Tag Archives: memoir

Book Review: As Far As I Remember – by Michael Bawtree

as-far-as-i-remember-coming-of-age-in-post-war-englandBook: As Far as I Remember: coming 
of age in post-war England

Author: Michael Bawtree

Publisher: Like No Other Press

Date: 2014 in England; 
2015 in Canada 
Genre: Memoir
Pages: 408

Price: $24.95 (CD)

My rating: very interesting, honest, and funny in all the 
right places

I was very pleased to meet the author, Michael Bawtree, at his book signing in April 2015. I hadn’t known about it until I entered the shop for a children’s book, but immediately bought a copy of As Far As I Remember and waited to speak with the author to have him personalize my copy.

I enjoyed this book, although it took me awhile to read all the way through due to my limited reading time when I purchased it. Mr. Bawtree wrote with revealing honesty about his childhood in England where he was born – his years in boarding schools, overcoming shyness, establishing himself as a successful student, a temporary rather nomadic life due to harsh economic times for his family, and many interesting events that occurred. Some incidents he tells about are downright hilarious, the funniest for me being an unfortunate situation that involved his proper English mother in a garden entanglement. There are many things he describes with just the right balance of humour.

This book is the first of two volumes about his fascinating life – the first covering his early years in England, the second volume will cover his life and career in Canada as an actor, playwright and director.

Although Michael Bawtree grew up in boarding schools, he had the opportunity to meet professors and dukes and many other important people, including world-famous C. S. Lewis and others who sometimes stayed at the inn his parents bought and operated. I hope you can read the back cover of his book shown here once you click on the image below to enlarge it.

as-far-as-i-remember-back-cover

His interest in literature, drama and music eventually led him to Canada where he embarked on a career in theatre and the arts all across the country, eventually bringing him to Nova Scotia where he now resides. As Far As I Remember, though, is everything leading up to then and is told in a natural and inviting way. It’s well worth the time to read this fascinating story. I’m looking forward to volume two.

 You can find As Far As I Remember: coming of age in post-war England on my BUY THE BOOK! page.

Thanks for reading, and … Creative Musings!  🙂
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Book Review: I Am Because You Are – by Jacob Lief with Andrea Thompson

Book: I Am Because You Are: how the 
spirit of Ubuntu inspired an 
unlikely friendship and transformed 
a community 
Author: Jacob Lief with Andrea 
Thompson (foreword by Desmond Tutu)
Publisher: Rodale Books
Date: May 12, 2015
Genre: nonfiction; memoir 
Pages: 240; hardcover
Price: $24.99
My rating: an inspiring motivating 
true story

I received the ARC of this book from Net Galley in exchange for my honest review.

If you ever wanted to go to Africa to help the people there, or to work in an organization that contributes, or to commit to financial or prayer support, you will enjoy this book. If you simply enjoy a good true story, give this one your time.

I Am Because You Are is the story of Jacob Lief, who, as a young student, went to Africa during his summer break from university. It was a few years after the end of the apartheid about twenty years ago and the country was still unsettled. However, Jacob had fallen in love with the country during an earlier trip there, and before he returned to the United States this time he’d decided on the purpose for his life. He passionately wanted to make a difference in the lives of the people of Port Elizabeth, South Africa. Once back in the US, his acquaintances expected him to eventually get over the idea, but it had rooted itself in his soul and, instead, he became solidly determined. In his mind, there was no other choice for him.

In I Am Because You Are, Jacob tells an intriguing, moving story of life in South Africa, how he was received as a young white man and why he started the organization known as Ubuntu Education Fund. Ubuntu means “I exist because you exist.” He tells about the challenges, the mistakes, the successes, the pitfalls, the disappointments and the celebrations. He introduces the reader to many of the people he worked with in Port Elizabeth – associates and students. We get to follow the lives of a few of the students, one family in particular, to witness the effectiveness and limitations of Ubuntu.

Jacob admits he made mistakes early on and that he was quick to correct what he could so that the organization he co-founded could continue and grow, evolving into the highly regarded service it is today.

