Tag Archive | Books

More on sleep

I’m working on improving my sleep patterns. (Yet again!)

I am always so rested during holidays. Of course nearly all teachers are tired during term. The hols prove to me I am not getting enough sleep in term. I look and feel better with such restful and longer sleep. I may not be able to reduce the stress and its impact on sleep but I will have to ensure I get to bed earlier when back at work.

Part of my sleep improvement regime has been to borrow the books in the central branch of my public library on sleep. 

I’ve just finished The Sleep Revolution by Arianna Huffington, founder of The Huffington Post. Honestly I’m skimming this book, and not because I learnt enough from the book I wrote about yesterday, Night School by Richard Wiseman. It was lucky I read Wiseman’s book first. I liked his style. 

Taken in holiday unit with nails done courtesy of gift voucher from Mr S.


Huffington writes in the style of American self-help books that want to appear authoritative. Each paragraph starts by referring to some seemingly important person, “John Blah, CEO of Massive Corporation says…”, “Jill Cleverwoman , head of research at Big Prestigious College, concludes…” Aeach paragraph with few linking words to the previous. I much prefer Wiseman’s more narrative style. 

Also Huffington sensationalises the stories, and almost labours the point, with multiple horror stories on the lack of sleep. Sensationalism from the founder of Huffington Post! Who’d a thought it! I get it she was well and truely rocked by her collapse from lack of sleep, but I think it is just her style of writing. And clearly one that appeals to most. But I’ve never been a tabloid sort of person. 

And this book is too American. Eg, the drugs referred to are all American. As are the cultural and historical references. (Not a criticism but an observation.) This makes it slightly less useful or interesting to non-Americans. 

I think what irks me is a journalist presenting herself as an expert. So she had an experience. So she’s read lots and done a TED talk. “The question I get asked all the time.” You’re not a doctor. You’re not a sleep expert. Your not a psychologist. Youre a journalist/business owner. And while I’m not accusing her of plagiarism (though she did settle out of court in a case of plagiarism regarding another book) this book seems to follow a lot of Wiseman’s book which was published earlier. And, I suppose, it always irks me when people have made their fortune but then say don’t do what I did, there’s more to life than financial wealth. Oh yes, easily said when you can now live on your millions by not working as you did but probably wouldn’t have got there without working madly, and sleeplessly.  

If you’re going to read one book on sleep, I’d go for Wiseman’s. 

Still there’s much to learn. Here’s some take-away points:

  • Burn out seems to be associated with success. Saying you’re overworked is like saying you’re important. Whereas leisure time used to be the symbol of higher classes, now it is working very long hours, at the expense of sleep. And strangely, while the poor struggle to get 40 hours work a week. 
  • The theory that in pre-industrial society it was normal to have your night sleep in two phases. This before electric light. People apparently slept for half the night, woke and then spent some time doing other things – tending to animals, praying, loading the fire, having a conversation, having sex. Then going back to sleep. If left to my own devices, I often do this, even when really rested. 
  • Wiseman wrote about this but I forgot to put it in yesterday’s post. When you sleep, your brain washes out all the toxic waste proteins that accumulate between brain cells every day. The washing away of waste chemicals and toxins happens only when we sleep and may help in prevention and treatment of dementia. (With my hypochondria, this is very useful. I have diagnosed myself with early onset dementia several times in the past year.)
  • The less we sleep as we age, the faster the brain ages, so gaps increase which decreases cognitive performance. 
  • Developers of artificial intelligence are finding machines which sleep and dream perform better!!! How amazing/scary is that???
  • Sleep can help you not catch the common cold. One research project found that those who had less than an average of seven hours sleep were three times more likely to get the cold (via nasal drops with the rhinovirus – fun research project to be a participant in, hey?) than those with eight hours or more of sleep. But if you do get the cold, sleep helps you recover. 
  • People who suffer from insomnia become anxious about going to bed as they anticipate not sleeping. So they learn to associate bed with sleeplessness and frustration, making bed a cue for wakefulness. This is me! It’s why I sleep on the lounge no worries but struggle once in bed. Cure: optimise bedtime conditions and change associations. 

The “how much sleep is enough” table is interesting. I bet most teenagers do not get it. Probably none of us are.

  • School-age 6-13 years: 9-11 hours
  • Teens 14-17: 8-10 hours 
  • Adults: 7-9 hours

Huffington does pose the pertinent question. If you know sleep is crucial, why are you not doing it?

