Say Nothing by Patrick Radden Keefe

Prior to reading Say Nothing by Patrick Radden Keefe, my knowledge of the Troubles was limited, and was essentially informed by three things:

    • Across the Barricades by Joan Lingard (I read this multiple times as a teen)
    • a brief visit to Belfast in 2001
    • Lost Lives by David McKittrick et al. – a book that I bought second hand after my Belfast visit. It lists the story of every life lost during the Troubles (3,630 people were killed between the late 1960s and the 1998 Good Friday Agreement ). Continue reading

My Friend Anna by Rachel DeLoache Williams

It took all my restraint to not type ‘Anna Delvey’ into Google as I was reading My Friend Anna by Rachel DeLoache Williams because, although I was vaguely aware of the outcome of Williams’s ‘Sex and the City meets Catch Me if You Can’ story, I couldn’t recall the detail. And it is the detail that makes this memoir so engrossing. Continue reading

Three Women by Lisa Taddeo

Three Women by Lisa Taddeo has been billed as a book about desire, which might suggest something positive or empowering – “I desire x and therefore I shall have it.” It is in fact, quite the opposite.

Taddeo delves into the far-reaching reverberations of particular events in the lives of three women. It is overly simplistic and in fact false, to say that the women’s stories begin with desire of a sexual nature. More accurately, each of the women have complex emotional needs (as a result of rape, sexual assault, a history of self-harming behaviour, cultural expectations, and challenging family circumstances) that are, to a certain extent, expressed in their sexual relationships. I emphasise their emotional needs because as their stories unfold it is painfully clear that what they are seeking (what they ‘desire’) will never be found in the relationships with the (abusive) men they are drawn to.

We pretend to want things we don’t want so nobody can see us not getting what we need. Continue reading

I’ll Have What She’s Having by Rebecca Harrington

In my late teens, my rowing crew decided to go lightweight. It was my introduction to the TJ Miracle Diet. Also known as the cabbage soup diet. Also known as the Dolly Parton diet. I don’t know how successful cabbage soup was for Dolly but for me, during regatta weeks, the diet worked alarmingly well (like 3-5kgs well). I’m quite sure that within twelve months I had done irreparable damage to my metabolism.My crew never had any success in the lightweight division.

Any time I see the details of diets that cut out whole food groups, or put foods in bizarre combinations, I’m taken back to the TJ Miracle Soup and the vile smell of overcooked cabbage. So it was with morbid curiosity that I read Rebecca Harrington’s I’ll Have What She’s Having. Harrington spent several months trialling celebrity diets, eating like Gwyneth, Beyoncé, Marilyn, Karl Lagerfield and more. Continue reading

The Nix by Nathan Hill

Any kind of comparison to John Irving? Lock me in. An endorsement from John Irving? Sign me up. It’s how I came to read The Nix by Nathan Hill.

At 640 pages, there’s a lot to The Nix but essentially, it is the story of Samuel Andresen-Anderson and his mother, Faye. Shifting between the present (Samuel is a stalled writer, bored teacher at a local college, and obsessive player of an online video game, Elfscape); Samuel’s childhood; and Faye’s college years, the story unravels why Faye walked out on Samuel when he was a child. Having known nothing about her whereabouts for years, Faye shows up on the evening news, throwing rocks at a presidential candidate. The media paints her as a militant radical with a sordid past, quite different to what Samuel remembers. Continue reading

Maybe You Should Talk to Someone by Lori Gottlieb

You’ve either already got Maybe You Should Talk to Someone by Lori Gottlieb on your shelf or you know you will never read a ‘therapy’ book. Never ever.

Therapy books (is ‘therapy-porn’ a genre?) sit right alongside misery-memoirs for me – I love them both. And if you favour these kinds of books, I’m certain you’ll enjoy Gottlieb’s insightful case studies and her own experience in therapy. Her compassion and honesty, combined with solid writing makes this book a page-turner. Truly. Continue reading