Jacob became well acquainted with Desmond Tutu (who wrote the foreword for I Am Because You Are), the now former President Bill Clinton, and prominent heads of influential companies that donated funding.

In 2010, Jacob Lief was named a Young Global Leader by the World Economic Forum. In 2012, he was selected as a member of the Clinton Global Initiative advisory board. He lives in Brooklyn, New York, with his wife and sons, and in Port Elizabeth, South Africa. I Am Because You Are was written with author Andrea Thompson.

I Am Because You Are: how the spirit of Ubuntu inspired an unlikely friendship and transformed a community is an inspiring book.  It may even motivate you to follow your passion, whatever that may be.

You can find I Am Because You Are listed on my BUY THE BOOK! page.

Thanks for reading, and … Creative Musings!  🙂

Book Review: An Astronaut’s Guide to Life on Earth – by Chris Hadfield

An Astronaut's Guide to Life on EarthBook: An Astronaut’s Guide to Life on Earth
Author: Chris Hadfield
Publisher: Random House Canada
Date: October 29, 2013
Genre: memoir; space science
Pages: 336, hardcover
Price: $28.00 – $32.00
My Rating: WOW!  or, A must-read book about life and attitude in Space and on Earth
 

Since July 1 is important for Canada, (HAPPY CANADA DAY TO MY FELLOW CANADIANS!), I have selected a fantastic book to review today.

While at the Credit Union one morning in early June, I noted their news board. On June 25 Chris Hadfield was coming to Truro, about two hours’ drive from where I live in Nova Scotia. Oh. My. Gosh! I excitedly told my sister who went online and obtained tickets for five of us to go hear him speak. I headed to the bookstore to buy his book — and one for my sister for her birthday. What a good decision. This well-written book, An Astronaut’s Guide to Life on Earth, is full of “AMAZING”, not to mention how I feel about Chris Hadfield – the Canadian astronaut who was commander of the International Space Station.

When Chris was nine years old he watched – on a neighbour’s TV on July 20, 1969 – the Apollo moon landing, and knew right then what he wanted to be when he grew up. From that point onward everything he did was to obtain his goal to be an astronaut, even though here in Canada there was not yet a space agency.

In An Astronaut’s Guide to Life on Earth Chris Hadfield tells about his journey. After the Introduction appetizer, he has divided the book into three sections: Part 1 – Pre-Launch; Part 2 – Liftoff; Part 3 – Coming Down to Earth.

Part 1 – Pre-Launch
  1. The Trip Takes a Lifetime
  2. Have an Attitude
  3. The Power of Negative Thinking
  4. Sweat the Small Stuff
  5. The Last People in the World
  6. What’s the Next Thing That Could Kill Me?
Part 2 – Liftoff
                  7. Tranquility Base, Kazakhstan
                 8. How to Get Blasted (and Feel Good the Next Day)
                 9. Aim to Be a Zero
               10. Life off Earth
                11. Square Astronaut, Round Hole
 
Part 3 – Coming Down to Earth
               12. Soft Landings
               13. Climbing Down the Ladder
 

This is an exciting, interesting, incredible adventure told in an easy-to-read way. Chris Hadfield‘s humility and humour shine through as he shares what he has learned and accomplished both on and off Earth. What he had to do to realize his dream is daunting. What he shares about life is sound and inspiring.

The paragraph that spoke to my heart is as follows:

If you start thinking that only your biggest and shiniest moments count, you’re setting yourself up to feel like a failure most of the time. Personally, I’d rather feel good most of the time, so to me everything counts: the small moments, the medium ones, the successes that make the papers and also the ones that no one knows about but me. The challenge is avoiding being derailed by the big, shiny moments that turn other people’s heads. You have to figure out for yourself how to enjoy and celebrate them, and then move on.  – Page 267, An Astronaut’s Guide to Life on Earth
 

 This book is thoroughly enjoyable. It is not only about travelling and living in Space, but also about his work as a fighter jet pilot when he lost several friends in flying accidents. In flowing conversational language he takes us all through the difficult journey that opened his way into NASA and eventually to commanding the space station where he conducted a record-setting number of scientific experiments. He also handled emergencies while in Space and became well-known for his activity on Twitter and his incredible photographs taken during his five-month stay on the space station he had helped build.

