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The Language of Kindness: A Nurse's Story

4.17  ·  Rating details ·  2,078 ratings  ·  333 reviews
Christie Watson was a nurse for twenty years. Taking us from birth to death and from A&E to the mortuary, The Language of Kindness is an astonishing account of a profession defined by acts of care, compassion and kindness.

We watch Christie as she nurses a premature baby who has miraculously made it through the night, we stand by her side during her patient’s agonising
Hardcover, 322 pages
Published May 3rd 2018 by Chatto Windus
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4.17  · 
Rating details
 ·  2,078 ratings  ·  333 reviews

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Whispering Stories
Aug 03, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Book Reviewed by Nia on

This is a powerful and beautifully written book, a heartfelt account about the practicalities of nursing and the toll it takes on the people who have chosen the career.

I enjoyed the way this book was laid out, first starting with Watson’s decision to become a nurse and her training – then mapping out nursing chronologically from working in maternity, with young children, in A&E and then with end of life care. She talks about the different pers
Christie Watson was a nurse in the British National Health Service for twenty years starting at the age of seventeen after a restless time of odd jobs, reading philosophy and awkward love affairs. She worked in several nursing specialisms during her career and each chapter focuses on one specialism, the chapters are arranged chronologically apart from the first one which describes an incident in her career as a resuscitation nurse at St.Thomas' hospital in London (on the south bank of the Thames ...more
Apr 26, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This advance reader copy was provided by Crown Publishing via NetGalley.

This book was written by a woman who became a nurse 20 years ago in the United Kingdom under the auspices of the NHS or National Health Service. Working in the healthcare profession is about as "real" as you can get, so as a lover of non-fiction/biographies, I was immediately drawn into this very frank memoir.

Nurse/author Christie Watson takes us along on her very first day in training, walking through the hospital hallways
Louise Wilson
Apr 30, 2018 rated it really liked it
Christie Watson spent twenty years as a nurse, and in this intimate, poignant, and remarkably powerful book, she shares its secrets.

Christie Watson worked for the NHS for twenty years. She takes us on her journey from her very first day in training, walking along the hospital corridors, telling us what she has seen and heard, and the various wards/departments she has worked on. She writes about the compassion, understanding and the genuine care needed to do the job. This book is a tribute to nur
This book was terrifying. Terrifying in the sense that it shows just how much nurses do, and how they are the backbone of the NHS, and that, puts some of us to shame, to really sit and think just how much they are undervalued by many, in our society today. I have grown up around neurology books and the BNF, due to having a Mother that dedicated her life to nursing, in particular neurology, and she worked her way up, until she reached the top, and became the ward sister. With that, came drastic c ...more
Apr 08, 2018 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: netgalley
If the rating were only about the content of this book, it would be an easy 5 stars- Christie Watson writes about the need for compassion, understanding, and genuine care for each other. She tells of the hardships of modern nursing and the funding deficits that mean both patients and staff are being let down on multiple levels. She lets the reader into the most private of experiences, the illness or loss of a loved one, and shows how good nursing can help people through hard times.

And yet, she
Based on the 20 years that Watson spent as a nurse in England’s health system before leaving to write full-time, this taps into the widespread feeling that medicine is in desperate need of a good dose of compassion, and will ring true for anyone who spends time in hospitals, whether as a patient or a carer.

Watson presents her book as a roughly chronological tour through the stages of nursing – from pediatrics through to elderly care and the tending to dead bodies – but also through her own caree
First of all, thank you to Penguin Random House and the author for sending me an ARC of this wonderful book for review!

