6 Degrees of Separation: We Are All Completely Beside Ourselves

Welcome back to Six Degree of Separation, a bookish meme in which you link six books in a chain, connecting them anyway you damn well please! This month we’re starting with Karen Joy Fowler’s We Are All Completely Beside Ourselves which must surely be one of the biggest-selling and most-talked about books of 2014.


The protagonist in Beside Ourselves has a brother who left home as a teenager and hasn’t been in contact with his family since. Another book in which a central character disappears is Maria Semple’s poignant and funny novel Where’d You Go, Bernadette?

The search for Bernadette takes the characters to Antarctica, which is also the setting for Robyn Mundy’s debut novel  The Nature of Ice, which includes a fictionalised imagining of the disastrous Mawson expedition. 

Frank Hurley – a member of Mawson’s party – is a photographer , as is Lucy, the main character in Gail Jones exquisite novel Sixty Lights.

Sixty Lights is set in India, as is Arundhati Roy’s heartbreaking debut novel The God of Small Things.

I read The God of Small Things while working as a nanny in London, aged twenty-one. In the same year, I discovered the Danish writer Peter Hoeg, hastily working through his then-brief back catalogue, including the disturbing and astonishing novel Borderliners.

Borderliners is set in an institution where the authority figures are less than benevolent, whoich reminded a little of the predicament faced by the boys in James Dashner’s Maze Runner.

So there we are, from missing persons to Antarctica, from photography to India, from living in London to horrible institutions for children, all in six moves. Find out how Emma Chapman’s chain took her to the Harry Potter series.


Please join us by creating your own chain and sharing the link below. And if you want to start preparing for next month, on Saturday, December 6th we’ll be starting the chain with The Narrow Road to the Deep North by Richard Flanagan.

#6degrees rules

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18 thoughts on “6 Degrees of Separation: We Are All Completely Beside Ourselves

    1. Sometimes if I don’t get to a book when it’s ‘new and hot’ it just slides further and further down my list. But this one is probably worth digging up.

  1. A few I think I’ll have to add to my reading list, particularly The Nature of Ice and Sixty Lights (plus, still haven’t read Bernadette…). My son is completely engrossed in The Maze Runner at the moment – suspect it may be a touch beyond him but it’s keeping him very busy 🙂

    Here’s my chain: http://booksaremyfavouriteandbest.wordpress.com/2014/11/05/six-degrees-of-separation-from-we-are-all-completely-beside-ourselves-to-the-crucible/

    1. The Nature of Ice is wonderful – I was so attached to the members of Mawson’s expedition and it was really heartbreaking when everything went so wrong for them. How old is your son? I bought The Maze Runner for my nephew when he was 12 and I think it was a little old for him – there are some rather brutal scenes (I hadn’t read it myself at the time) but he loved it, and read the sequel.

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