Welcome back to a brand New Year of General Non-Fiction reading and reviews!

After our horrendous summer bushfires this year, I wondered if we would be searching out climate change/nature books in an attempt to understand what happened. Or would we turn to our comfort reads and get lost in a fictional space, to forget for a time, the mess around us. With only seven non-fiction reviews throughout January, it would seem we all turned to the latter.

With only seven reviews, though, I can take the time to highlight each and every one.

I’ll start with the new releases.

2020 takes us straight into the world of women’s health issues with Dr Ginni Mansberg’s The M Word: How to Thrive in Menopause. Reviewed by Cass Moriarty on her blog, she tells us that Mansberg covers the topic in a comprehensive, well-researched manner. She debunks the Gwyneth Paltrow pseudoscience approach to women’s issues and focuses on the scientifically proven options available to women at this stage of life.

Never judgemental, and always open to individual women’s particular issues and circumstances, Mansberg offers a holistic approach to dealing with the many uncomfortable, painful and emotional effects of menopause, and she does so in an easy to read and accessible way, with a sense of humour.

Jennifer over at her Goodreads account, brings us closest to the recent bushfire crisis with Asbestos in Australia: From Boom to Dust (2019) by Lenore Layman and Gail Phillips. Complaints are already being heard about how long it is taking for people to be allowed back into their fire ravaged streets and how long it is taking for the demolition process to happen. Asbestos is the main reason for this delay. Safe removal is possible, but the experts who can actually do this work are too few for this huge job.

Asbestos continues to be a public health issue: many of the homes burnt during the ongoing bushfire crisis here in Australia will contain asbestos. In fact, most homes built between 1921 and 1990 (including mine) will contain asbestos in one form or another. As will many workplaces and other buildings. Awareness is key: safe removal is possible when renovating or rebuilding. Expert advice is needed.

Fixed It: Violence and the Representation of Women in the Media (2019) by Jane Gilmore was an audio read for Kate @Books Are My Favourite and Best that talks about the language used in the media to report violence against women. Gilmore has a website where she ‘fixes’ the headlines in various newspapers and articles, which is enlightening, funny but ultimately rather depressing.

This is unquestionably an important book but as I listened, I had the uncomfortable feeling that Gilmore is preaching to the converted – the people who ‘should’ read this book, won’t.

The 2018 book Wild Sea: A History of the Southern Ocean by Joy McCann was reviewed by N@ncy who loved the beautiful illustrations and the ‘trove of information‘ provided in the notes by the author.

Island Story: Tasmania in Object and Text by Danielle Wood and Ralph Crane transported Jennifer home as she explored this beautiful collection of 57 objects specific to Tasmania. She loved ‘the way in which items are paired with text: not all connections are immediately obvious, but with a little reflection I could see them.’

Ashleigh @The Book Muse gives us a chance to revisit the extraordinary stories in Any Ordinary Day by Leigh Sales. In light of the recent bushfires, it is timely to be reminded that ‘everyone will find a different way to cope with tragedy and will find their own ways to move on.

It wouldn’t be a non-fiction round up without at least one book by Helen Garner. Kali reviews her wonderful collection of essays in Everywhere I Look.

The Victorian Premier’s Awards were recently announced. The Prize for Non-Fiction went to Sea People: The Puzzle of Polynesia by Christina Thompson (HarperCollins Publishers).

The Prize for Poetry went to Nganajungu Yagu by Charmaine Papertalk Green (Cordite Books). I look forward to reading a review about this collection soon (nudge, nudge)!

Until next month,

Happy Reading.

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 moved to the General Non-fiction page and in 2018 I picked up the role of editor of Poetry. You can also find me at The Classics Club as one of the new Gen 2 moderators.

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.