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

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

Hunger by Roxane Gay

You know when you first begin a book and you can’t put it down, and then other stuff gets in the way and you set the book aside for a few days, and then you pick it up again and wonder, ‘Was this the same book I was engrossed in a few days ago?’ That. With Hunger by Roxane Gay.

The subtitle of the book is ‘A Memoir of (My) Body’. Gay tracks her physical and emotional state from childhood to the present. An important element of Gay’s story is her gang rape at age 12, something she kept secret for decades. From the time of the rape onwards, Gay used food as ‘safety’, saying that she “…ate and ate and ate to build my body into a fortress.”

I don’t know how things got so out of control, or I do. This is my refrain. Losing control of my body was a matter of accretion. I began eating to change my body. I was wilful in this. Some boys had destroyed me, and I barely survived it. I knew I wouldn’t be able to endure another such violation, and so I ate because I thought that if my body became repulsive, I could keep men away. Continue reading

The Prettiest Horse in the Glue Factory by Corey White

The current thinking in social work circles is that there are better long-term outcomes for children left with their family in an unstable home, than those removed and placed in foster care. This was in the back of my mind as I read comedian Corey White’s recently published memoir, The Prettiest Horse in the Glue Factory.

The details White shares of his childhood made me sick with fear from the first page. His father adored him but belted his wife and daughters. His mother, a drug addict, would disappear for days at a time. White was sexually abused by a ‘friend’ of the family, and as a young child he was violent toward his mother and sisters.

I drink in my father’s anger, see how it makes him glow and other people cower, and I repeat it. I punch my mother in the stomach and call her a stupid slut. Continue reading

Bookish (and not so bookish) Thoughts

01. Saw Michael Pollan talk about his latest book, How to Change Your Mind, at Melbourne Town Hall last week (we’re so lucky to have the Wheeler Centre organising these events for Melburnians). His stories about his research were very entertaining. (pic via MMA) Continue reading