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Seek You: A Journey Through American Loneliness

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From the acclaimed author of Imagine Wanting Only This--a timely and moving meditation on isolation and longing, both as individuals and as a society. There is a silent epidemic in America: loneliness. Shameful to talk about and often misunderstood, loneliness is everywhere, from the most major of metropolises to the smallest of towns. In Seek You, Kristen Radtke's wide-rang From the acclaimed author of Imagine Wanting Only This--a timely and moving meditation on isolation and longing, both as individuals and as a society. There is a silent epidemic in America: loneliness. Shameful to talk about and often misunderstood, loneliness is everywhere, from the most major of metropolises to the smallest of towns. In Seek You, Kristen Radtke's wide-ranging exploration of our inner lives and public selves, Radtke digs into the ways in which we attempt to feel closer to one another, and the distance that remains. Through the lenses of gender and violence, technology and art, Radtke ushers us through a history of loneliness and longing, and shares what feels impossible to share. Ranging from the invention of the laugh-track to the rise of Instagram, the bootstrap-pulling cowboy to the brutal experiments of Harry Harlow, Radtke investigates why we engage with each other, and what we risk when we turn away. With her distinctive, emotionally charged drawings and deeply empathetic prose, Kristen Radtke masterfully shines a light on some of our most vulnerable and sublime moments, and asks how we might keep the spaces between us from splitting entirely.


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From the acclaimed author of Imagine Wanting Only This--a timely and moving meditation on isolation and longing, both as individuals and as a society. There is a silent epidemic in America: loneliness. Shameful to talk about and often misunderstood, loneliness is everywhere, from the most major of metropolises to the smallest of towns. In Seek You, Kristen Radtke's wide-rang From the acclaimed author of Imagine Wanting Only This--a timely and moving meditation on isolation and longing, both as individuals and as a society. There is a silent epidemic in America: loneliness. Shameful to talk about and often misunderstood, loneliness is everywhere, from the most major of metropolises to the smallest of towns. In Seek You, Kristen Radtke's wide-ranging exploration of our inner lives and public selves, Radtke digs into the ways in which we attempt to feel closer to one another, and the distance that remains. Through the lenses of gender and violence, technology and art, Radtke ushers us through a history of loneliness and longing, and shares what feels impossible to share. Ranging from the invention of the laugh-track to the rise of Instagram, the bootstrap-pulling cowboy to the brutal experiments of Harry Harlow, Radtke investigates why we engage with each other, and what we risk when we turn away. With her distinctive, emotionally charged drawings and deeply empathetic prose, Kristen Radtke masterfully shines a light on some of our most vulnerable and sublime moments, and asks how we might keep the spaces between us from splitting entirely.

