All The Books I Can Read

1 girl….2 many books!

Mini Reviews {12} – Non Fiction I’ve Been Reading Lately

on March 2, 2021

A Life On Our Planet
David Attenborough
Penguin Audio
Narrated by David Attenborough
2020, 6hrs 20m
Purchased via

Blurb {from the publisher/}:

I am 93. I’ve had an extraordinary life. It’s only now that I appreciate how extraordinary.

As a young man, I felt I was out there in the wild, experiencing the untouched natural world – but it was an illusion. The tragedy of our time has been happening all around us, barely noticeable from day to day – the loss of our planet’s wild places, its biodiversity.

I have been witness to this decline. A Life on Our Planet contains my witness statement and my vision for the future – the story of how we came to make this, our greatest mistake, and how, if we act now, we can yet put it right.

We have the opportunity to create the perfect home for ourselves and restore the wonderful world we inherited.

All we need is the will do so.

I love David Attenborough! I’ve watched so many of the documentaries he has narrated and fronted but this is the first time I’ve read (or rather, listened to) a book he wrote. David Attenborough wrote this book (with someone named Jonnie Hughes) and also recorded the audio for it and that was what had me buying it. His voice is just so incredibly soothing and wonderful to listen to, even when he’s basically telling me about the systematic destruction of the planet’s natural resources. There’s something incredibly comforting about David Attenborough, even when he’s being forthright about what we need to do to change the current trajectory of the path we are on.

I really found this interesting. It begins with Attenborough’s background when he was a young child. The world’s population was 2.3 billion people in 1937, the carbon in the atmosphere was 280 parts per million and the world’s remaining wilderness was 66%. By the time we reach 2020 at the end of the book, the world’s population is 7.8 billion people. Carbon in the atmosphere is 415 parts per million. The world’s remaining wilderness? 35%.

A Life On Our Planet is Attenborough’s look at how we got here and what we can do to attempt to rectify it. There are numerous suggestions, most of which aren’t really new ideas: consume less meat so that less farmland is needed for animals like cattle that take large amounts of feed and also, damage farmland when farmed in such high numbers. Turn more to renewable power, like solar and wind and hydro. The fact that my entire country isn’t run on solar power now, with the space we have available and the sunlight hours, is still remarkable to me. There’s huge focus on renewing biodiversity – it’s biodiversity that makes things tick, makes the wilderness thrive and our lifestyles now, tend to reduce biodiversity in natural areas. There was a lot of interesting stuff in here about wild fishing and just how dire the wild fish populations are. I don’t eat seafood, so I honestly didn’t know just how badly the oceans are being overfished. Attenborough also wants to see a drastic change in the way animals are farmed and cites some examples where these methods are working and renewing wilderness. It’s not necessarily the methods being imparted here sometimes, I think in a lot of the case, it’s the fact that it’s Attenborough who is imparting them.

“Our planet is small, isolated and vulnerable. It is the only place we have, the only place where life exists as far as we can tell. It is uniquely precious.”

I highly, highly recommend the listening experience of this book but I also borrowed a print copy from my local library to read, to further absorb the ideas, statistics and stories that Attenborough tells.


Book #9 of 2021

Women And Leadership: Real Lives, Real Lessons
Julia Gillard & Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala
2020, 368p
Personal purchased copy

Blurb {from the publisher/}:

An inspirational and practical book written by two high-achieving women, sharing the experience and advice of some of our most extraordinary women leaders, in their own words.

From their broad experience on the world stage in politics, economics and global not-for-profits, Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala and Julia Gillard have some strong ideas about the impact of gender on the treatment of leaders. Women and Leadership takes a consistent and comprehensive approach to teasing out what is different for women leaders.

Almost every year new findings are published about the way people see women leaders compared with their male counterparts. The authors have taken that academic work and tested it in the real world. The same set of interview questions were put to each leader in frank face-to-face interviews. Their responses were then used to examine each woman’s journey in leadership and whether their lived experiences were in line with or different from what the research would predict.

Women and Leadership presents a lively and readable analysis of the influence of gender on women’s access to positions of leadership, the perceptions of them as leaders, the trajectory of their leadership and the circumstances in which it comes to an end. By presenting the lessons that can be learned from women leaders, Julia and Ngozi provide a road map of essential knowledge to inspire us all, and an action agenda for change that allows women to take control and combat gender bias.

Featuring Jacinda Ardern, Hillary Clinton, Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, Theresa May, Michelle Bachelet, Joyce Banda, Erna Solberg, Christine Lagarde and more.

I knew I wanted to read this from the moment I heard about it. I’m a huge fan of Julia Gillard and some of the most horrific treatment towards her during her term as Prime Minister of Australia was sanctioned, encouraged and well, some would even consider mandatory by the Murdoch press. She was savaged constantly for her hair, for her dress, for being unmarried but in a defacto relationship, for her partner being a hairdresser, for the fact that she enjoyed knitting, for the fact that she was, as someone declared her “deliberately barren” and couldn’t possibly understand Australian families. I have also read Hilary Rodham Clinton’s memoir What Happened where she talks about similar treatment: the talk about her hair, make up, her pantsuits etc.

I bought this because I wanted to hear from women like Julia Gillard, Hilary Clinton, Jacinda Ardern etc. But some of the most interesting stories were about women I had honestly never heard of. Women who had experienced political persecution in countries in Africa and South America. Some of the stories were incredible (all of the stories were incredible really) and even women like Theresa May, who I never particularly found all that personable in public office, came across in fascinating ways. What May experienced over not having children was awful and it feels so wrong that total strangers (journalists, political commentators etc) can take women to task for not having children, especially without knowing whether or not it’s by choice or because they cannot have children. Theresa May gave an interview at age 59 to clarify reasons they did not have children and why should she have to do that? It’s literally no one’s business other than her and her husband’s, why they do not have children. Women like her and Gillard are criticised for not having had children and then flip it and look at Jacinda Ardern, who gave birth in office and that was worthy of criticism too and loads of “oh no, emotional woman in charge!” jokes. Hilary Clinton, long past the age of giving birth when she ran for US President also details some of the jokes she bore about how you don’t want an emotional woman having the nuclear codes.

Gee. Must’ve somehow missed all those wars that were started by emotional women, hey?

I liked the way this was set out, the 8 questions or issues that women face often when in the public eye in politics – the only thing was, I think I wanted more! Some of the stories could’ve gone on longer, a lot of the women had much more to share. But this is just one book. Hopefully they do more like it in the future or I can find other books that also tell some more stories and share more experiences from these women and others like them.


Book #13 of 2021

6 responses to “Mini Reviews {12} – Non Fiction I’ve Been Reading Lately

  1. wow, thanks so much, loved these insights and may just have to trot off and enjoy these. 🙂 thanks Fi

  2. Rachael Blair says:

    I really want to read this now!

  3. Both of these sound fantastic! I really want to read the David Attenborough.

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