Reviews: non-fiction e-books and audiobooks: Post-Traumatic Church Syndrome, The Last Love Song and Good Mourning

PUBLISHED : Saturday, 26 September, 2015, 11:05pm
UPDATED : Saturday, 26 September, 2015, 11:05pm

Post-Traumatic Church Syndrome
by Reba Riley
Howard Books (e-book)

Post-Traumatic Church Syndrome: the concept is interesting, and many will have been where Reba Riley found herself at 29, when she stepped away from her faith. After years of evangelical Christianity and ministry training, she found herself growing increasingly unwell, angry and dissatisfied with her “Godiverse”. She felt trapped in a believe-it-all-orbelieve- nothing situation and afflicted by mysterious chronic tiredness and aches that doctors couldn’t treat. So she embarked on a quest to cure herself of, if not medical maladies, then spiritual injury. Her way was to visit 30 religions (by her 30th birthday), or as she called it Project 30 by 30. Her religious road trip included stops to meet Sikhs, the Amish, Muslims, Hare Krishnas, Buddhists and, among others, pagans. Riley is clear she wasn’t searching for a religion to replace the one she’d given up; she was, in the lingo of healing, looking for herself. Readers will enjoy many of her humorous anecdotes and insights, but they might also feel that the book is a tad manufactured.


The Last Love Song
by Tracy Daugherty
St Martin's Press (e-book)

American author Tracy Daugherty's biography of Joan Didion leaves you with the feeling he may have put on those big glasses of hers but never had the chance to see her world through them. But that's no fault of his. Didion, with a reputation for being aloof, neither gave her approval for the book nor granted interviews, so a lot of it relies on her own published work and public statements. That's not to say The Last Love Story is not enjoyable. Didion, as fans will tell you, is a fascinating writer. Her reserve, established frailty and "authentic Western voice" followed her ever since her mother encouraged her to write down her thoughts from an early age. Although she describes herself as "neurotically inarticulate", Didion grew up in a bookish family in Sacramento, California - an "ornery place with plenty of dead zones", which explains why she dreamed of leaving. One plus about this biography is it will have readers reaching for The Year of Magical Thinking, Didion's book about widowhood, and Blue Nights, about the death of her adopted daughter.


Good Mourning
by Elizabeth Meyer
Tantor Audio (audiobook)

Everyone knows the super-rich have different needs to those of mere mortals. Good Mourning reveals how those requirements extend to death, specifically their funerals. For some it may be a case of keeping up with the Joneses, but, according to the author, people do it to take the pressure off their families. Entertaining rather than morbid, this book tells of her work at Crawford, an elite funeral parlour in Manhattan that sees its share of celebrity business. Meyer's first job as a planner came when her own father died. "If there was anyone who could give him [a party], it was me." When she realised her talent, she asked Crawford for a job, to the horror of family and friends. In her memoir, read by Cris Dukehart, she recounts memorable experiences and what she learned on the job. One was never to tell the press anything, although some reporters will do anything to crash a funeral, including pose as florists. Meyer is discreet in her anecdotes, referring to "the rock legend" or "Mr Wheels", for whose send-off Lamborghinis lined Madison Avenue.