Her answer: changing all bad habits about sleep is a long process requiring small steps. But more on this tomorrow. 

Everything you need to know about sleep

If you think you can get everything you need to know about sleep in a blog post, you obviously don’t know there is a lot to know about sleep, too much to be contained in a blog post. 

Everything you need to know about sleep can be found in the book Night School by Richard Wiseman. Wiseman has an accessible and lighthearted style, making the science of sleep and the brain and the history of research accessible. Even if you don’t have issues with sleep, get S hold of this book and read it. There are interesting “quizzes”, including one to test how susceptible you are to hypnosis. 

Here’s some interesting points. 

  • Most of us do not get enough sleep. Sleep is essential for health, learning new skills and knowledge, and dealing with life’s problems. Dreams act as therapists. 
  • Sleep deprivation causes health problems, road accidents, and work place accidents; increases risk of diabetes, obesity and death; decreases your willpower and ability to problem solve. Most of us don’t know we are sleep deprived. 
  • Hours spent asleep have decreased, first with the electric light and then with TV and electronic devices. So switch off, at least an hour before bed time. 
  • There are five stages of sleep – 1 to 4 and REM. Stages 1 & 2 are light. 3 & 4 are deep. REM is where you dream. All stages are needed for different reasons. When you dream your brain paralyses your body so you don’t act out your dreams. (Well, all your body except your genitals.)
  • It takes 90 minutes to go through the full cycle of sleep stages. You wake most rested if you wake up at the end of a 90 min cycle. So you can work out when you should go to sleep to wake best refreshed. Say you want to wake up at 6am, then you are best to go to sleep at 10.30 or 12 or 9. 
  • An afternoon nap is good for you, helping you think more clearly. Aim for about 20 minutes, or for a long nap 90 minutes as that takes you through one cycle. 
  • You can become a super sleeper! Make your bedroom dark and not hot. (Easier said than done in much of Australia in summer.) Make a list of things that are worrying you – writing them down helps take the load off your brain. If you lie awake in bed, think nice thoughts, or count sheep, or do some mind games like naming countries going through the alphabet, or tell yourself to stay away. If you wake during the night, and cannot get to sleep, get up and do something that requires you to use your hands like a jigsaw. 

If you want to know more about dreams – how to control them, remember them, stop nightmares – read the book. 

I take my own pillow when we go away as it helps me sleep

Everything’s coming up zombies

You know how everything has zombies nowadays? Even if they don’t say they’re zombies or they give them other names, like hungries. 

Well, without a spoiler alert, this is one of those. 

I read a review on Goodreads that got slammed by some people for not giving a spoiler alert that the children were zombies. Honestly, if you’re that dumb a reader that you don’t get it pretty quickly, there’s no help. 

It’s not that there’s zombies that gives this a twist, it’s how the narrative unfolds and, as always, the interactions between the non-zombies that sustains the reader’s interest.  

I’m not a zombie fan. Zombies , blah blah blah. I didn’t get into Walking Dead, even though I love Andrew Lincoln. I know everyone says, “But it’s not about zombies, it’s about the characters.” Well, yeah but no. There’s zombies. The whole reason everyone is thrown together is because of zombies. I was really rooting for the sergeant. 

Despite not being a zombie fan and past the dystopian novel thing, I quite got into this novel. It is suspenseful. And nerdy.  

A movie has been released. I watched a short. But won’t watch the movie. Not because I don’t like how they swapped the racial background of the two main characters nor that they simplified the story. No, it’s just too scary for me to see visually. I can cope with words in a way I can’t cope with pictures. I already had nightmares, which I knew I would, from the book. Bugger novels getting into the sub-conscious mind! No say could I sit through a film. 

So if you want a scary suspenseful sci-fi read based on possible fact (there’s a fungi that turns ants into zombies and takes control of their bodies/brains – I love that the novel got me to find out about these ants) this is well-written. 

