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Easy Beauty

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From Chloé Cooper Jones—Pulitzer Prize finalist, philosophy professor, Whiting Creative Nonfiction Grant recipient—a groundbreaking memoir about disability, motherhood, and a journey to far-flung places in search of a new way of seeing and being seen. “I am in a bar in Brooklyn, listening to two men, my friends, discuss whether my life is worth living.” So begins Chloé Coop From Chloé Cooper Jones—Pulitzer Prize finalist, philosophy professor, Whiting Creative Nonfiction Grant recipient—a groundbreaking memoir about disability, motherhood, and a journey to far-flung places in search of a new way of seeing and being seen. “I am in a bar in Brooklyn, listening to two men, my friends, discuss whether my life is worth living.” So begins Chloé Cooper Jones’s bold, revealing account of moving through the world in a body that looks different than most. Jones learned early on to factor “pain calculations” into every plan, every situation. Born with a rare congenital condition called sacral agenesis which affects both her stature and gait, her pain is physical. But there is also the pain of being judged and pitied for her appearance, of being dismissed as “less than.” The way she has been seen—or not seen—has informed her lens on the world her entire life. She resisted this reality by excelling academically and retreating to “the neutral room in her mind” until it passed. But after unexpectedly becoming a mother (in violation of unspoken social taboos about the disabled body), something in her shifts, and Jones sets off on a journey across the globe, reclaiming the spaces she’d been denied, and denied herself. From the bars and domestic spaces of her life in Brooklyn to sculpture gardens in Rome; from film festivals in Utah to a Beyoncé concert in Milan; from a tennis tournament in California to the Killing Fields of Phnom Penh, Jones weaves memory, observation, experience, and aesthetic philosophy to probe the myths underlying our standards of beauty and desirability, and interrogates her own complicity in upholding those myths. With its emotional depth, its prodigious, spiky intelligence, its passion and humor, Easy Beauty is the rare memoir that has the power to make you see the world, and your place in it, with new eyes.


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From Chloé Cooper Jones—Pulitzer Prize finalist, philosophy professor, Whiting Creative Nonfiction Grant recipient—a groundbreaking memoir about disability, motherhood, and a journey to far-flung places in search of a new way of seeing and being seen. “I am in a bar in Brooklyn, listening to two men, my friends, discuss whether my life is worth living.” So begins Chloé Coop From Chloé Cooper Jones—Pulitzer Prize finalist, philosophy professor, Whiting Creative Nonfiction Grant recipient—a groundbreaking memoir about disability, motherhood, and a journey to far-flung places in search of a new way of seeing and being seen. “I am in a bar in Brooklyn, listening to two men, my friends, discuss whether my life is worth living.” So begins Chloé Cooper Jones’s bold, revealing account of moving through the world in a body that looks different than most. Jones learned early on to factor “pain calculations” into every plan, every situation. Born with a rare congenital condition called sacral agenesis which affects both her stature and gait, her pain is physical. But there is also the pain of being judged and pitied for her appearance, of being dismissed as “less than.” The way she has been seen—or not seen—has informed her lens on the world her entire life. She resisted this reality by excelling academically and retreating to “the neutral room in her mind” until it passed. But after unexpectedly becoming a mother (in violation of unspoken social taboos about the disabled body), something in her shifts, and Jones sets off on a journey across the globe, reclaiming the spaces she’d been denied, and denied herself. From the bars and domestic spaces of her life in Brooklyn to sculpture gardens in Rome; from film festivals in Utah to a Beyoncé concert in Milan; from a tennis tournament in California to the Killing Fields of Phnom Penh, Jones weaves memory, observation, experience, and aesthetic philosophy to probe the myths underlying our standards of beauty and desirability, and interrogates her own complicity in upholding those myths. With its emotional depth, its prodigious, spiky intelligence, its passion and humor, Easy Beauty is the rare memoir that has the power to make you see the world, and your place in it, with new eyes.

