Monday, January 6, 2014

Books - Read Biographies!

“Always live your life with your biography in mind.”
Marisha Pessl, Special Topics in Calamity Physics
Footnote 1
I do read Fiction, but prefer Non-Fiction - Biographies in particular.  I have quite a collection of them, and they, and books on history, are most likely to be the focus of any books I borrow from the library.  Oh, I do research other things - including reading about writing.

Just three of my favourite books
In my early reading I fell in love with reading about Australia - ok, I am Australian, and having been in many places of this vast country I "know" it quite well.  One of my favourite all time books was written by Jeannie Gunn,   which she wrote in 1908, chronicling her life on Elsey cattle station, out of Mataranka in the Northern Territory.  It is an interesting story on the role of women in early Australian history - and she initially had to write as Mrs Aeneas Gunn, such was the discrimination against women writers.
In 2013, I drove around Australia and one of the places I visited was Mataranka, and went to significant places around that area which I "knew" from the book.  A movie was made of the story in 1982 and it is a real Australian "classic".  I visited the cemetery - and the Bitter Springs resort where there is a recreation of the home that Jeannie lived in 100+ years earlier.  This was used in the making of the film and now is a tourist attraction.

Australian history is one of my favourite genre's - and another book that I have enjoyed is The Middle of Nowhere - written by Terry Underwood.  Read her bio here.  I was a nurse too, so in many more ways the story resonated with me. 

I also have quite a collection of books written about China.  I was an English teacher in China in 2008, and 2010, and am forever trying to comprehend the Chinese cultures.  I have read many of Xue Xinran's books - especially the ones about women in China.   One, the collection of letters from women who had their baby girls taken from them, called "Message from and Unknown Chinese Mother really moved me.  I purchased it at a bookshop in the Hong Kong Airport and cried all the way home to Brisbane after reading it!!!

Author Peter Hessler has written some amazing books about his life in China - awesome.

One book, which I believe is in the school curriculum with some schools in the US is So Far From the Bamboo Grove, a harrowing story about World War II.
Reading other biographies is helpful for anyone wanting to write biographies - and I am sure there will be a huge collection in your local library, and of course there is a huge collection in book shops.  I buy quite a few from

 The above books are not necessarily my favourites - I find it hard to choose such a category in my library!!



bookworm said...

I have never lived in a foreign country. I majored (many years ago) in cultural anthropology in college and these types of biographies would make good reading if my interest returns to that area. Right now, my reading is mainly restricted to the YA dystopian genre (and blogs on various topics), but "never say never". Alana from the UBC

Amy Bovaird said...

Great topic! When you mentioned your fav Australian book I was reminded of Out of Africa, also written by a woman. I went to see her house in Kenya. I could also relate to your love for books about China. Also an English teacher overseas, I well remember the paradox of reading a book about China while teaching in Egypt! Thanks again and enjoy reading!

Julie said...

What a joy to be in love with books. My favourite book from the age of 14 was 'Judith' by Janet Whitney. It is still my favourite and most reread book. My eldest daughter read it 2 years ago and she still has it and doesn't want to give it back so by her passion for it, it is now hers.
When still a child I asked my mum how she chose my name and she said 'from a book' I said 'but mum I have never seen you read a book' she replied 'It was a knitting book'. She showed my the picture and it was so like me. I asked how she chose my second name and she replied 'it was from another knitting book.' :D
My dad was the non stop reader and he shared what he read and I and my siblings grew up with a passion for books. Books become your friends. Your home is not complete without them.

Di Hill said...

Hi Alana, Thanks for visiting and your comment. I am lucky that I have lived in two countries to teach English - China and South Korea. Awesome experience!!! One day you might get the chance.

Di Hill said...

Hi Amy

Loved the movie Out of Africa - and hers was an amazing story. Wouldn't it be awful if these stories were not written? Thanks for visiting my blog.

Di Hill said...

Hi Julie, Love the story about the names and the knitting books. Yes, I could not survive without a library of books and time to read some of them. Thank you for visiting.