30 review for Seek You: A Journey Through American Loneliness

  1. 4 out of 5

    Alan

    Loneliness might be one abstract level down from the ultimate concern of literature (death), but sometimes it hurts far more than a reminder of our mortality. I had a lot of trouble with this book, because I could not help but place myself at the centre of every hypothetical, thinking about my childhood, my present, my future, my parents, my friends, etc. I broke down when Radtke was describing The Silver Line – a 24-hour helpline for the elderly. Around 2:00 AM, someone may call in, as he/she i Loneliness might be one abstract level down from the ultimate concern of literature (death), but sometimes it hurts far more than a reminder of our mortality. I had a lot of trouble with this book, because I could not help but place myself at the centre of every hypothetical, thinking about my childhood, my present, my future, my parents, my friends, etc. I broke down when Radtke was describing The Silver Line – a 24-hour helpline for the elderly. Around 2:00 AM, someone may call in, as he/she is having trouble sleeping. 2:30 AM, and someone else calls in, missing his brother. At 4:00 AM, someone calls in saying that she cannot stand the quiet anymore. Standard stuff, but I’ll be damned if I could make it through the sweet old man who called in the day before Christmas, asking how to cook a chicken. Sophie answered the phone. Instructions followed: “A gas stove? Preheat to 170 degrees. Season the cavity with salt and pepper. Tuck the legs under. Do you have a meat thermometer?” All of this went on for 25 minutes before he admitted that he had never cooked a chicken before (the obvious part), and that it was his first Christmas since his wife had died, and so he had thought it best to learn. My parents will get there, and I will get there. That’s what hurts when I read the book. It hurts really deep, and I cannot stop reading the book. If you ever took a Psychology 101 course, you learned about “Harlow’s Monkeys”. If not, here is a brief primer. Harry Harlow, a researcher at the University of Wisconsin, converted an unused space on campus into a primate lab in order to breed his own monkeys for experiments. In what has become a landmark study for the field of affection, Harlow and his team separated baby rhesus monkeys (the cutest little things) from their mothers at birth, placing them in cages where they were isolated, totally solo, save two things: a doll-like “wire mother” and a doll-like “cloth mother”. Both were heated, but only the wire mother dispensed milk. Here was the question: would the babies clutch their “mothers” when they wanted food? Well, if so, then the wire mother would logically be the most popular. What Harlow and his team found in this study (that would rightfully not be allowed to take place with the ethics boards of 2021) was that the babies spent almost 100% of their time with the cloth mothers, clutching tightly, attempting to squeeze out drops of intimacy, warmth, and touch. If they were hungry, they would strain their little bodies to the wire mother for some milk. Failing this, they would reluctantly jump over to the wire mother, quickly guzzling down milk before jumping back to their safe haven. The cloth mothers were the source of cuddles; they were the protector when the babies were scared. The babies would gaze into the face of the cloth mother and stroke its face. Fuck. The pictures from the actual study are too heart-wrenching for me to include here, so I will instead include a panel from Seek You itself – a telling and daunting image: We may not have needed the results of this study to know that touch and connection are important, but I have a feeling that it was a turning point like no other – as much I dislike it and Harlow. He himself was not the god of love and affection by any means. His obsessive work rate destroyed two marriages. His kids were afterthoughts. Kristen Radtke did me a favour by showing me the often unmentioned subsequent experiments done by Harlow, after a stint of hospitalization and therapy for depression: his studies on loneliness, where he would isolate monkeys by themselves, sometimes for periods of up to a year. These monkeys would starve themselves to death, or faint when touched. Loneliness, folks. It’s that pernicious. This is a wildly depressing book, a perfect meditation on what we may feel is an accelerating epidemic. Isolation is here to stay, and it’s perhaps worse than ever. I don’t want to recommend this book, but unfortunately feel as though I have to. I would never gift this book, but I would want everyone to purchase his/her own copy. Radtke is brilliant in acutely diagnosing the feeling in the air of the Western world. Some parts are undeniably American, in a way that no non-American can relate to. Apart from that? Sad nods. Knowing nods.

