The Shapeless Unease
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 sleep that rarely comes. She’s tried everything to appease it: medication, exercise, therapy, relaxation techniques, changes to her diet, changes to her living arrangements. Nothing is helping.What happens when one of the basic human needs goes unmet? For Samantha Harvey, extreme sleep deprivation resulted in a raw clarity about life itself. Original and profound, The Shapeless Unease is a startlingly insightful exploration of memory, writing and influence, death and grief, and the will to survive.

The Shapeless Unease Details

TitleThe Shapeless Unease
Author
ReleaseJan 9th, 2020
PublisherJonathan Cape
ISBN-139781787332027
Rating
GenreNonfiction, Autobiography, Memoir

The Shapeless Unease Review

  • Kinsey
    January 1, 1970
    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 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 providing me with a free advanced copy of this book in exchange for my honest opinion.
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  • Janet
    January 1, 1970
    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 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 medication to therapy, changes in her diet to changes in her living arrangements. Nothing seemed to help.The Shapeless Unease is Harvey’s darkly funny and deeply intelligent anatomy of her insomnia, an immersive interior monologue of a year without one of the most basic human needs. Original and profound, and narrated with a lucid breathlessness, this is a startlingly insightful exploration of memory, writing and influence, death and the will to survive, from “this generation’s Virginia Woolf” (Telegraph).As someone whose life used to centre around sleep - i.e. the lack thereof, trying to sleep but the lack thereof, obsessing about the lack of sleep, etc. etc. etc. this book was a fascinating read. So many people have a problem with sleep - I ended up at a sleep clinic and its doctors made me sane in the end. All I can say to that end is that every person's sleep problems are individual and if you are frustrated by all the books out there promising sleep, this book will not cure you but it will prove that you are not alone.The book is a fabulous autobiography and a very short read - it is perfect to discuss with your friends. It is, however, very pricey for a short book that is not meant for everyone which is why it will not be in our special library. As always, I try to find a reason to not rate with stars as I love emojis (outside of their incessant use by "Social Influencer Millennials" on Instagram and Twitter) so let's give it 🛏🛏🛏🛏
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  • Amanda
    January 1, 1970
    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 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 sure, but I can't imagine what it would be like to not sleep at all many nights in a row. Anyways, I felt like I could relate to the topic, and I'm glad I got to read this.The writing was really good, beautiful at times, funny at other times, and I often found myself giggling while reading. I also ended up marking several parts that I really liked, and wanted to be able to find and read again. As I said, the writing is great, and the layout of the book was slightly chaotic, and stream-of-consciousness like, which makes sense, not only because it's a sort of "essay", but also because it chronicles the way your thoughts will jump and stray throughout nights of sleeplessness Overall a super enjoyable read, although it managed the make me own anxiety about death and loss spike up (which I suppose can be both positive and negative)
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  • Ksenia Kulichik
    January 1, 1970
    “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 “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 stayed along for the ride because of the writing, which is beautiful. I have never read Samantha Harvey’s fiction, but you know a skilled writer when you see one.There isn’t really anything to learn from the book and little to shake the reader, but it is still touching and pleasant. You flip the last page feeling good about the author, where she will go, and considering how intimate the whole book and the tone are, it seems Harvey feels so herself.A nice little book to pick up on a whim or as palliative reading for those battling the horror of insomnia.
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  • ElleM
    January 1, 1970
    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 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 to this book. One passage describing the post mortem breaking down of her cousin's body after burial was a little too detailed for me. Perhaps I'm more squeamish than I thought!I've gone for the middle road in my rating because, although this book isn't for me, I think it may be perfect for others.
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  • Ksenia Kulichik
    January 1, 1970
    “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 “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 stayed along for the ride because of the writing, which is beautiful. I have never read Samantha Harvey’s fiction, but you know a skilled writer when you see one.There isn’t really anything to learn from the book and little to shake the reader, but it is still touching and pleasant. You flip the last page feeling good about the author, where she will go, and considering how intimate the whole book and the tone are, it seems Harvey feels so herself.A nice little book to pick up on a whim or as palliative reading for those battling the horror of insomnia. Thanks to NetGalley for a digital ARC of the book.
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  • Graeme
    January 1, 1970
    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.
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  • Jess Smiley
    January 1, 1970
    Sprawling meditations on insomnia, struggle, language, Great Britain, kinship, faith, reason, writing, a bank robbery, ineffable dreams.
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