needed to put the book down at times and reassure myself that I wasn’t in that situation and that Jeni has made it largely to the other side.
What the true horror of this situation explores is a system that doesn’t teach children how to verbalise abuse, and a system where victim blaming is common. It makes me so angry against the Church and other organisations that just cover up sexual abuse (as partially exposed in Do as I Say). We need to do better. I don’t know how, but one way I’m going to do my part is to telling people to read this book.
We fostercare and sometimes host children who display ‘sexualised behaviours’. We’re told how to provide trauma based care, but I’ve never really understood what that practically meant. Having reading this book, I feel even more strongly that it’s so important to not be surprised or judgemental. These kids don’t necessarily have the words to express how they have been abused, but it’s so important for them to talk to someone who cares. I particulately liked that Dr George gave a list of resources for people who have Dissociative Identity Disorder / Multiple Personality Disorder. These come about as a result of horrific childhood abuse – and you need specialist training to help them.
It’s not just about surviving – Jeni’s mind made it possible to do that. The problem is actually thriving after abuse, and that’s where the treatment by a professional comes in. I had heard of Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (EMDR) before this, but didn’t really have an understanding of how useful it could be. Dr Blair-West teachs us in the medical interludes how this can be used to process traumatic memories.
This book is not easy reading, but I think that it’s essential reading. It gives insight into sexual, domestic and emotional abuse in children and the deficits in the justice system in Australia. We still have a long way to go before the system is better – very recently the Grace Tame #metoo movement happened. The laws are still protecting predators and putting the emphasis on victims being the problem – they have to prove that they are telling the truth. It’s disgusting, and it needs to change.
Hachette | 31 August 2022 | AU$32.99 | paperback
The Story of a Medic Who Ran Out of Patients
“Now, Adam Kay returns and will once again have you in stitches in his painfully funny and startlingly powerful follow-up, Undoctored: The Story of a Medic Who Ran Out of Patients. In his most honest and incisive book yet, he reflects on what’s happened since hanging up his scrubs and examines a life inextricably bound up with medicine. Battered and bruised from his time on the NHS frontline, Kay looks back, moves forwards and opens up some old wounds.”
The title of this book is misleading. It suggests that Dr Kay literally ran out of patients, and mislead me into believing that this book was going to tell me how it happened! Instead, it’s a chronocle of sorts about his life after leaving medicine with a few bits of past-medical scenarios thrown in. I found it unsurprising that the medical system in the UK is just as broken for training doctors as Australia!
I read this book in a little under 3 hours – there wasn’t too much there that took me time to digest and contemplate. I felt that the humour felt crude to me and I wouldn’t read his other books for that reason. I think it is a loss to medicine that he gave up medicine – all those years of training and money put into it. I confess that I just don’t find a comedian to be as personally valuable to me as a doctor.
I’m not saying that Dr Kay’s experience should be overlooked or isn’t as valid as someone else’s trauma. However I didn’t find the book particularly funny or insightful. I’ve been blessed by some excellent non-fiction lately in this genre, and this book in comparison felt a bit cheap and left me undewhelmed. I definitely felt that I’d wasted my time and not gotten anything out of it.
This book is going to be best for someone with a British sense of humour and who has read the past books by Dr Kay. It’s not for me, and I think that Australians have far better sources of medical memiors at home.
Hachette | 13 September 2022 | AU$32.99 | paperback
The Ride of a Lifetime
Lessons Learned from 15 Years as CEO of the Walt Disney Company
“In 2005, Robert Iger became CEO of The Walt Disney Company during a difficult time. Morale had deteriorated, competition was more intense, and technology was changing faster than at any time in the company’s history. “I knew there was nothing to be gained from arguing over the past,” Iger writes. “The only thing that mattered was the future, and I believed I had a clear idea of the direction Disney needed to go.” It came down to three clear ideas: 1) Create the highest quality content Disney could produce. 2) Embrace and adopt technology instead of fighting it. And 3) Think bigger–think global–and turn Disney into a stronger brand in international markets.”
