Showing posts with the label Non-Fiction

Book review: I'm not crazy I'm just a little unwell by Leigh Hatcher

Leigh Hatcher’s book about his years suffering with Chronic Fatigue Syndrome nearly had a completely different name. But all along he’d felt the Matchbox 20 lyric I’m Not Crazy, I’m Just a Little Unwell seemed to resonate with his experience and so he went with his heart and it became the title of his best selling book. And that’s something Leigh is good at, going with his heart, and he bares plenty of it in this riveting story of one man’s crash out of life and into a world of misunderstood and often mysterious sickness. In his preface, Hatcher - one of Australia’s best known journalists, news presenters and authors - explains that ‘no two CFS stories will ever be the same’ and so it is fitting that he simply tells his story, with its backdrop of iconic political moments, Olympic excitement and the inner workings of television and radio. In a tightly written book that moves along at a clipping pace but still manages to pack in plenty of detail, Hatcher describes his fascinat

Book review: Misfits Welcome by Matthew Barnett

When Matthew and Caroline Barnetts' story first broke into Christian consciousness across the globe, it inspired many pastors and leaders to finally acknowledge the part of themselves they had been often taught to ignore. It was unusual to hear of a large, popular, American, Pentecostal church that centralised radical engagement with the poor. Most church experts would teach us that you can't build a church with 'people like that' but maybe, when your church was big enough and had a great building and shiny brochures then, perhaps, it could have such a ministry, in a small corner some where. In his first book, The Church that Never Sleeps , a young Barnett turned that idea on its head and breathed life into many pastors and churches that had always struggled to justify their seeming indifference to the disadvantaged. For a while he was the flavour of the month, speaking at pastors conferences around the world and even now, many years later, there is increased

Book review: I am Malala by Malala Yousafzai

The obvious attraction of I Am Malala is the inside story of this young women's violent struggle with the Taliban but there are even greater, quieter wonders on offer for the patient reader. Malala Yousafzai tells her story with a refreshing lack of self-consciousness so that we are given not only a deeply personal insight into her own soul, but into the intricacies of her family and her troubled Swat homelands in Pakistan's northwestern Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province. The entire world focused on one day of her life, Tuesday, October 9, 2012 when the high school student and campaigner for girls education, was shot by a member of the Taliban who also wounded two of her fellow students. The entire world has again focused on Malala with the announcement she is to jointly receive the 2014 Nobel Peace Prize.* Although the book takes its time to provide satisfying detail as to the events of the day she was shot, there is no sense of frustrating delay as the reader is first intr

Book news: early release of The Undesirables: Inside Nauru by Mark Isaacs

Australian publisher Hardie Grant has moved forward the release of The Undesirables which is a whistle-blower's account from inside the asylum-seeker camp on Nauru. Available from March 17, 2014 the rushed release is in response to the recent violence and death of one asylum-seeker at Manus Island. Author Mark Isaacs was just 24 when, as the Sydney Morning Herald reports, he was hired as a support worker for Naura detention centre on the strength of a single phone interview. He joined other untrained Salvation Army contractors who were quickly assembled to serve at the camp, re-opened in a desperate attempt by then Prime Minister Julia Gillard to solve her asylum seeker political problem. According to Hardie Grant's publicity of the book: 'His [Mark Isaacs'] unique voice and unbiased view allow readers to draw their own conclusions and holds up a mirror to the Australian government, and it's [sic] policies. This book is not a justification of the men's

Book review: Open House - Conversations with Leigh Hatcher

Learning from the lives of others is one of the great opportunities we have for personal growth, as we see ourselves reflected in their stories. Just such an opportunity, multiplied 30 times, is presented to readers of Open House - Conversations with Leigh Hatcher launched this week. Open House is the popular Sunday night radio interview program hosted by well-known media personality and journalist Leigh Hatcher and the book is a collection of some of his best and most recent interviews. Although I am somewhat wary of anthologies of this kind, sometimes feeling they are an easy excuse for a book, this one has been thoughtfully and carefully prepared so that it is a fast-moving and fascinating read and you never feel you are getting a re-run of past glory. Instead the interviews are a good length for reading, not too long but enough detail to capture the pathos of people's story-telling - which is where personally I could at times see something of my own life - or a frien

Book review: The Pain Book - Finding hope when it hurts by Philip Siddall, Rebecca McCabe, Robin Murray

All books are created at least twice. There's the creation in the mind of the author and in the secret place of planning and plotting, drafting and editing. And then there's the creation of the setting of type, placement of headings and illustrations, designing of covers and the committing of print to paper or code to kindle, as it were. In the case of The Pain Book: Finding hope when it hurts by Philip Siddall, Rebecca McCabe and Robin Murray, it is fair to say it is a book created many times over in the lives of real people who have found hope in their pain. The three lead clinicians of Greenwich Hospital Pain Clinic, Sydney, have loved and laboured over this book for many years and more than that, have proved it week by week in the clinic they run, with the patients they support. This process shows in the text which is disarmingly simple and relatively brief when the complexity and vastness of the topic is considered. It speaks of a well-honed message delivered many t

