Title: Recollections of My Non-Existence

Author: Rebecca Solnit

Pages: 256 Pages

Publisher: Granta Publications

The Blurb

In 1981, Rebecca Solnit rented a studio apartment in San Francisco that would be her home for the next twenty-five years. There, she began to come to terms with the epidemic of violence against women around her, the street harassment that unsettled her, and the authority figures that routinely disbelieved her. That violence weighed on her as she faced the task of having a voice in a society that preferred women to shut up or go away.

Set in the era of punk, of growing gay pride, of counter culture and West Coast activism, during the latter years of second wave feminism, Recollections of My Non-Existence is the foundational story of an emerging artist struggling against patriarchal violence and scorn. Recalling the experience of living with fear, which Solnit contends is the normal state of women, she considers how oppression impacts on creativity and recounts the struggle to find a voice and have it be heard.

Place and the growing culture of activism liberated her, as did the magical world of literature and books. And over time, the clamour of voices against violence to women coalesced in the current feminist upheaval, a movement in which Solnit was a widely audible participant. Here is an electric account of the pauses and gains of feminism in the past forty years; and an extraordinary portrait of an artist, by a seminal American writer.

The Review

Recollections of My Non-Existence by Rebecca Solnit is a palate cleanser of a book. It is a series of essays that create a memoir. The collection, whilst being specific to Rebecca Solnit’s life equally acts as a record of social change dealing with issues such as sexual assault, gentrification, race, and feminism.

Some essays are more enjoyable than others but it is an interesting collection.

Recollections of My Non-Existence by Rebecca Solnit is available now.

Title: I Never Said I Loved You

Author: Rhik Samadder

Pages: 320 Pages

Publisher: Headline

The Blurb

On an unlikely backpacking trip, Rhik and his mother find themselves speaking openly for the first time in years. Afterwards, the depression that has weighed down on Rhik begins to loosen its grip for a moment – so he seizes the opportunity: to own it, to understand it, and to find out where it came from.

Through this begins a journey of investigation, healing and recovery. Along the way Rhik learns some shocking truths about his family, and realizes that, in turn, he will need to confront the secrets he has long buried. But through this, he triumphs over his fears and brings his depression into the light.

I Never Said I Loved You is the story of how Rhik learned to let go, and then keep going. With unique humour and honesty, he has created a powerfully rich, funny and poignant exploration of the light and dark in all of us.

A vital, moving and darkly funny memoir by a powerful new voice in non-fiction.

 (AMAZON BLURB)

The Review

I really didn’t know much about Rhik Samadder before I read I Never Said I Loved You. I liked the duck on the cover. Yes, I am one of those readers. Having finished reading his book I can honestly say that I am impressed by the frank and candid memoir.

It is a warts and all assessment of life and what has made Samadder – his experiences, his situations, and his decisions. At times it is utterly heartbreaking and then a breakneck speed you re giggling. It is joyous and sad. Samadder strikes a strange balance.

If memoirs of people that you don’t really know are your thing and if – like me – you don’t know much about Rhik Samadder, then you should really give this book a read.

I Never Said I Loved You by Rhik Samadder is available now.

For more information regarding Rhik Samadder (@whatsamadder) please visit his Twitter page.

For more information regarding Headline (@headlinepg) please visit www.headline.co.uk.

Title: Breaking and Mending – A Junior Doctor’s Stories of Compassion and Burnout

Author: Joanna Cannon

Pages: 160 Pages

Publisher: Wellcome Collection

The Blurb

“A few years ago, I found myself in A&E.

I had never felt so ill. I was mentally and physically broken. So fractured, I hadn’t eaten properly or slept well, or even changed my expression for months. I sat in a cubicle, behind paper-thin curtains and I shook with the effort of not crying. I was an inch away from defeat… but I knew I had to carry on.

Because I wasn’t the patient. I was the doctor.”

In this powerful memoir, Joanna Cannon tells her story as a junior doctor in visceral, heart-rending snapshots.

We walk with her through the wards, facing extraordinary and daunting moments: from attending her first post-mortem, sitting with a patient through their final moments, to learning the power of a well- or badly chosen word. These moments, and the small sustaining acts of kindness and connection that punctuate hospital life, teach her that emotional care and mental health can be just as critical as restoring a heartbeat.

In a profession where weakness remains a taboo, this moving, beautifully written book brings to life the vivid, human stories of doctors and patients – and shows us why we need to take better care of those who care for us.