  2. 4 out of 5

    Elyse Walters

    Library Overdrive ...Audiobook ...read by the author, Kristen Radtke -- 1 hour and 58 minutes If I wasn't in such a hurry these days --haha -- I'd enjoy taking more time to write a more thoughtful review - - so I need to get to the point -guick here -- I listened to this entire audio on 'one' neighborhood walk -- (this morning) This is a graphic novel (I'd love to see the artwork-physical book) --but the 'audio' - the WORDS --I listened to, were powerful --and worth the 'entire' book --AS IS ....I Library Overdrive ...Audiobook ...read by the author, Kristen Radtke -- 1 hour and 58 minutes If I wasn't in such a hurry these days --haha -- I'd enjoy taking more time to write a more thoughtful review - - so I need to get to the point -guick here -- I listened to this entire audio on 'one' neighborhood walk -- (this morning) This is a graphic novel (I'd love to see the artwork-physical book) --but the 'audio' - the WORDS --I listened to, were powerful --and worth the 'entire' book --AS IS ....IN MY OPINION!! Funny --because I still remember Kristen Radtke's first graphic-book -- "Imagine Wanting Only This"... (sorry I never reviewed it) >> but what I loved about 'that' book most, was the black and white graphics -- (I cheated and read it 'in' the book store) -- so I forgot to review it later -at home -- but --I remember loving the 'artwork' MORE than the words -- This time -- I can't imagine liking the 'artwork' MORE than the 'words'. I hope I'm making sense -- I'm typing faster than the speed of light --as I have things I must do --but wanted to get thoughts down --before I forget. #1 --most important message from me >> I REALLY THINK its worth readers time to listen to this book.... (goes by fast -and Kristen has a lovely voice to be with --take a walk 'with' this audiobook. Its good company! #2, #3, #4 ....and so on........ Things to think about while listening to this book: ....loneliness -- you, me, your neighbor, your mother, sister, brother, grandparents, teachers, the garbage guy, the car salesman, your doctor, dentist, vet, author-friend, the grocery clerk, strangers. --etc. etc. There are a lot of treasures in this less-than-2-hour-listen. The little 'words-of-isolation'... [the silent epidemic]... in America ...but 'shameful' to talk about -- is not only often misunderstood, and everywhere, but its a topic worth exploring.... Kristen (who is only in her 30's herself) --did an outstanding job covering a range of topic/ themes/ --all relating to loneliness -- (our public lives, history, science, (my goodness -those Monkey's) -- social choices, the internet, ...all the many things such as phones, Televisions, Radio, iPhones, etc. that can be used to escape from ourselves. (I guess books, too) >>haha! but yes! She talked about waves of social nostalgia… Thoughts of going back to the land or living off the grid beginning to sound appealing. --but ALL generations have had levels of loneliness -- But.... we didn't always have the news available to us 24 hours a day, and we didn't always spend our time writing emails, or texting, or comments, to far away people. I found this book both interesting, comforting, sad, (not in tears sad) --but you know --"kinda sad">>> that we don't help our neighbors carry in groceries anymore. (nobody needs to --we have Whole Food deliveries) >> ha --I don't --but...I could.... That few of us gather to play card, games, sit around and eat candy, eat cheese, drink 'beer'? (yuck) --lol -- REALLY HANG OUT together --laugh - be silly -HUG each other --Talk -dance -- garden or cook a meal with a friend -or maybe a few friends -- Have little party- gatherings - Yes...we had the pandemic --(didn't help with isolation AT ALL) -- but we had isolation problems even before the pandemic --(the pandemic just made it all the more clear).... I laughed when the author wrote (she was speaking sarcastically with other thoughts she expand on) --but she said...ha ha.... "Loneliness can be worked out a little like extra body fat".... True? (I don't think so) >> just because people sign up for a class, take a train trip, go to a party -doesn't mean, that loneliness-baby-fat-rolls off. Loneliness is a state of mind that is often equated with being alone. But we already know that loneliness and being alone are not the same. (we didn't need this book to tell us THAT) .... but... Nonetheless this book was very empowering. Well researched too. Kristen talks about TOUCH ....(its an excellent section) -- makes you want to reach out and touch someone! haha...(hell, I'm cracking myself up today) ... Forgive me -- Ever consider going to a cuddle party? I know a woman -here in town who runs 'Cuddle Parties" --VERY SUCCESSFULLY -- its a lucrative business for her (well, before the pandemic) -- I kinda cringe myself at the thought of having some stranger hug-me- or me them-....in a 'cuddle-group' -- *party*... not my thing ....but.....there are such things -- (non-sexual) -- Heck --I'd rather go with the sexual -- Oh I'm dying here-- I can't stop laughing-- I know I'm being really bad -- but I just can't imagine sitting around cuddling a group of people that I don't know -or even do know. I'm not afraid of hugs, happy to give semi-strangers a hug -'naturally' if it feels right ....I just don't want to be at a hugging-expectation-party.... Shhh...don't tell my local friend, Yvonne --She is a beautiful married woman --who hosts her cuddle parties (yes, I was invited) --I decline nicely saying Paul was enough -and I am thankful for his touch -- but .... I understand -we all need touch -- ABSOLUTELY! ok..................I'll stop --LISTEN to the AUDIO --the author does a MUCH better job -- making touching -gatherings sound more sane..than anything I can do. I can't stop laughing here! I've already written too much --just a rambling chatterbox here -- (and I'm rushing to boot) #10+ or .... #879 list of reasons to listen to this book........ Its GOOD!!! Goes down easily! Forgive my mess! HUGS!!! (non-party-style)

