Book Review: What’s it Like to be Chased by a Cassowary? by Felicity Lewis

Written By Riley Sadlier

What’s it Like to be Chased by A Cassowary? edited and collated by Felicity Lewis, features a collection of fun and informative explainer articles from some of Australia’s best authors. It is chock-full of facts and insights while remaining a fun read which makes this book perfect for those always needing to know more. It binds together the best explainers from The Age and The Sydney Morning Herald, with a few pieces specifically commissioned for the book, all into one place. Explainers are bite sized articles that discuss niche topics in an approachable way. They have exploded in popularity during the age of social media, and for good reason. They are short, sharp and often fun insights into those aspects of everyday life that we often take for granted. What’s it Like to be Chased by a Cassowary? is a collection of exactly that. Covering topics that are general knowledge to the community, going further into why they exist, and the difference those things make in our lives.

Though books such as this have existed previously, I would argue that none have had the kind of Australian focus that this non-fiction collection has. Allowing the reader to dive into explorations on topics such as the meaning and origin behind the word ‘mate’, what benefits cultural burning can have for the Australian landscape, false statistics, the song of the cicada, and the Esky’s journey to becoming a popular cultural icon. All of these topics and more are explained in ten pages or less, but with a surprising amount of depth and knowledge.

The collection is designed to be dipped in and out of casually, not read back-to-back over a few sittings as I did. The pleasure of this kind of book comes from the ability to mull over what you have learnt and to allow it to properly sink in. Reading them in quick succession becomes a blur of facts none of which have time to take full effect.

The book will fill the lull in your conversations with ultra-specific facts about things relevant to everyday Aussies. You will become that person in your social group who can condescendingly tell others why things are the way that they are. It will expand your mind with those things in life that are more fascinating than you have ever given them credit for.

Available on the 1st of December 2020, from all big retailers and online outlets, published by Penguin.


Riley is a recently graduated English teacher from Melbourne, completing a Bachelor of Secondary Education/Bachelor of Arts with Deakin at the end of 2019. In his spare time, he enjoys writing, gardening and too much Netflix.


Riley’s work has appeared in the Retro Edition of WORDLY Magazine.

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