If you enjoy non-fiction, An Astronaut’s Guide to Life on Earth by Chris Hadfield is such a good book to spend time absorbing. The information he provides is riveting. Even if you aren’t sure about the genre I recommend you give this book a try. It is so worth it.

A footnote: Chris Hadfield.2.06-25-14This image of Chris Hadfield is foggy because it was taken off the big screen in the community centre where he spoke. Chris is personable, interesting, funny, focused, well-spoken, humble, (good-looking – does that count?), Canadian … and I am so proud of him. I would have liked to tell him he’s an inspiration to me, but it wasn’t possible to get close enough with approximately 2800 people there.  *alas!*

If you buy only one book this year, may I suggest it be An Astronaut’s Guide to Life on Earth by Chris Hadfield. It will educate and inspire you.

You can find An Astronaut’s Guide to Life on Earth listed on my BUY THE BOOK! page.

 Thanks for reading, and … Creative Musings!  🙂

 

 

 

Book Review: Adventures in Mother-Sitting – by Doreen Cox

Adventures in Mother-Sitting by Doreen CoxBook: Adventures in Mother Sitting
Author: Doreen Cox
Publisher: Olmstead Publishing
Date: January 1, 2010
Genre: Memoir (adult reading)
Pages: 266
Price: $18.00; Kindle under $6.00
My Rating:  A good book for anyone caring for a loved one with dementia

* from the book blurb: ADVENTURES IN MOTHER-SITTING is a memoir that speaks to a journey through grief, through losses of many kinds.

I read this book with the intention of reviewing it, especially since I also am a caregiver of a loved one.

Adventures in Mother Sitting is a book written by the daughter of a woman with Alzheimer’s disease. Doreen Cox wrote from raw and real emotions and experiences. She took the reader through her journey, preserved in journals, in a way that draws the reader into her life, and into her home which she shared with her mother for whom she became a “care bear”.

Three things that stood out to me in a less positive way are:  1. I have never read anything where the author used quotation marks as freely as in this book.  2. It felt as if chapters 11 and 12 yanked me right out of the story and were not necessary.  3. Some repetition seemed unneeded as the reader can understand what was said and will likely remember most of it from before when encountering things that relate back.

Now, that out of the way, the great things about this book are the honesty with which the author wrote and her willingness to share it all. She told in great detail, some parts difficult to read because of the exposed reality of the disease, about how Alzheimer’s (dementia) steals from its victim. Not only are memories stolen, but the memory of how to do even the simplest things disappears. The brain is confused and damaged by the disease, affected in such a way so as to make it stop relaying the usual messages we all take for granted, such as how to eat, dress, carry on a conversation. There is so much to learn about Alzheimer’s, so much to understand in caring for someone afflicted. Doreen opens a window into seeing what it is like living with that horrible disease, and how acutely needed are love, compassion, patience, understanding.  She also bravely shared how it sometimes became too much for her when she was sleep deprived and exhausted, and how she coped – or failed to cope – with the demands on her.

Adventures in Mother Sitting is told with humour, love, and tenderness, but also with a sometimes shocking truth. It is raw, revealing, and perhaps awkward for some people to read, but it should be read anyway.

Two years ago I wrote a review of Still Alice  – a fiction novel about a woman who learned she had Alzheimer’s, and covers two years of her life as the disease gradually takes over her brain’s ability to function. It is a book highly recommended among caregivers of Alzheimer’s patients, and during our Alzheimer Caregiver Support Group meeting this month I recommended Adventures in Mother Sitting by Doreen Cox.

If you are facing dementia in any way, particularly as a caregiver of someone so afflicted, I suggest you read this book. It will help you to understand more from the viewpoint of the caregiver, enabling you to see from the author’s experience how the disease changes a person’s abilities and mind to that of total dependence.

You can find Adventures in Mother Sitting listed on my BUY THE BOOK! page.

Thanks for reading, and … Creative Musings!  🙂