Good Reading : December January 2006
DECEMBER 2005 • JANUARY 2006 ı goodreading 47 general non-fiction word of mouth A Mind of its Own Cordelia Fine Subtitled ‘How your brain distorts and deceives’, thi little gem of a book explains the devious workings of the human brain. Thought you were in charge of your own mind? Think again. Using experiments conducted by psychologists all over the world, Dr Fine, an English psychologist currently at the University of Melbour ne, demonstrates how the mind distorts, selects, deceives and defrauds its unwitting owner – ourselves. By tur ns vain, emotional, deluded, pigheaded, secretive and bigoted, the brain comes across as a pretty fiendish instru- ment. It’s amazing there’s o much human kindness n this world, and no urprise at all there’s so much mayhem. ★★★★ Icon $17.95 Reviewed by Alison Pressley Lost Worlds Michael Bywater At first, I was put off Lost Worlds. This is a grumpy old man, I thought, locked in the past, who d rather remain cantankerous than let go of his well-wor n prejudices and eccen- tricities. I put it aside, displeased. Then some weeks later, unable to summon slumber at 3 am, I picked it up again. This time, I was enchanted by the uniqueness of the notion: a book creating a taxon- omy of loss, embellished by equal amounts of erudition and char m, with dollops of humour thrown in for very good measure. An A-Z of worlds lost. Worlds … like what? Here’s a sampling: healthy appetites (we used to clean our plates ‘because there were starving children in Africa’); hot water bottles not made of plastic (the new ones smell funny and don’t keep you war m); proper banks (‘now, like parents, banks want to pose as our friends’). But that’s enough as a taster. This is a great book for anyone who has already lived well over half of their life and is prone to insomnia. ★★★★ Granta $22.95 Reviewed by Ruth Wajnryb On the Road: 40 great driving holidays in Australia Lee Atkinson ‘Travel, change, interest, excitement!’ Like Mr Toad, and high petrol prices notwithstanding, Australians enjoy a good driving trip. In On the Road Lee Atkinson describes 40 of the best routes in the country. She knows a lot about driving holidays in Australia, so it’s a bit like having a knowledge- able friend giving directions from the back seat. She briefs you on the natural and human history of the countryside, tells you where there’s a good walk or view, what to look out for in each town, what local produce to buy and suggests the best eating places (with a price guide). Longer trips are broken into comfortable day drives with a short list of places to stay, including pet-friendly establishments. The routes include the classic scenic drives, such as the Great Ocean Road, and theme-based excursions to wine and gold areas and national parks, and range from one-day coastal or mountain drives looping out from a capital city to a week- long ramble through the Queens- land outback and the four-day trek across the Nullarbor. Each drive is well illustrated with colour photo- graphs, and distances are given for each stage. The rudimentary maps, which do little more than locate the route and main towns, are disappointing; nevertheless, On the Road is certainly worth popping into the glovebox – but pack a good map as well. ★★★ New Holland $29.95 Reviewed by Margaret McPhee Wild Horse Diaries Lizzie Spender Iloved this book! Lizzie Spender chronicles the capture of wild horses in the Kimberley after a chance offer, fulfilling a child- hood dream of owning her own horse. This is a rather risky thing to write about. It is undoubtedly a mad scheme and she is full of uncertainty about its merits. However, it is exactly this edge of self-effacing doubt that endears her to the reader and saves her from a near miss with serious envy. Wild Horse Diaries is a must-read for anyone who shares membership of the bona fide horse lovers club, and who lacks the self confidence (and means!) to pull off such a wild scheme but enjoys reading about some- one who has managed to do it. It’s a tonic for lethargy and defeatism. It’s written with humour and an appealing openness, and would make a great Christmas gift for horse loving friends. Will there be a sequel about the ongoing taming of the two horses Lizzie kept, Olympia and Athena? I hope so. ★★★★ Hodder $39.95 Reviewed by Margaret Deans � ���� �� ������� ���� Location: Likely Offender: ���� Cereal Concrete Breakfast bowls Obviously doesn’t do the washing up Reproduced with permission from The Domestic Crime File by Ross de Kretser, published by Hardie Grant, $13.95 – an exposé of all the irritating crimes committed by members of your family, friends or flatmates, but never, of course, by your good self.