Saturday, February 28, 2015

Read the World {February 2015}

I thought it might be useful (for me) to keep track in this blog of the books I read for my Read the World challenge. It is a good way to stay accountable and to continue getting inspiration from all of you. So I decided to post an update the last Saturday of every month, as long as I have something to update - there will be many a month when I won't be reading much for sure. But until then ...

February has not been the best month in terms of reading. I only managed to get halfway through a book and I'm not really sure if that's because the book is in German or because it doesn't motivate me much. Either reason, I still have a hundred pages left to read but given the type of book it is (a travelogue/memoir) I'm not expecting many surprises or a drastic turn in the narrative style that will change my mind about it. 

AUSTRALIA - Weit weg im Outback (Urs Wälterlin)

I had bought this book last summer, before I ever thought of doing this Read the World challenge, and it was waiting on my pile of books to read until January this year. I've been obsessed with Australia ever since I can remember and when I saw this book about a journalist who leaves everything behind to pursue a new life a freelance journalist in Australia I was instantly attracted to it. Then I put it off for some months, I guess because it was in German.

Urs Wälterlin is a Swiss journalist (from Basel, actually) who moved to Australia with his wife some twenty years ago and has lived there ever since. After freezing in the Blue Mountains and stressing in a suburb of Sydney, he finally found his piece of paradise in a minor town somewhere between Sydney and Canberra. And all these years later he reminisces his life and adventures in the land of Oz.

A life full of adventure in Australia sounds like a catchy story but somehow it failed to grab my attention the way other books do. Some chapters are insightful but many others just seem to be a collection of his old work for European media, giving the impression that he has rewritten some of his own articles to fill half of the pages. First minus point for me.

The author mixes these media stories with more personal details to paint an image of Australia and its people today. Education, politics, environmental issues or the passion for gambling are some of the topics the author goes through. And here comes the second minus point for me. I find the author rather patronizing when expressing his views. Like considering Australia political system a second-class democracy because it doesn't mimic the Swiss system of direct democracy or thinking that most Australians are half stupid because they can tell Switzerland from Sweden. Anyway, I may be getting all this wrong as I'm not able to pick up all the nuances of the German language.

All in all, I haven't particularly enjoyed this book but I learnt some interesting facts about Australia. Apparently, one is never more than ten meters away from a snake in the Australian bush. Now, that's more than enough to reconsider my infatuation with the land of Oz. 

Any book recommendations related to Australia?
I've heard that Bill Bryson travelogue Down Under is a good, witty one. And We of Never Never by Jeannie Gunn also sounds like an interesting one.

Have a lovely weekend!

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