Tag: Books: Nonfiction

Review: An Astronaut’s Guide to Life on Earth

Posted 11 November, 2015 by Lianne in Books / 6 Comments

An Astronaut’s Guide to Life on Earth
By: Chris Hadfield
Format/Source: eBook; my purchase

Chris Hadfield decided to become an astronaut after watching the Apollo moon landing with his family on Stag Island, Ontario, when he was nine years old, and it was impossible for Canadians to be astronauts. In 2013, he served as Commander of the International Space Station orbiting the Earth during a five-month mission. Fulfilling this lifelong dream required intense focus, natural ability and a singular commitment to “thinking like an astronaut.” In An Astronaut’s Guide to Life on Earth, Chris gives us a rare insider’s perspective on just what that kind of thinking involves, and how earthbound humans can use it to achieve success and happiness in their lives.

Astronaut training turns popular wisdom about how to be successful on its head. Instead of visualizing victory, astronauts prepare for the worst; always sweat the small stuff; and do care what others think. Chris shows how this unique education comes into play with dramatic anecdotes about going blind during a spacewalk, getting rid of a live snake while piloting a plane, and docking with space station Mir when laser tracking systems fail at the critical moment. Along the way, he shares exhilarating experiences, and challenges, from his 144 days on the ISS, and provides an unforgettable answer to his most-asked question: What’s it really like in outer space?

Written with humour, humility and a profound optimism for the future of space exploration, An Astronaut’s Guide to Life on Earth offers readers not just the inspiring story of one man’s journey to the ISS, but the opportunity to step into his space-boots and think like an astronaut—and renew their commitment to pursuing their own dreams, big or small.

Okay, I was pretty late to getting around to reading this book 😛 Chris Hadfield really hit popularity in the last few years with his work in NASA and the International Space Station and really bringing life in space and all of their work to everyone. I was curious to read about his experiences as an astronaut, reviving my childhood interest in astronomy and becoming an astronaut and exploring the mysteries of space 🙂

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Review: The Present Age: On the Death of Rebellion

Posted 22 October, 2015 by Lianne in Books / 2 Comments

The Present Age: On the Death of Rebellion
By: Soren Kierkegaard
Format/Source: Mass market paperback; my purchase

In his seminal 1846 tract The Present Age, Søren Kierkegaard (“the father of existentialism”—New York Times) analyzes the philosophical implications of a society dominated by mass media—a society eerily similar to our own. A stunningly prescient essay on the rising influence of advertising, marketing, and publicity, The Present Age is essential reading for anyone who wishes to better understand the modern world.

I don’t normally post reviews/discussion entries on philosopical and religious texts I read just because I have so many thoughts about them that a post just doesn’t seem adequate enough to express my own reactions to the text. But suffice to say I do read them on occasion. So fun fact: my favourite philosopher is Soren Kierkegaard. I was introduced to his ideas in Grade 12 philosophy when I did a paper and presentation on his leap of faith theory. While I’m not so big on how existentialism sort of branched off since his thoughts, he remains a favourite, and it pains me whenever I hear that he’s actually not terribly popular in his hometown Copenhagen. But anyway. I felt compelled to write a post about this book after having read most of it while at the dentist’s a few months ago 😛

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Review: The Queen and Mrs. Thatcher

Posted 31 August, 2015 by Lianne in Books / 0 Comments

The Queen and Mrs Thatcher: An Inconvenient Relationship
Edited By: Dean Palmer
Format/Source: Hardback courtesy of the author via GoodReads First Reads Programme

This is the remarkable story of how the two most powerful women in Britain at the time met and disliked each other on sight.

For over a decade they quietly waged a war against each other on both a personal and political stage, disagreeing on key issues including sanctions against South Africa, the Miners’ Strike and allowing US planes to bomb Libya using UK military bases.

Elizabeth found the means to snub and undermine her prime minister through petty class put-downs and a series of press leaks.

Margaret attacked her monarch by sidelining her internationally, upstaging her at home and allowing the Murdoch press to crucify the royal family.

This book is a window into the 80s, an era when Britain was changed beyond recognition by a woman who made ‘Thatcherism’ the defining word of the decade.

