Reviews: non-fiction e-books and audiobooks

PUBLISHED : Saturday, 03 January, 2015, 9:04pm
UPDATED : Saturday, 03 January, 2015, 9:04pm

Secrets of a Fashion Therapist
by Betty Halbreich
with Sally Wadyka

If you’re intrigued by Betty Halbreich, read this book before her autobiography I’ll Drink to That, released last September. That way you’ll appreciate better why, in the world of fashion, she matters. A personal shopper for Bergdorf Goodman for 37 years, she presents in Secrets of a Fashion Therapist advice for women just starting their careers, and needing to put together a working wardrobe on a budget; or ready to move into the corner office, and needing an “investmentdressing portfolio”. In that case, she says, you get the highest rate of return from items such as a Balmacaan coat; a good, dark suit; an A-line raincoat; a suede jacket; or a big sweater. Halbreich, 85, expends much energy advising against default brand-dressing, saying we are living in an age of cloning in which fashionable women all try to look the same. Secrets is also a primer for women unsure of proportions; skirt lengths; why colour is important; how scarves instantly change the look of an outfit; and what to wear if they’re short or large.


by Joey Lott
Archangel Ink

If you're reading this book you already know you should be sleeping more. Which means this will serve only to bolster your belief that if you increase your hours and quality of kip, you'll have fewer health problems. They could include the obvious: poor cognitive performance and slow response time. Or diabetes, high blood pressure, even Alzheimer's. Joey Lott, who has written a slew of books on health, approaches this tome as though penning a magazine help column in which there are many assertions and few attributions. When he refers to an unscientific study of his on the relationship between consuming adequate calories and a good night's sleep, readers will want to know how many people he polled, what kind of food they consumed, how old they were, and so on. Still, he offers handy tips for reaching the goal of seven to nine hours of sleep a night, including in the evening avoiding blue light (such as from computers and TV screens), and soaking in bright light upon waking. Those who are awake after just four hours of sleep should read the section on biphasic sleep.


The Unspeakable
by Meghan Daum
Dreamscape Media

Meghan Daum does not have a narrator's voice, but what she has to say should be heard. In The Unspeakable, her objective is to air thoughts not usually discussed in public because they're deemed inappropriate. More specifically, she tries to talk about experiences without preassigned emotional responses or platitudes. She's not out to shock, but that she does from the opening essay (of 10): Matricide. About the death from cancer of her mother, whom she saw as "a fraud", she recalls the exact moment of her passing, when her first question was: "Is that it?" Daum realises she's asking for criticism when, in a separate piece, she exposes one of her few soft spots: she loves dogs "so much it hurts", and the death of her pet, Rex, she admits, "was the worst grief I've ever faced in my life". Dogs, she decides, are inherently without sap, which is how the world would be if she had her way. Other subjects tackled include marriage and the "Knot Yet" debate; children and an ambivalence to motherhood; sexuality, and trying to be a lesbian; and Joni Mitchell, a chapter that only fans of the Canadian songstress will read.