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Danielle reading

Danielle Breslin

Dublin born and bred

Where in Dublin do you live?
Where are you from?

What are you reading right now?

In an Unspoken Voice: How the Body Releases Trauma and Restores Goodness by Peter A. Levine.

Tell us a bit about it ...

I am really interested in embodiment theory and somatic experiencing and have recently begun reading Levine's extensive work. Described by Canadian-Hungarian physician , Gabor Maté, as Levine's "magnum opus", the book sets out the idea that trauma is neither a disease nor a disorder but rather an injury which can be addressed when we learn to engage our individual yet innate capacity to self-regulate our nervous systems.

Levine makes a compelling argument for an extremely effective approach to addressing both mental and physical health problems by demonstrating the significant ways in which emotion, and specifically traumas, impact our physiologies. Along with an increasing amount of clinicians, physicians and body workers worldwide, Levine's contribution counters the emphases placed on catharsis or simply "talking about your problems" as the predominant approach to relieving the stress we encounter in our daily lives. Although this description may seem heavy, Levine writes in a very accessible way, discussing his own experience and navigation of trauma after a car accident. I highly recommend this book, not only for people managing physical or mental illness, but for anyone learning how to handle stress in a more sustainable way.

What is your favourite book of all time?

Sister Outsider: Essays and Speeches by Audre Lorde.

Tell us a bit about it ...

My understanding of the world as well as my understanding of myself as both an oppressed and extremely privileged person with the power to contribute to equitable social change is indebted to Audre Lorde (1934 -1992). A self-described "black lesbian feminist warrior poet".

Lorde wrote these essays and speeches during the late '70s and early '80s and they are testament to the love and compassion that Audre Lorde embodied in her personal life and political work. Speaking on intersectionality before it became a buzzword, Audre Lorde's contribution remains integral to correcting the dominance and oversights of white feminist thought which have consistently neglected the experience and perspectives of black people and people of colour, queer people, women, the disabled, the elderly, amongst other oppressed groups. It is essential reading for all feminists.

Actually, it is essential reading for everyone, particularly at the moment as we collectively try to understand, confront and end the systemic oppression endured by Black people on a daily basis in every part of the world.

What book do you remember most from childhood?

Vicky Angel by Jacqueline Wilson.

Tell us a bit about it ...

I recently re-read this book because it was due to be discussed on a podcast and mention of it sparked memories of my encountering it as a child.

Vicky Angel describes the experience of Jade, a deeply self-conscious child being raised in an emotionally neglectful home as she navigates (SPOILER) the profound grief of losing her best friend, Vicky, who dies tragically. Wilson has an amazing capacity to provide insight into the complexity of a child's psyche and into the richness of their emotional worlds; something to which we are rarely made privy. Another aspect I appreciate is Wilson's non-normative representations of female characters. She counters reductive formulations of childhood (and femininity) through nuanced character portrayals. Wilson has written over 100 books and is due to release another one this coming August. It will be her first book that centres on an openly gay female character named Frankie.

Which of your books is battered from using over and over again?

The Cultural Politics of Emotion by Sara Ahmed.

Tell us a bit about it ...

This book is definitely battered from overuse because I relied on it so much for my master’s thesis but also because I thought it was so excellent. Each chapter offers a theoretical and empirical approach to explaining how emotions are not simply psychological states but social and cultural practices that we engage in/are engaged by. They are mediated through language and materialize in their shaping how and what we think and feel about others and the world around us, therefore also influencing our actions and their material effects. I think the book offers a very valuable and critical intervention in its urging the reader to reflect more thoroughly on how our thoughts and feelings are influenced by the messages and opinions we consume and are confronted by.

What is your favourite book by an international author?

Sister Outsider: Essays and Speeches by Audre Lorde.

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Same as favourite book of all time.

What book do you feel depicts your own or another culture most vividly?

The Factory Girls by Frank McGuinness.

Tell us a bit about it ...

The Factory Girls is a play that tells the story of five women from Donegal working in a shirt factory. Faced with redundancy, the women stage a lock-in. It gives great insight into the personal lives of the women as well as their cultural context.

Is there a book that changed your mind/perspective about something?

The Wretched of the Earth by Frantz Fanon.

Tell us a bit about it ...

Speaking on colonization from a psychoanalytic perspective, this book was really important for my understanding of the histories of colonialism and racism, processes of colonization and decolonization, and their effects on the psyches of both the colonized and colonizers. It changed my perspective on nationalism, the conditions under which nationalisms manifest, and the social, cultural, and political implications of these power structures.


The Books

We have been finding out about the books that matter to you, to grow this virtual bookshelf that represents the lives, families and culture of the people that call Dublin home. Here are a selection of some of the books that you have been telling us …

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