30 review for Easy Beauty

  1. 5 out of 5

    Andrew

    Full disclosure: I'm the author's spouse. This review is written not under duress but of my own free will, though it may harbor some bias. I love and truly respect this book. I watched the process of its creation, from a certain distance. I am very familiar with its contents, or at least my version of its contents. We have talked about these events for years. Even so, reading Easy Beauty was still like finding a new room in a house I've lived in for a decade. This book is incredibly honest in a w Full disclosure: I'm the author's spouse. This review is written not under duress but of my own free will, though it may harbor some bias. I love and truly respect this book. I watched the process of its creation, from a certain distance. I am very familiar with its contents, or at least my version of its contents. We have talked about these events for years. Even so, reading Easy Beauty was still like finding a new room in a house I've lived in for a decade. This book is incredibly honest in a way I think most people find very difficult and painful, and Jones is no exception to this. I have heard many people react to the book with things like, "surely some of these events have been exaggerated, people don't really say these kinds of things to you?" It is not exaggerated, and her and I still talk about real events that seem so ridiculous that nobody would believe them were they included. One of Jones' many talents, which I'm sure has been honed over years of teaching, is rendering a complex concept or idea into much more digestible pieces, and this is something she does with great generosity throughout the memoir. Her story is a genuinely enjoyable read, even though at parts it caused my heart to ache. This is not an "eat your vegetables" story about being a mother with a disability. The book inspires, but not in a triumph-of-the-human-spirit bullshit kind of way. It inspires the reader to think about themselves, their interactions, about the lenses they view the world through. One of the most powerful aspects of the book is just how relatable it is. Easy Beauty will expand your empathy, your capacity to love and to view the world in its difficult splendor. Just think more, and think about why your first thoughts work they way they do. Live a more considered life. I'm not somebody who speaks effusively, I'm pretty much the exact opposite. But I don't exaggerate when I say that I think that EASY BEAUTY is a book that can and will change the lives of some readers for the better, and I can't think of higher praise to give a piece of art.

  2. 5 out of 5

    Jasmine

    Easy Beauty by Chloé Cooper Jones has quickly made it to one of my top books of the year. This memoir is about Chloé Cooper Jones’ life as a disabled woman, a mother, an academic, and her journey to finding herself. Jones discusses her experience living with sacral agenesis and its side effects, such as chronic pain. She tells of an awful conversation with two men that led to her impulsively travelling to Italy. A place where she reflected on the Ancient Roman’s beauty standards and their consta Easy Beauty by Chloé Cooper Jones has quickly made it to one of my top books of the year. This memoir is about Chloé Cooper Jones’ life as a disabled woman, a mother, an academic, and her journey to finding herself. Jones discusses her experience living with sacral agenesis and its side effects, such as chronic pain. She tells of an awful conversation with two men that led to her impulsively travelling to Italy. A place where she reflected on the Ancient Roman’s beauty standards and their constant desire for symmetry. Jones discusses her other travel experiences after Italy, from trips around the US to Cambodia. She describes her relationship with her parents, partner, son, friends, and past romantic encounters. Jones shares many examples of how ableism is so inherent in society and how it can come from friends or strangers. I cannot tell you how much I loved this book. How much I related to it. Although my disability is different, I’ve shared many similar experiences. It always blows my mind how many people can be so casually and audaciously ableist. When Jones recounted past conversations with people on eugenics, my blood started boiling at their sheer callousness. Chloé Cooper Jones’ writing is impeccable. At first, I tried to read this slowly, but after a while, I found it to be completely unputdownable. Her writing style is so engaging. Her storytelling made me laugh, fume, and even emotional at times. There is a philosophical side to much of this narrative, and I’ll be honest, a lot of that went over my head. I am so happy this book exists, and I hope to see more like it in the future. I recommend this book to everyone. I’m sure other disabled people will find something to relate to here. And able-bodied people will get some insight into what it’s like living as a disabled person in an able-bodied world. Many thanks to Avid Reader Press for a finished copy in exchange for an honest review. https://booksandwheels.com

  3. 5 out of 5

    Jenny Lawson

    A gorgeously written memoir about disability, motherhood and finding yourself.