I picked up this book as an audiobook to listen to in the car. I didn’t get to it for a while as I had some other books to listen to first. By the time I got up to it I didn’t remember the synopsis of what it was about and had no expectations. As soon as I started listening, I loved it straight away and couldn’t stop listening! The whole book is structured like a memoir of the story of the authors life. I don’t normally like memoirs but this book was amazing. The story was told really well and kept you listening for more.
I’m glad I didn’t have any expectations going into the book as that would have given away a lot of the story. The insights and knowledge gained from this book was through the one long story. It’s not a theory based book, it just lists all the theories and little stories here and there. The business lessons and journey were fascinating and had me wanting more.
I’d recommend it to anyone who wants some detailed insights of the journey of being a CEO or just to leave you inspired. Overall, this book is amazing! I might even read it again! 5 Stars.
The Combat Doctor
“Dr Dan Pronk served on over 100 combat missions in Afghanistan as a frontline special forces combat doctor, where the casualties he treated were his fellow SAS soldiers and commandos, local civilians and even the enemy. The thrill of adventure and the challenges of battlefield medicine brought out the very best in Dan; he discovered a sense of purpose in pushing his medical skills and courage to the limits. But there was a cost. The Combat Doctor is an extraordinary story of resilience and growth, and a tribute to the doctors and medics working behind the scenes in conflict around the world.”
How can someone so bright, be so dumb? If you are smart enough to get into medical school, surely you are smart enough to realise that military retaliation isn’t actually a bright idea most of the time. I understand the incredible and exciting challenge that you need to undertake to get into the special forces, but at the same time uh, isn’t creating long term medical problems like a bung knee a problem? It seems like a bit of a boys’ club, and that was always going to put my back up.
I find it extraordinary and rather depressing that millions of dollars are pumped into the military. If we are looking at the number of lives saved by an intervention, surely something like the medical problems described in Frontline Midwife would be a better use of funding. The more I think about it, the more upset I feel.
Oh dear. I saw that Hamish Blake had read and given a review and I was seriously worried about the book from then onwards. I guess I was hoping that this would have juicy details on how combat medicine actually works in terms of common injuries or treatments. What I got was a fresh face on the deaths that have occurred in the Australian military in quite recent history. It’s pointless! We live in Australia, I’m pretty sure that noone wants to invade here. The worst threat we’ve had are fires that needed the Navy to evacuate people.
I wouldn’t recommend this as reading. However, if someone else is super keen on the military and you want them to read SOMETHING then perhaps this is a good pick. It’s not badly written, it’s quite a good read, I guess I just disagree with the need for it.
Pan Macmillan | 30 August 2022 | AU$36.99 | paperback
“A puddle of water on a highway changed Dinesh Palipana’s life forever. Halfway through medical school, Dinesh was involved in a catastrophic car accident that caused a cervical spinal cord injury. After his accident, his strength and determination saw him return to complete medical school – now with quadriplegia. Dinesh was the first quadriplegic medical intern in Queensland, and the second person with quadriplegia to graduate medical school in Australia.”
I didn’t really expect to enjoy this book, but Dr Palipana brings a hint of humour into everything. You’d think reading a book about someone who lost almost all his physical abilities would be quite depressing. Instead, this book is a tribute to the author’s resiliance and persistance. To some extent, it also exposes some of the negative aspects of living across different countries and having family that you aren’t sure how to work with.
This was quite easy reading, despite being a potentially tough subject. I finished it off in two sittings, and didn’t really need a brain-break in between. I wasn’t rushed to finish it, but I did want to know the ending. I still don’t know how he manages to get enough sleep!
The fact that the Australian medical system can change even a little to prepare an excellent Dr is amazing, and I hope to see more evidence from the author creating change from his experiences. I meet many doctors in my work, and I know that they are scarily smart! But, as Dr. Palipana says, it’s less about smarts, and more about the emotional connection that you can form with patients. Being a doctor isn’t about being ‘able-bodied’, being a doctor is a vocation and needs someone with compassion. Let’s hope for more of that in the future.
Pan Macmillan | 26 July 2022 | AU$32.99 | paperback