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The Shapeless Unease: A Year of Not Sleeping

4.02  ·  Rating details ·  60 ratings  ·  23 reviews
Sleep. Sleep. Like money, you only think about it when you have too little. Then you think about it all the time, and the less you have the more you think about it. It becomes the prism through which you see the world and nothing can exist except in relation to it.

Samantha Harvey’s insomnia arrived, seemingly, from nowhere; for a year she has spent her nights chasing
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Hardcover, 192 pages
Published January 9th 2020 by Jonathan Cape
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Average rating 4.02  · 
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Fatma
Feb 11, 2020 rated it really liked it
". . . my friend looks at me with infinite compassion and says, une petite nuit? Oui, I say, une petite nuit, encore. In this expression, French has it all wrong; nights awake are the longest, largest, most cavernous of things. There is acre upon acre of night, and whole eras come and go, and there isn't another soul to be found on the journey through to morning."

The Shapeless Unease is, as its subtitle puts it, about its author's year of not sleeping. But to say that this book is about insomnia
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Varsha Ravi (between.bookends)
Feb 10, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: non-fiction
Where do I even begin with The Shapeless Unease. It’s an amalgamation of personal memoir, essays, snippets of fiction that have been birthed from the author’s period of extreme sleep deprivation. One would assume the complete lack of such a fundamental need would result in something hazy and confused, but instead, it’s the polar opposite. Harvey’s musings, that span grief, death, philosophy and more are startlingly clear, profound, moving and deeply insightful. It really got under my skin. The ...more
Samantha
Dec 24, 2019 rated it it was amazing
An absolute triumph. Harvey puts into words so perfectly the intimate terror of anxiety that feels impossible to articulate. I've already put a reminder in my diary to reread this in a year's time, but I doubt I'll need it.
Natalie (CuriousReader)
Review originally published: https://curiousreaderr.wordpress.com/...

When I first stumbled upon The Shapeless Unease among upcoming releases, I thought it sounded a bit like Moshfegh’s My Year of Rest and Relaxation – which I along with most everyone I know loved. But while both books tackle sleep-problems and span a year, their resemblance ends there – Samantha Harvey’s The Shapeless Unease is a memoir of one year where she struggles with sleep and through this experience, she writes not about
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Jess Smiley
Dec 17, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Sprawling meditations on insomnia, struggle, language, Great Britain, kinship, faith, reason, writing, a bank robbery, ineffable dreams.
Kay Cardona
Feb 06, 2020 rated it it was amazing
I have no words to describe this book. The language, the detail, the atmosphere... it's an amazing , amazing book. What a wonderful writer. The beauty of realism! I loved every word, every emotion every observation of life. I will read it again as I am sure I missed out on some emotion as I was still surfing a previous one.
Paul "Axl" Hurman
Jan 22, 2020 rated it it was amazing
I can't exactly pinpoint what it is that made me love this book as much as I do. It's a bit of a mish mash jumble of styles, but it feels totally natural. It is written in a way that somehow manages to read like how insomnia feels. Tangents and sidesteps and diversions, never settling into any one thing. It should be a confused mess of a book, but it is exquisitely written and utterly wonderful. Yeah, I loved it.
Amber
Jan 17, 2020 rated it it was amazing

How do you review something that resonates so deeply with you?

Blending essay, memoir, and fiction, Harvey’s fragmented prose reflects that of her sleepless state: she meanders through memories, existential anxieties and present emotions with a succinct style that articulates her courage in the face of a potentially life-shattering condition.

Harvey’s aphorisms resonated with me powerfully, intensely and searchingly. She deftly weaves together a narrative concerned not only with sleeplessness,
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Nic Scanlan-Dyas
Jan 15, 2020 rated it it was amazing
I’m not finished but I’m giving this five stars so far. The audio book delivery is magnificent, and the content is so bizarre and existential in a funny way, that is is a complete bullseye for me.

Essentially a collection of fabulous short stories linked by a common thread of despair. Not really about insomnia, more about the business of living and why we bother.

Finished it and highly recommend - not all narratives have to be about saving the world. Sometimes all we need is to try and save
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Miranda
Jan 05, 2020 rated it it was amazing
What an extraordinary book. Courageous and compelling in equal measure.
Ksenia Kulichik
“The Shapeless Unease” is a stream of consciousness mosaic of diary-entry-style notes, author’s experiences, memories and fragments of fiction in formation through which the author tries to explore and, perhaps, tackle her sudden insomnia. She talks about her childhood dog, her cousin and his death, her visits to the doctor... there is a lot of vulnerability exposed. There are also quite a few poignant and relatable moments, the flow of the book is leisurely and nice, though directionless. I ...more
Kinsey
Nov 07, 2019 rated it liked it
With a creeping sense of existential dread, The Shapeless Unease is a collection of run-of-consciousness essays that touches on everything from life and insomnia, to the inevitable death of loved ones. Written in a semi-diary style, this novel is haunting and feels a little like we're seeing the author at her most vulnerable and fatalistically humorous. Raw and real, this short collection is brutally honest while still being full of hope for the future.