  4. 5 out of 5

    Candie

    I though this book was really beautiful. It was so interesting to read about and experience the world through the authors eyes. It was at times funny, philosophical, light, deep, relatable and un-relatable; I felt so many things throughout this book. The book covers many topics, such as parenthood and what defines beauty and relationships but focuses heavily on her disability and was unlike anything I have read before. It really makes you think deeper about how other people live and the struggle I though this book was really beautiful. It was so interesting to read about and experience the world through the authors eyes. It was at times funny, philosophical, light, deep, relatable and un-relatable; I felt so many things throughout this book. The book covers many topics, such as parenthood and what defines beauty and relationships but focuses heavily on her disability and was unlike anything I have read before. It really makes you think deeper about how other people live and the struggles they have to deal with on a daily basis and how these things can effect you both physically and mentally. It will also shock and anger you how completely oblivious some people can be. I received a copy of this book through Netgalley in exchange for and honest review.

  5. 4 out of 5

    Canadian Reader

    I borrowed this book from my local public library after having read a brief blurb about it somewhere. I have a background in medical massage therapy, and I was quite interested in what life is like for a person born without a sacrum, the lowest, spade-shaped part of the vertebral column. I had never heard of sacral agenesis, nor have I ever treated anything like it. I was quickly disabused of the notion that I’d find out much about the condition in anything other than a meandering, highly cerebr I borrowed this book from my local public library after having read a brief blurb about it somewhere. I have a background in medical massage therapy, and I was quite interested in what life is like for a person born without a sacrum, the lowest, spade-shaped part of the vertebral column. I had never heard of sacral agenesis, nor have I ever treated anything like it. I was quickly disabused of the notion that I’d find out much about the condition in anything other than a meandering, highly cerebral way. Cooper Jones is an academic, and it shows. I saw no footnotes as far as I got, but hers is dense and highly allusive prose, which appeared to me to be deeply informed by identity/disability politics/ideology and marred by the attendant jargon. There is a highly negative and embittered tone to the writing. I didn’t think I could stomach being marinated in it for pages on end. I’d hate to be a well-to-do, white, able-bodied male attempting to read this, although I suspect if you’re Woke enough this kind of writing is par for the course. The author appears to have tallied up every slight against her by Caucasian males born without an unusual condition. I say this matter-of-factly, not sarcastically. Cooper Jones may have good reason. The first chapter alone refers to a few instances in which men gauchely, insensitively, boorishly probe or argue about her condition. Two of the men are supposed to be her friends. I don’t know why she didn’t tell these guys off. For that matter, I don’t know why she’d consider such people friends. It is unclear who Cooper Jones believed her target audience to be. I discovered quickly that it wasn’t going to be me. I see this book as a missed opportunity for the author to help others gain some insight into what life is like for those in chronic pain who look different or who move about in the world in a way that is different from most of us. I feel this book has limited appeal and based on what I read and ran from (well before its conclusion), I cannot recommend it.

  6. 4 out of 5

    Maggie Bailey

    How many times in one work can single intentional sentences stop time for the reader, immediately sparking reflection deep in time and breadth? I lost count of these beautiful, involuntary moments where Jones’ prose yanked buried feelings and memories to the surface and insisted I explore them. As effective as the works of Ann Patchett. I received an advanced copy of this work through a giveaway from Avid Press / Simon & Schuster.

