E-books and audiobooks reviews: non-fiction

PUBLISHED : Saturday, 31 January, 2015, 11:47pm
UPDATED : Saturday, 31 January, 2015, 11:47pm

Je Suis Charlie
by Patricia Crouch
Amazon Digital Services

Already, an e-book on understanding Charlie Hebdo cartoons has come out, accompanying another on the chronology of the deadly terrorist attack on January 7 at the Paris headquarters of the magazine. Now a third, by Patricia Crouch, offers alternative views of the publication’s representations of Islam. There are many reminders that Je Suis Charlie in no way defends the actions of the al-Qaeda extremists who claimed responsibility for the atrocities. Crouch seeks to show how some consider the small publication as not so much a thought-provoking satirical rag as one with selfish, stupid and ultimately destructive motives. Crucially, in 2006 it reprinted the 12 infamous Danish cartoons from 2005 depicting the Prophet Mohammed in inflammatory ways. Showing the views of those who refused to stand with the paper and say “Je suis Charlie”, she reminds us that not everyone agrees with Charlie Hebdo’s way of championing free speech. While interesting, her book won’t change established opinion about right and wrong.


I’ll Have What She’s Having
by Rebecca Harrington
Vintage Books

Many will find this book interesting even if they're not on a diet or have never had to lose weight. That's because Rebecca Harrington, who embarks on a slew of celebrity diets, engages the reader with real, practical research, succinctly explaining the quirks of each regimen and telling it the way it is, with lashings of humour mixed into every green health drink that she tries to keep down. She shows how beauties from a different age, among them Jackie Kennedy and Sophia Loren, kept trim. You learn that Madonna's macrobiotic menu is no fun, Victoria Beckham's five-hands-of-food-a-day regimen (of alkaline comestibles only) can be "disgusting", and Liz Taylor 's controlled pig-out lacked restraint. Of all the diets, Harrington finds Beyonce's post-pregnancy eating plan the most effective (also, the food was "not terrible"). However, after having tested the diets of 14 celebrities Harrington (the author of 2012's Penelope) acknowledges that she weighed exactly the same as when she started. Still, she had her favourites. Find out why.



Whipping Boy
by Allen Kurzweil
Harper Audio

Imagine what you would do as an adult to a bully who terrorised you as a child. Or what you would say to him. Allen Kurzweil pursued that opportunity with a four-decade search for the boy who was his nemesis at a posh boarding school in Switzerland. At 10, when Kurzweil was sent to Aiglon College from New York, he was fatherless, Jewish and a runt, he writes, and became a target of Cesar Augustus, an overweight 12-year-old rumoured to be the son of an official under the Philippines' Ferdinand Marcos. Force-feeding of chilli pellets and a flogging with a belt were two episodes seared into young Kurzweil's memory. Worse was the theft of his most precious possession: a watch that had been his father's. Though Kurzweil, also the book's narrator, embarks on a journalism career, the memories never leave him. And when he decides to find his tormentor, the quest becomes an obsession, especially when he discovers that Augustus was involved in a financial scam and is a convicted felon. Readers will stay with the book to the end, which brings a strange kind of closure.