You Can Never Read The Same Book Twice

Revisiting your favorite books helps you reflect on how you’ve changed

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Many readers like to return to their favorite books time and time again. Folks often re-read classics, like Pride and Prejudice, or revisit favorite young adult authors like Tamora Pierce or Meg Cabot. And of course, plenty of readers take annual trips to a certain wizarding school.

The practice of re-reading is usually talked about as a form of nostalgia, or comfort. That’s certainly a huge piece of why I re-read certain books, particularly those I will put on audio as I fall asleep, do laundry, or bake. And yet, I can’t help but notice that re-reading books has offered me something else, too.

It’s offered me a chance to reflect on how I’ve grown and changed over the years. I think of that well-known Heraclitus quote, “you can’t step in the same river twice.”

In the same way that the river keeps flowing, throughout our lives we as people grow and shift and change. So, when we return to the books we have loved, the text may stay the same, but we arrive at it as different rivers. We can never read the same book twice because we will never be the same person we were the first time.

This makes retreading an excellent opportunity to reflect on our growth and see how we’ve changed over the years.

The Traveling Pants

There was a time in my life when I would re-read the Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants series every summer. Each time, I was shocked and surprised to realize I related more to a different character.

The first summer, obviously, I felt I was the most like the shy and quiet Lena. The second time, I began to understand Tibby, with her streak of blue hair and rebellious nature. Finally, I got around to feeling a bit of Carmen’s bravery. I never quite understood Bridget, but I suppose there are some characters who will always be just a bit too different from us.

What I discovered then was that re-reading doesn’t just let us relive the memories of what happens there on the page. It also lets us revisit the versions of ourselves who came to the pages in years past.

Even if I related more to Tibby during the second read through the series, I could still see the aspects of Lena that had once felt so salient to me. I could sit simultaneously in who I was in the moment and see who I had been during the prior read.

While it’s been a while since I last returned to the Sisterhood, I still find the practice of re-reading books to be a fascinating way to remember who I have been and see how I’ve changed and grown.

All The Selves I’ve Been Before

Revisiting your former self through books works particularly well if you happen to be someone who annotates their books heavily.

Since I read with a pen by my side, I am 100% one of those people. Re-reading copies that include my margin notes allows me to see what I thought of the books upon the last reading.

Sometimes, I’ll flip through the pages of books from the past to learn a bit about who I was at the time.

I have traced the experience of reading Wild in college, before experiencing grief and reading it again after the death of my college boyfriend. The readers who came to these pages were so different, and different pieces of Strayed’s experience spoke to them.

In re-reading Mindy Kaling’s Is Everyone Hanging Out Without Me? I found that my insecurities and fears had shifted since I first listened to the book. The titular question worried me less than it had in college or during my early days of new adulthood.

When I return to fiction, like The Princess Diaries and HawksongI often find an experience that feels almost new. When I read them originally, I tended to be near the age of the protagonists. Now, I return to them as an older version of myself, reflecting on who I was when I read the books.

I’m not always the best at remembering or empathizing with my younger self, so returning to these frequently read books can help me step back into that version of myself a bit more easily. I can see her more clearly, remember a bit of what it was like to be young, uncertain, and obsessed with stories where I knew that things would turn out okay in the end.

Final Thoughts

As scary as change is, we can’t grow as people if we don’t let ourselves change. But change can be so small, sometimes we might not be able to tell how far we’ve come. That’s why there’s a particular comfort in returning to the books we have loved — it lets us sit with the things that never change and appreciate the things that do.

And so, if you ever want to reflect on how you’ve grown, or think back on the versions of yourself that you have been, I recommend picking up a book you loved at another period in your life.

You might love these books still, and yet they might hit differently, or help you understand something new about who you were — and are.

Whether it’s a book from childhood, or from before a particularly hard year, the experience of returning to the pages of the past can help you step back into your own old shoes. And in so doing, you can see the ways in which they still fit, and where you’ve outgrown them.

Did you enjoy this bookish post? Read more about what books inspired and moved us on our Reading Tips page. If you’d like to join us in raving about our favourite reads, check out our Write For Us page, where you’ll find more details on how to become a contributor. Thank you for reading!

Lessons Learned From Reading Guilt

How to read more of what you love, ditch what you don’t, and develop a reading schedule that works for you

I am a perfectionist to my core. As an Enneagram 1, perfection to me means that I pick and choose which things in life matter so much that I make them into moral, life and death decisions in my head. Reading — how much, which books, how often — became one of these good versus evil battles to fight.

I realized the way I had come to view reading was making me miserable. I felt distant from the literature I had once loved and confused about navigating endless genres. I kept asking myself: Is there a ‘best’ genre? Which genres should I be interested in? Are there bad ones? I felt stuck reading books I did not enjoy but felt morally obligated to finish even when I wanted to claw my eyes out.

Tip #1: How to Read More

Enter Jenna Fischer (yes, Jenna Fischer from The Office) casually mentioning a new reading trick she picked up from the first episode of Laura Tremaine’s podcast, 10 Things to Tell YouIt was while I listened to Jenna’s endorsement on Office Ladies (the podcast she co-hosts with Angela Kinsey) that I learned about this trick and subsequently headed for Laura’s podcast to hear for myself.

The trick is this: Just read for twenty minutes a day, uninterrupted.

It sounds simple. And it is. It’s understandable if, at this point, you might think: “How is reading only twenty minutes a day going to help me read more? I don’t even have twenty minutes to spare!” But as Laura argues, we all have twenty minutes in our days that we can set aside for reading. We just typically use those minutes to scroll through social media instead.

So to read more books you love, set a timer for twenty minutes and silence your phone once a day. I have used this method myself and have been shocked at how much more reading I’ve accomplished. Often, I have continued to read even after the timer goes off.

This method allows me to read on my own schedule, without feeling trapped in a particular time slot that I have to orient the day around. It’s also important to make sure that the twenty minutes of reading time is uninterrupted. This not only means silencing your phone (and maybe putting it in a different room); it means informing your roommate(s) or significant other that you won’t be available for those twenty minutes.

Tip #2: How to Decide Which Books to Read and Which to Toss

Now, to the part where we discuss reading books you like (and ditching those you don’t).

Kendra Adachi is the host and curator of The Lazy Genius Collective, a cluster of resources to help folks “be genius[es] about the things that matter and lazy about the things that don’t”. Kendra has been in my life for a long time, soothing me through her podcast episodes and coaching me on how to let go while focusing on what truly matters to me. She’s also an avid reader.

