The introduction was promising enough, but I unfortunately found the rest sloppy, unfocused, and pretty tedious to read. The essay on Virginia Woolf sThe introduction was promising enough, but I unfortunately found the rest sloppy, unfocused, and pretty tedious to read. The essay on Virginia Woolf seemed to have been inserted accidentally, since it had nothing AT ALL to do with her thesis. It's a shame, because I wholeheartedly agree with and support her main message! ...more
Ahhh, I loved this memoir so much. Moving, heartbreaking, disturbing, honest, brave... full of struggle to understand her life and mold her story intoAhhh, I loved this memoir so much. Moving, heartbreaking, disturbing, honest, brave... full of struggle to understand her life and mold her story into something that could make sense.
It's largely about Winterson's horrific upbringing by her extremely religious and mentally unstable adoptive mother. It reads like a fairytale at times - full of memories of being locked up in cellars as punishment and having to read books in secret and hide them under her mattress. She does not hold back when sharing these memories, but manages to remain compassionate toward a woman who ultimately could only be pitied. Which is a significant leap from her semi-autobiographical novel, Oranges Are Not the Only Fruit (which I also loved).
The story is a gripping whirlwind and I was breathless through a lot of it. It is also a moving ode to the power of books as a compass and a lifeline when you have nothing else to hold onto. Many parts of this book are interjected by thoughts on how much reading has meant to her throughout her life.
The second half of the book largely focuses on her struggles with mental health and I found some passages incredibly powerful. She struggles to discover what it means to be mentally unwell, and to "go mad" and struggle through the journey back to sanity.
Structurally, it isn't perfect but I loved her writing so much that I didn't care. It's full of struggle and contradictions, which makes it all the more poignant.
I can't resist sharing one of my favorite quotes from the book. A little long but so so good:
"I often hear voices. I realise that drops me in the crazy category but I don't much care. If you believe, as I do, that the mind wants to heal itself, and that the psyche seeks coherence not disintegration, then it isn't hard to conclude that the mind will manifest whatever is necessary to work on the job.
We now assume that people who hear voices do terrible things; murderers and psychopaths hear voices, and so do religious fanatics and suicide bombers. But in the past, voices were respectable - desired. The visionary and the prophet, the shaman and the wisewoman. And the poet, obviously. Hearing voices can be a good thing.
Going mad is the beginning of a process. It is not supposed to be the end result. Ronnie Laing, the doctor and psychotherapist who became the trendy 1960s and 70s guru making madness fashionable, understood madness as a process that might lead somewhere. Mostly, though, it is so terrifying for the person inside it, as well as the people outside it, that the only route is drugs or a clinic.
And our madness-measure is always changing. Probably we are less tolerant of madness now than at any period in history. There is no place for it. Crucially, there is no time for it.
There were times when I was like, "Why did I decide to read this?!" But mostly I was deeply engrossed. There's a lot of fascinating information here,There were times when I was like, "Why did I decide to read this?!" But mostly I was deeply engrossed. There's a lot of fascinating information here, told with humor and compassion. I definitely recommend it if you aren't too squeamish! ...more
Urgh, I wish Suze Orman was my next door neighbor so I could constantly bug her with questions about my financial life. This book is the next best thiUrgh, I wish Suze Orman was my next door neighbor so I could constantly bug her with questions about my financial life. This book is the next best thing (along with her TV show, which I love). Not only does Suze know her stuff, but she breaks down all the scary financial jargon extremely well, so that anyone can understand it. Some might find her analogies too simplistic, but I think that's exactly what is needed when many of us have no clue what some of these terms mean. I learned a lot from reading this book, and I highly recommend it to anyone looking for some solid money advice. If you're looking to someday own a home (or even just a car) and want to know exactly what that process will entail, or if you have student loan and credit card debt and aren't sure which to tackle first, Suze is your girl. ...more
What a great and helpful read! I highly recommend it to anybody who is looking for motivation to get themselves out of debt and/or just have general cWhat a great and helpful read! I highly recommend it to anybody who is looking for motivation to get themselves out of debt and/or just have general control over their financial lives. It's awesome to read about her journey in a blog format, and not purely as a reflective piece after the debt was paid off, because you get to see how her mindset changes during the process. Ashley Riordan is open and honest about all of it - how much debt she was in, how she got there, how she felt about it, and the specific sacrifices she was going to make to get out of it. She also digs deeper, challenging her relationship to consumerism and the whole psychology behind the need to buy stuff. I'm really glad I found this; it's inspired me to change a lot of things about the way I think about and deal with money.
Complicated and rewarding. I didn't agree with everything Als said, but I loved that because it constantly stopped me in my tracks and made me questioComplicated and rewarding. I didn't agree with everything Als said, but I loved that because it constantly stopped me in my tracks and made me question everything. The first couple of essays center on Hilton Als' life as a black gay man in white America, and I found them stunning. His pieces on Flannery O'Connor, Eminem and Michael Jackson are all worth several rereads as well. Read this book if you want to be challenged. I promise you haven't read anything like it before. ...more