Books and Movies

This page contains the books and some of my favourite movies. Books and movies rated 3 stars and higher are worth having a look at. Books or movies with no rating means that I still have not read or seen them.

F means Fiction and NF means Non Fiction.

For a complete list of movies I have seen and rated click here (stored on the Internet Movie Database).

Books

Book Title/Author Date
Read
Comments

Storm Warning
Jack Higgins
(Book - 1976)-fiction

Storm Warning by Jack Higgins

Feb-2012

An excellent read to take away the boredom of travel. The author keep you interested throughout with dramactically described action scenes.

The story is about a group of nuns who board the Barquentine Deutschland to escape Brazil towards the end of World War 2.

An excellent point is raised when villagers from the island Fhada are questioning why they should rescue Germans, the enemy. They are still people and they are loved and needed by someone. You would hope the Germans would feel the same way if they had to rescue a Allies ship and crew.

4.0

The Tower
Richard Martin Stern
(Book - 1973)-fiction

The Tower paperback cover

Dec 2012

This novel was the basis for The Towering Inferno. The main story is the same but there was more action included in the movie.

The book opens with a great description of skyscrapers and how they live with complex systems within. The more complex and large, the more vulnerable to attack.

I think the movie was better, as more action is shown. I found it hard to visualise the action from the text; but perhaps it would have been easier without having seen the film.

3.0

Leaving Bondi
Robert G. Barrett
(Book - 2000)-fiction

Leaving Bondi

Nov 2011

A fun read by Robert Barrett, very Aussie; and it's Sydney roots are very distinct in the writing style.

My first encounter with Les Norton and probably my last. An OK book but it's lack of depth in the story and main character leaves a lot to be desired. No number of thugs can defeat Les, and his good luck is implausible.

Overall, a good read for the train but not much else.

2.5

Dude, Where's My Country
Moore, Michael
(Book - 2003)-non fiction

Michael Moore, Dude Where's My Country

Sep 2011

Another excellent read by Michael Moore. Again he is not happy with Bush, and he goes through in detail why.

Written back in 2003 it is getting a bit dated now; but will the succeeding US government be any different as to it's attitude towards "terrorists" given it's own behaviour towards certain other nations?

Probably not; recently the US removed scientific funding from UNESCO once it let Palestine in. They easily remember what Palestine has done but quickly forget the problems the Israeli's cause by illegally building settlements on Palestinian land, the very reason for the unrest.

There is an excellent chapter of a young girl from the future having a conversation to someone from the past when there was lots of oil; and she is asking why was so much wasted.

4.0

Catch-22
Heller, Joseph
(Book - 1961)-Fiction

May 2011

Catch 22 was one the strangest books I have read. The first chapter seems normal with a number of laughs.

But instead of a novel most of the chapters are about one or more of the characters. The book is tied together with a central plot but the author seems mainly concerned about poking fun at the military and their waste.

Very funny in places and I am sure someone who has been in the army would find it easier to relate to.

3.5

Charlie and The Chocolate Factory
Roald Dahl
(Book - 1964)-Fiction Charlie and the Chocolate Factory

Mar 2011

I read this book with my son Kyle and we both loved it. I have seen both films based on the book and it is interesting to compare how each of them has stuck to the original.

Both movies Willy Wonka & The Chocolate Factory and Charlie & The Chocolate Factory, have large variations on the plot and some differences are common to both movies. For example, Willy Wonka has a beard but not in the movies. On the tour the children are accompanied by both parents (except for Charlie) but in the films they only have one parent each; I guess this was done to reduce stage clutter.

The first movie does not use the words from the songs in the book at all.

The second film features a large part of the plot on Willy's problems with his father. The book does not mention his father at all.

Both movies pick up bits and pieces of the book and use them in different places. Read the book and then see both movies; you can see what each film brings to and removes from the tale of Charlie & The Chocolate Factory.

4.0

Fawlty Towers
The Story of the Sitcom McCann, Graham
(Book - 2007) /Non Fiction
Fawlty Towers book
Feb 2011

A brilliant read on how the Fawlty Towers series was developed. The author goes into great detail from the inspiration, script writing and to finally producing the show.

Would be a good resource for media students.

4.5

Rule Britannia
Daphne Du Maurier
(Book - 1972) /Fiction
Feb 2011

Another good read from Daphne Du Maurier. I didn't enjoy this as much as Jamacia Inn as it was set in a more recent period than her other work.

It does have an important point about one country invading another for what it believes are "good reasons". One can sympathise with Iraq and more recently Afghanistan when they were overtaken by the US for the better good. As for the British in Rule Britannia it's not much fun the locals.

