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Teach Us to Sit Still: A Skeptic's Search for Health and Healing Hardcover – April 26, 2011

48 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews


“A small triumph of narrative artistry, luxuriantly written and full of bone-dry humor.” ―The Spectator

“A searingly honest, viscerally vivid, darkly comic self-examination of the connections between writing, personality and health.” ―David Lodge

“A mystery story written with extraordinary nerve and eloquence...The result is harrowing, mordant, and unforgettable.” ―David Shields

About the Author

TIM PARKS is the author of novels, nonfiction, and essays. He has won the Somerset Maugham, Betty Trask, and Llewellyn Rhys awards and been shortlisted for the Man Booker Prize. His works include Destiny, Europa, Dreams of Rivers and Seas, Italian Neighbors, An Italian Education, and A Season with Verona.


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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 336 pages
  • Publisher: Rodale Books (April 26, 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1609611586
  • ISBN-13: 978-1609611583
  • Product Dimensions: 5.8 x 1.1 x 8.6 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.1 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (48 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,055,829 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

52 of 53 people found the following review helpful By Rabid Reader VINE VOICE on June 20, 2011
Format: Hardcover Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
I was familiar with Tim Parks writing based upon his books about his life as an expatriate in Italy. He is a dryly funny writer with a real flair for drawing his readers in. This book is no exception, but it is very different than his other non-fiction works. His books on Italy provide a glimpse into the peculiarities of that which is foreign. This book provides a glimpse into that which is familiar; namely, the human body and its processes. But perhaps more significantly, it unflinchingly examines the ability of human beings to live with a dichotomy of self - and what the ultimate consequences of that may be.

If you are uncomfortable with frank descriptions of the body, medical procedures and sexuality, then this book will be a very disturbing one for you, because Parks is frank. Very frank. But if you are able to move past Victorian sensibilities, you will find there is a lot to be learned here. You will probably end up knowing a whole lot more about the prostate gland that you ever wanted to, but because it is integral to the story, it figures prominently into the narrative. Trust the author and stick with him.

When all is said and done, this book is about coming to terms with who we are. It's about Parks experience, but his thoughts, feelings and pain will not seem foreign to most of us.

Take time to explore the train of thought that this book will undoubtedly spark in you as a reader. I didn't come away from reading it feeling like I was dramatically changed - it isn't a prescription for a metaphysical epiphany - but it was thought provoking and unflinchingly honest. It is was a worthwhile read for me, and I believe it will be for you as well.
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29 of 32 people found the following review helpful By Angela Reads on July 16, 2011
Format: Hardcover Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
Tim Parks was a reasonably healthy guy, when he started having severe pains and trouble going to the bathroom. The first half of this book documents how his condition gradually took over his life. Doctors ran every kind of test on him - they all came back normal. Even so, many of them recommended surgery. Well, Tim was terrified of the surgery.

Even though he considers himself a huge skeptic, Parks tried other methods of healing. Part Two of this book discusses his journey to health again. The methods that helped him the most were meditation, shiatsu massage, and essentially learning to calm down and relax his tension. He realized his body had been tense his entire life, which no doubt contributed to his severe pain. He was sensitive to noise and needed quiet time to heal.

Part One of this book was difficult reading for me, but I enjoyed Part Two more, as Parks began to heal. However, the author is very intelligent and includes lots of references to artists and writers I haven't heard of, so I have a feeling many things were over my head.

However, I would recommend this to anyone who is battling an unknown illness, and anyone who suspects that it would benefit their health to learn to relax and sit still.
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8 of 8 people found the following review helpful By Jeremiah L. Olson VINE VOICE on August 10, 2011
Format: Hardcover Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
This book is a very satisfying read for anyone who understands what it's like to struggle with something and not being able to have an instant solution. As I started the book I could feel Mr. Parks frustration with his condition and the answers, or lack there of, he was getting from the medical community. To hear someone suggest that you should have surgery but not being able to confirm that it will fix the problem has to be frustrating and scary. The struggles and frustrations appeared to go on for an enternity and it is felt by the reader. Then he is told that the solution is in the mind which was a breath of fresh air. Though it may have been a new idea, it was still not comforting to know that he has to fix the problem by fixing his mind. As we all know it may be easier to fix a problem with surgery or a pill than it would be to do the work ourselves! Because of the uncomfortableness that comes with change, it takes some time for him to invest in the process. He does try some alternative techniques and finds some benefit but the true benefit doesn't come until he truely invests in meditation. It is enjoyable to read the process he goes through in struggling with meditation. While he finds benefit, it is not instant and requires continued work. Personally, I found a lot of benefit from reading the chapter entitled "Personally Of Course I Regret Everything." I think I could relate to it because of some of his struggles with meditation and Eastern philosophies. This is a huge change and it was comforting to watch someone else work through this struggle. Mr. Parks bared his sole in this book and his experience is something that everyone can enjoy. It is simple and humble. The only part I struggled with relating to was his references to authors and their stories. Because he is an author, he was able to relate other authors stories to his experiences. I was satisfied with his story but I understood why he added these references.
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11 of 12 people found the following review helpful By Maeri VINE VOICE on October 27, 2011
Format: Hardcover Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
As someone who suffers from migraines and have experienced chronic pain, I was interested to read Tim Park's book about his odyssey to cure his persistent urinary problems. I have to admit that I was pretty squeamish reading some of his graphic descriptions of his physical problems. Fortunately, Parks found a holistic solution to his problems. Meditation and a healthy, low-key lifestyle can be hard for so many of us to obtain. It goes against the grain of compulsive busyness that we use to justify our existence, sad to say. Parks is an excellent writer and his story is well-worth reading.
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