This book is authored by Christie Watson, who spent more than 20 years as a nurse in hospitals in and around London. It is a tribute to all nurses who work extremely hard and are sometimes underappreciated. They see people at their worst, and sometimes at their best when a cure is found or a new life is welcomed into the world. They see tragedy, abuse, life, death, and hope. The
Susan Hampson
May 05, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: netgalley
What a truly inspirational story this is as Christie Watson literally took me by the hand and walked me through twenty years of her nursing career, sharing some of the most intimate moments where she, her patients and their families were at their most vulnerable. She made me laugh and cry with a raw honesty where she held nothing back warts and all.
Going into nursing was not a calling for her but more a career that she stumbled on through circumstances. This journey took me through A & E to
Diane S ☔
Jul 04, 2018 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2018-read
Review soon.
Tanja Berg
Mar 23, 2019 rated it liked it
A touching memoir about becoming and being a nurse. A lot is about how undervalued the profession is. It’s quite technical, yet touching and disturbing.
Dawn Frazier
Apr 16, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I have always loved books about Drs/Nurses/Hospitals, and was very excited to read this one. It is a beautiful book, a look into the daily life of a nurse. It is a fast, interesting read, some parts actually made me cry. The author was a nurse in the UK, so I found it fascinating to read the differences between the health care system there, and here in the US. Some of the stories in the book, I wish there had been a little more detail, certain patients jumped out at me more than others. But all ...more
Jun 11, 2018 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Christie Watson is a nurse in the UK. This is her memoir. She shares stories about her nursing training, and about her experiences in various wards / units of the hospital. There was something about her writing style that I didn’t particularly like. It’s not that is an odd or unusual style, but I felt that her stories became a bit tangential at times and then would return to the main story without warning, but which point I had forgotten about the purpose of the main story!
Jun 21, 2018 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
I'm not sure I can be completely fair reviewing this book - a section early on made me mad and ended up tainting it for me. I'll get to that in a minute.

But first, let me say that this is a well-written account of being a nurse in England. Watson is drawn to some of the most emotional parts of the hospital - mental care, emergency, palliative care, neonatal intensive care - so expect heart-wrenching, as well as heart-warming, stories. We watch Watson grow from a nursing student that's duped by p
From BBC Radio 4 Book of the week:
In her illuminating memoir, Christie Watson gives an account of her twenty year nursing career. At the heart of her intimate portrait of hospital life are the small acts of kindness and compassion that all of us will receive when we inevitably experience illness, whether it be ourselves or our loved ones.

We accompany Christie when she becomes a student nurse filled with anxiety as she cares for a teenage boy who is about to receive a new heart and lungs. We'll b
Jul 28, 2018 marked it as abandoned  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: ebooks, proofs-arcs
DNF — This was too cutesy for me. Nursing and nurses are already branded as “angels on earth”, like everything that they do, say, and poo are rainbows and unicorns. They’re there to comfort you, to hold your hand, expected to wait on you hand and foot. And I say that as a member of the profession.

I’ve had enough of that, to be honest. After reading Adam Kay’s “This Is Going To Hurt”, I guess I was expecting something tongue-in-cheek like that, from a nurse’s point of view. You won’t get that fro
Christie Watson was a nurse for 20 years, and this book is Christie's account of her nurse training and subsequent career, and all of the fascinating experiences she encountered, people she met, and the things that she felt. As a nurse myself, I found this a really fascinating read to begin with due to the content and some of the experiences that I could relate to. However, at around the halfway mark I lost interest as the writing style was quite dry, the stories long and convoluted, and it did ...more
Jan 01, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: memoirs, non-fiction
Watson recounts her career in nursing. It's a mixture of sweetness and sadness and a few stories that will bring tears to your eyes.
Jordan Finch
3.5 stars rounded down because I'm not sure I would really recommend this to anyone who isn't a nurse.

The Language of Kindness is author Christie Watson's firsthand account of her time as a nurse. During her 2o years on the job, Watson experience life and death and emergency in every ward of the hospital. The stories she shares of the joy, the hope, the tragedies, and the pain she witnessed and experienced during that time really illustrate the importance of nurses. The doctors may be the ones t
Katy Noyes
Apr 03, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Bawled my eyes out... repeatedly... warts-and-all nursing tales.

Watson has already written (award-winning) fiction, and at the time of writing this is no longer in a nursing occupation. I have read and enjoyed the genre before - Confessions of a GP, Call the Midwife, Nee-Naw, the behind-the-scenes of the medical and emergency service worlds. It's a world I could never cope with, I know that.

