Book reviews: March 2017

The MCD team has selected the best of some recent inspiring reads

The Airbnb Story

Leigh Gallagher Book .-3jpg
Penguin Random Hous
Reviewed by Esha Chanda

In the past few years, Airbnb has almost become synonymous with travelling. With more and more of the younger lot setting out to explore the world—and on a budget—Airbnb provides an easy, low-cost option for travellers. What started off as a small start-up that let people rent out sleeping quarters in their home to those who needed a place to stay has today turned into—as the writer says it—a "thing". Travellers now have access to quirkier places such as a cabin in the woods, a houseboat, a treehouse—places that the millennials are drawn to. In less than a decade, AirBed & Breakfast has become the largest provider of accommodations in the world. And at the helm of it all is Brian Chesky, the CEO and co-founder, who is steering a $30 billion company with 2500 employees. It can’t be denied that Airbnb has transformed the travelling industry, and the impact has been felt by both, the ones who provide accommodation  and the ones who are travelling. It’s a story of how two broke art school graduates, with a looming deadline to pay rent, decided to set up a platform inviting attendees at the big design conference in San Francisco to rent a place to stay. It’s a story of success.

The Salted Air

Thom Conroy Book .-4jpg
Penguin Random House
Reviewed by Steve Atkinson

This was one of the more difficult reads I have undertaken recently, revolving around a Wellington-based woman and her emotional turmoil after the death by suicide of her husband. Unfortunately, she doesn’t help things, instead opting for her married brother-in-law’s groin area in order to relieve her and his pain. Then for some reason, she decides to complicate things even further by taking his young daughter on a holiday to a run-down campground on the East Coast to visit her father in the hopes she can effect a reconciliation between her estranged parents. So, as you can see, the whole thing is quite bizarre but strangely compelling to read—even if it is just to see if the story will improve at some point. Unfortunately for me, it didn’t, being overfilled with flowery descriptions I’d expect to see in some creative writing class. I’m pretty sure we won’t see this converted for the big (or small) screen anytime soon. However, on a positive note, I did get through to the end.

Lying in Wait

Liz Nugent Book .-1jpg
Penguin Random House
Reviewed by Sandy Taylor

Having never heard of Liz Nugent, I started to read the book and thought, I have read another book with a similar plot. By the end of the second chapter, I was wrong and totally engrossed in this book. The plot seemed clear—good guy lives, bad girl dies. Nothing can be further from the truth. The writer took me to places I did not expect to go, with the twists and turns! Halfway through the book, I thought I knew exactly how the story was going to end. Did I jump the gun! After reading another couple of chapters, there was no way that I would have known what was going on. The book kept me in suspense, as I read on, and I was not disappointed when in the final chapter, all was revealed. I wouldn’t have guessed the outcome. Without a doubt, you will never guess it either. This book was nothing like I expected. I enjoyed it so much that I am going to the library to take out another one of Liz Nugent’s book. She is such a clever writer.  

The Holocaust

Laurence Rees Book .-2jpg
Penguin Random House
Reviewed by Esha Chanda

It has been 70 years since the liberation of Auschwitz yet the full story is not known; there are missing pieces in the puzzle that historians, through years of research, have been trying to find. In his last book, Laurence Rees provided an insight into the inner workings of the concentration camp at Auschwitz. A decade later, the acclaimed author and historian has published yet another book. Based on 25 years of interviews with survivors and SS perpetrators—some of which haven’t been published before—Laurence’s chronological narrative features recent historical research and testimonies from eyewitnesses. The writer highlights the violence and the unspeakable suffering of thousands of lives in the concentration camp. And at the centre of the narrative lies the question about how the holocaust began. According to Laurence, that was inevitable as he states early on in the book that Adolf Hitler’s views on anti-Semitism goes back to 1919. There is much written and spoken about the holocaust but what sets this book apart is Laurence’s approach to the book along with interviews from those who committed the crime and those who suffered it. 

Tippi: A memoir

Tippi Hedren Book .-5jpg
Harper Collins
Reviewed by Steve Atkinson

Those of us with a bit of mileage will remember Tippi Hedren from the famous Alfred Hitchcock movie The Birds. Making a not-too-shabby living as a model, Hitch secured Hedren from virtual obscurity after spotting her in a TV commercial. If what she says is correct, the director carried something of a fascination that bordered on downright creepy. She made one further movie before deciding with her husband to create the ‘African’ movie Roar. This involved them raising a large collection of lions, tigers, and other animals ‘stars’ for the movie. If you think this was crazy, then you are entirely correct. It involved them bringing many of the creatures into their house to live with their family. Along with the numerous hospital visits and the movie almost driving them broke, the process paved the way for an animal sanctuary that Hedren now heads. Notwithstanding being the mum of Melanie Griffiths and grandmother of Dakota Johnson, Tippi Hedren is a pretty amazing person and her life story follows a storyline.

Dinnertime Goodness

My Food Bag and Nadia Lim Book
Penguin Random House
Reviewed by Esha Chanda

A compilation of the recipes from My Food Bag’s favourites, Dinnertime Goodness features more than 85 recipes from Nadia Lim—the company’s co-founder and dietitian—and the My Food Bag team. At the heart of the recipes is Nadia’s Nude Food philosophy, which is all about eating food from the ground, sea, and the sky. The book has been categorised into three sections—From the Garden, featuring recipes made from fresh and seasonal vegetables; From the Sea, which includes meals made from freshly-caught fish; and From the Farm, which offers recipe ideas using free-range meat—and also includes special, limited edition recipes developed by the team exclusively for the book. There is also a small section at the back on essentials that feature quick recipes of marinades, sauces, spice rubs, seasonings, curry pastes, and salad dressings. A beautifully designed cookbook, thanks to the stunning photography by Tam West, Dinnertime Goodness is packed with delicious recipes that might be the answer to your question—"what’s for dinner tonight?"

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