  3. 4 out of 5

    Traci at The Stacks

    This is a wow of a book. The melding of art, history, narrative, memoir, culture, psychology into a book that is emotionally evocative without being slow, dense, or predictable. It’s such an accomplishment. It made me think and reflect and feel seen. It made me want to be a better person in my relationships. It made me reevaluate my understanding of loneliness. It’s just a wow.

  4. 5 out of 5

    Jenny Lawson

    Insightful, depressing, inspiring.

  5. 5 out of 5

    Rachel

    In the first pages of Seek You: A Journey Through American Loneliness, Kristen Radtke’s sophomore work, she explains that radio operators call out across frequencies with what is known as a “CQ call,” named as such because “CQ” sounds like the first syllable of sécurité, or “pay attention,” in French. In English, radio users took to calling it “seek you.” In this graphic work of nonfiction, Kristen Radtke explores this concept of reaching outward, turning the CQ call into a metaphorical represen In the first pages of Seek You: A Journey Through American Loneliness, Kristen Radtke’s sophomore work, she explains that radio operators call out across frequencies with what is known as a “CQ call,” named as such because “CQ” sounds like the first syllable of sécurité, or “pay attention,” in French. In English, radio users took to calling it “seek you.” In this graphic work of nonfiction, Kristen Radtke explores this concept of reaching outward, turning the CQ call into a metaphorical representation of 21st century American existence. With a muted palette of mostly blues, greens and oranges, Radtke illustrates a series of graphic essays, each devoted to a different sociological study or phenomenon or observation on loneliness. You can read my full review HERE on BookBrowse and you can read a piece I wrote about graphic works of nonfiction HERE.

  6. 5 out of 5

    Kevin

    In Radtke's amazing book, she examines loneliness from various angles--from her own personal stories to the psychological studies of monkeys by Harry Harlow, the early reactions of television laugh tracks, her father's CB radio obsession, social media, cuddlers for hire, and much more. Radtke seamlessly splices interesting and stunning anecdotes about how humans live with solitude, sadness, and worse. Her art is consistently engaging, with intimate close-ups and haunting long shots. I'm blown aw In Radtke's amazing book, she examines loneliness from various angles--from her own personal stories to the psychological studies of monkeys by Harry Harlow, the early reactions of television laugh tracks, her father's CB radio obsession, social media, cuddlers for hire, and much more. Radtke seamlessly splices interesting and stunning anecdotes about how humans live with solitude, sadness, and worse. Her art is consistently engaging, with intimate close-ups and haunting long shots. I'm blown away by this generous gift of a book. It's my favorite read of the year so far.

  7. 5 out of 5

    Minna

    This grim study of loneliness wounds the psyche, and offers no break in the clouds. The subdued twilight color palette of blue-grays, dusty browns, hazy oranges hushes the atmosphere. A sense of eerie alienation resounds. Seek You is part listless memoir, part fervent reporting of gloomy research both fact and factoid; including a relentless, horrifying downward spiral into sadistic animal research (torture). Radtke is perceptive, and I see some truths here. But her world view is resolutely pessim This grim study of loneliness wounds the psyche, and offers no break in the clouds. The subdued twilight color palette of blue-grays, dusty browns, hazy oranges hushes the atmosphere. A sense of eerie alienation resounds. Seek You is part listless memoir, part fervent reporting of gloomy research both fact and factoid; including a relentless, horrifying downward spiral into sadistic animal research (torture). Radtke is perceptive, and I see some truths here. But her world view is resolutely pessimistic. Between the lines is an unnecessarily harsh judgment and mistrust of others. If deep loneliness is contagious, like Radtke says, this book is spreading it. The cover illustration is gorgeous and evocative. The title is lovely, but no, I did not like this book.