No Easy Day author interview appears on Channel 10 nine months after screening in US

Channel 10 is promoting the screening of a US 60 Minutes interview with the author of No Easy Day which first aired in America last September. It's publicity says, 'In a one-hour TEN special event, hear the remarkable first-hand account of the raid that killed the world’s most wanted terrorist, from one of the US Navy SEALS who pulled the trigger. Telling his story for the very first time on Australian television, Mark Owen – a former SEAL who was in the room when Osama bin Laden died – speaks to Scott Pelley in his only interview. Cread first reported the interview with author Matt Bissonnette (briefly known by the pseudonym Mark Owens)in our September 1, 2012 story on the then new book release, No Easy Day. Read our full story here which contains video of part of the interview which TEN is describing as a 'special event'. Of course many in Australia will have not seen the interview or read the book, which was contrvoersial at the time not only for possibl

The dance of faith and family explained in new book: How the West Really Lost God

Secularisation in western culture is due to the breakdown of the family, and not the intelligent strength of atheists or the spiritual apathy brought on by wealth. So argues author Mary Eberstadt in her new book How the West Really Lost God: A New Theory on Secularization, published by Templeton Press, 268 pages. Eberstadt attempts to dispel myths such as the idea that atheists are intellectually superior to dimwitted believers and argues that a growing secularisation is due to a less flourishing family life among people of faith. Faith reinforces family life and family life reinforces family. When this cycle is broken, both decline. She looks at the shattering of family life that occurred in 18th and 19th century Britain bringing a parallel decline in religious (until challenged by revival moments such as seen in the Methodists and Salvation Army). A similar decline in family life, such as among American farmers this century, coincides with growing secularisation, for examp

Book review: Fascinating Times by Mal Fletcher

The idea of fascinating times, as author and social commentator Mal Fletcher explains, can inspire thoughts of exciting possibilities or simply exhaustion. The supposed Chinese curse goes, 'May you live in fascinating times'. Maybe this is an indication that as much as we tell ourselves we are up for an adventure, really we just want to be left alone doing what we've always done. Judging by the subject matter of Fletcher's new book, Fascinating Times , sitting quietly is hardly likely to be an option, at least not all of the time. His collection of essays and commentary from recent years is like an omnibus of the major forces sweeping across our lives and generations, whether we like it or not. And given our propensity at times to want to ignore things we don't like, don't understand or simply don't agree with, we can be thankful that Fletcher has done the hard yards of pulling these topics together and providing thoughtful, reasoned commentary. At

Book review: Faith in Action by Meredith Lake

About two years ago I started working with HammondCare, having been unfamiliar with the name and the story behind it. I was aware of a Sydney suburb called Hammondville which often appeared in traffic reports, something like - 'traffic is banked up all the way to the Hammondville toll'. I was also very familiar with Arthur Stace, the man famous for writing his one-word sermon, Eternity, around Sydney and beyond hundreds of thousands of times from the 1930s to 1967 when he died - at Hammondville. I had always thought his life one of Sydney's great stories and a powerful touch point of faith and culture, recognised also by those who have written about him in poems and songs, created paintings, produced documentaries and operas and even featured his word in the millennium fireworks and the Sydney Olympic opening ceremony. What I have discovered, as is revealed in Faith in Action HammondCare , is that the story of Rev Bob Hammond and the charity he founded is just as

Books News: Killing Jesus by Bill O'Reilly and Easter new releases

Please click on any book cover to purchase or pre-order   Having killed Lincoln and Kennedy in previous books, US Fox News anchor and best-selling author Bill O'Reilly has announced his next book, Killing Jesus to be published on September 24. As the calendar approaches Easter, there will no doubt be the usual flurry of new Jesus books released and discussed but ironically the timing of O'Reilly's new title is aimed at the biggest bookselling season of them all, Christmas. And while O'Reilly as an author is relatively unknown outside North America, as are his books, he still ranks as the world's sixth richest author grossing $24 million last year. But Killing Jesus may well gain him a broader, global audience and no doubt that is part of his motivation in writing the book. His now tried and true formula is to allow co-author Martin Dugard to do the pain-staking work of research around the killing of a famous historical figure while he comes on board

Is reading really about believing?

When forming beliefs and ideas are you more influenced by a powerful story or compelling facts and information? Shortly Cread will publish a joint review of José Saramago’s Cain (2010), alongside William Paul Young's Cross Roads (2012) and compare their use of narrative fiction to declare a view of God. They employ radically different forms matched by the divergence of the 'message' they convey. But is one more successful than the other in influencing, moving or informing readers? Or is that even the goal? One of the great dangers of fiction writing is 'telling' rather than 'showing' and books that seek to communicate a pre-determined message are particularly vulnerable. Which is not to say that most authors do not intend to communicate values to their readers. The reality is that, even sub-consciously, authors fill their novels with their values and beliefs, carrying them along in their characters and plots. Perhaps the more sub-conscious this is,