A couple of things that annoy me:

  • They walk through the countryside where everything is growing lush and wild. Yet it is described as “a landscape of decay”. Now just because the road is crumbling and the crops have been taken over by wild plants, surely it isn’t one of decay? Rather it is one of rebirth without human control over the wild plants, (when is a plant a weed?)
  • The chapter that says the landscape is one of decay is from Melanie’s perspective. How would she know this was meant to be one of decay? She’d earlier been impressed with all the wild flowers! She wouldn’t know the countryside had not previously been all flowers and weeds but neatly mown grass and crops. 
  • Sometimes the characters are so dumb. Like walking into a house without turning on the lights in a horror movie dumb. Eg they find a large tank-like motorhome which has no food in it. One character says they can hole up in it, even though she knows here’s no food and the previous incumbents probably left as they ran out of food. 
  • They make noise for various reasons, eg to let a character know where they are, yet they know there’s zombies about and bikie/Mad Max style humans after them. 
  • The zombies have super human strength and speed yet they use leather straps to contain one.
  • Why bikies? Why aren’t the survivors who don’t want to join a totalitarian regime, greenies or kind people? Why do writers of post-apocalyptic novels always use the trope of extreme patriarchal violent psychos?
  • Why do some humans only get bitten and this turn into zombies and others get fully eaten? If the fungus wants to reproduce it wouldn’t allow the zombies to totally consume the humans. But if they ate one another, there’d slowly be no one within whom the fungus could grown. 
  • Why don’t humans partake in arty things? Why is it all violence and science? Humans have always done this, even Stone Age man. Singing and dancing and drawing have diverted us, entertained us, sustained us. 

OK, more than a couple of things. I also think the novel could have been edited by at least 70 pages. 

And I don’t like the science that has all the earth the same. No mention of how the fungus survived during winter. Wouldn’t the zombies freeze sitting outside? And thus the fungus? Is there one fungus that can live in tropical and freezing conditions? So if the fungus is like Australian flora that needs fire to reproduce, it’d get that in Australia and other parts of the world that have natural bushfires. 

This will be my last ever zombie book. If I am ever tricked into reading one because someone doesn’t want to give a spoiler, I will be beyond cranky and will wipe that person from my “will talk to” list or at least refuse all offers of other books. 

Three Cups of Tea

Not talking about my favourite drink here. Talking about the alleged autobiographical work of non-fiction by Greg Mortenson and David Oliver Relin. 

I struggled to finish it. Why, when life is short and books are plentiful did I finish it?

I kinda felt I had to. Greg Mortenson, the person this book is about (he is down as the author but most is written in the third person – which is quite strange), has built schools in remote regions Pakistan and Afganistan. If even a quarter of what the book says he has done is true, it is so noble and involved facing such dangers and challenges that I couldn’t allow such horrible writing to stop me learning of his work. 

And then there’s the fact that a friend lent me the book and neighbours had waxed lyrical about it. So there was the pressure of pleasing neighbours and needing to be able to hold my own in future conversations. 

You need to know how much I struggled to finish this. Purple prose with run in sentences abound. Here’s one example:

“the inspiring view that greets these students from every classroom – the roof of the world, represented by Masherbrum’s soaring summit ridge-has already helped convince many of Hushe’s children to aim high.”

Maybe it is the result of having two authors but there is no real voice here.  It reminds me of the kind of writing that used to fill those little Readers Digest magazines. Except it doesn’t run to half a dozen small pages. It’s over 300 pages. 

The behind-the-scenes story is quite interesting. Apparently there may be discrepancies in Morentson’s tale. Why he felt the need to lie or unduely embellish his tale, I don’t know. There’s also fraudulent use of donations. Sadly, the co-author committed suicide. 

By the end, actually not the end – even a quarter through – I was shouting: I get it, he’s a hero, Pakistanis love him, he’s braver than any other American, he understands the culture and language more than any other westerner. Maybe it is a cultural thing, as in Australian vs American sense of the role of the individual in changing society. We tend to look to askance at people who big note themselves.  Even if they do good. Whose need are they meeting? 

Reading

Clear sign that I am back at work: I forgot to post my October reading entry. I know The Dry got its own post – as it deserves – but I wrote this before I read The Dry. 

Possibly as an antidote to the heaviness of The Natural Order of Things, possibly just because I was cleaning out my book shelves, but I picked up a Famous Five novel. The first in the series. 

I bought the whole series as a box set a couple of years ago. Kind of fulfilling my childhood desire to have the set. 


Of course I did some googling. Enid Blyton wrote the 21 novels over 21 years – from 1942 to 1963. Funny how she kept the same naive, nostalgic tone and setting. Yes, the novel is full of cliches, and some horrendous, from our sensibilities, social gaffs. But it was exciting. If I was 8, I’d still love it. 

