#MemoirMonday – Adam Kay – This is Going to Hurt and Twas the Nightshift Before Christmas:
The Reading Millennial and associated @nonfictionmillennial instagram were created towards the end of 2018 when I was feeling totally fed-up with the world. Nothing was making sense to me anymore; what had felt like progress in international relations, development, and peace, was suddenly beginning to fall apart. Politics was (and is) becoming increasingly fractured, poverty is increasing, and the climate-crisis is on our doorstep. I just did not understand the world that I lived in – and I was not okay with that.
So, I embarked on a journey – led by nonfiction books – to try and better understand this world, and work out why I just didn’t feel at home in it. As 2019 unfolded, I found more and more that I was being drawn to memoirs.
As defined by the Cambridge Dictionary as memoir is ‘a book or other piece of writing based on the writer’s personal knowledge of famous people, places, or events’.
Whilst reading these books I was finding that they were opening me up to different perspectives, view points, and experiences that I hadn’t previously encountered. They have become a crucial cornerstone in helping me understand the world again.
#MemoirMonday is a section of this blog designed to specifically highlight the memoirs that I have read, as well as their impact, the questions raised, and how they have broadened my world view. It is not supposed to act at a conventional book review, and I hope that I will be posting those separately alongside this series.
I’m starting with Adam Kay as ‘This is Going to Hurt’ was the first memoir that I read in 2019, and the one that started me down the path of actively seeking out others . I am going to caveat this with I am aware of the irony about talking about broadening my horizons, and then choosing a white-male author as the first to feature. I will be making a conscious effort throughout 2020 to read more authors of colour, non-binary authors, and female authors. So, if you have any suggestions please comment below or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
With that said, let’s get to it …
There is no doubt at this point that most people on #bookstagram will have heard of Adam Kay. His two book’s ‘This is Going to Hurt’ and ’Twas the Nightshift Before Christmas’ have been Sunday Times Bestsellers for weeks, even featuring on the 2019 bestsellers list.
Kay’s light, humorous tone distinguishes him from other medical memoirs in the market. It was also one of the main reasons that I enjoyed both of his books so much. I don’t have any NHS workers in my immediate circle of friends and family; so having an author who felt so human share their experience was eye-opening.
The NHS became a central talking point during the 2019 general election, with parties on both sides of the political spectrum promising more funding. However, as quickly as attention is generated it can often fade, with Brexit once again taking the spotlight in recent weeks. That doesn’t diminish the importance of the NHS, or the pressing need for additional funding that our services desperately need.
Recently there has been a viral video making the rounds on social media highlight the stark differences between UK and US healthcare. It is genuinely shocking to me that a nation such as the US doesn’t provide universal-free healthcare to its citizens; even more shocking are the outrageous prices some Americans have to pay for basic drugs such as insulin. This video only serves to reinforce Adam Kay’s points about the need for respect and understanding of the NHS from all corners of government.
I feel there are so many important questions that are raised by Kay’s book about mental health, working conditions, and structures for all people working within the NHS. No doubt there will be campaigners working up and down the country to influence government policy, and time will only tell if our new administration follows through on their funding promises.
Kay’s memoir provided me with an insight into what would otherwise be an unseen profession in my life. I hope that by exploring how other people experience the world around them I will be better able to be a positive global citizen. Here’s looking forward to what 2020 has to offer and the wonderful books that will fill it!
Do you have any memoir recommendations? Is it a sub-genre that you enjoy? Any definitely no-gos? Let me know in the comments below!