Archive for the ‘Non-fiction’ Category
Wednesday, June 12th, 2013
The Art of Travel Synopsis
Any Baedeker will tell us where we ought to travel, but only Alain de Botton will tell us how and why. With the same intelligence and insouciant charm he brought to How Proust Can Save Your Life, de Botton considers the pleasures of anticipation; the allure of the exotic, and the value of noticing everything from a seascape in Barbados to the takeoffs at Heathrow.
Even as de Botton takes the reader along on his own peregrinations, he also cites such distinguished fellow-travelers as Baudelaire, Wordsworth, Van Gogh, the biologist Alexander von Humboldt, and the 18th-century eccentric Xavier de Maistre, who catalogued the wonders of his bedroom. The Art of Travel is a wise and utterly original book. Don’t leave home without it. (Amazon)
While I do not as a rule read self help books, I had heard great things about the writings of Alain de Botton and so wanted to see what all the fuss was about. Of all non-fiction I am most partial to travel memoirs and so I decided that out of his extensive back catalogue The Art of Travel was the perfect place for me to start.
Saturday, May 18th, 2013
Thanks to Signal 8 Press, I have an ebook copy of Yu Jihui’s recently released memoir The Gunners of Shenyang to giveaway to one lucky reader.
Wednesday, May 15th, 2013
The Gunners of Shenyang Synopsis
In Yu Jihui’s memoir of his life as a university student in China as the nation starved during Mao’s Great Leap Forward, carrots are decadent luxuries and flatulence is the people’s true common language. “Soapy,” the author’s nickname during his college days, has been dubious about the benefits of the socialist revolution sweeping the country ever since his father was exiled to a desolate town in the middle of nowhere for daring to question the wisdom of trying to industrialize overnight. As a young adult, Soapy and his dorm-mates attend classes, chase girls, and attend endless political meetings, always struggling with the need to maintain a cheerfully patriotic outlook despite that pesky urge to faint from hunger from time to time. When Big Zhang, an older boy from the provinces, dares to be a nonconformist, openly mocking the system, the dangerous silliness of the day turns to literal, life-or-death danger.
The Gunners of Shenyang is at once hilarious, revealing, informative, thought-provoking, and sometimes college-boy vulgar — a memoir of the horrors of the times from a boy still young enough to enjoy himself and a man now wise enough to see the big picture for what it was. (Signal 8 Press)
BOOK REVIEW by Tony Ziemek
The Gunners of Shenyang is a memoir dedicated to the author’s parents and it is recounted sparingly and with poignancy. It is a tale of friendship, love, humanity and hunger. I found it fascinating because it is an unfamiliar world but one peopled with characters that are universal in their lives, loves, friendships and the many (often ribald) jokes that defy the austerity of the times.
Monday, February 11th, 2013
Flavours of Urban Melbourne Synopsis
After the international success of Flavours of Melbourne, there was an obvious need to publish a sequel to showcase Melbourne’s thriving urban food scene. Flavours of Urban Melbourne showcases the profound ebbs and flows of styles and cultures within the café and restaurant culture in this capital city of food. East meets west, meets north and south. A fusion of cultures flourishes together, as well side-by-side. It is hard to put a finger on the pulse, let alone describe the free-fall movement that the city’s suburbs are experiencing today. Flavours of Urban Melbourne captures the essence of the city’s food scene today. Complete with histories, recipes and stories of select venues, the book is bound to be another international success. (Smudge Publishing)
BOOK REVIEW by Tony Ziemek
The latest product of Smudge Publishing, Flavours of Urban Melbourne displays the quality design that we have come to expect from this family–run publishing house. Jonette George and her daughters specialise in presenting the best of culinary and cultural Victoria in words and evocative photography.
Thursday, November 1st, 2012
Adventures of a Compulsive Traveller Synopsis
Journalist Dominic Dunne’s travels have rarely been ordinary, despite his best intentions. He has been travelling all his life, from the time his parents started their annual pilgrimage to the opal fields of Lightning Ridge. Since then he has trekked all over Australia and to some 60 countries, spending his life trying to satisfy his insatiable appetite for travelling, an addiction that has taken him to wonderful and sometimes dangerous places where he has met all manner of people.
In Adventures of a Compulsive Traveller Dominic uses insight and wit and a good dollop of gossip to capture the highlights (and lowlights) from destinations the world over. Dominic takes readers backstage with Nana Mouskouri in Greece and in search of the ghosts of Elvis Presley in Mississippi. He escapes marauding Americans at Noel Cowards Jamaican sanctuary, crosses cranky guards in North Korea, rubs shoulders with Hillary Clinton in Washington and solves a life-long mystery in Zimbabwe. And he meets his namesake, the best-selling American author Dominick Dunne, with whom he forges an enduring friendship.
‘Dominic Dunne has had a surfeit of quirky travel experiences, and amazingly, has lived to tell the tale. Now would someone please confiscate his passport?’ – Pamela Stephenson-Connolly
Saturday, October 13th, 2012
PRODUCE TO PLATTER , the food and wine lovers’ guide
Yarra Valley & The Dandenongs - Synopsis
Produce to Platter, the food and wine lovers’ guide to the Yarra Valley and The Dandenongs is the co-production of a mother and daughter team: Jonette George and Danielle Wilton, with evocative photography by Charlie Brown.
Drive along the highways and byways of the Yarra Valley to discover a unique cosmos of regional vignerons, wine makers and chefs making use of local produce supplied from farm gates, small shop fronts, artisan craftsmen and boutique enterprises.
Full-coloured photography showcases this famous food and wine region to its stunning best-and stories about the vineyards, restaurants and producers take you behind the scenes to discover the locals’ secrets.
Readers are also provided with sumptuous signature recipes using local produce by the region’s top chefs whilst discovering the connection between the region’s traditional owners, white settlers and today’s inhabitants. As the latest instalment in the Produce to Platter series, Yarra Valley and the Dandenongs, beautifully showcases the unique atmosphere of the region, and provides readers with an insiders look at the locals who produce the best the region has to offer. (Smudge Publishing) (more…)
Monday, October 1st, 2012
The Golden Door Synopsis
Where were you when John F. Kennedy was shot? Today the answer more often than not is going to be ‘not born’. You have to be some way past 45 to know where you were when Kennedy was shot in Dallas in 1963. A generation later, you could ask the same question about the World Trade Centre. Where were you when the plane hit the twin towers on 11 September 2001? But this book is about what happened between those two moments. The world’s perception of America changed between those two waves.
AA Gill’s book is about the things he’s always found admirable and optimistic about the United States and its citizens. Two of the happiest times of his life were spent living in New York and the mountains of Kentucky. The contrast between the two couldn’t have been more complicated and different. The America he found was contradictory and elusive, not the simpletons’ place he’d been led to believe. It was still a list of raw ingredients rather than the old stew of Europe.
Now AA Gill takes another look at the America he knew in the Seventies, a place that seemed to hold promise, practical energy and a plan for the future. How did it become the political magnetic north against which the liberal intellectuals from the rest of the world set their opinions. Why is it so easily mocked, so comprehensively blamed, so thoughtlessly hated? (Amazon)