Some time ago, a friend recommended Leslie Jamison’s The Empathy Exams, sure I would like it. She was right – it’s a book that I still think about. The same friend recently lent me The Gin Closet, Jamison’s debut novel – how could I not want to read it with a title as good as that?!
The Gin Closet focuses on two characters – Tilly (Matilda), a woman who has lived hard, is estranged from her family and crippled by her alcohol addiction; and Stella, Tilly’s niece, who learns of Tilly’s existence when her grandmother dies.
“Matilda could be an actress by now, or a poet or a waitress or a bank teller or simply a suburban mother, quietly stupendous.” Continue reading
It’s that time of year, the time when I remind people of all the books that I’ve been pushing on them over the last twelve months. The first nine are in no particular order: Continue reading
Here’s my year in books (with thanks to the Goodreads record keeping tool): Continue reading
Today marks the end of the 20 Books of Summer reading challenge, hosted by Cathy at 746 Books. After a slow start, I romped it in with days to spare, although haven’t written detailed reviews of my final two books – Our Endless Numbered Days by Claire Fuller and Whiskey and Charlie by Annabel Smith. It was a strong finish. Continue reading
There are some books that are self-indulgent and boring – such as Eat, Pray, Love – and some that are self-indulgent and really interesting – such as The Empathy Exams by Leslie Jamison.
The book is a collection of essays around the topic of empathy (how we feel and express it). It’s been marked as a ‘get out the violins’-privileged-well-educated-white-person moans about aspects of their life. And yes, the title essay, The Empathy Exams, could stray into that territory. But that’s not all there is to the book.
“Empathy isn’t just listening, it’s asking the questions whose answers need to be listened to. Empathy requires inquiry as much as imagination. Empathy requires knowing you know nothing. Empathy means acknowledging a horizon of context that extends perpetually beyond what you can see. Empathy means realizing no trauma has discrete edges.” Continue reading
In light of my post about my Netgalley habit and the fact that after June 19th I’ll have oodles of reading time (because exams will be over), I’ve decided to join Cathy’s 20 Books of Summer reading challenge. Except that it’s winter here. And therein lies the really ace thing about reading – it’s suited to #ALLTHESEASONS. Yes, there’s nothing better than having sand in the crack of your paperback (you thought I was going to say something else, didn’t you?) but it’s equally lovely to burrow under the doona, warm and toasty, and kill an hour with a book. Continue reading