It was in one of her podcast episodes (I can’t recall which one) that she again reiterated her principle of finding out what matters particularly to you and focusing on those things, rather than attempting to do it all and expect to be perfect. In this episode, she mentioned reading and how the Lazy Genius principle applies:

Read what you like, and don’t waste time on books you hate. — Kendra Adachi

It was like lightning struck me. It had never occurred to me that I was allowed to stop reading a book if I wasn’t enjoying it. I was clenching my teeth through books that didn’t resonate with me when I could have been discovering more books that did. Once I heard her advice, I let myself give up on reading probably five books that I was gutting myself to get through.

The relief was overwhelming.

You don’t have to read books you don’t like. Granted, there are books that could be considered “required reading” due to their messages, lasting quality, or a combination of both. But overall, you don’t need to keep reading a book if you discover you’re not enjoying it. That’s allowed, and it will open up opportunities to investigate and discover books you love instead.

Once I decided to believe Kendra and ditch the books that weren’t bringing me joy, I began letting my curiosity take the wheel. I soon realized that much of the writing I enjoyed consisted of memoirs by interesting people. This surprised me, as I had always assumed that people primarily interested in memoirs did not appreciate fiction (which I now know is not true) despite having always loved fiction myself.

Though surprised, I decided to check out a book from the library that had been on my Goodreads “to read” shelf for a couple of years: Educated by Tara Westover.

I loved it and was soon on a quest to discover more memoirs and biographies unabashedly. I’m now reading a biography about Sandra Day O’Connor as well as Jose Antonio Vargas’s memoir Dear America: Notes of an Undocumented Citizen.

Final Thoughts

It isn’t always easy to figure out what to read or what you like. Start with letting go of the books that aren’t bringing you joy.

Once you quit the books you don’t love, let your curiosity roam until you land on a genre that interests you. Maybe it’s one you’ve read before or something entirely new. Allow yourself to discover what it is you like, regardless of your preconceived notions of what books make someone a “good reader.”

When you land on a genre that you’re even slightly curious about (just an ounce of curiosity is enough!), check out a book from your local library in that genre and give it a chance. Start by reading for twenty minutes a day without distractions, and see where it takes you.

You don’t have to be a literary genius to be a great reader and student of literature. You just have to be yourself.

Did you enjoy this bookish post? Read more about what books inspired and moved us on our Reading Tips page. If you’d like to join us in raving about our favourite reads, check out our Write For Us page, where you’ll find more details on how to become a contributor. Thank you for reading!

If Losing Control Scares You, Read ‘What Happens in Tomorrow World’

Jordan Gross’s fable speaks to all dimensions of uncertainty and fear of the unknown

I was a little sceptical when I opened the advanced review copy of Jordan Gross’s new book, What Happens in Tomorrow World? because although it sounded super intriguing, I didn’t think it was for me. As I went into it, though, my hesitance slowly melted away with every page, as I got absorbed into the simple yet extremely wise story of the toys in Tomorrow World.

The story goes like this: Pessi, Opti, Sage, and Chill are four very different toys living in the What’s Next?! giant crane game in the fictional arcade called Tomorrow World. Throughout the short book, the four toys discuss in anticipation what might happen with each child that tries their luck at the game. Much like their names suggest, Pessi (from pessimistic), Opti (from optimistic), Sage (as in wise), and Chill (as in cool, indifferent) are the metaphors of four different temperaments. Their conversations, in their wonderful simplicity, bring to life four attitudes we usually display in times of uncertainty.

When faced with the unknown at every step, we can either be blindly positive, failing to see the downsides of our impending decisions or unreasonably negative, panicking under any circumstance. We can also be composed and analytical, with a balanced overview of each possibility, or we can be totally indifferent and take each situation as it is. What Happens in Tomorrow World? is an easy-to-navigate account of how each type of personality responds to uncertainty and the good and bad in each approach.

I’ve been stressing how light the book is, but that’s not a negative aspect at all. On the contrary, I usually appreciate when wisdom is drawn from or built on simplicity. I don’t think big words and twisted narratives are necessary to create a thought-provoking story that makes you reflect on your behaviour and choices. Quite the opposite, Jordan Gross’s charm lies in how accessible his writing is in a way that a 9-year-old and a 30-year-old can both find great value in his modern-day fable.

What About Being in Control?

Uncertainty is a major and scary part of life. If you’ve ever felt like spiraling out of control drives you crazy, then you’re definitely not alone. But the fact remains that life is full of decisions, and each decision brings certain outcomes we can rarely predict with precise accuracy. From merely choosing to have a croissant for breakfast to deciding to move to another country, each moment of our lives swings in anticipation of what effect our choices will have. And more often than not, that effect turns out to be unexpected.

This will forever be an unchanged aspect of life, but how we choose to treat and react to uncertainty is the one thing we have absolute control over. Most of the time, we won’t have 100% agency even over our own decisions, much less over their outcomes, but how we face the volatility of life is the only ball exclusively in our field. One quote that will always stay with me from What Happens in Tomorrow World? goes like this:

I may be all alone here now, but I mustn’t panic. Nobody ever looks back on a situation and thinks, ‘I really wish I would have panicked more!’ — Jordan Gross, What Happens in Tomorrow World?

The best part about this book is how it makes you go ‘huh’ when you least expect it. I am a very weird combination of Opti and Pessi. Indeed, lately, I’ve been much more like Pessi than Opti, but I’m usually known for my ability to brush off any stressful situation by focusing on the bright sides. When Opti said the quote above, it must have been one of the biggest ‘huh’ moments of my life. Because, although the quote itself kind of states the obvious, I’ve never, ever thought about it that way.

I panic a lot. Like, a lot. Especially in the face of uncertainty. Hell, I’ve been panicking in the past week more than humanly measurable. So when I realised I’ll never actually look back on a situation and wish I would have panicked more, it felt liberating. Like this was the reminder I’d needed all along and I’ll use it every time that cloudy bubble of panic rises in my throat and fogs my reason.

What Happens in Tomorrow World? was a wonderful surprise and made me re-think my coping strategies and attitudes to stress. The idea behind it is genius, and Jordan Gross deserves all the praise for it. Especially the past year has been the epitome of uncertainty and addressing this specific feeling that looms over us every day was a smart, wise, and crucial choice in the current context. It encourages self-reflection, conversations, it addresses all ages and circumstances, and the fact that the four protagonists are based on Jordan Gross’s grandparents makes it all the more heart-warming and worth a read. It was a wonderful way to spend my Saturday afternoon and I promise it will be the same for you if you try it.

