Tag Archives: non-fiction

#17 Stasiland – Anna Funder

21 Feb
Stasiland - Anna Funder

Stasiland – Anna Funder

Goodreads rating: 4.14/5 (2,000+ ratings)

My rating: 7.5/10

First Published: December 5th, 2003 by Text Publishing

Genre: Non-Fiction, History

Stasiland is about people who resisted the surveillance state of East Germany, and about others who worked for the Stasi – the secret police of the German Democratic Republic (GDR).

Stasiland is written by Australian woman Anna Funder, who lived in Berlin in the late 90s and interviewed a variety of people from both sides of the GDR regime. She used classified ads to get in touch with former members of the Stasi, who she interviewed extensively. People such as those who helped to build and plan the erection of The Berlin Wall, a television presenter and host who was famous during the GDR regime, and a resistor who could have started WWIII!

I didn’t realise when I started this that it was not a fictional novel. I went into it thinking it was a novel about someone living in that time, but then shortly realised that it wasn’t!

I really enjoyed this book. It was really easy to digest and understand, even though I didn’t fully understand to begin with what the situation was after WWII in Germany. there was a map at the beginning of the book of both West & East Germany, and a smaller one of Berlin and the wall – this really helped me in reading and understanding this book.

I found that the theme of Stasiland reflected George Orwell’s 1984 which is scary! I can’t imagine living in a place that is so highly regulated. I know these places exist, but it sounds terrible!

I highly recommend this book. It’s short, interesting, captures attention quickly, and best of all, is TRUE!

Bits & pieces

  • Winner of the BBC Four Samuel Johnson Prize
  • Stasiland is being developed for the stage by The National Theatre in London.

Past reviews

‘Anna Funder explores, in the most humane and sensitive way, lives blighted by the East German Stasi. She allows ex-Stasi operatives an equal chance to reflect on their achievements, and finds—to her dismay and ours—that they have learned nothing.’
— J. M. Coetzee

‘Your book STASILAND: TRUE STORIES FROM BEHIND THE BERLIN WALL struck me like no other in the last five years. It is fascinating, entertaining, hilarious, horrifying and very important.’
– Tom Hanks

‘Informed judgements and historical background are communicated with deceptive ease. Targeted at a broad audience, Stasiland is compelling reading.’
– 
Sydney Morning Herald

-H-

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#13 Scandalands – Kyle Sandilands

31 Jan
Scandalands - Kyle Sandilands

Scandalands – Kyle Sandilands

Goodreads rating: 4 (37 ratings)

My rating: 6/10

Why it’s on the list: For those of you who aren’t from Australia, Kyle Sandilands is a ‘shock jock’ on the radio who most people despise and he often wins ‘biggest wanker of the year’ awards. I’m not a huge fan of Kyle’s but was interested in his life, so on the list it went!

First published: November 1st, 2012 by Pan Australia

Genre: Autobiography

If you don’t know who Kyle is, or any of the scandals that have littered his career, then there’s no point in reading this book.

However, if you hate Kyle, or love Kyle, I’d recommend it purely for the fact that it gives a little bit more information to the stories, and actually makes Kyle seem half human, rather than all monster.

It starts with his childhood in Brisbane, where by the age of 15 he was homeless and living under some boxes behind a store. I felt so sad for him, and if you consider that’s where he was 30 years ago, he has come an awfully long way to being a millionaire, successful radio personality.

We then get to read about all his various jobs in radio. Growing up he had 2 passions in life – the police force, and radio – and radio is the one he pursued. He goes through multiple jobs, gets fired and quits in multiple different ways, and loves every minute of it.

He gives away a few juicy secrets too. However, his ex-wife has tweeted “Wow … just read ‘Scandalands’ who knew I would take up half a book with stuff I didn’t even know about my own past life” (Source). This surprised me because he says how they’re still friends, however there are always two sides to the story.

Scandalands is not well written, does not use sophisticated language, and is a basic and easy read, but those are the exact reasons why I’d recommend this book as a light-hearted, quick read. Also, I personally love the fact that most autobiography’s have photos inside, and thankfully so does this book – it’s pretty interesting to see the ‘most hated man in radio’ as a youngster.

-H-

#9 Freakonomics – Steven D Levitt & Stephen J Dubner

5 Jan

I don’t have a photo of the book I read, however this is the same edition. 

Freakonomics - Front Cover

Freakonomics – Front Cover

Goodreads rating: 3.8 (233,900+ ratings)

My rating: 8/10

Why it’s on the list: My boyfriend was reading it whilst we were holidaying in Mexico & Hawaii, and I ran out of books to read, so read it after him.

First published: April 12th, 2005 by William Morrow

Genre: Non-fiction

Freakonomics is awesome. It’s basically the love child of pop culture & economics, written by a New York Times journalist, and an economist. I hated economics in university, didn’t understand it, didn’t like it one bit, and only passed by 1 mark. Freakonomics makes economics actually interesting. It is a book which applies economic theories and practices to questions such as ‘What do school teachers and sumo wrestlers have in common?’ and ‘If drug dealers earn so much money, why do they still live with their mothers?’. 

You’ll find yourself interested, and curious, about the answers to questions you never knew existed, which is why I loved this book so much. I gave it 8/10 because as much as I enjoyed it, I felt like you had to just take it on face value, and although there were lots of references to different studies, it obviously doesn’t really disprove opposite opinions.

Bits & pieces

  • By 2009, Freakonomics had sold over 4 million copies worldwide. [Source]
  • Peaked at #2 among non-fiction on the New York Times best seller list

-H-

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