Writing & News

Pre-release review of Gemma Nisbet’s The Things We Live With


in Books + Publishing on 30 August. Follow link or read below:

Gemma Nisbet is a writer and journalist who holds onto things, but this book isn’t about hoarding. It’s not even a self-help antidote to ‘Marie Kondo-ing’ your stuff. In this collection of essays, Nisbet allows her things to spark memories and reflections rather than joy. Beginning with her father’s estate, Nisbet allows a few choice items to lead her—and us—down various rabbit holes of analysis about the people and things she has shared her life with. As a former travel journalist, Nisbet has a knack for description. The Things We Live With is a book that mainly lingers on impressions, wandering thoughts, maybes and hearsay, speculating on the lives of others through the magic of holding their things: a Texan Airbnb host and his hospital bracelet; Phyllis Pearsall, creator of the London A–Z street atlas (common to almost every English home); and the letters of Nisbet’s childhood pen pal. Nisbet takes us on a personal journey through some of the parts of her life that are enlivened by finding these objects. This book of essays awakens in the reader a sense of wonder about the magic found in the things we cherish, which hold not only physical value but also stand as reminders of cherished memories of people, places and times we have loved, presenting a whimsical and breezy reading experience. Readers who enjoy deeply personal memoirs, such as Chitra Ramaswamy’s Homelands, will enjoy this book.

Books+Publishing reviewer: Becca Whitehead is a features and content writer based in Naarm-Melbourne. Books+Publishing is Australia’s number-one source of pre-publication book reviews.