Did you enjoy this book review? Read more about what books inspired and moved us on our Latest Posts page. If you’d like to join us in raving about our favourite reads, check out our Write for Us page, where you’ll find more details on how to become a contributor. Thank you for reading!

‘The Two Lives of Lydia Bird’ Puts a Brilliant Spin on Grief

This might be a weird thing to admit, but I’m a bit obsessed with grief narratives.

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A few years ago when I suddenly lost someone who had once been close to me, I went down a rabbit hole, reading my way through every grief memoir I could get my hands on. I reread Wild and H is for Hawk, chased down book after book about loss and grieving to the point where I honestly have no idea how many grief-related stories I have read.

Even years after my own loss, I still find myself drawn to the topic of grief and grieving.

Loss is one of the most unavoidable truths of the human experience, and it’s one that can feel painfully lonely when we’re in the midst of it. This is, I think, why I’m so drawn to stories about grief. As distinctly personal as grieving is, it’s also universal — all of us will grieve someone or something, at some point.

Though each person will walk through the experience differently depending upon our faith backgrounds, support systems, and personalities, we will all go on the journey in one way or another.

As I browsed the shelves of Barnes & Noble trying to decide which book to buy myself for my birthday, Josie Silver’s The Two Lives of Lydia Bird stood out to me. Initially, it grabbed my eye because it was cover-out and I recognized the similar style from Silver’s previous book, One Day In Decemberwhich I adored.

Reading the back cover to see what this new book was about, I paused. The circumstances described might be a bit too close to home, I thought. Since it’s on the back cover copy, I won’t consider this a spoiler: the book is about Lydia coping with the sudden death of her fiancé.

Being engaged and generally anxious about anything happening to my own fiancé, I wasn’t entirely sure reading this book was a good idea. In the end, though, I couldn’t resist. Grief narratives are my kryptonite, and this one has a unique twist.

Lydia discovers a secret backdoor into another life, perhaps a parallel universe, in which her fiancé hasn’t died. This is certainly a twist on the grieving process that I haven’t seen before, and I had to see how (and whether) Silver pulled it off.

When I got home with the book, I announced to my fiancé that I would be spending the next few hours sitting on the back porch, reading and probably crying. Being used to these sorts of announcements by now, he shrugged and said okay.

Initially, I planned to read the entire book in a day, a wonderful use of my birthday vacation from work. However, I found that I had to slow down my intended pace a bit to really sit with the story.

Silver doesn’t pull the punches in this one. It is raw and heartbreaking and difficult, as any good story about loss will be. The fact that Lydia is able to take the experimental sleeping pills her doctor prescribed and find herself transported to another version of her life with Freddie is as interesting as it is emotional.

The ping-pong effect of traveling back and forth between versions of her life begins to wear on Lydia over the course of the novel, and it wears on the reader, too. It is an absolutely fascinating look at grief, and the impulse to yearn for the version of our life that has become inaccessible to us, irrevocably changed by the absence of one of our people.

I love the way that Silver uses this plot device to hone in on all the ways in which grief is transformative, using the parallel lives to examine the inner shifts that inevitably take place as we move through loss.

Lydia begins to find that she fits less and less into this other version of her life, not always understanding the choices her other self has made.

For all the sadness and heaviness of a novel dealing with grief, this book contains wit, humor, and compelling characters throughout. I laughed as often as I cried and felt invested in Lydia’s journey in spite of knowing that she would ultimately have to decide to leave her alternate life behind, one way or another.

I won’t go into details about how this pans out because that would be spoiler territory, but I will say I really enjoyed how Lydia’s journey through grief was handled in the light of such a unique opportunity to hide from the process.

Perhaps not everyone is as eager to tear through stories about grief as I am, but I highly recommend The Two Lives of Lydia Bird nonetheless. It is a welcome nod to anyone who has experienced the particular loss of someone you once loved romantically, and a clever angle at which to hold up the lens on loss.

So, the next time you’re in the mood for a good cry, grab your tissues and a copy of this book.

Did you enjoy this book review? Read more about what books inspired and moved us on our Latest Posts page. If you’d like to join us in raving about our favourite reads, check out our Write for Us page, where you’ll find more details on how to become a contributor. Thank you for reading!

4 Key Takeaways from ‘Living Better’ by Alastair Campbell

The former journalist and political advisor spotlights his experience of depression and how to live with it

TW: This book and the accompanying article discusses suicide and depression

As a society, we are far more open and honest about mental health than we used to be. It’s now actively encouraged to publicly reflect on our own experience and ask about our friends, family, and colleagues’ mental health. But we still need to go further.

Suicide is the biggest killer of men under 45 in England and Wales, based on ONS (Office for National Statistics) data from 2019, which symbolises the toxicities of a male culture that discourages speaking honestly about your feelings and reaching out for help when you need it.

Alastair Campbell is known for his role as Tony Blair’s (former UK Prime Minister 1997 — 2007) chief spokesman and strategist. Nowadays, he’s an activist for mental health, a writer, and a political commentator. Regardless of where you sit on the political spectrum, Living Better feels like a breath of fresh air.

This book encouraged me to understand depression in men in a more nuanced way. Not only did it inform me of Alastair’s experience, but of men in particular, who are often the demographic most likely to not reach out for help. We all have a responsibility to understand mental health and make room for important conversations, and this book helps to do just that and break down the sometimes stigmatised barriers of those who have had careers in high places.

Here are some of the key takeaways I learned from this book.

It Pays to Acknowledge Feelings Rather Than Ignore Them

Toxic positivity can be a hindrance to coping with the realities of depression and understanding it. Although we all want to be positive and happy as much as we can, it doesn’t help brush aside the genuine feelings that depression can bring. It helps sufferers be aware of their own depression to communicate to their loved ones how they feel.

Alastair Campbell has devised a unique way of doing this — it is called the ‘depression scale.’ Each morning, as he wakes up, he gives himself a rating for the day to try and compartmentalise the scale of his depression. If he gives himself a one, this means he is in a state of ‘unadulterated happiness’, and ten is ‘actively suicidal.’ Only occasionally has Alistar hit 9 or maybe 10, and he’s most comfortable in the middle, but he names five as the beginning of the ‘danger zone’ as it could tip the scales.

