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A Book about Freedom

by Olivia Laing

Everybody by Olivia Laing X
Everybody by Olivia Laing
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  • Lucy S. (ANN ARBOR, MI)
    A Fascinating Exploration
    This book is an excellent reminder of the groups of people who historically and still today have had to fight for bodily autonomy. Laing's work is incredibly well researched and highly informative. Using the lens of the life of psychoanalyst Wilhelm Reich to examine the different ways in which a body can be marginalized, Laing writes about sick bodies, bodies that have experienced violence, sexual bodies, bodies used in protest, to create a very thought provoking look at bodies seeking liberation.
  • Lesley F. (San Diego, CA)
    Bodily Freedom
    In my life I have enjoyed a great amount of white privilege and at the same time felt the struggles involved in trying to feel that my body was important and acceptable to "my tribe". This book has explained to me the other side of the reported current events over the last 100 or so years and done that in a remarkably clear explanation.
    Bodily rights are AGAIN currently imperiled and so this is not just a history lesson but a rallying cry as well.
    I intend to tell all my book groups about this wonderful book and hope they can all read it! Thank you, Olivia Laing.
  • Janine S. (Wyoming, MI)
    Thought provoking read
    Wow! What a thought provoking and exhilarating read! Beautifully written and exquisitely researched, this is a book that when read can profoundly in part the soul if one is open to viewing freedom from a different construct: the body you are in is constrained by forces and laws that do not allow you to live freely. Laing centers her proof on giving insights into the lives of individuals ranging from Wilhelm Reich to Malcolm X where these individuals were confined and persecuted by ideologies that sought to deny them their individuality. She also draws upon her personal experience to further the portrait of society's limitations on freedom. Laing seeks to point out too that "freedom is a shared endeavor" and the wrongness of white supremacy, religious bigotry and malign meanness of the human spirit deprive the body of freedom. It's impossible to capture the brilliance of this book in a review. I can only point out that while this is a book that should be considered as worthy to be read, it is one that is necessary and important to read.
  • Wilhelmina H. (Russell Springs, KY)
    Thought Provoking
    This is a serious and not quick to read and absorb book. It takes time, concentration, thinking and sometimes rethinking to get through it. That's not a bad thing though - it's well researched and well-written with a relevant topic. I will read it again at some point to peel off more of the layers and wrap my thoughts around some of the topics. It would be good for a book club discussion.
  • Patricia W. (Desoto, TX)
    Everybody is an interesting, extensively researched book about the human body and freedom. Laing has the exceptional ability to make connections among events and thoughts of particular times and to point out the struggles of individuals and of societies. I enjoyed reading and thinking about these connections. Today and throughout history, people have been marginalized for who they are, while some have worked to take away or limit the freedom of certain people with laws to control their bodies. This book gave me a better understanding of some of these events, especially related to sexual orientation and rights, feminism, civil rights, the prison system, and immigrants.
  • Scott M. (Columbia, MD)
    Everybody: A Book About Freedom...Which You Are Free To Think What You Will
    This work is really more a collection of essays that all center on the theme of bodily freedom and how individuals manage to express that freedom. The connective tissue that (mostly) links these essays together is the life of psychoanalyst William Reich, and author Olivia Laing uses examples and aspects of Reich's life, along with her personal experiences and extensive research, to discuss issues such as sexual orientation (gay, transgender rights), civil rights/racism, feminism and criminal justice (the role of prisons). The book takes what most would define as a liberal view on these issues and the author does not hide her advocacy on issues. Agree or disagree, the essays prove thought-provoking and should inspire lively discussion/debate in a book club.
  • Elizabeth V. (Bellbrook, OH)
    It had moments
    I really wanted to love this book. It had moments where I did. The problem is, I had to slog through a tremendous amount of what felt like unnecessary verbiage to get to those moments. The author's personal opinions seemed to taint her message as well. She spoke kindly, even glowingly about Reich and other males but all her dissections of the females she wrote about seemed sharply critical. A prime example of this is her treatment of Andrea Dworkin. All in all, I think this material would have been better presented in a peer-reviewed journal article instead of a full length book.
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