I Love Me, by Bev Aisbett

Do you feel that life has left you out in the cold?
Do you feel unloved, unwanted or overlooked?
Do you reach out to others for support only to find that they leave you disappointed or dissatisfied?

Every person has times in his or her life when it seems no one is on their side. When you feel this way it is easy to also feel angry, hurt or depressed. But, says Bev Aisbett, author of I Love Me, there is one person you can always trust and rely on: yourself.

I Love Me is a simple guide to becoming your own best friend. Using cartoon style illustration and large, minimal text, the book is quick to read and easy to absorb. there are no lengthy sermons or detailed reflections – just no-nonsense talk aimed at helping readers forgive and love themselves.

From the author of Living With IT this is a helpful, uplifting offering.

I Love Me: A Guide to Being Your Own Best Friend

I Love Me: A Guide to Being Your Own Best Friend, by Bev Aisbett
Harper Collins, 2010

This book can be purchased online from Fishpond. Buying through this link supports Aussiereviews.

Looking for Lionel, by Sharon Snir

Dementia peeled away layers of how things should and should not be. It peeled away the surface that was concerned only with appearance. Over time it revealed someone I had never really met. Someone pure and sweet and filled with innocent gratitude. In the end, all that was left of Lily was love. How ironic that dementia gave me the mother I had always wanted.

With a growing number of people in Australia suffering from dementia, there is a good chance that all of us are going to have a family member, a friend or at least an acquaintance who suffers from the disease at some point in or lifetime. It is a diagnosis which cares most people, and an illness which affects everyone in the life of the sufferer.

Looking for Lionel: How I Lost and Found My Mother Through Dementia is both a personal memoir of one family’s journey through dementia and a wonderful aid for the families and carers of other sufferers. With gentle honesty author Sharon Snir tells of the highs and incredible lows of her own family’s experiences, as well as sharing first hand experiences from others who she has spoken with, and offering gentle guidance based on those experiences, for others in similar situations.

This is an important and touching book whose ultimate message is positive.

Looking for Lionel: How I Lost and Found My Mother Through Dementia

Looking for Lionel: How I Lost and Found My Mother Through Dementia, by Sharon Snir
Allen & Unwin, 2010

This book can be purchased online from Fishpond. Buying through this link supports Aussiereviews

Buddhism for Mothers, by Sarah Napthali

Most advice for mothers is about mothering rather than about being a mother. Mothers are given loads of advice and instructions on what to do for their children, but little help with how to nurture themselves.

Buddhism for Mothers seeks to offer this help. Author Sarah Napthali, herself a mother of two, tries to show mothers how they can cope with the day to day stresses and challenges of motherhood using basic Buddhist philosophies and techniques. She explores ways out of maximising the joy of parenting, and minimising anger and stress.

With chapters on mindful parenting, finding calm and happiness, creating loving relationships and more, the book offers insights which will be fresh to many mothers, yet which offer achievable aims.

Napthali’s advice is wise, yet realistic. She does not encourage parents to set unrealistic aims for themselves or those around them, but rather acknowledges the realities of parenting and of struggling for balance. An accessible and balanced volume.

Buddhism for Mothers, by Sarah Napthali
Allen & Unwin, 2003.

The Cat Who Looked at the Sky, by Thea Welsh

When Thea Welsh finds herself catless for the first time in years, she and her partner Michael agree to a plan to share the ownership of two kittens with their friends Ron and Robin.

The idea is to adopt two kittens who will be raised together, moved between houses to fit with Ron and Robin’s regular travels overseas. In theory the plan seems straightforward. The reality is not quite what Thea (or the other humans) expect.

To describe this story is not easy. It is at times like reading a parenting book, or a new mother’s diary, except that the babies are cats, not humans. The kittens, soon joined by a third cat – an irrepressible stray who makes her way into Welsh’s heart and home – have as many differences, foibles and dramas as human children, and seem to demand just as much attention.

Yet there is something endearing about both the tale and the cats. Welsh captures the personalities of Grace the part-Burmese, Fluffer the part-Persian, and Kate the tabby, making them characters rather than images. The reader comes to learn what to expect from each and to enjoy their achievements and escapades.

Definitely not a book for cat-haters, this is, nontheless, an interesting read.

The Cat Who Looked at The Sky, by Thea Welsh
Harper Collins, 2003

Written in Blood, by Beverley MacDonald

Tell the average teenager that they should read a history book, and you shouldn’t expect a polite reaction. Most kids think history is dull – after all you’re studying the past, old people, times when there were no computers, no cool music, and people wore daggy clothes. But share Written in Bloodwith these same teenagers, and you can hope for a change of heart.

This is a history book with a difference. Author Beverly MacDonald has worked hard to share only the interesting , the gory and the truly amazing parts of history, and to write about them in a lively and entertaining manner. Readers are encouraged to look at the events and influences which have shaped our lives and beliefs and to examine the environment in which events considered as shocking took place.

As well as being an interesting read for entertainment purposes, Written in Blood provides parents and teachers with an springboard to discussions of history, morals, politics and philosophy.

Including fun cartoons by Andrew Weldon, the book includes loads of provocative facts and true stories of courage, rebellion and survival. It is likely to appeal to children aged 13 and over.

Written in Blood, by Beverley MacDonald
Allen & Unwin, 2003

Marching Powder, by Rusty Young

When Australian Rusty Young reached Bolivia on his backpacking holiday, he wasn’t expecting to spend time inside a prison. Curiously, he wasn’t arrested, and he was free to come and go as he liked. This was the notorious San Pedro prison and Young’s reason for staying there was an English drug trafficker, Thomas McFadden.