  7. 4 out of 5

    Kendra Lee

    I tried to read this book slowly, so I could savor it. I was awed by what was on the page, so much so that I wanted to commit it to memory or at least commit myself to the memory of how I felt reading it. Sometimes, particularly after a bout of the author's philosophical wrangling, I'd purposely set the book down to allow those thoughts to linger and settle around me. I wanted to try them on, measure them against my own life. I was curious how they'd fit. This book made me curious about everythi I tried to read this book slowly, so I could savor it. I was awed by what was on the page, so much so that I wanted to commit it to memory or at least commit myself to the memory of how I felt reading it. Sometimes, particularly after a bout of the author's philosophical wrangling, I'd purposely set the book down to allow those thoughts to linger and settle around me. I wanted to try them on, measure them against my own life. I was curious how they'd fit. This book made me curious about everything. Reading Easy Beauty was an exercise in restraint and contemplation. But it was also a damn good narrative. At times, it was both cringy and laugh-out-loud funny. Several times my mouth flew open (literally) at the ridiculousness--and the callous cruelty--the author endured at the hands of seemingly average folks. I wanted so badly to believe people couldn't be that awful (even though I know better). Cholé Cooper Jones isn't pulling any punches about how wretched folks can be. But that's what makes her whole exploration of philosophy, her world wandering, her recollections of her family history work so well. The world can be horrid... and still there is beauty. But we have to find it and define it for ourselves. The philosophical exploration of beauty grounds this book, providing an analytical backdrop for the memoir against which the past and the present are measured. But there's so much real, everyday feelings, minutia, toils and joys that continuously bring this book back into the real, complicated world we all exist in. It's lofty and real, simultaneously. And I loved it for that. Chloé Cooper Jones is a flawless, unflinching writer. The raw honesty of this book is staggering. I was in love with it from the first page through the last

  8. 4 out of 5

    Karissa Devore

    In “Easy Beauty” Chloe Cooper Jones shows us she has a gift for finding the words for the feelings and experiences in life that are usually indescribable. The way she writes about postpartum depression. Yes. The way she writes about the sizzling mystery of encountering an attractive stranger. Yes. The way she writes about the odd and uncomfortable status that comes from having struggled among people who haven’t. Yes. She describes every scene with a specificity that brings us to her side. The pa In “Easy Beauty” Chloe Cooper Jones shows us she has a gift for finding the words for the feelings and experiences in life that are usually indescribable. The way she writes about postpartum depression. Yes. The way she writes about the sizzling mystery of encountering an attractive stranger. Yes. The way she writes about the odd and uncomfortable status that comes from having struggled among people who haven’t. Yes. She describes every scene with a specificity that brings us to her side. The pain isn’t just hers- we feel it too. We can smell the aromas, feel the dripping sweat, see the fires appearing one by one in the dark. Jones opens her soul to us- she is honest, witty, vulnerable, clever and thoughtful. I closed this book feeling like I knew her. I have never read a book so completely full of exceptionally crafted sentences and profound commentary on the human existence. As I was making notes to review later I found myself putting sticky notes on almost every page. I would recommend this book to everyone. Everyone. Read it. *My review is based on an Advance Reader’s Edition. All opinions are my own.

  9. 4 out of 5

    Shirleynature

    Getting to hear Chloé Cooper Jones read her memoir is revelatory, powerful enlightenment! https://lplks.org/blogs/post/on-beaut... Getting to hear Chloé Cooper Jones read her memoir is revelatory, powerful enlightenment! https://lplks.org/blogs/post/on-beaut...

  10. 4 out of 5

    Merrilee

    Because I'm old and life is short, I rarely reread books. I will reread Easy Beauty. In the author's journey to redefining herself and her sense of real beauty, she propels the reader to do the same. Cooper Jones does this with achingly beautiful prose, unnerving honesty, and intellect that enlightens without feeling pedantic. She is also an engaging storyteller and travel writer. Her characters are her family, friends, and impactful strangers. Even the most flawed are revealed with clarity, hum Because I'm old and life is short, I rarely reread books. I will reread Easy Beauty. In the author's journey to redefining herself and her sense of real beauty, she propels the reader to do the same. Cooper Jones does this with achingly beautiful prose, unnerving honesty, and intellect that enlightens without feeling pedantic. She is also an engaging storyteller and travel writer. Her characters are her family, friends, and impactful strangers. Even the most flawed are revealed with clarity, humor, and compassion. Though the author's painful physical disability is a powerful force throughout, the question asked is simply asked, "Who can you be and how will you get there?" This book demonstrates how amazingly successful Chloe Cooper Jones has been at answering that question. This is an important book.