Knowing where he stands and actively rating his mood encourages Alastair to become more self-aware and accept his mood every day. Although I obviously haven’t spoken to him personally about this, I can infer this probably helps him day-to-day to know where his boundaries are.

The use of a depression scale is a reminder for us all of the importance of acknowledging our feelings rather than burying them in the sand or trying to stay positive all the time. There’s value in accepting the negative feelings and learning to ride the wave that can bring.

Depression Can Make Itself Known in a Variety of Ways

Although the media likes to portray those with depression in a singular way — crying, being openly sad, and being a pessimist, to name a few characteristics — it can present itself in other traits. Alastair’s career took a pretty drastic turn when he flipped from being a journalist to being Tony Blair’s number one spokesperson in government. This meant greater responsibility, longer working hours, and more pressure.

In Living Better, Alastair notes how his workaholic traits and putting himself into overdrive are often one of the signs that he is tipping towards a depressive period or approaching the latter half of his scale. Although he struggled to notice it himself at the time, he has come to see this as a potential tipping point on later reflection. As a reader, this causes us to reflect on the idea that depressive traits can present themselves differently. This may be withdrawing from society and friends, but it can also manifest itself in being hyper-productive, not knowing our own boundaries, and verging on being a workaholic.

It pays to be aware that those with depression can often hide their inner emotions in various ways. This will help us look out for our loved ones’ multiple different behaviours and view depression or other mental illnesses in a more nuanced, less singular way.

Our Mental Health Can Impact Our Loved Ones Too

It may seem like an obvious point to make, but including a chapter on Fiona and her experience of living with Alastair and his depression over the years made me realise how much of a wider impact it can have. Partners, spouses, husbands, and wives of those with mental illnesses don’t get enough air time but including Fiona’s own testimony sheds light on this struggle.

Fiona opens up about how Alastair’s mental health has impacted and tested their relationship and wider family in the chapter How to Live with Depression (When It’s Not Your Own). Famously, she has always said living with Alastair is “bloody difficult…but never boring”.

For a long time, in their early days, in particular, Fiona blamed herself when Alastair’s bad moods would strike and felt hopeless when she couldn’t help him feel better. I think this would be the experience of many people who have partners with mental health conditions, and I thought it was so valuable for this to be included in the book due to the wider impact it can have.

Some Helpful Coping Strategies

A book page showing a diagram of mental health coping strategies
Image provided by the author

At the centre of this book is an honest message. For some, having a mental illness is about learning to live with that and acknowledging there will be good days and bad, and no quick, immediate solution to turning the depressive thoughts off.

In this way, Alastair reflects on some coping strategies he has used repeatedly and explains them to readers. Obviously, everyone is different, and these aren’t guaranteed to be beneficial for everyone, but I thought I’d briefly outline some of them here in case they do.

  • The depression scale — see above.
  • Journaling — writing a gratitude versus resentment list, doing a daily worst/best log, and the need/want exercise.
  • Mindfulness —sitting doing nothing and acknowledging your thoughts as they happen, a formal meditation practice, exercise.
  • Drawing your jam jar — genes and things you can’t change go at the bottom, life goes next (the good and bad bits), and then you create some more space for life and what you want to prioritise.

The Takeaway

It’s in all of our interests to have a greater understanding of mental illness. By being so open, honest, and reflective about his experience, Alastair helps break down those barriers and the lingering stigma regarding depression, particularly depression in men.

This book is about his life, career, and personal relationships, and it documents an overriding factor which is learning to live with depression but live better. Alastair has experimented with medication, CBT, counseling, and everything in between, and he talks about it all in such a candid and accessible way. He’s had an incredible career in the frontline in politics but never shies away from openly talking about all of his experiences.

Overall, this is an insightful and uplifting read, which will help anyone to learn about the realities of depression and other mental illnesses.

Did you enjoy this book review? Read more about what books inspired and moved us on our Latest Posts page. If you’d like to join us in raving about our favourite reads, check out our Write for Us page, where you’ll find more details on how to become a contributor. Thank you for reading!

Junji Ito’s ‘Uzumaki’ is a Must-Read for Any Horror Fan

Never read this book at night

I suspected I would be into horror books very early on in my reading journey. But I chose to ease myself into the genre, rather than dive head-first and not know what I was getting into. I started with the one and only, cult classic, The Haunting of Hill House, which made me almost certain I wanted more out of horror. Gillian Flynn’s Sharp Objects followed, and although it fits the mystery/thriller genre more, some of the body horror imagery still makes me shiver when I think about it.

Karin Slaughter’s Pretty Girls was a worthy addition to my horror reads, at the moment ranking third in my all-time favourites of the genre. Second place goes to the only King novel I’ve ever read (I’m working on it), The Outsider. And first place? Well, this is where it gets interesting.

The best horror book I’ve ever read is Junji Ito’s acclaimed manga, Uzumaki. I got this for Christmas and couldn’t put it down. Much like its key symbol — the spiral — Uzumaki made me feel like I fell in a trance every time I picked it up. This is the reason why the warning I gave at the beginning is very serious: avoid reading this manga at night. Whenever I opened it, I fell in a hypnosis-like state, and it took me very long to get out of that frame of mind, even after I’d put the book down. This might sound disturbing to many, but if you’re a die-hard horror fan, you know a book is good if it does that to you.

Why You Should Read ‘Uzumaki’

Spirals…. this town is contaminated with spirals.
Junji Ito, Uzumaki: Spiral into Horror

In its 600+ pages, the manga takes apart the meaning of the spiral and twists it into horrifying events. The best part about Uzumaki is its originality. It had never occurred to me, before reading it, that we’re surrounded by spirals, that they’re inside us, around us, and they manifest through our daily lives in subtle ways. Junji Ito took the meaning and presence of spirals and imagined some of the most messed up and chaotic ways in which they can get out of control. 

But Uzumaki is much more than twisted horror. It tells a moving story with a lot of substance. Throughout the book, you witness how the madness of the spiral erodes the Japanese town of Kurouzu-Cho into pure chaos, spreading like a plague. The story is all the creepier when you realise the sinister events that keep unfolding are merely dismissed by the community as “odd”, while they carry on living their ordinary lives. 

The story is told by Kirie, a young girl from Kurouzu-Cho, who starts noticing the spiral’s curse when her boyfriend’s father becomes obsessed with the twisted shape. As everything falls apart around them, Kirie and her boyfriend, Shuichi, try to save the little things that still haven’t fallen victims to the spiral, all while bravely looking for the root cause of the curse.

