An Outback Nurse

An Outback Nurse out the back of my house

Thea Hayes
Allen and Unwin
Published October 2014

Thank you to the publisher for
providing this book in exchange
for an honest review. This did
not alter my review in any way.

Thea Hayes’ An Outback Nurse is a fascinating account of her life as nurse on a cattle station in the Australian outback (title is a little explanatory, I suppose). Thea was a city girl, just home from travels in Europe and the U.S. when she applies for a job in the Northern Territory on a whim. When she accepts the position she couldn’t have known then what her life would have in store for her and she didn’t know a thing about the four million cattle station she would soon be calling home. She found love, life and a home in the middle of nowhere.

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The Boys in the Boat

A beautiful day for reading outside

Daniel James Brown
Published 6th June 2013
Borrowed from my uncle.

I have never had any interest in rowing. But my uncle, whose recommendation I read this off, was a rower and is now a rowing coach. I can easily see why the story of the rowing crew from Washington, nine working class boys trying to work and study and live in the 1930s, whose big ambitions took them to Hitler’s 1936 Olympics in Berlin appealed to my uncle. I didn’t expect it to have such an affect on me.

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The White Divers of Broome

Was going to take a cool photo of this book at the beach, but …. I forgot. So here it is framed by my laptop while I’m studying instead.

John Bailey
Pan Macmillan
Published 1st August 2002 (first published 2001)
Borrowed from my aunt.

I have a few people who I trade books and book recommendations with regularly, but not all of them have the same taste as I do. It’s good, because it means I read things I wouldn’t normally read or didn’t even know about. This was the case for The White Divers of Broome which landed in my hands while recently in Sydney visiting my aunt. Continue reading

The Global Suitcase

Author: Mary J. Dinan
Publisher: New Holland
Star Rating: 2/5
Date Read: April 30th to May 5th, 2014
Thank you to Goodreads and New Holland publishers for providing me with a copy of this book.

I love to travel and I love to read about travel in all its forms. I love journeys into the unknown and I love exploring my own backyard. You would think this book, a collection of interviews with people who have done exactly that, would suit me perfectly. You would be wrong.

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God Is Not Great: How Religion Poisons Everything

Author: Christopher Hitchens
Publisher: Allen & Unwin
Star Rating: 5/5
Date Read: December 16th to 21st, 2013
Christopher Hitchens pissed off a lot of people in his time. In my opinion – totally worth it.

Hitchens is a full force of no apologies against religious tyranny. He brings forth all its shames, its misdemeanors and the misconceptions surrounding religion in all forms – no religion escapes his critical eye and words. He knows what he’s talking about, he has done his research and he’s experienced it first hand. This is what makes him an authority on the subject as opposed to a blabbering troublemaker who doesn’t know what they’re talking about. He is witty and insightful and shamelessly pulls apart religion, piece by piece, to show how humanity is better off without the illusion of god in any of his names or forms.

Being an atheist myself, God Is Not Great did not surprise or shock me, only re-affirmed my own thoughts and ideas and gave them support. I applaud Hitchens for his effort as it cannot have been easy to write something like this, but I’m glad he did.

Slowspoke: A Unicyclist’s Guide to America

Author: Mark Schimmoeller
Publisher: Alice Peck
Star Rating: 3.5/5
Date Read: February 4th to 8th, 2014
Thank you to the author for sending me a copy of this book. This did not influence my review in any way.

The unique story of Mark Schimmoeller, who after college left an internship to pursue a dream of unicycling across America, is unlike anything else I have ever read. How many people do you know who ride a unicycle, let alone decide to trek across America on one? It’s an impressive feat to say the least. One Schimmoeller is fairly modest about, really. These days he has hung up the unicycle (but not quite for good) and lives a sustainable lifestyle in the woods with his wife, not far from the home he grew up in. The book is written in an alternative perspective, one based on his time on the road, the other of his quiet life where he has no electricity or water, instead uses a rain catchment system and a solar cooker and is fighting to save the land surrounding him from development.

I enjoyed the imagery presented in this book of not only the woods where he lives, but also of the places he traveled through and the interesting characters met along the way. However, I felt there were a lot of irrelevant passages about his dreams (that made no sense, as dreams in real life often don’t) and random recountings of his childhood that disrupted the flow of the narrative. I liked how he related his unicycle journey to the life he knew at home, but a lot of little anecdotes didn’t feel like they belonged. This made the book seem much longer than it was and made it difficult to finish. I found my attention wavering as I inched towards the end, even though I was curious to see how it all wrapped up – it just took some work and concentration to get there. Maybe they should have been a little harsher on the cutting room floor (applies for books too yeah?).

Schimmoeller mentions that he likes happy endings, and this is apparent in the way he glosses over how plain difficult it must have been to travel such distances on a unicycle in such ever changing environments. Any hardships are brushed off, fixed by a meal and a good night’s sleep, making it seem fairly easy to pedal cross country on a bike with only one wheel. While we definitely should encourage people to achieve great things, it’s something else to ignore all the bad bits. And even if your journey over all was a success, of course there’s going to be bad days and rough days and days where you want to go home. It’s not realistic to pretend that they don’t exist. I’m not looking for drama, just a bit more raw honesty would have been nice.

Other than the lengthy descriptions I found Schimmoeller to be a talented writer, although in some parts he came off a little self-righteous I was able to move past it due to my sheer interest in his way of life so different from my own. I can sympathise with him about the threat of further development in his secluded area, and to be honest his travel adventures made me want to have my own – just maybe with four wheels instead of one.