Unlike the Heart by Nicola Redhouse

When I was studying counselling, I had frequent debates with one of my lecturers about the intersect of the mind and our biological instincts – I am a scientist at heart; I have always listened to my instinct or ‘gut feeling’; and believe that although our mind can be powerful, sometimes biology drives what we do. It’s a huge topic, with many facets (for example the links between gut health and mental health, and the study of epigenetics in terms of inherited trauma), and one that goes well beyond the scope of a blog post, but it’s why I was drawn to Nicola Redhouse’s Unlike the Heart (a book billed as a ‘memoir of brain and mind’).

Redhouse wrote the book in response to her experience of postnatal anxiety. Prior to pregnancy, she had been devoted to psychoanalysis –

What use would it be to spend more years patching up where the cracks were by using the putty of another person’s positive affirmation and kindness? Psychoanalysis with Dr Parkes served the purpose of an engineering surveyor: it felt out the cause of the cracks to begin with. Continue reading

Gotta Get Theroux This by Louis Theroux

My enjoyment of Louis Theroux’s memoir, Gotta Get Theroux This has nothing to do with the sentiment expressed on these pencils… I promise.

Okay. I admit that I have always been a huge fan of Louis Theroux. It’s something about his slightly bewildered approach to everything; his self-deprecating humour; his genuine curiosity; his listening super-powers (and I say that because, as someone in the listening business, Louis’s capacity for hearing people’s stories and the timing of his questions, is glorious to watch). 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

Night Fishing by Vicki Hastrich

I’m not particularly into fishing and nor have I ever visited the byways of Brisbane Water on the Central Coast of New South Wales (although from a hydrological point-of-view, it sounds like my kind of place), and yet, I identified with much of Vicki Hastrich’s memoir, Night Fishing

Essays covering a range of topics from stingrays and aquariums to the acquisition of a bathyscope and her grandfather’s welding business, are loosely linked to fishing and Hastrich’s trips to the family holiday house on an inlet near Woy Woy. Each essay is overlaid with Hastrich’s elegant observations about family, nature, and writing and the result is cohesive and deeply pleasing.

At night, tucked in bed and daubed with calamine lotion, we listened to the parents having a few beers in the kitchen and playing cards; the cheerful noise of friends. 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

Sample Saturday – complicated parent relationships

Sample Saturday is when I wade through the eleventy billion samples I have downloaded on my Kindle. I’m slowly chipping away and deciding whether it’s buy or bye. This week, all three came from this reading list about motherhood and parents. Continue reading