Book Review :: A Thousand Ways to Pay Attention by Rebecca Schiller
Guest Post by Amanda Weir-Gertzog
A Thousand Ways to Pay Attention: A Memoir of Coming Home to My Neurodivergent Mind by Rebecca Schiller explores the several-year period when she untangled the threads of her health diagnoses and the background of the land she and her family recently purchased. Compared to my memoir intake, my nature reading is slim, but Schiller’s sumptuous sensorial descriptors of her small farm in the UK enmesh the reader in the landscape of its mucky, weather-beaten, seasonal wonders. Interwoven with this ecological narrative is the history of former owners of their two-acre property, including interpretive retellings of their experiences supported by primary documentation and literary device.
Schiller’s mental health is addressed through the first two-thirds of the book via her interactions with her children and spouse, foggy memory, clumsiness, and heightened anxiety and depression since moving to their farm. Her diagnosis, and understanding of her neurodivergence, encompass only the latter third of the book and thus feel rushed.
Part of the joy, and potential conundrum, of A Thousand Ways to Pay Attention is the sheer amount of content all wrapped in a book that contains too many gifts: first years on a small family farm, obtaining a health diagnosis, and researching and reinterpreting the history of the land around her.
A Thousand Ways to Pay Attention: A Memoir of Coming Home to My Neurodivergent Mind by Rebecca Schiller. The Experiment, April 2022.
Reviewer bio: Amanda Weir-Gertzog is a writer, gerontologist, and eater of too much milk chocolate. A caregiver and community volunteer, she also authors book reviews to compensate for her prodigious reading habits. Amanda lives in Durham, North Carolina with her partner, pets, and overflowing bookcases.