The Shapeless Unease: My Year in Search of Sleep


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if you need some company in the wee small hours.

A quick summary

In The Shapeless Unease, Samantha Harvey takes us through the year in which she lost the ability to sleep – a torrid struggle with herself, with medicine, and with society, in which the personal illuminates the all-too universal. It is a raw diary, an angry treatise, and a sober account of battles lost and won. It will speak to anyone who has known insomnia, and also likely to anyone who has sat frustrated and despairing in a doctor’s surgery or a counsellor’s chair.

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Publisher’s description

*Featured on BBC Radio 4’s A Good Read*



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. 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.

A delight to read… ineffably rewarding (OBSERVER)

Easily one of the truest and best books I’ve read about what it’s like to be alive now, in this country  (MAX PORTER)

How can a book about a sensual deprivation be so sensuous and so full? … it seemed to give my sleep resonance and poetry. What a beautiful book. (TESSA HADLEY)

Additional information

Format Paperback
Weight 158 g
Dimensions 196 × 127 × 16 mm
Book Author

ISBN 9781529112092


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