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The Examined Life: January 2014 non-fiction book of the month and giveaway

The_Examined_LifeLonglisted for the Guardian First Book Award, a Sunday Times bestseller and Radio 4 Book of the Week, our January non-fiction choice is a set of short stories with a difference: The Examined Life by psychoanalyst Stephen Grosz is based on real-life sessions with his patients.

Distilling around 50,000 hours of conversation over the past 25 years, the succinct (and wonderfully jargon-free) chapters cover a broad and fascinating range of topics: why we lie, what we fear, how we change, how we get stuck.

Although many of his cases might appear fairly extreme (a man who fakes his own death, a woman who escapes the Twin Towers), Grosz reveals how much there is to learn from the impulses and strategies that lie behind all human behaviour.

It is also a wonderfully honest glimpse into how pyschoanalysts work.

Grosz includes Karen Blixen's quote that "all sorrows can be borne, if you put them in a story, or tell a story about them" and this book is a testament to the power of the story: the ones we tell ourselves and the ones that Grosz has crafted in this 'marvellous' (The Times), 'excellent' (Guardian) and 'completely magical' (Mail on Sunday) collection. Get on that couch and start reading.


Stephen_Grosz About the author

Stephen Grosz is a practising psychoanalyst who has worked with patients for more than 25 years. Born in America, educated at the University of California, Berkeley, and at Oxford University, he teaches at the Institute of Psychoanalysis and in the psychoanalysis unit at University College London.

His stories have appeared in the Financial Times Weekend Magazine and Granta. The Examined Life is his first book. He lives in London.

Stephen's website has an excellent round-up of his rave reviews, plus extracts and information on where Stephen will be speaking live at various festivals in 2014.



shelf_helpVintage Books Shelf Help 

12 Reasons To Feel Better

On 'Black Monday' (the third Monday of January traditionally deemed the most depressing day of the year, which this year falls on 20 Jan) Vintage Books will launch Shelf Help, a year-long campaign to help people feel better through reading.

In a literary alternative to the traditional January glut of 'self-help' books, Vintage are offering a different proposal for 'new year new you' self-improvement: reading.

A collection of titles has been carefully curated by literary journalist Alex Clark, chosen for their particular focus on 12 areas of mental, spiritual and physical health. Readers are encouraged to read the list in sequence, one book a month, to help them feel better throughout 2014. 

The series includes:

  • Stephen Grosz's bestseller The Examined Life
  • Jeanette Winterson's bestselling memoir Why Be Happy When You Can Be Normal?
  • Sebastian Faulks' 2005 novel Human Traces about two pioneering psychiatrists in the late 19th century
  • Andrew Solomon's monumental work Far from the Tree, exploring extraordinary families

Readers looking for additional support and inspiration will be able to attend live Shelf Help Sessions – a series of events in partnership with London arts venue Kings' Place.

Leading authors on the list will be in discussion about the idea of Shelf Help and their own works. Interested readers will also be able to access additional reading material through a dedicated page on the Vintage website, which will include introductions by Alex Clark and reading guides for each title.




Win the entire series of Shelf Help books

We're offering a full set of Vintage books' Shelf Help books as a prize draw to all those who join in the discussion about The Examined Life or post a question to Stephen Grosz [[[ links ]]]]] before the end of January 2014.


Vintage Books have 50 copies of The Examined Life to give to Mumsnetters - to claim yours please fill in your details below. We'll post on the thread when all the copies have gone. If you're not lucky enough to bag one of the free books, you can always get your paperback or kindle version

If you get a free copy, we do expect you to come and and tell us what you think. So please discuss the book here throughout the month and post a question to author Stephen Grosz. 

This giveaway closes 10am, Friday 10 January



Last updated: over 3 years ago