Post operative reading needed something light. So I read James Rebanks’ The Shepherd’s Life. I enjoyed the rhythm of the writing and the life on the farm. It took me away to another life. Here’s an interview with him on ABC radio. The connection to place and community and the strong sense of identity is alluring. Possibly not so the hard physical work. 


A friend brought around some novels to read while I was recuperating. I thought I’d give Liane Moriarty another go with What Alice Forgot. After slow last read of Truely Madly Guilty I wasn’t too keen but willing to try. But no, this was just as  slow and just as pointless. Domestic issues writ large with no real climax. A short story in the making. Just needs some culling. About 375 pages. 


Among the friend’s pile was Pants on Fire by Maggie Alderson. I know she is meant to be “lite” summer reads, perfect for pool or beachside, but it was just all so shallow to me. And what I took away was these drug-taking, shallow, party-goers, who turn up for work late and swan off to parties, are paid more than teachers. OK, it’s a work of fiction, not a textbook, but I am glad I have lived through the death of  newspapers and magazines. Up themselves, arrogant, dickheads who think of themselves as intellectual (when all they do is basically rewrite PR media releases) and think themselves so avant guarde because they live in a few certain inner city suburbs. 


Almost totally back to myself (as if that rant wasn’t evidence enough), I need something more weighty. Something with substance. Thank heavens I had The Dry. 

Read this before it becomes a movie and everyone knows the story

Just follow the direction/order of the title of my post. 

I rarely rave about books. I am circumspect- after all, everyone likes different things. 

But you need to read this book. 

It is amazingly well written. Oh the poetry of the prologue!

It has twists and turns that really are unique which is difficult for a dectective fiction. After all, what has been written in that genre? This is different. 

It has the MOST amazing sense of place. Drought-ridden, suffocatingly-insular, dying country town. 

It has characters you know are real people. Not fictional creations. Okay, they are the latter but they seem real. How did Turner know how schools operate? How police are bound by such bureaucratic processes? How country pubs feel? How it’s the minor actions in organisations that unravel hidden things?

So read Jane Harper’s The Dry. Before everyone else has and they ruin the ending for you. 

Books I read, or finished, in September

Early 2014, I bought three books after reading these extracts in The Daily Mail. (I know. You wouldn’t pick me as a Mail reader. It’s my dirty little secret.)

This month I read two: Dear Loopy, the letters Roger Mortimer write to his son, and Dear Lumpy, the letter to the youngest daughter. Both had me laughing and constantly sharing funny lines with Mr S. Mortimer certainly had a great turn of phrase. Such wit. 

For me, the darkish side is how those the two offspring do nothing worthwhile really, they expect, and are given, entre to a certain lifestyle as they are born to a certain class. Fundraising with the Prince and Princess of Wales. Race meets with the Queen Mother. 

Even with these books, they are really relying on their father for an income. It is his words after all. 


Lumpy’s first husband featured in a ghastly fly-on-the-wall documentary, The Fishing Trip. Apparently it was big in the UK. Not so here. 

If you think the class system and hereditary social position is not too bad, watch this video. Thirty years later, the central “character” is hardly apologetic. He rationalises his excesses and excuses his extreme views, while saying he was stupid. He regrets taking part, not his horrendous views. 

But I digress. This is about reading. And the books are brilliant. I wish I had his turn of phrase. I copied many down that tickled my fancy. Too many to list here. 

I also finished Just a Queen by Jane Caro. I was given a copy last year. I was meant to write a review for a journal. But as soon as I was expected to read and write, it became a job, a chore, and I no longer felt the calling. Except the book is brilliant. It’s book two of what will hopefully be a trilogy. 


I read book one, Just a Girl. I loved it too. Both start with Elizabeth I reflecting on crucial points in her life. The first on the eve of her coronation; the second her angst over the moral dilemmas that lead her to have Mary executed. Aimed at Aussie adolescents, the books are brilliant for those who haven’t studied the Tudors. What I really loved is the presented humanity of Elizabeth. 

I’ve passed my copy on. I know the reader will love it. 


I also read The Stella Prize 2016 winner, The Natural Way of Things by Charlotte Wood. There’s a great review here on the Stella award page. Definitely a compelling read but I agree with Marieka Hardy, heard here. What to do with all this anger? Very disheartening, little optimism about things changing for women. 