And reading this, I am reminded why. Watson takes us through almost sequentially, from her adolescent lea
a very thoughtful and sensitive memoir. watson's book weaves her own personal experiences over 20 years in nursing, while offering readers a look at the less-considered emotional connections nurses develop with their patients. watson begins her training in england at age 17, and the arc of her narrative evolves through the stages of life, which includes within the hospital/healthcare system, and the patients. watson works in paediatrics, emergency, and palliative departments. while i am frequent ...more
Adam Chatfield
Jan 06, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
A fantastic book which I devoured in a day and a bit.

I picked this up in the shop with a slight hint of morbid curiosity and because all things nursing has taken up more than a sizeable chunk of my life for the past twelve weeks, and I am continually fascinated at the job that nurses and doctors do in the NHS, and how they continue to carry on doing it on a daily basis. The level of comfort and care we receive just as parents of a child in hospital is phenomenal and the care our boy has receive
Kathy Linton
Mar 08, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
A book that makes you proud to be a nurse. She talks in the book about what a privilege it is to be involved in someone’s life during its extremes. I’ve always said what a privilege it is to nurse someone when they die, to witness them leave the world, to care for them and their families afterwards. I’ve also been lucky enough to deliver babies, to witness families great moments. I’ve cried with patients and I’ve shared laughter. I’ve nursed older people then I’ve come back and nursed other memb ...more
Oct 28, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
We do not need war and tragic road accidents to remind us of the horror of life. We have cancer.
- Christie Watson

This book will tug at your heartstrings. Watson's writing is refreshingly honest, poignant and thought provoking. It will give you a new perspective towards nursing.
Mary Smoak
Aug 03, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This is a good read ...most nurses have similar stories. However she has great metaphors and reminders of the importance of what we do
Nov 12, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This book tore me to pieces. It’s a candid look at nursing which, even as a nurse myself, I had to put it down at times because the stories were too much. It reminded me that life is fragile and that kindness is so intrinsically important in nursing, as in life.
Rebecca *(book keeper )*
2.5 if goodreads did the 0.5 rating.
A difficult book in many senses of the word. I am a big fan of Adam Kay's "this is going to hurt" and was expecting something similar, however this is much more serious and Watson has a habit of going of on tangants about statistics of historical medicines and other countries medical practices as well as going into mild political rants that sometimes have nothing to do with her reminiscent stories.
Some parts were difficult because of subject matter.
All in all
Jan 03, 2019 rated it it was amazing
This is Waterstone's Book of the Month for January and what a brilliant choice for starting the new year on such a positively inspiring note. I was in tears at the end of most of the chapters, and as I rarely if ever cry when it comes to reading this is proof of the deep emotional impact this book can carry to it's reader.
Watson is correct in her observations that nursing is often undervalued if not belittled within society and this along with our socio-economic state currently means that it's p
Alexa Roberts
Jul 20, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
“I can only remind myself, as I get older and see more and more cancer around me, to live well and happily, to value that which makes us who we are: not material possessions, but love, kindness, hope.” - Christy Watson

I wasn’t sure if I wanted to start this book this week, just coming off working 3 twelves in a row and grieving one of my most heartbreaking deaths in my career as a nurse thus far. However, it turns out that Watson’s writing was exactly what I needed. Her poetic prose, her compass
May 08, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This was a very well written and interesting look into a nurse’s life. However, I struggled with it quite a bit. When I first started this book, I didn't realize it was based in the UK. There is a big difference between the healthcare system and hospitals in the UK (NHS) versus the healthcare system and hospitals in the United States, where I am. I normally don't have a problem reading books based in other countries, but this time I had a really hard time visualizing the experiences as she descr ...more
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Author of non-fiction: The Language of Kindness and fiction: Tiny Sunbirds Far Away, and Where Women are Kings.
“We will meet people on the way: patients, relatives and staff - people you may recognize already. Because we are all nursed at some point in our lives. We are all nurses.” 1 likes
“It is impossible to describe exactly what I learn, though I know it lies somewhere between science and art. It is all about the smallest details and understanding how they make the biggest difference.” 1 likes
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