#44. Sacred Road (Todd Maxwell Preston)

Book: Sacred Road: my journey through abuse, leaving the Mormons and embracing spirituality,
by Todd Maxwell Preston

Genre and Year of Publication: Spiritual memoir, 2013

Where I got it: Free Kindle download

Length: 152 pages

Briefly, it’s what it says in the subtitle: one man’s story of leaving the Mormons (“and embracing spirituality”)

Comments: The author’s childhood and adolescence were spent in New Zealand, Australia, and Utah.  His parents were both converts to the Mormon religion – I would have liked to learn a bit more about their stories.  The family was not a happy one, the father in particular being full of anger towards Todd, abusing him physically and emotionally (not sexually).  The Mormon environment was very closed and manipulative, and when as an adult Todd came to realise that it was time for him to leave, it was very difficult.  He had to leave behind his wife and children, as well as his relationship with most of his siblings. 

I would agree with other reviewers who say that he blames things on the Mormon religion which actually should be blamed only on his particular family circumstances.  With that caveat, it is an interesting book.

Challenges: Non-fiction reading challenge, ebook reading challenge.

#31. Going Upside Down (Elise Williams)

Book: Going Upside Down, by Elise Williams

Genre: “A contemporary travel/romance novel”

Where I got it: Free Kindle download

Length: 347 pages

Briefly, it’s about a British student who accompanies her parents to Australia for a cousin’s wedding, and then stays on to backpack around for a few months.  As it says, it’s a cross between a travel book and a light romance.

Comments: I think I may have missed the word “novel” when I downloaded this as a freebie.  I was expecting a real-life account of a backpacker’s experience in Australia.  No doubt the book is based on some real life experience, but for me the family back-story was a little too far-fetched to take seriously.  Nevertheless I enjoyed this as a holiday read – whilst shaking my head in middle-aged fashion at the superficiality of youth :).

Challenges: Ebook reading challenge.


NB: the eagle-eyed reader will notice that my book reviews skip from #29 to #31.  That’s because #30 was a book which I reviewed for a work-related professional journal, so will not be mentioning it on this blog.  But it counts towards my annual reading statistics.

New Zealand’s Greatest Doctor

Book: New Zealand’s Greatest Doctor: Ulric Williams of Wanganui – a Surgeon who became a Naturopath, by Brenda Sampson

Genre: Not exactly a biography, but an account of the work of Dr Williams

Where I got it: Free Kindle download

Briefly, it’s: about the work of Dr Ulric Williams (1890-1971) who was a promoter of natural healing.  “Williams practised conventional medicine for some years, but in 1933–34 he became interested in naturopathy and in the writing and ideas of L. E. Bassett, a local timber merchant and adherent of the ‘science of sevens’. He experienced what he later described as ‘a vision of Christ’, and was convinced he had been treating symptoms rather than causes. Becoming an ascetic and a teetotaller, he promoted his ideas with evangelical fervour, and often in a confrontational manner” (from the Te Ara – Encyclopaedia of New Zealand website).

What I liked: This is an interesting story; amazing to learn about how Williams was silenced by officialdom to the point where radio stations were forbidden to interview him, for example.  He was preaching and practicing many things which we take for granted today.  Some of the healing stories are extraordinary, to say the least.

What I didn’t like so much: The unquestioning, devoted acceptance by the author of everything that Williams said.  It would be more compelling to look objectively at some of the arguments against his case.

The Garden Party and Other Stories

Book: The Garden Party and Other Stories, by Katherine Mansfield

Genre: Short stories

Where I got it: The Open Door (secondhand bookshop)

Briefly, it’s  a collection of short stories which do not revolve around plot.  Each one is more like a portrait, which draws the reader in by understatement and intimation.  Mansfield “concentrate(s) on one moment, a crisis or a turning point, rather than on a sequence of events” (Goodreads author page).  This is the opposite of “in your face” writing – it is delicate, profound, and most definitely calls for a second reading.  The eight short pages of “The Lady’s Maid”, the last story in this collection, have painted a picture in my mind to which I will return many times.

Anything else: I hadn’t read anything by Katherine Mansfield since school, when one of her stories was on the English curriculum.  (I think it was “The Fly”, which is not in this book).  I didn’t know that she was born and grew up in New Zealand, I thought she was English.