  8. 4 out of 5

    Jill Kenna

    This made me sad and it made me think. It made me feel guilty for not keeping in touch better with friends and family. It was wonderfully written and very well researched. But don't read this if you're already sad - it'll just make it worse. This made me sad and it made me think. It made me feel guilty for not keeping in touch better with friends and family. It was wonderfully written and very well researched. But don't read this if you're already sad - it'll just make it worse.

  9. 5 out of 5

    Laura Hoffman Brauman

    4.5 stars. “Loneliness isn’t necessarily tied to whether you have a partner or a best friend or an aspirationally active social life in which you’re laughing all the time. It’s a variance that rests in the space between the relationships you have and the relationships you want. Loneliness lives in the gap.” In this work of graphic non-fiction, Radtke looks at the concept of loneliness in America through a number of different lenses. At times, you are getting the info you might from an academic te 4.5 stars. “Loneliness isn’t necessarily tied to whether you have a partner or a best friend or an aspirationally active social life in which you’re laughing all the time. It’s a variance that rests in the space between the relationships you have and the relationships you want. Loneliness lives in the gap.” In this work of graphic non-fiction, Radtke looks at the concept of loneliness in America through a number of different lenses. At times, you are getting the info you might from an academic textbook (although in an extremely accessible and engaging way), at other points, it reads like a memoir as Radtke explores her own experiences with loneliness at various points in her life. The effect of reduced social contact for many during the pandemic is certainly one of the areas explored in her, but she doesn't stop there. Loneliness experienced by a new parent, following a move, after the end of a relationship are all elements that she touches on. She examines the impact of social media, but also speaks to her father's experiences using ham radio to connect with people far away as well as her own personal experience on chat rooms long before social media had a presence in our lives. This was an excellent and thought provoking read. The illustrations went perfectly with the narrative and made a huge impact on the reading experience - feeling sparse when appropriate, demonstrating connection at other points. Highly recommend this one.

  10. 5 out of 5

    Ryan

    SEEK YOU is a graphic novel about American loneliness in many forms. I didn’t know it was a graphic novel when I listened to the audiobook. I was confused at the time because it said it was 350 pages, but it only took me an hour to listen. This book explores all of the many ways that we are now living in an age of loneliness. From ham radio to scientific studies, the author explores the different causes and results of American loneliness. The book was an interesting listen but short. I may have SEEK YOU is a graphic novel about American loneliness in many forms. I didn’t know it was a graphic novel when I listened to the audiobook. I was confused at the time because it said it was 350 pages, but it only took me an hour to listen. This book explores all of the many ways that we are now living in an age of loneliness. From ham radio to scientific studies, the author explores the different causes and results of American loneliness. The book was an interesting listen but short. I may have liked it better as a graphic novel, but I don’t know if I’ve ever read a nonfiction graphic collection before. If you’re interested in loneliness, especially after this pandemic, I encourage you to check it out. If you are lonely, feel free to send me a message.▪️

  11. 4 out of 5

    Megan

    Oof. I really thought I would like this a lot more. Near the beginning I thought it would be five stars. Exploring loneliness was the center of the book of course, but for me it was trying to merge waaay too many other things together at once and didn't always transition between them well. Vegas, city life, psychology, attachment theory, personal anecdotes, internet culture, aging, etc. All of these things can definitely relate back to loneliness but it just felt like a info dump at times and jus Oof. I really thought I would like this a lot more. Near the beginning I thought it would be five stars. Exploring loneliness was the center of the book of course, but for me it was trying to merge waaay too many other things together at once and didn't always transition between them well. Vegas, city life, psychology, attachment theory, personal anecdotes, internet culture, aging, etc. All of these things can definitely relate back to loneliness but it just felt like a info dump at times and just felt very tedious. The voice of the writing was also a bit dry and scientific, which didn't engage me. Discussing something as emotional as loneliness should have felt a bit more personal and less clinical. I ended up skimming at times. That said, I did find some of it really insightful and interesting. There are many reviewers who rated it higher than me, so I would definitely say it's still worth checking out.