Every time I finished a chapter, I felt like I’d been submerged in ice-cold water. Every time I started the next chapter, I kept thinking surely Ito wouldn’t find a more disturbing way to turn the spiral into tragedy and disaster. And every time he did. It made me think how little thought we put into the details of our lives and how twisted and meaningful the world really is if we stopped to mull it over. If something as common and apparently uninteresting as the shape of the spiral created such a startling story, I’m dying to know what else Junji Ito explores in his famous horror manga.

Kirie, the protagonist. Picture provided by the author.

The art is outstanding, although I usually prefer to create my own imagery, the idea behind Uzumaki fully justified the art, and one without the other would not have worked. The art is what truly makes this manga the masterpiece it has been recognised to be. It’s pretty in a frightening way, and that’s the best part about it. Much like the spiral, it draws you in and makes it impossible to take your eyes off it. I wanted to take in every single detail, even the most unsettling ones. 

The body horror gives you chills down your spine (frankly, it gives you chills down your everything), but it’s so detailed and beautiful in the most frustrating way, that it creates a see-saw feeling. It makes you want to avert your eyes while also keeping you hooked on each line, each curve, each facial expression, because all throughout, you fear you might miss the meaning if you don’t look at it properly.

Final Thoughts

If you love horror books but feel sceptical about picking up a manga, this is your sign to give it a chance. Without Ito’s unmistakable art and frightening depictions of this surreal horror story, Uzumaki would not have had the same impact. The book was almost haunting, tempting me to pick it up again whenever I broke free of the trance it threw me in.

Did you enjoy this book review? Read more about what books inspired and moved us on our Latest Posts page. If you’d like to join us in raving about our favourite reads, check out our Write for Us page, where you’ll find more details on how to become a contributor. Thank you for reading!

Why Every Feminist Should Read Isabel Allende’s ‘The Soul of a Woman’

Who’s Afraid of Isabel Allende?

Isabel Allende is a Chilean-American author whose life is nothing short of a rollercoaster. Most well-known for her fictional novels The House of Spirits and Eva Luna, she rightfully established herself as a literary pioneer in Latin American literature as one of the first female novelists with the same level of success (in many cases, more success than) as her male counterparts.

Allende fits comfortably in the same breath with Gabriel García Márquez and Eduardo Galeano when speaking about the profound effect that Latin America has had on global literature. Isabel Allende has not only contributed to magical realism but has also let her audience into very intimate parts of her life. The House of Spirits and Paula are two of her most popular works, both being inspired by the author’s loss of close family members. 

Allende also reveals that her literary career was undermined and mocked by male authors who assumed that she would be more of a “typist” than an author. Her career has been no exception to the whirlwind that has been her life.

For this reason, it was immensely refreshing to see Allende open us up to a journey that has ultimately led to happiness and relief in old age. In The Soul of a Woman, Allende shares her grapple with feminism throughout her lifetime, a lifetime that has seen an overwhelming change to global politics and the feminist movement. 

Old-School Feminism

‘The Soul of a Woman’ book cover. Screenshot by editor, courtesy of Amazon and Bloomsbury.

Allende’s childhood resonated with me in a sense that I imagine many girls have also felt. She outlines the feeling that something wasn’t right with the way women were treated, or how girls were treated differently from their brothers but had no way to articulate that indignance. In her most formative years, arguing with older relatives and friends was the only outlet for young girls who knew that they were getting an unfair deal. 

From witnessing the harrowing experiences of women and girls less fortunate than herself to extensive research on feminist issues like violence against women and machismo culture, Allende gives us an entirely honest account of her life through the lens of feminism. 

What I immensely appreciated was her tenacity in the face of old age. Allende does not pretend to spring out of bed every morning and live like a 20-year-old in her 70s. However, she gives her readers the comforting notion that old age is not the end of your life, and the elderly are as deserving of dignity and respect as everyone else. In a capitalist world where we tend to cast aside those who are not immediately profitable to us, we need to incorporate this idea into our feminist movements more vigilantly. 

There is a beauty in aging that Allende flawlessly captures: the beauty of letting go. The self-doubt, the hypercriticism towards yourself slowly fades away as you learn who you are and what you’re worth. Allende is grateful to still have the same mind and her heart, but it is refreshing to see an older woman become comfortable in aging. She expresses peace and acceptance towards not having as much energy as she used to and relying on her husband for certain tasks.

Humility in the Face of Complexity

Allende is refreshingly open about understandings of gender that her grandchildren take for granted. All too often, the idea of being ‘the product of another time’ is used as an excuse for reactionary politics and an unwillingness to understand discourses that may have passed them by. She notices her grandchildren comfortably using pronouns she has never heard of, based on theories of gender with which she is completely unfamiliar. But she expresses a desire to understand what younger generations have more openly embraced, which is an admirable quality that I wish we saw more often. 

Allende clearly demonstrates a cultural versatility and remains aware of feminist issues in other countries such as India, Nepal, and the Samburu tribe of Kenya. She celebrates the fortitude of women from other cultures and the actions that have been taken to invest in women and girls outside of Anglophone and Hispanic spaces. Most importantly, Allende does not pit these struggles against those in America and Europe. 

A terrible mistake that is often made by well-intentioned feminists is the detraction from supposed ‘first-world problems’ by highlighting the undeniable hardship experienced by women and girls in the wider world. Allende avoids this mistake by unapologetically putting catcalling and women’s education in the same book. 

One does not diminish the other; harassment, violence, and unwanted sexualisation of women and girls need to be addressed, whether it happens to a middle-class American or to a girl bound under the Kamlari system in Nepal. Allende makes it crystal clear from the beginning that many of the problems women face are found throughout the entire globe, but manifest in different ways. From Rwanda to Guatemala, to Bosnia, sexual violence is used against women in wartime. One of the most reliable ways to deduce the overall rate of violence in any country is to track the rate of violence against women in particular. These problems cannot be solved by attempting to rank which type of devaluing of women is the worst, and which should be put up with. 

Allende did a brilliant job of bringing each and every burning issue to light, and her humility and sincerity made it as much an important feminist text as a delightful one. 

Did you enjoy this book review? Read more about what books inspired and moved us on our Latest Posts page. If you’d like to join us in raving about our favourite reads, check out our Write for Us page, where you’ll find more details on how to become a contributor. Thank you for reading!

