Our list of non-fiction reviews for June consisted of a diverse mix of titles ranging from health, motherhood, travel, addiction, business and essays.

Michelle @Beauty and Lace highlighted The Busy Mum’s Guide to Weight Loss by Rhian Allen.

The Healthy Mummy is a health and wellbeing brand that began with a website where founder Rhian Allen wanted to help mums lose baby weight in a way that was safe and sustainable. Years of dedication, hard work and a team of likeminded people have grown the brand to include smoothie powders, active wear, clothing, accessories, cookbooks, 28 day challenge plans and a host of online support groups. The list is always growing as new things are formulated and the more it grows the more the foundations of a lifestyle change is cemented rather than a fad diet.

I confess that I had not come across Rhian Allen or the Healthy Mummy before, but a quick google revealed several interviews detailing her success story from high-powered corporate media career to mum to a niche business entrepreneur. Judging by her financial and social media figures, she has tapped into a market that is not only lucrative but one that is much sought after.

Rebecca @Seeing the Lighter Side also took us on a business journey with her review of Confessions of a Misfit Entrepreneur by Kate Toon.

I love Kate Toon’s copywriting blog and social media – she’s a very funny and talented writer who tells it like it is. This book is her story of moving from ad agency to work-from-home mum and how she built a successful business despite failing to follow almost all of the stock advice to entrepreneurs.

In doing so, I think she’s managed to put together a rather excellent manifesto on succeeding at life in general in a world where hustle is the new contentment.

The previous two books also talked about the changing face of motherhood in modern Australia. Which links us nicely to Anna’s Goodreads review of The Motherhood: Australian Women Share What They Wish They’d Known About Life With A Newborn edited by Jamila Rizvi. Contributors include Zoë Foster Blake, Jo Stanley, Clementine Ford, Clare Bowditch, Jessica Rudd, Rebecca Sparrow and a host of others.

This is a great collection of writing by Australian women about the earth-shattering, life-changing impact of the arrival of a new baby. While all the pieces share a common sense of upheaval and adjustment, there is enough diversity in the writers’ experiences, or in what they’ve chosen to focus on, that the book doesn’t seem repetitive or to be covering the same ground repeatedly. As in any collection of this type, some pieces were better than others, but all were worth reading. There were plenty of times I saw my own experiences reflected in the writing.

The motherhood

From mothering to addiction with Kate @Books Are My Favourite and Best’s review of Woman of Substances by Jenny Valentish.

Woman of Substances is a memoir-research hybrid. Valentish uses her own experience of drugs and alcohol to explore how women deal with addiction and treatment. There are two main threads in the book – firstly, Valentish examines how trauma and self-destructive behaviours – such as eating disorders and high-risk sex – complicate substance use for women.

Secondly, she exposes how the research into problematic substance use and the treatment of addictions has been focused on males, and the implications of that.

Kate also tackled some true crime/science this month with Written on the Skin: An Australian Forensic Casebook by Liz Porter.

The book explores advances made in forensic science with reference to particular cases – this is where the massive improvements in DNA testing in the 80s and 90s changed the game. ‘Reading’ teeth, bones, and skin are also covered. Porter uses cases where forensic evidence sealed the guilty or not-guilty verdict (there are many cases where people have been wrongly jailed, only for DNA testing years later to reveal a not-guilty status).

Porter references some high profile cases like those of Lindy Chamberlain and Jaidyn Leskie as well as many lesser known ones to make for ‘riveting reading‘.

Janine @The Resident Judge shared her latest bookclub read with us, A Good Day To Die by Lisa Birnie, a book that garnered strong convictions and opinions within her group.

Lisa Birnie was a writer-in-residence who spent several weeks at McCulloch House, a palliative care centre attached to Monash Medical Centre. There she spoke with patients, families and staff members while seeking the answer to her question: “Is euthanasia desirable or necessary or could accessible palliative care supplant the need for it?” As the weeks went on, and as she met more patients, her question changed to “Should a rigidly circumscribed law be drafted that permits patient-requested euthanasia in cases where all palliative care practices to control pain have been unable to do so?”

I took us on a journey to Tokyo with Jane Lawson’s Tokyo Style Guide.

This is not a comprehensive travel guide for all the things to see and do in Tokyo.
It’s best used in conjunction with other guides (unless you’re a complete shopping junkie, then Jane is your guru!)

Most of Lawson’s walks feature specific shops and areas of Tokyo renown for their stylish wares or style icons, but there’s also a lot of important, practical stuff, like where to get a good coffee, yakitori and tasty dumplings. Lawson also includes temples, parks, markets and other interesting sites that the first-time, overwhelmed visitor to Tokyo might miss. We skipped most of the shopping experiences in this book but I still found lots to inspire me in planning where to go and what to expect.

The generous full page photographs throughout the book was also inspiring and gave me ideas about what and how to create certain scenes of my own.

Tokyo Style Guide

Finally, Nancy reviewed a collection of essays in The Australian Face: Essays From the Sydney Review of Books edited by James Ley and Catriona Menzies-Pike which she urges us to read to discover how good they are for ourselves.


Recent Non-Fiction Longlists Shortlists and Winners

The Australian Book Industry Awards (ABIA) were announced in May. The Illustrated Book of the Year winner was Maggie Beer with her Recipes For Life.

Sisters in Crime recently published their Davitt Awards shortlist (with winners to be announced in August). Contenders for the non-fiction section are: Carol Baxter with The Fabulous Flying Mrs Miller: An Australian’s true story of adventure, danger, romance and murderGabriella Coslovich with Whiteley on Trial, Sarah Krasnostein with The Trauma Cleaner: One woman’s extraordinary life in death, decay and disaster and Louise Milligan with Cardinal: The rise and fall of George Pell.

The full longlist for the Ned Kelly awards can be found here, but the relevant books to us today are in the The Best True Crime category: The Suitcase Baby by Tanya Bretherton, Whitely on Trial by Gabriella Coslovich and Once a Copper: The Life and Times of Brian ‘The Skull’ Murphy by Vikki Petraitis.

What will you be reading this month?

About Bronwyn: I have been a book blogger at Brona’s Books since 2009 and a bookseller (specialising in children’s literature) in Sydney since 2008. Prior to this I was as an Early Childhood teacher for 18 years in country NSW.

I joined the AWW team in 2015 as the History, Memoir, Biography editor. In 2017 I became the General Non-Fiction editor.

dragonflyI taught myself to read when I was four by memorising my Dr Seuss books. I haven’t stopped reading since.

You can find me on Twitter @bronasbooks and Litsy @Brona.