  12. 4 out of 5

    mad mags

    (Full disclosure: I received a free e-ARC for review through Edelweiss. Content warning for animal abuse and discussions of mental health.) -- 3.5 stars -- I want us to use loneliness - yours, and mine - to find our way back to one another. Social distancing. Quarantine. Zoom calls. Air hugs and masked faces. Two million, six hundred and sixty thousand dead - and counting! - many buried without a proper funeral. As we observe the one-year birthday of the coronavirus pandemic, few among us can say t (Full disclosure: I received a free e-ARC for review through Edelweiss. Content warning for animal abuse and discussions of mental health.) -- 3.5 stars -- I want us to use loneliness - yours, and mine - to find our way back to one another. Social distancing. Quarantine. Zoom calls. Air hugs and masked faces. Two million, six hundred and sixty thousand dead - and counting! - many buried without a proper funeral. As we observe the one-year birthday of the coronavirus pandemic, few among us can say that we're strangers to loneliness. Yet, when Radtke began this book waaay back in 2016, America was already in the grip of a loneliness epidemic. Using her own history with loneliness as a backdrop, Radtke delves into the science, philosophy, and everyday experience of loneliness. Her discussion is far-reaching and eclectic; she touches upon topics as varied as laugh tracks, attachment theory, romantic comedies, sexual harassment, traffic congestion, the cowboy archetype, Las Vegas, conspiracy theories and paranoia, robots, elder care, mass shootings, banishment, Mad Men, gossiping and storytelling, social engineering, touch therapy and cuddle parties, Casey Kasum, American gun culture, and - of course! - social media. The section on Princess Diana is especially moving. Naturally, a survey of isolation and loneliness wouldn't be complete without a look at psychologist Harry Harlow and his infamous studies of maternal attachment, social isolation, and dependency, conducted on rhesus monkeys in the 1950s and '60s. Second only to the author, Harlow is the MC of SEEK YOU, as Radtke returns to his work time and again, for better or worse (spoiler alert: it's always worse). I've got to give props to psychologist and animal activist pattrice jones for eschewing animal research in her own writing, as difficult an exercise as it can be. Harlow's research might have been seminal, but was also sadistic and depraved, even for the times. Reading about it made my stomach churn (and my heart grow stabby). Thankfully, Radtke doesn't pull any punches, correctly identifying Harlow's studies as torture and quoting contemporaries who believed he went too far - but she also seems to give him a bit of a pass, attributing his heartlessness to his own personal tragedies (his second wife, Margaret Kuenne, died of cancer, and during this time Harlow sought treatment for depression) and ending with "one cannot study love without acknowledging its darkness." Okay, sure, but does that really justify building rape racks and a pit of despair? Harlow's cruelty aside, SEEK YOU is a thoughtful and aching exploration of loneliness - one that's added yet another worry to my bottomless pile. If loneliness is correlated with a shortened life span, what does this mean for a forty-something widow like me, who lives alone and has spent most of the past 365 days with two only somewhat social nonhumans for company? Of course, loneliness does not equal being alone; you can be in a room full of partygoers and still feel lonely. I'm shy, and an introvert, and have social anxiety: humans generally trigger my fight or flight response, I don't know how to talk to most of them, and even when I do, I end up exhausted after a twenty-minute interaction. In many ways, I'm well-suited for the pandemic; I don't mind being alone, can occupy myself endlessly, and mostly prefer being left to my own devices. My social anxiety has even improved since I lost my husband, as he's no longer around to shield me from the social interactions I'd rather avoid. Go figure. All of which is just a long-winded way of saying that loneliness is in the eye of the beholder.