‘The Lost Apothecary’ Re-lit The Spark In My Reading Life

In January, I raced through six books. My Goodreads reading challenge applauded my progress, and my reading stats spreadsheet began to take shape.

Initially, this thrill of watching the genre pie chart evolve with each new book kept me reading, but then I burnt out.

In February, I only finished two books. One of them was an audiobook and the other one a graphic novel, quick, easy reads that I could take in almost passively.

I had hit the dreaded reading slump, where I just couldn’t seem to find a book that gripped me.

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Screengrab by author, from Book Riot reading spreadsheet

I can always tell I need a break from my usual reading habits when I read a book I would normally love and feel myself instead of getting annoyed at minor character details and rolling my eyes at my favorite tropes.

Towards the end of January, I fell into this mode. I tired myself out on romantic comedy and memoirs and felt at a loss for what else to pick up.

Then, while browsing for my monthly book subscription pick, my eyes landed on the gorgeous purple cover of The Lost Apothecary by Sarah Penner. Intrigued, I read the synopsis, only to be disappointed.

A story about a woman who runs an apothecary specializing in poisons? That is not a book for me, I thought. I don’t do mystery, or death, or poison, or books about murder.

Yet I had to use that Book of the Month credit somehow, and after all, wasn’t I looking for something outside the norm?

A small voice reminded me that the last few books I’d acquired for similar reasons stayed on my shelves well over a year before I even cracked them open.

But didn’t I end up loving A Woman is No Man when I finally got around to it?

The “buy the book with the pretty cover” side of the argument won, and soon enough that beautiful hardback arrived on my doorstep. I stared down at it, wondering if I’d ever read it.

It took a few days, but finally, I picked it up. And I am so glad I did.

The Lost Apothecary takes on the difficult narrative task of alternating between multiple protagonists across timelines.

A woman on an unexpectedly solo honeymoon to London discovers an apothecary bottle and unearths her old historian tendencies to find out its past. In the other timeline, that past unfolds on the page before us in the stories of the apothecary and a young girl who becomes her friend.

I will readily admit that this kind of flipping back and forth between stories in different timelines is one of my pet peeves. If done poorly, it often feels like a cheap trick to invent suspense by snapping the reader away at just the right — wrong — moment to make a story more interesting.

When done well, however, it can create a page-turning, enthralling read. Penner pulls it off with aplomb. These women’s stories manage to speak to one another in a powerful way without feeling cheap or coincidental.

Caroline’s reasons for trying to uncover the past feel authentic as part of her character and story. The deeper connections between her and the apothecary shine through to the reader without becoming implausibly obvious to Caroline herself. She learns what we might expect her to, and many of the apothecary’s lost secrets remain her own.

Rather, readers learn about the past in a way that isn’t gimmicky or reliant upon what Caroline knows. She learns what we might realistically expect her to, and many of the apothecary’s lost secrets remain her own.

Through the alternating points of view, Nella and Eliza are allowed their own stories which exist outside the frame of Caroline’s search. They come to life fully as characters in their own right, their stories feeling present and compelling even though they take place years before the present-day timeline.

The plot is a steady, suspenseful build, with a little mystery and intrigue along the way. A nice, plot-heavy book with well-developed characters turned out to be exactly what I needed to re-light the spark in my reading slump.

I finished The Lost Apothecary quickly, finding myself drawn away from video games and podcasts in favor of this compelling read. After finishing it, I went on to read several more books in March, my love for reading newly regained through the spark of a phenomenal read.

I feel The Lost Apothecary is one of those books that’s fully worth the hype.

In it, Penner tells a story that takes us both on an eventful and emotional journey. There are mystery and action, but also real character growth and complexity. I won’t spoil it, but the ending resists simplicity and allows for the messy questions of real life, which I tend to prefer over a neatly tied bow.

I highly recommend this book even if it doesn’t sound like your usual cup of tea. It shouldn’t have been mine, yet it’s easily one of my favorite reads of 2021 so far.

Did you enjoy this book review? Read more about what books inspired and moved us on our Latest Posts page. If you’d like to join us in raving about our favourite reads, check out our Write for Us page, where you’ll find more details on how to become a contributor. Thank you for reading!

If Mansplaining Women’s Issues in the Workplace Was a Book

Review of ‘Athena Rising: How and Why Men Should Mentor Women’

CW: Mentions of discrimination and sexual violence

It’s been 102 years since the first wave of the Women’s Rights Movement allowed women the right to vote. Yet it took another 50 years until the second wave that allowed women the legal autonomy to have a life outside of being a wife and mother. In celebration of Women’s History Month, I ask the question: How can men be better mentors and allies to women in a professional environment? It is in that vein that I provide my critique of this book. I don’t know what’s more insulting: dealing with gender bias in the workplace or two men claiming to be subject matter experts on gender bias in the workplace while telling other men how to mentor women.

Mentoring women in the workplace has been a challenge. In recurring and recent discussions, male friends have reached out to me regarding how to be a better mentor to women. Another good friend of mine posed the question after he was selected to command an Army unit consisting of 500–700 Soldiers (i.e. a battalion for my fellow veterans). I shared my experiences in how I was mentored and offered insight into the shortcomings of the men I worked with regarding their performance as mentors when I wore the uniform.

My book club buddy recommended Athena Rising as a part of the continued discussion regarding female senior leadership representation in the military. Surprisingly, two more friends mentioned the book as a tool to become better leaders and mentors to female service members. With three good friends reading it, deciding to download this book was a no-brainer.

W. Brad Johnson and David Smith mentioned the criticisms they would face writing a book regarding the challenges of women in the workplace. Divided into two sections, the introduction was pretty difficult for me to process without feeling like both men are mansplaining challenges women experience. For the uninformed, mansplaining is a pejorative term meaning “to comment on or explain something to a woman in a condescending, overconfident, and often inaccurate or oversimplified manner.”

Athena, the Goddess

The authors reference the Greek goddess Athena as some sort of model that women in the workplace should aspire to in Chapter 1. Besides the fact that she is a fictional character, likely written by a man, Athena is a problematic character in regards to the challenges that women face. Here is why.

Athena is the virgin Goddess of military strategic warfare, wisdom, and handicraft. She was the only God of Greek mythos that was born with complete armor from the head of Zeus. While history regards her as the protector and patron of cities. Athena is regarded as a more superior strategist than her brother Ares. Accordingly, men have the highest level of respect for her due to her prowess in the realm of warfare. Johnson and Smith dedicated the entire first chapter that women should aspire to achieve that level of respect. Despite being a woman, I would argue that Athena was not an advocate and supporter of women. She is quite the opposite. An example of Athena’s abuse of women can be illustrated in the tragic story of Medusa.

