The Comfort Book by Matt Haig

The Comfort Book by Matt Haig is a collection of thoughts and reflections on happiness and hope. Haig doesn’t claim to have any particular insight or expertise. Instead, his words are intended to soothe in times when many people are feeling frayed.

Like any book of this nature, it’s one you can open to any page – it’s probably the best way to read it, taking from it what you need at any one time. As a result, some entries will resonate more than others (although, the entry which simply says  – ‘No physical appearance is worth not eating pasta for’ is universal, and equally, ‘It’s rare to escape a maze on the first attempt’, is also useful). Continue reading

Stray by Stephanie Danler

There are no earth-shattering revelations in Stephanie Danler’s memoir, Stray, but what it does highlight is how the patterns of our formative relationships reverberate into adult years.

The memoir is ostensibly about Danler’s parents – her mother, who is disabled by years of alcoholism and further handicapped by a brain aneurysm; and her father, who abandoned the family when Danler was three-years-old, and battled drug addiction since.

I was either hiding from her rage or trying to get her attention – there was no safe middle ground while she was drinking. Continue reading

Fathoms by Rebecca Giggs

This review could be as big as a blue whale or as small as a krill, because I have so much to say about Fathoms, and it’s almost too much – like any book I loved, it’s impossible to know where to start and my inclination is to simply say ‘just read it’.

The subtitle of Fathoms – ‘The world in the whale’ is both literal and metaphoric. Rebecca Giggs writes of a whale found with an entire greenhouse and its paraphernalia in its stomach –

We struggle to understand the sprawl of our impact, but there it is, within one cavernous stomach: pollution, climate, animal welfare, wildness, commerce, the future, and the past. Inside the whale, the world.
Continue reading

Brat by Andrew McCarthy

I recommended to a friend on Twitter that she listen to the audiobook, Brat by Andrew McCarthy – it’s his memoir about the eighties (read by him).

And then this happened:

I squealed.

My kids came running. I told them that Andrew McCarthy had tweeted me. Before they could say anything (‘Who?’), I said Pretty-in-Pink-St-Elmo’s-Fire-Andrew-McCarthy.

It is possibly the highlight of my 11 years on Twitter. Continue reading

Unseen by Jacinta Parsons

Illness is like a natural disaster. In that way, it is simple, because you have little choice but to accept it.

Through my work, I am in contact with many people living with, or caring for others with chronic illness. COVID presents an interesting situation for these people – on one hand, they are under increased pressure because regular support services have stopped or are reduced, and with that comes isolation. On the other, many have told me that now ‘everyone’ is experiencing what they live with every single day – a sense of isolation, having to plan every outing, and being fearful for their health.

Jacinta Parsons’s memoir, Unseen, chronicles her experience with chronic illness. It was published last year, in the middle of the pandemic, and she refers to the ‘groundhog day’ elements of COVID and chronic illness – Continue reading