My book review of 'How to Stay Sane in an Age of Division' by Elif Shafak

How to Stay Sane in an Age of Division

by Elif Shafak
How to Stay Sane in an Age of Division
by Elif Shafak

If you're looking for a short but inspiring and stimulating read, then look no further!

This is a 90 page essay from the award-winning novelist and activitist, Elif Shafak. It is packed with thought-provoking, insightful observations on the world today, and urges us to keep reading, writing, listening and telling our stories.

We are made of stories, she says, about the things that have happened to us, but also our thoughts and memories, our hopes and dreams. If we are not permitted to tell our story, if we are silenced or excluded, then we become alienated and dehumanised.

If we are convinced no one is paying attention to us, we are less inclined to listen, particularly to people whose views differ from ours. And when we stop listening to other opinions, we stop learning.

While we are bombarded with information all around us, there is a danger that we only talk to people with the same viewpoint as ourselves, only read the books, newspapers and magazines that are in line with what we have read before, and only receive the same opinions on social media, so that our world becomes claustrophobic and narcissistic.

"Too much information is an obstacle in front of true knowledge," she writes. "Knowledge requires reading. Books. Indepth analyses. Investigative journalism. Then there is wisdom, which connects the mind and the heart, activates emotional intelligence, expands empathy. For that we need stories and storytelling."

Elements of this essay I'm sure have appeared elsewhere but this is a beautifully packaged pocket book in which to underline paragraphs and keep close to hand!

Review date: February 2021
Publication date: 11th August 2020