3.5

Of Mice and Men
John Steinbeck
(Book - 1937)/Fiction
Of Mice and Men
Jan
2011

The best book I have read to date! Very short it only took 2 days to get through it, but what a tale. Being quite violent and featuring many adults only themes it's easy to see why it was banned from many school lists.

Mice and Men keeps the reader interested from start to finish. The ending is brilliant but I don't understand the very last lines spoken by the characters. Time for a re-read.

Lennie was based on a real person who put a pitchfork through a foreman after a dispute. I wonder if he liked rabbits too.

5

Jamaica Inn
Daphne Du Maurier
(Book -1936)/Fiction
Jamaica Inn book cover

Dec
2010

An excellent read, lots of moor details similar to Wuthering Heights. The author paints the landscape that's as dangerous as the infamous inn. For example there are masses of islands on the moors which look solid but once stood upon they give way to the ice-cold water below.

It's also a "who dunit" story with a culprit I did not guess, but in hindsight some of their behaviour was odd for the person they were. I will not spoil it for anyone who has not read it!

After Googling the book I found out the Jamaica Inn is a real place. Wished I had of read the book before touring the UK.

4.5

Stupid White Men
Michael Moore
(Book - 2001)/Non Fiction
Michael Moore, Stupid White Men
August 2010

Published in 2001 by the time I got to read it its age was showing. Good background to the Bush/Gore election and to the movie Fahrenheit 9/11.

At the end you wish Moore would take his own advice in that ordinary citizens should run for office. I think he would help solve many problems. But I guess it's easier to be a critic than to sit in parliament, as Peter Garrett found out!

3.5

The snowball : Warren Buffett and the business of life
Alice Schroeder
(Book - )/Non Fiction

August 2010

An excellent read, but too detailed for my liking. Covers Warren's family and many of his business colleagues, including Bill Gates.

The opportunities that were available in the 50's and 60's seem to be so far away to the financial climate of today. It was a time when companies were earning earning far more than their shares were worth.

Interesting to learn that Warren is a keen model railroader. He had a large layout installed in the attic (the third floor) of his house.

3

Branson/Non Fiction
Tom Bower
no copy found Would love to get my hands on this one. The Barefoot Investor reckons it's a good read!

The rise and rise of Kerry Packer uncut
Paul Barry
(Book - )/Non Fiction
`

Dec-2009

Excellent read. Covers Kerry Packer's life in a good amount of detail. Controversial areas are covered with fairness and frankness.

And as you would expect, a very good read on the history of the Australian media business.

3.5

Banker to the poor : the autobiography of Muhammad Yunus founder of the Grameen Bank/Non Fiction
Yunus, Muhammad
on hold Another recommendation from The Barefoot Investor.

Movies

These are some of the movies that have made a real impression on me. For a complete list of movies I have seen and rated please click here for my list hosted on the Internet Movie Database. An excellent site to research and rate just about any movie that has been made. It also includes many foreign language releases.

Title Comments
Changeling (2008)

This confronting movie can be a real challenge for any parent of young children to watch. The best Anglelie Jolie has done I think.

The manual telephone exchange features roller skating supervisors, very interesting for someone who used to work in the industry.

4.5

The Shawshank Redemption (1994)

Featuring a brilliant story and acting, this is a movie about hope.

The story events tie in nicely at the end. It can be quite sad in places; at the start when the prisoners first arrive and when after years insititutionalisation takes it toll and they they have problems handling the outside world once released.

Highly satisfying to watch.

4.5

Ratatouille (2007)

An animated movie that is just beautiful to watch. I just love all of the brass, copper and wood in the decor that is typical of Paris; especially after I saw The Greatest Cities of the World-Paris by Griff Rhys Jones.

4.0

Von Ryan's Express (1965)

A classic war movie featuring many railway scenes. An excellent story which is full of action.

The final scenes feature a train chase through the Alps with a poignant ending.

4.0

Toy Story (1995)
Toy Story 2 (1999)Toy Story 3 (2010)

The first Toy Story came out well before we had children, but this didn't stop us going the theatre for it. Being the first fully computer animated movie I was very curious to see what it was like; and I was just amazed at how realistic it was, despite having cartoon roots. An amazing movie making technique and technology. The excellent story made the movie work so well.

I have seen the whole series, but I still think the first one is my favourite. It's interesting to note how the animation techniques have improved over the years.

4.0

The Great Escape (1963) 4.5
The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe (2005) 4.5

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