  11. 4 out of 5

    Katelyn

    I am not a nonfiction reader. I can’t finish any book that doesn’t involve dragons or magic. But oh my wow this book was wonderful! Jones is so intelligent that I am nervous even writing a review for fear of embarrassing myself with words I don’t know. Her story is difficult, and there were times where I had to challenge myself to keep reading because this book held a mirror to myself when it comes to a few of the side characters. But this book was a way for me to really think about how I think I am not a nonfiction reader. I can’t finish any book that doesn’t involve dragons or magic. But oh my wow this book was wonderful! Jones is so intelligent that I am nervous even writing a review for fear of embarrassing myself with words I don’t know. Her story is difficult, and there were times where I had to challenge myself to keep reading because this book held a mirror to myself when it comes to a few of the side characters. But this book was a way for me to really think about how I think of others, especially those who might have life a little harder than myself. I am not sure what else to say, I am just an average reader. But I am a reader who never reviews anything but absolutely had to come and review this book. This is one of the few books that I would give 6/5 stars.

  12. 5 out of 5

    Ann Marie

    Special thanks to Simon and Schuster for the physical copy of Easy Beauty. I was reluctant to read it because its a memoir, and memoirs aren't ever on the top of my list. But I gave it a go, and I'm so glad I did. I have several disabilities and when I found out it was about a woman, A mother with physical disability, I was all in. Its such a beautifully written book, that I am now following Miss Cooper Jones. I never thought a book would make me feel better, and that's not to mean I feel better Special thanks to Simon and Schuster for the physical copy of Easy Beauty. I was reluctant to read it because its a memoir, and memoirs aren't ever on the top of my list. But I gave it a go, and I'm so glad I did. I have several disabilities and when I found out it was about a woman, A mother with physical disability, I was all in. Its such a beautifully written book, that I am now following Miss Cooper Jones. I never thought a book would make me feel better, and that's not to mean I feel better because somebody has a worse disability, but in the way the author and her challenges, sometimes heartwrenching, sometimes comedic, could make me look at myself and be grateful for the things that are important. What a beautiful story. 5 stars!

  13. 5 out of 5

    Nicole Wagner

    "I've never met a person I wouldn't call a beauty." --Andy Warhol This is a memoir exploring the idea of staying tender and vulnerable. Read that again. Vulnerability is elusive. It's private. It's impossible to grasp. In order to find vulnerability, one must let go and radically, unconditionally meet circumstances. We must release control. Falling in love can do this suddenly. Becoming a parent, also. The author does something rare and refreshing in this memoir. She chooses not to apologize for "I've never met a person I wouldn't call a beauty." --Andy Warhol This is a memoir exploring the idea of staying tender and vulnerable. Read that again. Vulnerability is elusive. It's private. It's impossible to grasp. In order to find vulnerability, one must let go and radically, unconditionally meet circumstances. We must release control. Falling in love can do this suddenly. Becoming a parent, also. The author does something rare and refreshing in this memoir. She chooses not to apologize for or minimize the least likeable parts of herself. I'm not referring to her disability, for goodness' sake. I'm talking about having a superiority complex toward those who exclude her. Reacting smugly to microaggressions. "There it is." She reduces people to their reaction to her body. It's fascinating, and invites us to examine parallel tendencies we might also have. She rejects people reflexively, keeps them at a distance, despite a tender longing to connect. Even her own family. I definitely do the same, to a different degree. I appreciated the author's skill in subtly holding up this mirror. I was moved by the author's relationship with her dad. He reminded me a bit of the dad in The Glass Castle. More style than substance. Head in the clouds. Oblivious to the wreckage of family he leaves behind in his striving for the romantic ideal. Intelligent and unstable. I have a strained relationship with a parent, and the ache is familiar. I'm not rating this book higher because, to be honest, the author isn't someone I would like to become more like. I didn't find I could learn from her. I was repelled by her academic ivory tower. She didn't bridge the gap of alienation. I respect her journey and wish her well.

