Nonfiction November – Be the Expert

Put your ‘expert’ hat on, it’s Week 3 of Nonfiction November.

This week, JulzReads asks us to Be The Expert/ Ask the Expert/ Become the Expert – essentially, share a bunch of books on a particular topic. My topic is ’empathy’.

I’m going to break the rules a bit – my list is a combination of Be the Expert (books that I can recommend) and Become the Expert (books that I’d like to read).

The Empathy Exams by Leslie Jamison – a collection of essays about how empathy is expressed in different ways. It’s a fascinating book and one that I am still thinking about, years after reading it.

Am I There Yet? by Mari Andrew – Okay, this book isn’t focused entirely on empathy but Andrew writes about it in an indirect way that is done with such tenderness and insight that you can’t help but think ‘She knows’ and ‘She sees me’.

Tiny Beautiful Things by Cheryl Strayed – If you want to see how to write empathy in a hundred different ways, read this book. It is absolutely exquisite.

Against Empathy by Paul Bloom – described as a ‘rational case for compassion’, everything about the title of this book feels wrong but I’m keeping an open mind.

I Feel You by Cris Beam – in contrast to the Bloom, Beam explores the power of ‘extreme empathy’.

22 responses

  1. Great topic. The Strayed sounds good. I’m training someone for the helpline I work on at the moment & trying to explain the difference between empathy and sympathy – would any of these be good for that?

    • Yeah, something like that 😉

      In all seriousness, I Feel You does look at whether we have ‘over-used’ empathy, proposing that it is nothing more than a generational catch-cry (I do wonder if ‘mindfulness falls into the same category??). Anyway, will share more when I’ve read t.

  2. Oh, great topic. I’m with you — Against Empathy made me recoil in the title, but the description makes it sound really great. I’ve gotta add I Feel You to my list!

  3. Interesting mix of titles! I just finished The Empathy Exams and am looking forward to checking out some your recommendations now. I’ve heard such great things about Cheryl Strayed’s book.

  4. Bless you for bringing another book by Cheryl Strayed into my eyeline, and for reminding me of the time when an argumentative numpty dropped by my blog to take offence at things he read into a review I’d posted, including my non-existent use of the word empathy which he insisted on berating me about. Apparently it’s a meaningless neologism and we should all use sympathy instead. I tried to empathise, but it was a fruitless exercise.

  5. At first I thought the Bloom book would be empathy vs sympathy, but reading the jacket copy it’s something very different – I’m intrigued! Way to go for pushing out of your comfort zone 🙂

  6. I’ve heard Bloom on various podcasts talking about this. From what I remember it’s not that empathy is bad it’s just that if we have too much of it it can actually hinder us from actually doing anything about the horrible things in the world. Where compassion is the thing that can motivate us to actually take action for those we care about. But I definitely want to read it! And I’ve heard some great things about Empathy Exams.

  7. What a great topic! I also really enjoyed The Empathy Exams and I liked Tiny Beautiful Things, although less than the hype led me to expect I would. And I’m very interested in hearing the completely opposite opinions of the two books you’ve yet to read!

  8. Pingback: Non-fiction November 2018, Weeks 4 and 5 | Whispering Gums

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