Smart Thinking Books

Interview with Victoria Shepherd, author of A History of Delusions: The Glass King, a Substitute Husband and a Walking Corpse

Interview with Victoria Shepherd, author of A History of Delusions: The Glass King, a Substitute Husband and a Walking Corpse


Victoria Shepherd, author of A History of Delusions: The Glass King, a Substitute Husband and a Walking Corpse recommends some important books! Before jumping into the interview, please check out Victoria's book:

A History of Delusions: The Glass King, a Substitute Husband and a Walking Corpse

A History of Delusions: The Glass King, a Substitute Husband and a Walking Corpse

Victoria Shepherd

Review from Book Depository: The King of France - thinking he was made of glass - was terrified he might shatter...and he wasn't alone. After the Emperor met his end at Waterloo, an epidemic of Napoleons piled into France's asylums. Throughout the nineteenth century, dozens of middle-aged women tried to convince their physicians that they were, in fact, dead.

For centuries we've dismissed delusions as something for doctors to sort out behind locked doors. But delusions are more than just bizarre quirks - they hold the key to collective anxieties and traumas.

In this groundbreaking history, Victoria Shepherd uncovers stories of delusions from medieval times to the present day and implores us to identify reason in apparent madness.

Buy On:

Easons €19.52 Book Depository €25.19 Waterstones £16.99 Wordery $16.31

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Q. Do you have a favourite smart thinking book (and why that book)?

I read The Examined Life: How We Lose and Find Ourselves by Stephen Grosz. I go back to this book. Grosz, a psychoanalyst with decades of experience, writes up a collection of case studies from his conversations with patients over the years. Each case has a revelation at its heart about why we do what we do. Grosz acknowledges that talking cure will can only lead to a certain amount of change, but the change can be significant, and there's great psychological drama in miniature and compassionate insight too.

The Examined Life: How We Lose and Find Ourselves

The Examined Life: How We Lose and Find Ourselves

Stephen Grosz

Review From Book Depository: Echoing Socrates' statement that the unexamined life not worth living, psychoanalyst Stephen Grosz draws on his twenty-five years of work and more than 50,000 hours of conversations to form a collection of beautifully rendered tales that illuminate the human experience.

These are stories about everyday lives: from a woman who finds herself daydreaming as she returns home from a business trip to a young man loses his wallet, to the more extreme examples: the patient who points an unloaded gun at a police officer and the compulsive liar who convinces his wife he's dying of cancer. The resulting journey will spark new ideas about who we are and why we do what we do.

Buy On:

Easons €11.20 Book Depository €9.99 Waterstones £9.99 Wordery $9.99

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Q. What's the most recent smart thinking book you've read (and how would you rate it)?

Sad Little Men by Richard Beard. It's gripping and so timely. A corruscating portrait of England and its boarding schools and analysis of how so many of our current leaders became leaders through institutions which bestow a heady cocktail of psychological damage and entitlement on boys in their care. It's angry while still humane and asks us to question urgently whether this model is fit for purpose and could ever give us the humans we need to steer us through times of crisis.

Sad Little Men: Private Schools and the Ruin of England

Sad Little Men: Private Schools and the Ruin of England

Richard Beard

Review From Book Depository: In 1975, as a child, Richard Beard was sent away from his home to sleep in a dormitory. So were Boris Johnson and David Cameron. In those days a private boys' boarding school education was largely the same experience as it had been for generations: a training for the challenges of Empire. He didn't enjoy it. But the first and most important lesson was to not let that show. Being separated from the people who love you is traumatic. How did that feel at the time, and what sort of adult does it mould?

This is a story about England, and a portrait of a type of boy, trained to lead, who becomes a certain type of man. As clearly as an X-ray, it reveals the make-up of those who seek power - what makes them tick, and why. Sad Little Men addresses debates about privilege head-on; clearly and unforgettably, it shows the problem with putting a succession of men from boarding schools into positions of influence, including 10 Downing Street.

Now, with our government in crisis, it's time to ask if these are really the kind of men we want in charge?

Buy On:

Easons €13.99 Book Depository €16.64 Waterstones £8.49 Wordery $10.56

(All links earn commission from purchases. Prices accurate at time of writing)


Q. Do you have a favourite childhood book?

Tom's Midnight Garden by Philippa Pearce. I've always loved the idea that you could slip back in time and experience a previous era in the history of the house you live in - and I trace it back to having this classic read to me. So many mind-blowing ideas - A housekeeper dreams her own past and Tom can walk around in this reality when the clock strikes thirteen and meet the housekeeper's younger self.

Tom's Midnight Garden

Tom's Midnight Garden

Philippa Pearce

Review From Book Depository: When Tom is sent to stay at his aunt and uncle's house for the summer, he resigns himself to endless weeks of boredom. As he lies awake in his bed he hears the grandfather clock downstairs strike . . .eleven . . . twelve . . . thirteen . . .

Thirteen! Tom races down the stairs and out the back door, into a garden everyone told him wasn't there. In this enchanted thirteenth hour, the garden comes alive - but Tom is never sure whether the children he meets there are real or ghosts . . . This entrancing and magical story is one of the best-loved children's books ever written.

Buy On:

Book Depository €6.22 Waterstones £6.99 Wordery $7.64

(All links earn commission from purchases that help fund this site. Prices accurate at time of writing)


Q. Do you prefer reading on paper, Kindle or listening to an audiobook?

Paper - with an occasional audiobook in a car when I can't read paper without feeling sick.


Q. Do you have a favourite bookshop (and why that shop)?

Hatchards in Piccadilly - a still point in a turning world - and Mr B's Emporium in Bath for its uniquely creative way of curating the books and its energy.

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Many thanks to Victoria for recommending some important books! Please don't forget to check out Victoria's book A History of Delusions: The Glass King, a Substitute Husband and a Walking Corpse.
Daryl


Image Copyrights: Oneworld Publications (A History of Delusions), Vintage Publishing (The Examined Life, Sad Little Men), Oxford University Press (Tom's Midnight Garden).


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