The pair met when Young visited the jail for one of Thomas’s tours – where tourists were shown around the inside of the jail by inmates. Young was fascinated by Thomas’s story, and felt compelled to learn more and to help him. Thomas, in turn, had been wanting to write his story – Young could help that dream be fulfilled.

For three months Young stayed inside the prison, sharing Thomas’s cell, and documenting his story. The result is this book, Marching Story, which follows Thomas’s story from his arrest for trying to shift a large amount of cocaine out of the country, through his tumultuous adaptation to life inside a corrupt and violent prison system, through to his eventual release.

It is hard for a Westerner to comprehend that these are actual events – the stories of violence, of endemic corruption and blatant unfairness, are so incredible, they seem to be a well written novel. But this is nonfiction. San Pedro prison, where inmates are expected to buy their cells from real estate agents, to feed and clothe themselves and to have their innocent wives and children live with them in the prison, is real. Thomas and his prison mates are real. In fact the whole story is so frighteningly real that it is compelling reading. This is the story of one of the strangest places on earth, and one man’s struggle to survive in it.

Gripping stuff.

Marching Powder, by Rusty Young
Pan Macmillan, 2003

Take 40, by Leanne Mercer

There is no birthday more talked about, more anticipated than a woman’s fortieth. For some it is a daunting age – perhaps signalling the end of youth, and admitting to being middle aged – for others a time of great challenge as they face changes in life, career, relationships.

In Take 40 Leanne Mercer, executive producer of Good Morning Australia talks to 40 women about their experiences of turning – and being – 40. They discuss how they felt at the time and how they feel now looking back.

Amongst those who share their thoughts are radio and television personality Amanda Keller, swimmer Tracey Wickham, singer Marina Prior and Sarah, the Duchess of York. Each woman’s experiences of reaching this milestone are different, but the common thread is that turning 40 is not a signal to sit back and admit defeat, but rather a time to go for it, to move forward and do whatever it is you want to do.

Take 40 also shares tips for looking and feeling good, as well as advice on careers, dating, marriage and more. An excellent gift for a woman approaching this age, Take 40 is an inspirational and insightful read.

Take 40, by Leanne Mercer
Pan Macmillan, 2003

Daughters of Nazareth, by Patricia Hughes

For the first seven years of her life Patricia Hughes lived with her sick but loving father and her alcoholic mother. Three days before her seventh birthday her life changed forever. Her father went back to hopsital and her mother abandoned her – leaving the police to deliver her to Nazareth House, a Catholic Orphanage.

For the next eight years Patricia lived in the ophanage, cared for by seemingly loveless nuns, intermittently placed in foster care with often abusive carers. When she was fifteen she decided she’d had enough and ran away from her foster paernts to start life on her own.

Although she never stopped wondering about her parents, it wasn’t until 1997 that she began to learn more about her family. Out of the blue she received a phone call from a woman claiming to be her sister. This was just the start of a series of extraordinary discoveries about their joint and separate pasts and about the family neither woman knew they had.

Daughters of Nazareth is a moving and intirguing tale of a search for family and understanding. Patricia Hughes is inspirational in her ability to move on and to accept. Her story, although recounting events which could be seen as tragic, is overwhelmingly positive.

A moving read.

Daughters of Nazareth, by Patricia Hughes
Pan Macmillan 2002

Manhattan to Baghdad, by Paul McGeogh

In early September 2001, Australian journalist Paul McGeogh returned to New York from a trip to Afghanistan. When he woke on September 11 it was to the news that a plane had hit the World Trade Centre. As he turned on his television he was just in time to see the second plane hit. McGeogh was on the streets in time to witness the towers collapsing. Being witness to these shocking events was just one of McGeogh’s strokes of fortune that saw him in the right place at the right time (from a journalist’s perspective – some may argue he is often in the wrong place).

The twelve months following September 11 saw McGeogh return to Afghanistan to witness and report on the subsequent events, travelling to Israel and the Occupied Territories to report on the ongoing conflict in that region, venturing into Baghdad to gain insight into the effects on Iraq of ongoing sanctions and the threat of another war, and onto Saudi Arabia.

Manhattan to Baghdad is McGeogh’s account of his personal journey, of the events he witnesses and of the people he meets along the way. This is a highly personal account, yet has the precision of a journalist’s observation. As well as allowing the reader a glimpse into McGeogh’s life, it ultimately provides a deeper insight into the events of the months since September 11, and of the current war and ongoing turmoil in the region.

This is essential reading for anyone who wants a better understanding of the tumultuous world we now inhabit. Both entertaining and educational.

Manhattan to Baghdad, by Paul McGeogh
Allen & Unwin, 2003

Islam in Australia, by Abdullah Saeed

In the wake of September 11 and the ongoing bitter debate over asylum seekers, most Australians have opinions on Muslims and the Islamic faith. But many of these opinions are based on misunderstandings or a partial understading of the faith and of its practioners. Over 300 000 Australians identify themselves as Muslim. Many were born in Australia and some were not born into the faith, instead choosing to convert.

Islam in Australia provides a brief and accessible introduction to the world of Islam and, in particular, its existence and practice in Australia. One of the key understandings imparted by the book is that, like Christians, Muslims are not all alike. There are vast cultural differences within the Muslim community, making many common perceptions of the ‘typical’ Muslim, simply uninformed stereotypes.

Author Abdullah Saeed is Head of the Arabic and Islamic Studies program at the University of Melbourne. His inside look at Australia’s Muslim community is a must read for every Australian.

Islam in Australia, by Abdullah Saeed
Allen & Unwin, 2003