For readers of Greek mythology, many would recall Medusa as the monster Perseus killed in order to slay the sea monster and rescue the princess. But how many recall the origin story of Medusa? Would it surprise you to know she was once human? Medusa was a virgin priest in Athena’s temple. Raped by Poseidon on the altar, she called out to Athena for help. Instead of coming to her aid, Athena cursed Medusa and transformed her into a Gorgon while unknowingly pregnant. Her offspring Pegasus was born from her death. Medusa was not only a rape victim of Poseidon but a victim of Athena’s rage all because she was no longer a virgin. An ironic, dark, and grim parallel to the military’s justice system for victims of sexual assault. Check out Medusa’s tragic story here.

This was one of many stories of Athena’s cruelty towards women. Like Athena, many of the women interviewed in Athena Rising did not publicly advocate for the equality and representation of more women in positions of leadership across society. As mentioned, many were overwhelmed with a flood of subordinates vying for their attention in the form of mentorship.

Let’s take the Army, for example; the last time a woman was promoted to 4 stars was in 2008 when Ann Dunwoody was selected as the Commanding General of Army Materiel Command. Some would argue it wasn’t her fault and that being the only one at the table would hinder such a voice. Fast forward 12 years, the current Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Mark Milley, and the former Secretary of Defense, Mark Esper, admitted to delaying the nomination of Lieutenant General Laura Richardson to General because of anticipated resistance from the Trump Administration due to her gender. This is a perfect example of a room full of men who knew she was the best-qualified person for the promotion but denied her the opportunity because of her gender.

If the top-ranking officer in the U.S. Armed Forces wouldn’t advocate for a female general, I can only imagine the number of commanders at the operational and tactical level denying female leaders positions and promotions because of their gender.

Reading a book written by men about women in the workplace is beyond cringe-worthy. The only women Johnson and Smith interviewed were women who were promoted to the highest or most senior leadership position. Yet many missed the point where women in entry and mid-level positions were subjected to hostile work environments, sexual harassment, and extreme hazing by their peers, subordinates, and in some situations — seniors. While being subjected to these challenges, women are often held to different standards for workplace performance than men. It is often the lack of awareness regarding these biases or mansplaining them away that makes me frustrated with surface-level attempts to level the playing field. This book is one of these attempts.

The Intersectionality of Race and Being a Woman

Two old white men writing a book on mentoring women in the workplace missed the mark of the most obvious thing: the intersectionalities regarding women of color. What would they know? They benefit from the systematic discrimination and bias towards people of color. Despite interviewing Admiral Retired Michelle Howard who is an African American woman, the racist comments followed by her selection to admiral were glossed over. However, she mentioned it when she was interviewed in a 2014 interview with NPR. Johnson and Smith’s mention of racial bias only covered less than a quarter of a page.

They failed to realize, either through omission or commission, that African American women are immediately labeled as hostile and difficult. Asian women are dismissed and treated as if they are invisible and Hispanic women are reduced to insulting tasks like planning parties or making coffee. As men who espouse allyship, the authors (and their advocates) need to be aware of the additional layer of racial bias coupled with gender.

Science to Justify Misogyny

Chapter 4 The Biology and Psychology of Men and Women in Relationships has to be the most cringe-worthy of the chapters. The last time I heard anyone use science to justify prejudice it was the Nazis and doctors during antebellum slavery. Sure it sounded nice and pretty, but it most definitely gave the vibe. What does the number of times a woman cries compared to a man have to do with her ability to do her job? Would this so-called psychological and biological breakdown be a factor if the senior leader in question was homosexual? If a senior was gay and he was attracted to his subordinate would it raise the same issue?

The only time biology should be taken into consideration is if the female employee is pregnant. Creating a safe environment where she can trust you to disclose something deeply personal like the loss of a pregnancy, a difficult pregnancy, complications with the birth, or postpartum depression. Do not assume for her. Do not make the decision for her. Give the employee the safety and space to come to you and address whatever support she needs. Transgendered women are women. Leave your religious beliefs out of the workplace. Transgender women are already subjected to violence and harassment. Once again create the space for them to feel safe and trust you. Do not assume they need your help; let them come to you.

You would never assume a man needs your assistance dealing with a personal matter. You would never make a personal career affecting decision for a man without his involvement. You would wait until he comes to you. Afford the same courtesy to the women in your organization. If you won’t do it with a man don’t do it with a woman.

Glossing over Workplace Hostility and Harassment

The most disappointing aspect is its failure to address the microaggression of workplace hostility. This is especially tone-deaf considering Smith is an officer in the United States Navy. Since the time this book was published the number of women coming forward with their accounts of being sexually harassed and, worse, sexually assaulted is continuing to climb at rapid numbers. There are men to this day who feel women do not belong in the military.

When the US Army opened up Ranger School to women, the two first female Rangers were met with threats of rape and harassment on social media. All because they passed the prestigious course. Google “sexual assault in the military”, the numbers are still climbing. Congress is still weighing whether or not the military can be trusted to investigate and prosecute sexual assault — a damning indicator of how this problem is beyond the reach of uniformed leaders to control. And they can’t seem to address the obvious issues regarding their program.

As a senior leader, you should be advocating for all women: not just the women you mentor. Correcting microaggressive behaviors like cutting off a female officer while she is briefing while letting the male officer complete his thoughts. Correcting service members when they use the term “female” in a derogatory way.

Even when I shared my dislike for the book in my Book Club on Facebook, one member was bold enough to say the authors were experts on women because they were married. Another completely dismissed my opinion citing the book was, “For men who mentored women. It met the intent”.

Just two examples of microaggressive behaviors women in the workplace face on a regular basis. Another microaggressive comment, “I know the authors personally,” continues to dismiss the concerns myself and other women address regarding how a woman should be mentored. Extending your personal trust doesn’t pass for logical arguments and transparent action — in fact, personal trust is how sexual predators hide in our workplaces (he’s a good father, husband, boy scout leader — I trust him. That should be enough for you).

It’s the same language used when Congressman Yoho was verbally scolded by his peers after he called Congresswoman Ocasio-Cortez a bitch. Instead of apologizing for his behavior, he responded, “I have a wife and daughters”. I guess that’s supposed to be enough to make him a good guy.

