Book Review: The Quiet Room by Lori Schiller and Amanda Bennett


Title: The Quiet Room: A Journey out of The Torment of Madness

Author:Lori Schiller and Amanda Bennett


Genre: Memoir

Again I seem to have reverted to yet another book on mental illness. This one is written by Lori Schiller and documents in pedantic detail her first realization that she was “not well” , all through to her current life living with her schizophrenia.
Schiller describes herself as outgoing, athletic, smart and popular prior to her illness. Essentially the perfect child from an affluent family. She first starts hearing voices during  a Summer camp when she is seventeen. Knowing the reaction, from having seen people’s reactions to even minor signs of any “mental” behaviour, she disguises the extent of her problem to family and friends. From then on,  until her graduation from college she learns to live with the voices in her head, yet functioning fairly well.

Book Review: How Does One Dress to Buy Dragonfruit? edited by Shannon Young

DragonfruitTitle: How Does One Dress to Buy Dragonfruit? True Stories of Expat Women in Asia

Author: Edited by Shannon Young

Published: 2014

Genre: Memoir

Every so often I come across a book recommendation on some expat site on books written by expats, which I am always quick to order or download hoping to gain some insight into women having similar experiences to mine. Sometimes I do find some reads that confirm that these feelings of displacement are indeed perfectly normal; or that it’s okay to not fit the mould of the happy expat wife going along with the banalities of the expat life; or that there can be much fault in a life perceived as glamorous by most. The stories in How Does One Dress to Buy Dragonfruit? are written by expat women in Asia, and are, as one review puts it, “an eclectic, soulful collection of stories by badass women who have ventured far out of their comfort zones.” The title itself is taken from one of the stories about the cultural rules that exist in expat locations which are most times unwritten, thus extremely difficult to navigate.

Book Review: Best White and Other Anxious Delusions by Rebecca Davis

51sUXM7+JlL._SX325_BO1,204,203,200_Title: Best White and Other Anxious Delusions

Author: Rebecca Davis

Published: 2015

Genre: Memoir

Every so often, whenever I feel the need to laugh a bit,  I download books written by young South African writers. Let’s be honest, according to CNN and BBC, and very other media coverage on South Africa coming our way, it’s easy to think it is all doom and gloom, and that there will not be a country to return to. Of course, family and friends provide the perspective I need, but I do still need to read the humour, chucking away as CNN warns of the apocalyptic lows we’re headed for.

Books: PELT AND OTHER STORIES by Catherine McNamara

8d313-front2bcover_2nat2bcopiaTitle: Pelt and Other Stories
Author: Catherine McNamara
Published: 2013
Genre: Fiction

In between my getting stuck into the novels on my TBR list, I have also been dipping into my collection of short stories – that wonderful genre that allows you to escape what may be a too serious, too tedious, or simply too long novel and lose yourself in other worlds in a fraction of the time.

In between my getting stuck into the novels on my TBR list, I have also been dipping into my collection of short stories – that wonderful genre that allows you to escape what may be a too serious, too tedious, or simply too long novel and lose yourself in other worlds in a fraction of the time.

I have mixed feelings about Catherine McNamara’ s collection of stories.

On Reading South Africa

André Brink (1935 – 2015). Photo source:

In making my ambitious plans to read everything and anything this year, I decided that one of my reading forays would be into reading South African writers. I have not read that many South African writers and amongst my list of writers to read was of course, André Brink. Then on Sunday I saw a newspaper article announcing his death and suddenly there was this new urgency to get on with Reading South Africa.

Reading the classics and tales about magic

Harper Lee.

I have written about my aversion towards mandated reading that forces one to read a certain genre merely because at the time it is deemed important enough to add to one’s literary repertoire. I must confess that when it comes to the classics, I do still have a lot of to-be-read (TBR) books  on both my kindle and on my bookshelf, for which I will ignore my own rules. I am ‘shadow’ reading with my children. My son is finally getting into the Harry Potter books – so I have decided that maybe it’s about time I found out what J.K. Rowling did to spawn an entire generation and more of magic enthusiasts. As he reads The  Philosopher’s Stone in paperback, I am following  on my kindle.

Books: WHITE TEETH by Zadie Smith

Title: White Teeth
Author: Zadie Smith
Published: 2000
Genre: Fiction

Zadie Smith’s White Teeth took me close to two months to finish. That for me is a very long time, but it was read between a whole lot of other commitments. I read it during my daily commute,  when I had a few moments waiting for my son’s violin class to finish, and in between studying and writing and procrastinating. I finally finished it two weeks ago and it has taken me this long to write down my thoughts of it.  I took it off my ‘To Be Read’ (TBR) shelf expecting to be wowed, after all, the reviews that accompanied the book when it was published in 2000 were more than hyperbolic in their praise of Smith’s raw talent:  how it was reminiscent of Rushdie’s brilliance, how her turn of phrase was incomparable to none other, so steady and controlled for a debut writer.

Solitude for Gabríel Garcia Márquez

I have yet to meet anyone that does not profess to loving One Hundred Years of Solitude, and to follow it up with how ‘Márquez’s magic realism brought Latin American to the world.’ It was,  when I was in my 20s, a literary rite of passage for those that aspired to be well read. Well, I confess: I still have to read it.

Award season has come and gone


I have added to my list of authors to read, Alice Munro, this year’s Nobel Peace Prize in Literature winner. Yes, because she has won the Nobel Peace Prize, but more so because she is a prolific writer of short stories – a genre I am becoming more and more partial to.