When Breath Becomes Air – Paul Kalanithi

When Breath Becomes Air - Paul Kalanithi
When Breath Becomes Air – Paul Kalanithi

Thought provoking biography and exploration of many of life’s key themes – morality, duty, life, death – and, most of all, how to find meaning in life and how to live a meaningful life.

Paul Kalanithi is on the cusp of completing his training as a neurosurgeon when he discovers he has lung cancer. He is 37 years old and one of the best brain surgeons of his generation in the US, blending expert surgical skills with deep human empathy.

This book is his posthumously published memoir contemplating his career and his medical training, the importance and significance of his relationships with his family and friends, and how he copes with the choices he makes as a doctor / surgeon and then as a patient and a husband.

Finished on the train back from the LED Fundraising Weekend, tears flowing in spite of the public setting.

Publisher page: When Breath Becomes Air – Paul Kalanithi

Deep Sea and Foreign Going – Rose George

Deep Sea and Foreign Going - Rose George
Deep Sea and Foreign Going – Rose George

Container shipping.

Sounds boring, right?


Themed chapters, with a strong emphasis on the people involved – the captain and crew; the pirates and those who police them; the ports, the passage; flags of convenience and the consequences.

Super easy to read. Stuffed full of facts.

I shall watch the container ships offshore from Walton on the Naze in a more informed fashion – and all thanks to Phil Wang’s recommendation on Radio 4’s A Good Read!

Author webpage: Deep Sea and Foreign Going: Inside Shipping, the Invisible Industry That Brings You 90% of Everything – Rose George

Review: Deep Sea and Foreign Going by Rose George – Sukhdev Sandhu, The Guardian, 13 September 2013

Container ship departing Felixstowe
Container ship departing Felixstowe

Landmarks – Robert Macfarlane

Landmarks - Robert MacfarlaneSuperb writing on language, landscape and living on the land.

Lots of new words to use (well, to try and remember); lots of new books to read…

Looking forward to fuddling next time at Forty Acres, and to the accuracy of describing my Dolpo Expedition river crossing photos as “Crunching across the frozen mud and skim-ice to wade through the waters of the upper Barbung Khola”.

“Other places” isn’t really the right category/genre for this but it’s the closest I’ve got (other than “Too tricky to categorise” – so I’m going to tick that too….)

Publisher page: Landmarks – Robert Macfarlane

800 Entries in Sparkly Trainers > Reading

Early Warning – Jane Smiley was my 800th blog post on Sparkly Trainers Reading.

Entry No. 1 was Best Rainy Day Book Ever – Richard Scarry back in July 2001 when I added my three favourite books to the now defunct Haddock Review.

Taking a look back over the past 15 and a bit years, my most read authors are:

and my category counts are:

I turned off the ability for people to add Comments in 2011 by which time Reading had accumulated 124 comments. The entry that received most comments was The Riders – Tim Winton (32), closely followed by Cloudstreet – Tim Winton (30). No reflection on the quality of my reviews, simply a side effect of the Australian English Curriculum!

The numbers for the past five years are a bit “same same but different” – still lots of speedy crime reads (mainly in a foreign setting) and historical novels, but with a few new names, and Science fiction / Fantasy making an appearance*:

Here are the Category counts for the past five years:

  • Biography and autobiography (33)
  • Chick lit (9)
  • Crime fiction (86)
  • Espionage / Thriller (2)
  • Historical fiction (83)
  • History (23)
  • Modern fiction (63)
  • Other places (28)
  • Science fiction / Fantasy (15)
  • Too tricky to categorise (7)

And finally, here’s what I’m currently reading ….

… and have on my bookshelf, ready to be read (and in no particular order):

Now I’m wondering if I need a Nature category….


* More accurately a reappearance: I devoured SF&F as a teenager – Isaac Asimov, Anne McCaffrey. Historical novels were a firm favourite then too – Anya Seton, Jean Plaidy (I’d no idea that was a pen name!).