The Curse of the Likeability Factor

Both military and civilian women of all professional fields have struggled with the likeability factor. Women are judged on whether or not they are likable. Never mind the fact they are the best and most qualified person for the job or position. Oftentimes they are passed over because they are simply disliked.

When mentoring women, men should check their bias on whether she is likable or not. Ask yourself would it matter if she was a man? Would his likeability matter? I can personally recall being told by my commanding officer I wasn’t going to receive a good evaluation because I wasn’t likable. It didn’t matter I had accomplished everything he listed and met his intent. Because he didn’t like me or claimed other officers didn’t like me. I received a low-performance rating that threatened my ability to be competitive to the next rank.

Can Men Be Effective Mentors to Women?

Society has a serious problem with misogyny and viewing women as capable equals. This book was a painful reminder of the blatant sexism I personally experienced when I was an Officer in the United States Army. It also brought to light the neglect senior female leaders made when it came to addressing workplace hostilities and harassment. Instead of changing the status quo they upheld and supported it.

While the book was intended for men to learn how to be better mentors to women, it missed the mark completely by placing women into this cookie-cutter persona an ideal fictional character. No breadth and depth of the complexities associated with being a woman. If you don’t expect men to divulge intimate information about themselves, why would you expect women to do so? Unless you are caught in a mental prison of your own biases.

Can a man be an effective mentor to a woman? In my honest opinion, I don’t think so. As a woman, the lingering concern of “why” will always be in the back of my mind. I cannot speak for all women just myself. Will my ability to be mentored be clouded by a mentor’s potential physical attraction towards me? If I reject a sexual advance, will it cost me? While the book addresses the different types of behaviors a man exhibits when he works with a woman, everyone is a threat. And the concern is very real to any woman who has been harassed, assaulted, or personally knows of someone who has been.

However, I know there are men who are trying to do better. For men in leadership roles or serving as mentors, I would recommend a woman as their sound boarding and an additional oversight layer to cover their blind spots. There are unique challenges women experience that men will not get or understand. So having a woman as a confidante and advisor will reduce the blind spots.

I would not recommend this book to any man who is progressive and forward-thinking in regards to the advancement and equality of women in the workplace. I would not recommend this book to women because it mansplains the issues professional women experience on the daily. It missed the mark on so many other issues I did not mention in this review. Honestly, I think it was written to sell and make money vs having an open and honest conversation regarding misogyny and workplace hostility towards women.

Did you enjoy this book review? Read more about what books inspired and moved us on our Latest Posts page. If you’d like to join us in raving about our favourite reads, check out our Write for Us page, where you’ll find more details on how to become a contributor. Thank you for reading!

‘Vesper Flights’ by Helen Macdonald Shows Nature’s Magic Lies in It Not Being Human

Cautiously approaching Helen Macdonald’s latest after the deeply personal experience of reading (and re-reading) ‘H is for Hawk’

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Does one need a reason to read Helen Macdonald?

She is one of my literary heroes and I’ve read H is For Hawk four times to date (twice on audio and twice in print, if you care to know). I took my time getting to Vesper Flights because I really liked knowing there was new work out there waiting for me.

Vesper Flights is a collection of previously published and new essays by Helen Macdonald. As thrilled as I was when I first heard about it, I confess I was a little nervous approaching this one.

Macdonald’s memoir H is for Hawk means so much to me, and I worried that an essay collection wouldn’t be as powerful following such a magnificent memoir. What could compare to the experience of wandering around Cincinnati in the summertime, fresh into post-college life, listening to H is for Hawk for the very first time?

Or to returning to the same memoir a year later, searching and finding some semblance of guidance to move through my own grief for the first time?

“We so often think of the past as something like a nature reserve: a discrete, bounded place we can visit in our imaginations to make us feel better.” — Helen Macdonald

As I cracked open my copy of Vesper Flights, I reminded myself not to compare. No matter how much we love an author, each new book will be a fresh, different experience. Writers are human, and they will grow and change. Their work can and should reflect that.

We, too, will grow and change. That’s part of why I reread books like H is for Hawk. The book stays the same, but I don’t. Therefore it resonates differently each time.

And so, who sat down to read Vesper Flights was a slightly different person from the one who first downloaded H is for Hawk and set off on a long, meandering walk she’d end up finding excuses to extend so she could keep listening.

I needn’t have worried about whether I’d love this book.

It took a little getting used to the beginnings and endings, as many of the essays are quite short on the printed page, around 3 pages being the average. This led to reading at a quick clip, and a few longer essays stalled for me because I got used to the pattern.

Yet each of the essays is full of the sharp, beautiful observations of nature and human beings that make Helen Macdonald such a phenomenal writer.

She has a fascination with the way in which humans insist upon nature reflecting us, holding up a mirror to teach us about ourselves.

“… we have always unconsciously and inevitably viewed the natural world as a mirror of ourselves, reflecting our own world-view and our own needs, thoughts, and hopes.” — Helen Macdonald

Macdonald does this, too, but she returns to and insists upon the wildness of things, ultimately.

Nature, she argues, doesn’t intend to mean anything to us. We are the ones who thrust our own meanings upon it.

As with any essay collection, some of them landed with me more than others. Many of the essays deal in a sense of nostalgia for the landscapes of Macdonald’s youth, tangled up in the anxiety of climate change. This theme joins up with that of the interactions between human beings and the natural world, how we shape it and how it adapts to and defies all that we try to press upon it.

It felt like very much the sort of book one would want to read during a pandemic, a quirk of good publication timing.

Many of the essays spoke to and resonated with me, and many others made me stop and consider things I hadn’t thought about before.

In particular, I found solace and comfort in the essay Symptomatic, which makes a brief appearance in an essay about my chronic pain disorder.

Though I loved it for its depiction of Macdonald’s migraines, the essay is truly about the ways in which symptoms are not always clearly recognized or linked to any underlying cause. It is a meditation on climate change, the symptoms of which we cannot and do not always link to the cause, because there is no single root cause.

In all, I adored this collection of essays. It isn’t H is for Hawk and, of course, we shouldn’t ask it to be.

The insight and sharp observation that make Macdonald a phenomenal nature writer shine through on every page. I highly recommend this collection to anyone and everyone who is a human being in the world, stumbling along and trying to make meaning.

Did you enjoy this book review? Read more about what books inspired and moved us on our Latest Posts page. If you’d like to join us in raving about our favourite reads, check out our Write for Us page, where you’ll find more details on how to become a contributor. Thank you for reading!