Featured image by Stephanie Bisson, all others by me.
The Light in the Dark, Horatio Clare (2018)
I bought this book at Hay’s Winter Weekend (you can read my experience here), after listening to Horatio Clare give one of the most heart-wrenching and relatable talks I’d ever been to.
I fell in love with the way he spoke of the Welsh countryside, of his travelling adventures and his family so I knew I had to get one of the two books he was presenting. I decided to go for The Light in the Dark as I knew it discussed living with SAD (Seasonal Affective Disorder), and I was eager to read an account of something I’ve struggled with, too.
Clare did not disappoint. He’s the type of writer who makes words dance in front of you, setting up a rhythm and narrative that is almost addictive. I found myself yearning for even just a few seconds to read another line, to know what happened next. The book is deeply personal. It is, in fact, his own journal of the winter 2016-2017, carefully detailing how the winter darkness slowly pulled him into depression.
However, although I related to his experience in a way few books have accomplished, what truly stood out was the character of his partner. Even when his condition was at its worst, his love for her and their child remained unwavering, almost as a safety line in the middle of a storm. I finally understood my own faults in my past relationships and the weight of codependency when a partner struggles with depression.
I cannot recommend this book enough. It’s perfect for those who want to understand their own condition better or those who yearn to empathise with their loved ones.
Why I’m No Longer Talking To White People About Race, Reni Eddo-Lodge (2016)
Why I’m no Longer Talking to White People about Race had been sitting on my bookshelf for almost a year. I’d picked it up before, hungrily reading the prologue, decided to read the whole thing. But for one reason or other, I never quite made it into the first chapter.
I’ve never been gladder to have read a book than this one. It’s the type that, if you read it in public, colleagues will walk up to you and question it (mostly in a positive way). At work, there’s an incipient book club dedicated just to this book. It has opened the path for constructive conversations with friends and family.
Eddo-Lodge is a beautiful writer, and her account of racial history in the UK is both deeply personal and objective. The first few chapters felt like an introduction to a side of history I feel we’ve usually been sheltered from, to then lead to an almost manifesto in the last. As a white Spanish woman, I felt deeply uncomfortable reading this book. And that’s a good thing. I believe that any of Eddo-Lodge’s white readers should feel uncomfortable because she eloquently describes and explains white privilege and our inherent participation in a racist system.
As the title dutifully says, this book is not intended to appease white audiences or make them feel better. And anyone who takes the arguments within should read it cover to cover again.