  14. 5 out of 5

    Kerry

    Easy Beauty got me at that first fuckin whiz-bang sentence and absolutely held me until the last. This book has more moving parts than I anticipated; the word memoir set me up for certain (probably biased) expectations and Chloe Cooper Jones blew em out if the water. Frank, crisp, incredibly thoughtful. This is a memoir yes, but it’s also travelogue, a discussion of aesthetics, a meditation on disability, parenthood, and the spaces in which they intersect—all while exploring how best to exist in Easy Beauty got me at that first fuckin whiz-bang sentence and absolutely held me until the last. This book has more moving parts than I anticipated; the word memoir set me up for certain (probably biased) expectations and Chloe Cooper Jones blew em out if the water. Frank, crisp, incredibly thoughtful. This is a memoir yes, but it’s also travelogue, a discussion of aesthetics, a meditation on disability, parenthood, and the spaces in which they intersect—all while exploring how best to exist in the world when hemmed in by both its expectations and your own defenses against them. And y’all, it is really charming. I haven’t written so many notes in the margins of a book in a very long time. With pencil. I’m not a monster.

  15. 4 out of 5

    Kara

    This was the perfect book to kick off 2022 reading. I want all books to be like this one. Beautiful, honest, witty, and relatable analysis on philosophy, feelings, beauty, disability, and love. Stunning.

  16. 5 out of 5

    Ashley Harris

    “If love is the name of the pursuit of the whole, what is the name given to finding it? I close my eyes and focus on the feeling of the world getting a little wider.” I had never heard or read any of Chloé’s writing before Easy Beauty, but I think there’s nothing I want more in this moment than to sit with her and talk for hours. She writes in a way that makes me think I could be her friend, as if reading her memoir has somehow enlightened me to her uncensored, unedited personality. Chloé’s memoir “If love is the name of the pursuit of the whole, what is the name given to finding it? I close my eyes and focus on the feeling of the world getting a little wider.” I had never heard or read any of Chloé’s writing before Easy Beauty, but I think there’s nothing I want more in this moment than to sit with her and talk for hours. She writes in a way that makes me think I could be her friend, as if reading her memoir has somehow enlightened me to her uncensored, unedited personality. Chloé’s memoir jumps around to different stories and vignettes of her life, some brief glimpses and others detailed adventures or conversations. Each one offers another piece of the puzzle, another step toward understanding. Standout passages include her trip to Cambodia, the Richard Serra exhibit, and the magic show in Prospect Park. The beauty of this book is that it while it exposes the rawness of Chloé’s disability, it ultimately whittles us all down to the fears, faults, and beauty we hold inside ourselves. I really think Chloé expresses it perfectly in the final pages, “Beauty helped us be attentive to a world outside ourselves.” In a world where we are all so caught up in ourselves, our anxieties, our inadequacies, our fears… beauty allows us to step outside of that. Reading Chloé’s words, I could feel my world getting a little wider.

  17. 5 out of 5

    Lilisa

    I can truly say this book is absolutely unique. Not because the book is “about disability, motherhood, and a journey to far-flung places in search of a new way of seeing and being seen” — to quote the book’s description. It’s because of the very personal, unvarnished, and “call it the way they are” experiences that the author starkly shares with us that makes it so. Her blunt honesty on how and what she experiences everyday brings discomfit and shock — from what people say and do — knowingly or I can truly say this book is absolutely unique. Not because the book is “about disability, motherhood, and a journey to far-flung places in search of a new way of seeing and being seen” — to quote the book’s description. It’s because of the very personal, unvarnished, and “call it the way they are” experiences that the author starkly shares with us that makes it so. Her blunt honesty on how and what she experiences everyday brings discomfit and shock — from what people say and do — knowingly or without malice, but nonetheless hurtful. Sadly yes, people’s reactions to disability or otherness are often clueless, cringeworthy, and hurtful. She made me stop and think and examine how what I might say would come across. Chloe Cooper Jones puts it all out there. She lives every day with sacral agenesis and the physical, emotional, mental, and psychological pain of it. She is an accomplished mother, partner, professor, traveler and much more. Most of all I was impressed by her determination and her gutsiness , especially her trips to Italy and Cambodia. I chuckled when she played her part real well and was ushered under the chain fence at a concert to a prime spot! This is a one of a kind book, which I highly recommend. Don’t read it if you’re looking to feel warm, fuzzy, and applaud an individual who has overcome so much. Read it to feel the pain, discomfit, and the hard truth about living with disability and more, the harsh realities of everyday life someone like Chloe Cooper Jones handles, and most importantly, how she succeeds in living her life. That’s what earned my 5-star rating. Many thanks to the author, publisher, and NetGalley for the opportunity to read and review this book.