A special thank you to Netgalley for
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Graeme
Nov 18, 2019 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: read-in-2019
A relatable stream of conscious memoir about insomnia, anxiety, trauma and loss. Harvey is a novelist and she inserts entertaining fragments of an unwritten novel about ATM burglars within this memoir, with somewhat vague intentions. Her difficulties with sleep arise around the time of the Brexit referendums, the Trump inauguration, and the loss of her cousin, allowing readers to empathize and relate to her struggles with the unknown contributors and "cures" of insomnia.
Janet
Nov 08, 2019 rated it really liked it
Superspeed readers like me can read 150 - 200+ pages/hour, so yes, I have read the book … and many more today. LOL

I received a temporary digital Advance Reader Copy of this book from #NetGalley, the publisher and the author in exchange for an honest review.

From the publisher, as I do not repeat the contents or story of books in reviews, I let them do it as they do it better than I do .

In 2016, Samantha Harvey began to lose sleep. She tried everything to appease her wakefulness: from
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Amanda
Nov 17, 2019 rated it really liked it
What first caught my attention was the cover. Then the title. Then the description.
I have personally had many difficulties with sleep throughout the last couple of years. Some nights I will lie awake for hours before finally sleeping, other nights I will sleep relatively fast, but wake up many times throughout the night, and other nights (luckily these are rare) I will lie awake all night, staring into the darkness, feeling myself slowly going crazy from the lack of sleep.
I am frustrated, for
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Chad Guarino
Jan 05, 2020 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: netgalley
Insomnia can be a paralyzing medical condition, the sufferer soon buried under a crushing sleep debt and creatively crippled. Samantha Harvey, however, uses it as the catalyst for a harrowing collection of stream of consciousness essays, loosely revolving around her lack of sleep.

The book's strength comes from the moments where Harvey leaves her emotional state the most exposed, such as when she's describing a Friday morning doctor visit and tearfully trying to explain that she hasn't slept
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Vicky
Jan 26, 2020 rated it it was ok
I see I’m alone in this from the other reviews, but I really didn’t enjoy this one at all. It’s so meandering that to me it just didn’t hang together, and none of the parts about actual insomnia were particularly interesting to me, or new. In places I found the prose pretentious and had to really force myself to finish. The two stars I’m giving it are due to the parts with the GP, where I think she gives a brilliant description of how difficult it is to get out of a certain box or pigeonhole ...more
Ksenia Kulichik
“The Shapeless Unease” is a stream of consciousness mosaic of diary-entry-style notes, author’s experiences, memories and fragments of fiction in formation through which the author tries to explore and, perhaps, tackle her sudden insomnia. She talks about her childhood dog, her cousin and his death, her visits to the doctor... there is a lot of vulnerability exposed. There are also quite a few poignant and relatable moments, the flow of the book is leisurely and nice, though directionless. I ...more
ElleM
Nov 28, 2019 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: netgalley-arcs
This has been an incredibly difficult book for me to rate because, although I can tell the concept and writing is quite brilliant, it just wasn't my taste.

I was initially drawn to the stunning cover art, and then when I read that it was about insomnia I was instantly hooked as I have been medically diagnosed with that myself. But although I certainly relate to the nocturnal mind wandering, which does indeed take me to some weird places, mine is of such a different nature that I couldn't relate
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Susannah
Jan 29, 2020 rated it it was amazing
A gem.
Esme
Feb 14, 2020 rated it liked it
Beautiful writing, descriptions of sleeplessness, grief, anxiety and living in the current environment. Didn’t enjoy the inset novella so much.
Julia
Jan 21, 2020 rated it it was ok
When I read the description of this book, I was intrigued. We all have difficulty sleeping at times, so I was interested in how the author handled an extreme version of this problem. Unfortunately, this book was not what I was expecting and I found myself bored for much of the time. The style is very stream of consciousness and I prefer a more linear narrative. There were many extended rants on random topics. This book was not for me.

The scene where she goes to a doctor for treatment and all
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Natalie
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Feb 05, 2020
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Jan 20, 2020
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Jan 22, 2020
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Samantha Harvey has completed postgraduate courses in philosophy and in Creative Writing. In addition to writing, she has traveled extensively and taught in Japan and has lived in Ireland and New Zealand. She recently co-founded an environmental charity and lives in Bath, England.

Her first novel, The Wilderness, was shortlisted for the Orange Prize for Fiction 2009, longlisted for the 2009 Man
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