Hi all ! It’s been some time since I did a book review here. I’ve been so busy with this, that and everything else happening it kind of got thrown on the back burner (oop). But I do hope to do some catch up over the next few weeks and get some reviews of the things I’ve been reading out!
I thought I would start today with three mini-reviews for three non-fiction books I have read this year. I’ve been reading more and more non-fiction but I found it hard to find titles when I was first starting out reading them, so I hope these reviews help.
1: Crossing the Line: Australia’s Secret History in the Timor Sea by Kim McGrath
The first non-fiction I read in 2020 is Crossing the Line, which investigated Australia’s involvement in the Timor Sea. McGrath accessed Australian archival documents covering the period in which ownership of oil and other resources in the Timor Sea was negotiated between Australia and Timor Leste. It also included sections about the illegal recording of Timor Leste officials that led to Witness K and this whole ordeal being exposed and the UN’s ongoing investigation into Australia’s actions in Timor.
I thought this was extremely eye-opening. The research done was extensive and I think this did a great job at illustrating and filling in the details of an event most Australian’s know nothing to very little about. I thought the inclusion of primary sources was great and the chapters were well sorted and easy to follow.
Compared to pop non-fiction, it’d be dry. But for a text published in a political science journal, it was actually quite lively. That said, I’m not sure how accessible it would be to people with no academic or political science background.
Overall I found this a worthwhile read. I would definitely caution people this is an academic text and not strictly a non-fiction book before reading this, however. I think it is worth picking up though if you are interested in this event. It’s shocking and often glossed over part of Australian history and international relations and I’m glad I read this text to become further educated on it.
2: Hood Feminism: Notes from the Women that a Movement Forgot by Mikki Kendall
Hood Feminism by Mikki Kendall is an essay collection about feminism that doubles in some ways as a memoir. The collection attempts to analyse modern feminism and construct a new framework through which to various feminist issues should be perceived. Using intersectional feminism as the theoretical framework, this book looks at how issues often deemed to be ‘non-feminist’ are intimately tied with the ideals of the movement and looks at how feminism and feminists have routinely failed certain women who do not fit within pre-selected categories, especially Black women and trans women.
I thought the breadth of this collection was impressive. Kendall covers a lot of ground and crams a lot of information and ideas into this book. At times, I thought this book strayed or went off the point. Some personal anecdotes felt disjointed from the more factual information that would follow. However, overall this was very well written and informative. The inclusion of so many statistics and research and studies was an excellent addition that elevated this from a personal musing to a more serious feminist collection.
For me, I did struggle in parts because some ideas and arguments were highly specific to the United States context. For example, sections about American politics, healthcare and wages weren’t applicable and other parts used specifically American terminology that made this difficult. For American audiences, however, this would probably just enhance the experience of reading the book.
Overall, this is a well written and extensive essay collection that covers a range of topics with clarity and depth. Kendall’s take on feminism and intersectional feminism is important and I’m glad I read this.
3: The Uninhabitable Earth: Life After Warming by David Wallace-Wells
The Uninhabitable Earth explores the potential long-term impacts of climate change and global warming on our environment should humans continue on the current trajectory. David Wallace-Wells looks at the current impacts warming has had and makes projections for our future, which includes the rendering of the Earth into an inhospitable and potentially unliveable landscape.
Considering this is such a popular title at the moment, I was surprised by how dry it was. Some sections did feel like a slog to get through, especially as information was often repeated. I also felt that this wasn’t as in-depth as I would have liked. I feel like if you’ve done any research into climate change at all, most of the information would not be particularly new to you.
The third section I did enjoy though. This section looked at the future and the impact of current trends if they continued unimpeded. I listened to this section all the way through without stopping because it was really engaging.
I think this would be a great book for newcomers. If you’re new to non-fiction, and especially non-fiction about the environment this would be great. David Wallace-Wells includes a lot of personal stories and drawn out, well-illustrated examples that gives this book life. He also narrates the audiobook, which I listened to, and did a great job.
Although overall I would say I enjoyed this, for me, it didn’t quite hit the mark as much as the other books I reviewed. However, I would recommend it, because I think a lot of people could get a lot from this.
I’m a bit rusty on reviewing at the moment, so I hope you enjoyed these reviews interesting or useful. This is probably my first time reviewing non-fiction, but I think I’ll be reading quite a bit of non-fiction this year so I hope I’ll be reviewing more in the future.
until next time!