 (AMAZON BLURB)

The Review

I am not a monogamous reader. I cheat on my books all the time. It is very rare for me to sit down with one book and pore through it from beginning to end but that is exactly what happened when I picked up Joanna Cannon’s Breaking and Mending.

I spend a lot of time at hospitals due to my Colitis but Joanna Cannon made me feel like I was a junior doctor experiencing the highs and lows of hospital life along with her. I broke down along with the author and I fell for patients and their families. I had a lot of respect for those who work in hospitals before (from porters to surgeons) but after reading this book my levels of respect has grown exponentially.

With the NHS in such a precarious state and with the lifeblood of it being sucked out by money hungry politicians then books like Breaking and Mending, books that offer real life experiences inside the hospital walls are more than entertainment. They are necessary. They are important.

If you buy just one book this year then please make it Breaking and Mending.

Breaking and Mending – A Junior Doctor’s Stories of Compassion and Burnout by Joanna Cannon is available now.

For more information regarding Joanna Cannon (@JoannaCannon) please visit www.joannacannon.com.

For more information regarding Wellcome Collection (@ExploreWellcome) please visit www.wellcomecollection.org.

Title: How to Fail – Everything I’ve Ever Learned From Things Going Wrong

Author: Elizabeth Day

Pages: 352 Pages

Publisher: Harper Collins

The Blurb

Based on Elizabeth Day’s hugely popular podcast, and including fascinating insights gleaned from her journalistic career of celebrity interviews, How to Fail is part memoir, part manifesto. It is a book for anyone who has ever failed. Which means it’s a book for everyone.

Including chapters on success, dating, work, sport, relationships, families and friendship, it is based on the simple premise that understanding why we fail ultimately makes us stronger. It’s a book about learning from our mistakes and about not being afraid.

Uplifting and inspiring and rich in personal anecdote, How to Fail reveals that failure is not what defines us; rather it is how we respond to it that shapes us as individuals. Because learning how to fail is actually learning how to succeed better. And everyone needs a bit of that.

The Review

I work in a high school and one the things I wish for the students I work with is that they learn how to fail. I don’t mean that in a nasty ‘fail-your-GCSEs’ way. That would be horrible of me but I do believe that failing is a valuable life lesson.

Failing is inevitable. It is a part of life. Most importantly, it makes you resilient.

Failing is the subject of Elizabeth Day’s book How to Fail. She explores the various ways in which she herself has failed – be it simple things such as her driving test or the more bleed-all-over-the-page topics such as her marriage and not having a child. Day shows her own failures along with those of the celebrities that she has had on her podcast – How to Fail with Elizabeth Day.

It shows not only our perceptions of ourselves which is often warped and leans towards the negative but how what we deem a ‘failure’ may be something that others see success in.

How to Fail by Elizabeth Day is one of the best non-fiction books that I have read in 2019. Day really gets her message across to the reader. It is ok to fail.

How to Fail by Elizabeth Day is a very cathartic read.

How to Fail – Everything I’ve Ever Learned From Things Going Wrong by Elizabeth Day is available now.

For more information regarding Elizabeth Day (@elizabday) please visit www.elizabethdayonliine.co.uk.

For more information regarding Harper Collins (HarperCollinsUK@) please visit their Twitter page.

Title: Half a Life

Author: Darin Strauss

Pages: 208 Pages

Publisher: Random House

The Blurb

In this powerful, unforgettable memoir, acclaimed novelist Darin Strauss examines the far-reaching consequences of the tragic moment that has shadowed his whole life.

In his last month of high school, he was behind the wheel of his dad’s Oldsmobile, driving with friends, heading off to play mini-golf. Then: a classmate swerved in front of his car. The collision resulted in her death.

With piercing insight and stark prose, Darin Strauss leads us on a deeply personal, immediate, and emotional journey–graduating high school, going away to college, starting his writing career, falling in love with his future wife, becoming a father. Along the way, he takes a hard look at loss and guilt, maturity and accountability, hope and, at last, acceptance. The result is a staggering, uplifting tour de force.

(AMAZON BLURB)

The Review

Hmmm. Well. How do I write this review?

I found this to be a very self indulgent book. Granted, it is a memoir and that can often be the case. However, I think the reason I had such a problem with it was because I felt like the author was cashing in on an event that, yes, was life altering for him but was probably more life altering for other people.

I felt that the author presented himself as almost wrong footed by life and that people just didn’t understand him. I don’t know, it just came across as self serving and whiny.

I was not a fan of this book.

Half a Life by Darin Strauss is available now.