I thought the premise of this book was really interseting: two of the most powerful women in Britain in the 1980s who disliked each other. How does that work out? From the book blurb above, I had no idea that they disliked each other so much that it would actually play out on the political stage, albeit discreetly (I must’ve missed that part when I read Robin Harris’ Not For Turning (review) some two years ago). I’ve read enough royal biographies and snippets I suppose–not to mention the Thatcher biography I just noted in the previous sentence–to know enough about both women, so I was curious to see how this book highlights the differences–and similarities?–between the two of them. I was surprised to learn that I won a copy of this book through GoodReads and thankful to the author for having sent it. This book became available on 01 June 2015.

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Review: Paper Tigress

Posted 10 August, 2015 by Lianne in Books / 2 Comments

Paper Tigress
By: Rachel Cartland
Format/Source: Paperback courtesy of the publishers via LibrayThing Early Reviewers Programme

Rachel Cartland came to Hong Kong in 1972 as one of just two female expatriates in the Hong Kong Government’s elite administrative grade.

Before she retired in 2006, her life was shaped by the momentous events that rocked Hong Kong during those action-packed years: corruption and the police mutiny, the growth of the new towns, the currency crisis of 1983, Tiananmen Square, the change of sovereignty and the devastation of SARS. The backdrop to her story ranges from Kowloon’s infamous Walled City to Government House to the rural New Territories.

Paper Tigress is full of humour and incident and, at the same time, an accessible account of modern Hong Kong and the forces that shaped it.

Bit of a funny story about this book, but I won a complimentary copy of this book from the LibraryThing Early Reviewers programme in 2014 but only received a copy of it early this year. Had actually given up the prospect of it ever arriving when it did xD So here we are. I thought the premise of this book was really interesting, being one of two female expatriates working for the Hong Kong government, as well as the fact that it was about Hong Kong politics and 20th century history, an area I was not very familiar with.

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Review: Very British Problems

Posted 17 July, 2015 by Lianne in Books / 7 Comments

Very British Problems: Making Life Awkward for Ourselves, One Rainy Day at a Time
By: Rob Temple
Format/Source: eBook; my purchase

There’s an epidemic sweeping the nation

Symptoms include:

  • Acute embarrassment at the mere notion of ‘making a fuss’
  • Extreme awkwardness when faced with any social greeting beyond a brisk handshake
  • An unhealthy preoccupation with meteorology

Doctors have also reported several cases of unnecessary apologising, an obsessive interest in correct queuing etiquette and dramatic sighing in the presence of loud teenagers on public transport. If you have experienced any of these symptoms, you may be suffering from VERY BRITISH PROBLEMS.

VERY BRITISH PROBLEMS are highly contagious. There is no known cure.

Rob Temple’s hilarious new book reveals all the ways in which we are a nation of socially awkward but well-meaning oddballs, struggling to make it through every day without apologising to an inanimate object. Take comfort in misfortunes of others. You are not alone.

@soverybritish is one of my favourite Twitter accounts out there. I’m not British, but I can relate to a lot of the tweets mentioned (the obsession with the weather, the constant apologising–some of this is actually quite Canadian, so I wonder if it’s more of a Commonwealth thing, but I digress).

Suffice to say, it’s just what you expect if you do follow the Twitter account. The book is broken down to chapters focusing on a particular tasks and features in life, from driving to the workplace to the constant discussions about the weather (another thing I do quite a bit, the 10-minute discussion about the weather). Some of the points are familiar from past tweets, but others are a wee bit expanded upon (as in, more than 140 characters long 😛 ) and are accompanied by hilarious little illustrations along the way. My favourite chapter has to be the one about apologising–something I do a lot (also a Canadian thing, but anyway)! The chapters are also peppered occasionally with historical events, imagined events that will occur in the future, quotes from television shows and books, and my favourite, the quiz determining whether you are suffering from Very British Problems (need to I disclose if I am? 😛 ).

If you’re looking for a laugh or a bit of awkward social examination, this is a quick and fun read. Oh, and apparently there’s another book coming out this autumn about Brits travelling abroad. Should be fun 🙂

Rating: ★★★★★

Visit the Twitter account @soverybritish || Order this book from the Book Depository