What Doesn’t Kill You

An explorer spends a decade preparing for an expedition to the South Pole; what happens when you live for a goal, but once it’s been accomplished, you discover it’s not enough? 

A successful broadcast journalist ends up broke, drunk and sleeping rough; what makes alcohol so hard to resist despite its ruinous consequences? 

A teenage girl tries to disappear by starving herself; what is this force that compels so many women to reduce their size so drastically?

In this essay collection, writers share the struggles that have shaped their lives loss, depression, addiction, anxiety, trauma, identity and others. 

But as they take you on a journey to the darkest recesses of their mind, the authors grapple with challenges that haunt us all.

Today is my stop on the What Doesn’t Kill You blog tour. Many thanks to Anne Cater for the chance to read and review.

It’s been a funny old time and lots of people have had real difficulties keeping a hold of their ‘reading mojo’ and their usual books haven’t really been hitting the spot. If that sounds a bit like you then look no further because this book will be a real palate cleanser for you as it’s so refreshingly different it’ll get you back reading again in absolutely no time.

I’m not normally a huge lover of essay collectionss, I can find them bitty and find that collections of them vary so much that it can prove hard for them to hold my interest. I was intrigued to read this collection once I heard about it because of the thematic link that joins them together and instead of dipping into them as I imagined I would, I ended up totally immersed and actually read it from cover to cover once I’d started.

Although the subject matter can be dark, instead of feeling gloomy, I felt that the writers’ strength and resilience described in these stories gave me a real lift in these last few difficult weeks and reminded me that when it rains we should think about the rainbows that follow and when it is dark, we can see the stars shining brightly overhead too!

As a mental health first aider I will be recommending this book to lots of people who might find many things to relate to in its pages. The diversity of experiences and the variation in the tone of these essays makes the breadth of appeal huge and the fact that the writers all have something completely different to reflect on means that everyone will find something that they can find a connection to and feel moved and inspired by reflecting on the way we can all move towards moments of grace and acceptance

As an English Teacher, the poem I’d match with it is Mean Time by Carol Ann Duffy and I’m including it here in my review to provide a moment of grace for anyone who needs it. I absolutely recommend this book and feel that Elitsa Dermendzhiyska has done an amazing job in collecting and editing this array of first class writing. Even if you think this might not be your thing, you should definitely give it a go as it’s one of those books that your thoughts keep returning to. My favourite piece was Last Fragments of Love by the wonderful Cathy Rentzenbrink – and it’s almost worth buying it for her piece alone – but you will honestly be spoiled for choice here if you love beautifully written pieces where you feel the writer speaking to you and close its covers feeling moved, inspired and overawed in equal measure. This has been my ‘sleeper hit’ of lockdown and I recommend it wholeheartedly

Buy yourself a copy here

‘Mean Time’ by Carol Ann Duffy

The clocks slid back an hour
and stole light from my life
as I walked through the wrong part of town,
mourning our love.

And, of course, unmendable rain
fell to the bleak streets
where I felt my heart gnaw
at all our mistakes.

If the darkening sky could lift
more than one hour from this day
there are words I would never have said
nor have heard you say.

But we will be dead, as we know,
beyond all light.
These are the shortened days
and the endless nights.

Writer On The Shelf

litsa Dermendzhiyska went from stock investing in Washington DC to a technology incubator in south-east Asia, then joined the rat race in London and promptly burned out while building a tax software business. To avoid actually getting therapy, she spent the next two years interviewing therapists, psychiatrists, NHS clinicians, authors, artists and entrepreneurs from South London to Silicon Valley – this book is the result.

Follow @elliethinksnot on Twitter

on Goodreads

on Amazon,

Visit elliethinks.com

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