When I was at uni I read, and loved, The Handmaid’s Tale. Tried giving it a go about 10 years ago. Couldn’t do it. Couldn’t even see why I loved it.  I don’t know. Maybe I’m too old for dystopian novels? Maybe in youth, you think you will change the world? Now I just see the negativity of these novels ad overwhelming and adding to the dispair of so many. Let’s have something uplifting, something with hope. 

Whose stories?

If I were a historian, I’d probably belong to the black armband group. Those seek to challenge the dominant telling of Australia’s history. 

Much better wear a black arm band than put on John Howard’s (for the non Australian readers, conservative Prime Minister) white blindfold; choosing to remain ignorant to the fact that colonisation is barbaric and brutal, that much violence was inflicted upon the indigenous peoples and choosing to only tell tales of heroism and bravery. 


Even with my perspective, Larissa Behrendt’s Finding Eliza: Power and Colonial Storytelling had much to challenge me. Such as the concept of Aboriginality only being authentic and having native title claim if it close to traditional lifestyle. Obviously culture evolves and adapts, especially if faced with colonisation. Kind of one of those “slap your forehead” moments. “Of course!” Why should that exclude them from native title?

Other arguments had me nodding in agreement. The positive stereotypes of the noble savage being just as unreal and inaccurate as the negative stereotypes. But Behrendt takes it further and explains how the noble savage stereotype takes away their own agency and infantilises indigenous people. They can only be the beneficiary of white action. But even worse, any who do not fit the paradigm (angry urban Aborigines) are not seen as real and can be excluded and undeserving of support.

Don’t get me started on that drivel Mutant Message Down Under by the American bullshit artist Marlo Morgan. I know I shouldn’t be angered, knowing new age followers believe all manner of crap, but this particular rubbish with obvious fantasy and falsehood is just ridiculous.  If you bought that book, give yourself an upper cut for contributing to the financial success of a woman peddling shit and doing harm to indigenous peoples everywhere. 

Most challenging for me in Behrendt’s book is the idea that dissenting views of Australian history presented by the black armband in the history wars are still just about white identity; about what we want as our dominant narrative. (More like a “look at how tolerant and understanding I am”, than about Aboriginal experience and history.)

The rational but arguments presented in such direct and incisive manner, drawing on wide social and historical material, made this a compelling read. 

Edited to add: you know what I really like about this is it isn’t written in a pompous, “I’m an intellectual” style. No gobbledygook, no self conscious use of words no one really uses, no post modernist nonsensical bull, no having to read sentences a zillion times to make sense of it. It is straightforward. Writing with clarity, Behrendt lets the ideas challenge, not the language. 

Lost in the pages

A whole month’s gone by. I haven’t posted on anything. My challenges. My fitness. My blitherings. 

So here’s a summary. Stuff’s been happening. Lots of work stuff. Too much work stuff. Some fun stuff – theatre, eating out, movies. Buying the perfect tea pot (three actually, worthy of their own post).

And I’ve been reading. Luckily I add a summary of each book as I go or if forget. 


Mornings in Jenin by Susan Abulhawa has changed how I view the Israel/Palestinian conflict. The tragedy, the politics, the ongoing conflict is made personal, is brought to the human level. The telling is poetic. 

The coincidences do not grate, held together by the narrative structure. 

As always, I have been provoked to read more and my iPhone was ever close to my side so I could check details and find out more. 

This is a book I strongly recommend. But be prepared for needing to take time out to breathe. There’s much love in this novel. But much suffering. 

Truely, Madly, Guilty by Liane Moriarty is an easy read. Nothing rocks you. Nothing really new. Nothing to make you think. In the style of Jodi Piccoult but without the double twist and a huge social issue barrow to push. 

I’ve made my feelings known about the artificial contrivance of suspense as a narrative technique. And in this book it is truely, madly annoying. 

Spoiler alert: it is nothing big, that thing you are waiting for. The novel would have been much better if it told you up front what had happened at the bloody barbecue and then recounted how events led up to it and the effects on all the characters. Much as Mornings in Jenin did. You know the character faces a soldier’s gun in 2002 because that is how the novel starts. It then quickly jumps back to 1941, moving through the years to end in 2002. 

My choice: if you’re feeling fragile and want a quick easy read, go for Truely. If you want something that stays with you, go for Mornings in Jenin. 