  18. 5 out of 5

    Amelia VK

    Chloé Cooper Jones challenges your preconceived (and comfortable) view on what it means to have a body and move through a world designed for a specific type of body. A stellar memoir of her life as a disabled woman and an esteemed philosophy professor.

  19. 4 out of 5

    Tim Gormly

    Jones has a way with words that always leaves me feeling deep places inside of myself. Easy Beauty is no exception.

  20. 4 out of 5

    Iris

    I read this twice, so I think I should be allowed to give it ten stars. Not one sentence passed without me thinking a new standard has been set, not just for literature, but for truth. I will be recommending and gifting this book for years to come.

  21. 5 out of 5

    Raksha Vasudevan

    Remarkably elegant writing about beauty in a range of domains: from philosophy to tennis to sites of cultural trauma to Cooper Jones' own body and disability. I admired the sheer amount of ground covered in this book, the characters that felt so rich and alive on the page, and most of all, how she turns her incisive eye on her own actions and guiding beliefs. She is no less hard on herself than the people who judge her body without knowing anything about it, but Jones writes with a cool detachme Remarkably elegant writing about beauty in a range of domains: from philosophy to tennis to sites of cultural trauma to Cooper Jones' own body and disability. I admired the sheer amount of ground covered in this book, the characters that felt so rich and alive on the page, and most of all, how she turns her incisive eye on her own actions and guiding beliefs. She is no less hard on herself than the people who judge her body without knowing anything about it, but Jones writes with a cool detachment and a specificity that suits such tension-filled moments perfectly. I was disappointed with the ending which lacked closure for me, but all in all, this is a spectacular book.

  22. 5 out of 5

    Terry Solfest

    I have very mixed emotions on this one. At times thought provoking but overall was boring and self indulgent. It did have some interesting travel segments. I listened to the Audible version.

  23. 4 out of 5

    Callahan’sBooks

    In my mind is the iconic “Wide World of Sports” opening line, “spanning the globe…” In my gut is the pinch of guilt as I remind myself “Easy Beauty” may include all the phenomenal vistas of a travel log, but it is so much more. A university professor, Pulitzer finalist and human being, Chloé Cooper Jones’ beautiful mind was sadly preoccupied. The diagnosis at birth of a rare physical condition wasn’t enough to restrain her talent; but it was enough to alter the way people treated her. In turn th In my mind is the iconic “Wide World of Sports” opening line, “spanning the globe…” In my gut is the pinch of guilt as I remind myself “Easy Beauty” may include all the phenomenal vistas of a travel log, but it is so much more. A university professor, Pulitzer finalist and human being, Chloé Cooper Jones’ beautiful mind was sadly preoccupied. The diagnosis at birth of a rare physical condition wasn’t enough to restrain her talent; but it was enough to alter the way people treated her. In turn the author reflexively catered to her own “othering” — that is until parenthood changed the game (as that is its expertise). Cooper Jones rebels against a marginalized existence with a series of epic trips that set her on a transformative path to reconsidering how she relates to the world. And if they hadn’t, at least she racked up miles. As she spans the globe, the author’s self-awareness reaches dizzying levels. Reflections on how she let the behavior of others affect her are brutally honest but not recriminating. It’s the sign of a particularly strong memoir: grinding to grist the preoccupations of the past, but letting the wind take them. After internal litigation the dust is blown away and the air ahead is so much clearer.

  24. 4 out of 5

    Suzanne

    Gets better with every chapter. 4.5 stars.