Mal Fletcher's new book to be launched in November

This morning Mal Fletcher tweeted: "Just saw draft ideas for cover of my new # book, launch late November. Very impressive! Editing now in progress. # author" It sounds like a fast-turnaround, but then Mal Fletcher is a man with a firm grip on the future.   A futurist and social commentator with a background as a Christian pastor, Fletcher moved from Australia to Europe in 1994 to found Next Wave International, a communications group which helps European community organisations and charities to deal with future change.   Based first in Copenhagen then London, he also launched the Euro Youth Events network, hosting ongoing, alcohol-free concerts in eight major European capitals.   Fletcher also founded the Strategic Leadership Consultation, an annual summit for European community and church leaders from 20 nations. The summit focuses on engaging the future of society in a proactive way.   In 2008, he launched 2020Plus to assist companies and media groups as t

From the margins to a new book riding the Groundswell of support

“We felt marginalised by the surfing community because we were Christians and marginalised from the church community because we were surfers.” Groundswell is the new book telling the history of Christian Surfers from its launch in southern-Sydney beachside suburb of Cronulla in 1977 through to today when it is an international movement involving thousands of surfers in more than 30 nations. And Groundswell is a fitting title for a book that has used the crowd-sourcing website Kickstart to secure $20,000 funding to ensure the books publication. More than 170 backers raised $23,564 to send the book to the printers in time for its launch at Cronulla Rydges on October 19 at 8pm. There'll be other launches around the nation with the international launch in Hawaii at the Christian Surfers international conference on November 8. The book is written and compiled by Christian Surfers founder Brett Davis who said during the Kickstart campaign: "We’re seeking to release Groun

Book review: Unstoppable by Nick Vujicic

I'm not sure Nick Vujicic's Unstoppable ever becomes an unstoppable read but it does steadily and assuredly build in intensity and impact so that when you do put it down on completion, it is with a sense of satisfaction and appreciation. His neat and tidy prose, indeed every single word, is weighed down with added meaning because Nick was born without limbs, other than what he calls his "little foot". It makes even the existence of this his second book seem remarkable, not to mention the spirit of hope and optimism that fill it. The sub-title for the 214 page paperback (Allen and Unwin) is The incredible power of faith in action and he sticks to his theme from cover to cover, utilising a mixture of personal testimony, inspiration, advice and the stories of people who have reached out to him or worked with him. While reading Unstoppable for this review, Nick appeared on 60 Minutes with his new wife, Kanae, and the story of how they met and eventually wed is cont

New book tells the story of the man who invented Vegemite

Vegemite is an Australian cultural icon, and soon a book about the invention of this salty, black paste will be available. The Man Who Invented Vegemite documents the life of Cyril Callister, scientist and director of Fred Walker & Co. Cyril invented the spread during the early 1920s as an alternative to the British Marmite, the import of which was disrupted due to World War I. Jamie Callister – Cyril's grandson – wrote the book. A former advertising executive and builder, Jamie decided to put pen to paper in this his first book after reading through some of his grandfather's letters and documents. He believes his grandfather deserves “to be remembered as a significant and remarkable Australian.” Cyril had an ''an unshakeable belief in Vegemite, that it was good, and he persevered''. While invented as mentioned in the 1920s, Vegemite did not become the legendary icon it is today until the late 30s. Off the back of profits made from Fred Walker &am

New book: Black Caviar The Horse of a Lifetime

Black Caviar is undefeated from 22 races throughout her career, attaining legend status with a race success record not equalled in over 150 years. A new "authorised" book, Black Caviar: The Horse of  Lifetime , document the career of this thoroughbred racehorse come Australian icon and will be available from October 1 (hardcover, 400 pages, ABC Books). Written by journalist and broadcaster Gerard Whateley, Black Caviar begins with the story of trainer Peter Moody of remote outback Queensland, who eventually came to select and guide Black Caviar to dominance. The book's foreword is written by Peter Moody himself. Black Caviar follows the superstar horse's career through to her victory on one of the most famous race tracks of all. But as for her future, the Black Caviar website reports Peter Moody as saying this week that, "Everything is very positive at this point in time. I'll chat with the owners on Saturday or Sunday week." (Click cover im

Many of the world's biggest authors join avalanche of new books

There's no doubt the world of publishing is in turmoil with no-one quite sure where the future lies so perhaps that's why so many big name authors have all come out with new books this Spring. JK Rowling, Tom Wolfe, Salman Rushdie, Junot Diaz, Zadie Smith and Michael Chabon are just some of the award winning, best selling authors to compete for shelf space while Australian authors such as Bryce Courtenay and Kate Grenville are also in the mix but perhaps in danger of being somewhat overwhelmed. Then there are the celebrity releases such as Justin Bieber's Just Getting Started and Kylie Minogue's new book Fashion . And let's not forget the Navy SEAL's first hand account of the killing of Osama bin Laden. So let's hope electricity bills aren't too high and we've all got plenty of reading money. In no particular order, here's a (partial) wrap-up of a particularly literary spring... Back to Blood by Tom Wolfe is due for release in Australia