I really enjoyed Z a Novel of Zelda Fitzgerald by Therese Anne Fowler. It was because I empathised with the Zelda of the novel that I put the book down in June, having almost finished it. Men have been telling women’s stories for ever. Sure, this is fictionalised but, just as The Paris Wife by Paula Mclain told the story of Hemingway’s first wife with a less flattering view of the man, so too does this book. It makes me so angry how women’s talents and ambitions have been stymied for centuries and the resulting mental anguish put down as mental illness because they are not behaving as goodly, quiet wives and mothers. And that many were institutionalised based on such sexist bullshit. And that is why I’m a feminist. 

Naked, the first David Sedaris I have read, and there will be more, is a collection of memoirs, each chapter a stand alone. I laughed out loud. I had to share with Mr S. I promptly forgot those things that made me laugh. But to laugh for a moment is a good thing. Hence I will read more. 

The Nightingale 

Accuracy. All I ask for in historical fiction is historical accuracy. 

Ok that is not all I ask for. Style. Believable, human characters that aren’t caricatures. Good dialogue. 

But I do want accuracy too. 

Even if it states the novel is a fictionalised account and the author is taking liberties with people and events, there still has to be accuracy. 

Or even believability. One character lives in the country and has an extensive vegetable plot (of which we got a bit of a purple prose description). But she nearly starves in winter and has to burn her furniture for fire wood! She hides in the forest but can’t collect wood? Her sister hides food in the basement of the barn but she can’t get it? A country woman who doesn’t make tonnes of preserves or lays down root vegetables? (My mother was a child in rural Germany in the war. I have tried to encourage her to write a blog on her memories. It would be an antidote to this drivel.)

“No antibiotics for her daughter” the character bemoans. But during WWII antibiotics were limited to military. GPs didn’t prescribe them to the public. I can’t believe they were available in a small rural village in France. It may be a small detail but lots of small details such as these accumulate. 

It is up there with the shot down British airman walking around Paris. OK, the Allies did bomb Paris, largely the industrial areas but if a plane had been downed in Paris it would have been noticed and an airman in full kit wouldn’t have been able to walk around Paris, let alone hide under a bush by the side of the street opposite German soldiers sitting in a cafe. And, if the bomber was on the way to Germany, the flight paths wouldn’t have been over Paris. Has the author looked at a map of Europe? 

So no accuracy then! 

What about style?

Well if you like similes, you’ll be right. The following are all from a few pages:

  • roses tumbled like laughter along the ancient stone wall
  • The [attic] stairs unfold from the ceiling like a gentleman extending his hand. 
  • A tall thin woman with a nose like a water spigot 
  • Father dropped off his daughter like soiled laundry

The best account of this novel comes from a Goodreads reviewer. 

And when you think the sudden dropping in of historical facts couldn’t get worse you have this, coming after the character has been tortured and imprisoned by the Gestapo, seen her father shot by the SS, herded on a cattle train with other women and children, transported without water and marched into a “prison camp” she suddenly remembers. 

A woman who was in the resistance, who helped Allied airmen escape! She didn’t “remember” this before? She didn’t think of it? Or know it?

I get it. The author is writing for an audience who probably knows nothing of WWII but why present the info so stupidly? 

Yes, I learnt some interesting things about Vichie France, the Resistance, Allied bombings of France, the lack of preparation of the French government for German invasion. But more because I googled Vichie France than from the novel. Of course, that’s a positive that the novel has provoked some further reading and that I learnt things. I always like learning new things. 

As it turns out, the author probably used Wikipedia too. It certainly reads like she did. 

Look, it’s not as bad as all that. Just after All the Light We Cannot See, I just wanted this book to be better. And if you don’t know much or anything about WWII, it would be an exciting tale. 

The ending is very emotional. I teared up. So the novel must have done something to affect me so, and not in a manipulative manner. 

I also think part of the problem was the manner in which I read it – an electronic version on my iPhone. Not pleasant on the eyes and not easy to skim if you feel like skipping along. 

I would be interested if some of my blogging friends who are readers would give this a go and see alternate views. The book’s a best seller, some people have said its their favourite read of the year and it is being made into a movie. 

Maybe I’m just a literary snob!

Edited to add: here’s a interesting read: From the Daily Mail. I wonder if this was Hannah’s inspiration. I might investigate this book.