  25. 5 out of 5

    Hannah

    This is a stunningly written book, breathtaking both in it’s beauty and pain.

  26. 4 out of 5

    Cat Fithian

    Beautifully lyrical prose that paints full technicolor scenes in your head, this "own voice" memoir is about a singular person and simultaneously about universal experiences and feelings. I never want to finish reading this book. Beautifully lyrical prose that paints full technicolor scenes in your head, this "own voice" memoir is about a singular person and simultaneously about universal experiences and feelings. I never want to finish reading this book.

  27. 5 out of 5

    Shannon

    3.5 rounded up I really wanted to love this book more than I did!! Parts were wonderful - the disability and chronic pain rep, the way the author shares just how often she has to deal with society judging her as 'less than' or listening to insensitive comments (from ordinary strangers to medical doctors!) - not to mention her unflinching critique of ableism in our society. But for me the most relatable sections of the book were her experiences as a mother with physical challenges dealing with a 3.5 rounded up I really wanted to love this book more than I did!! Parts were wonderful - the disability and chronic pain rep, the way the author shares just how often she has to deal with society judging her as 'less than' or listening to insensitive comments (from ordinary strangers to medical doctors!) - not to mention her unflinching critique of ableism in our society. But for me the most relatable sections of the book were her experiences as a mother with physical challenges dealing with a pregnancy no one expected she'd be able to have and the extra hurdles motherhood as a person with a disability involves. The parts of the book where I lost interest were when she would go off on tangents about parts of her travels or career (ie writing about Tennis and her love of Roger Federer), there were some interesting Peter Dinklage stories and a lot of esoteric Classical literature references (understandable since that's her field, but not super interesting as a reader). Overall I wished the narrative would have been more focused on personal matters and a bit less philosophical. Recommended for fans of other memoirs by mothers with disabilities like Tammy Duckworth's Every day is a gift, Rebekah Taussig's Sitting Pretty or Harriet Alida Lye's Natural killer.

  28. 4 out of 5

    Yasmine

    Reading Easy Beauty felt so human. Such a well written memoir with an honest and vulnerable look at disability. While reading this, I kept thinking, I want to look at the world through the lens Jones sees it. And for these moments, I felt like I did. We all have different interpretations of beauty, but she had an uncanny way of weaving you in with her words that brings you right along the ride in those moments. It was darkly funny, honest, timeless, and reminded me of Joan Didion’s writing style Reading Easy Beauty felt so human. Such a well written memoir with an honest and vulnerable look at disability. While reading this, I kept thinking, I want to look at the world through the lens Jones sees it. And for these moments, I felt like I did. We all have different interpretations of beauty, but she had an uncanny way of weaving you in with her words that brings you right along the ride in those moments. It was darkly funny, honest, timeless, and reminded me of Joan Didion’s writing style. From her life in Brooklyn, to time in Italy, Utah, and California with memories in emotional depth, it had passion to see the world and to be seen. This book was philosophical at times, as Jones is a philosophy professor, but it also touched on unexpected motherhood and I appreciated both. ”I recommend Easy Beauty to anyone who has wanted beauty badly, even without knowing quite what it is, but who could never seem to access it. At least, I'm that sort of anyone, and I could feel and recognize parts of myself in every moment of this book. Chloé Cooper Jones' writing pierces right through and lets a light in.”- Mitski (same girlie and love your music too)

  29. 4 out of 5

    Liz

    Lots of respect for the author, and I’m glad her perspective changed as it seemed she could finally enjoy her life. A little too much high-brow philosophy for me, I almost didn’t make it through. I also wish she gave readers more medical information about her condition, as it would have given readers a more in depth view of her challenges. A dense fog of negativity infuses the whole memoir, which I find unsavory and unnecessary.

  30. 4 out of 5

    Katelyn

    One of those books that makes you think. There were several times reading this book where a line would hit me and I had to pause take a moment and let myself process my thoughts and the feelings the line evoked. I really enjoyed reading this one. Thank you for the early review copy! *All thoughts are my own. This is a honest review in exchange for an advanced review copy.*

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