  13. 4 out of 5

    fatma

    i really wanted to like this--i have a soft spot for books about loneliness, for obvious reasons--but i dont know, it just didnt resonate

  14. 5 out of 5

    Troy Walker

    “Perhaps we see loneliness in others simply to feel less lonely ourselves” I was really taken this nonfiction graphic novel. Kristen Radtke uses a blend of relevant anecdotes, science, history, and cultural analysis to form a well balanced meditation on loneliness. This book doesn’t seek a solution to loneliness. It instead provides the reader with information on the ways in which loneliness creeps into our lives and an exploration of why it is a central part of the human condition. There are ma “Perhaps we see loneliness in others simply to feel less lonely ourselves” I was really taken this nonfiction graphic novel. Kristen Radtke uses a blend of relevant anecdotes, science, history, and cultural analysis to form a well balanced meditation on loneliness. This book doesn’t seek a solution to loneliness. It instead provides the reader with information on the ways in which loneliness creeps into our lives and an exploration of why it is a central part of the human condition. There are many things in life that cause loneliness, but it’s almost for certain that physical and emotional connection is not really a want, but rather a need for humans in what seems like our endless journey toward living a meaningful life. The illustrations are really gorgeous and the prose is profound. In all, I found myself to be very reflective of my own experiences and better informed while reading this graphic novel. If you’ve ever pondered your own feelings of loneliness and want a more serious and quick read I would definitely recommend this one.

  15. 5 out of 5

    Rebecca

    From my summary for Bookmarks magazine: Radtke surveys the science of loneliness and its pop culture representations. She spends significant time on Harry Harlow’s cruel 1950s experiments that denied affection to baby rhesus monkeys. Her own life is also a source of inspiration, including her father’s secret hobby of ham radio (“seek you” comes from the CQ call, which asks if there’s anyone listening) to her childhood habit of hiding away to watch 1990s sitcoms with laugh-tracks. From mass shoot From my summary for Bookmarks magazine: Radtke surveys the science of loneliness and its pop culture representations. She spends significant time on Harry Harlow’s cruel 1950s experiments that denied affection to baby rhesus monkeys. Her own life is also a source of inspiration, including her father’s secret hobby of ham radio (“seek you” comes from the CQ call, which asks if there’s anyone listening) to her childhood habit of hiding away to watch 1990s sitcoms with laugh-tracks. From mass shootings to selfies in art galleries, she probes the stereotypes we associate with lonely people. Amidst muted blue-green and gray-brown scenes, pops of warm color stand out. (3.5) I loved the seven pages of people recounting their loneliest moments. The fragments of memoir (promiscuity in her twenties, the fact that she’s she only person in her family not to own a gun, sending her thoughts out into the world via early blogs and message boards) are interesting but don’t necessarily seem to fit with the cultural history. I felt there was too much about the distressing Harlow experiments. Still, this is such a worthwhile subject, with loneliness a contagion as prevalent as Covid-19 during a time of isolation. Readalikes: The Last American Man by Elizabeth Gilbert (on the American cowboy/loner myth), The Lonely City by Olivia Laing, and the graphic novel In by Will McPhail, Radtke’s fellow New Yorker writer. Favorite lines: “Loneliness implies a flaw in us like no other longing or sadness does. ... It says that you’re a loser.” Brilliant last line: “And when we call out across an airwave or a telephone or a chatroom or an app or a city street or an open field or our bedroom, I want us each to hear, miraculously, a voice calling back.”

  16. 4 out of 5

    Marden Zelaya

    ”The more I’ve watched companionless strangers, the more I’ve come to think that these moments are only lonely for those who are observing them.” This graphic nonfiction reminded me a lot of a children’s picture book due to its structure: no panels or balloons, instead just one large artwork per page with minimal caption, which is very impressive given that Kristen Radtke goes deep into that “journey through American loneliness.” She explores a wide range of topics, and discusses some ”The more I’ve watched companionless strangers, the more I’ve come to think that these moments are only lonely for those who are observing them.” This graphic nonfiction reminded me a lot of a children’s picture book due to its structure: no panels or balloons, instead just one large artwork per page with minimal caption, which is very impressive given that Kristen Radtke goes deep into that “journey through American loneliness.” She explores a wide range of topics, and discusses some of the most interesting research studies on loneliness with a simple and evocative diction. It’s a quick read that can be enjoyed by teens and adults alike.

  17. 5 out of 5

    Kyle

    “Loneliness isn’t necessarily tied to whether you have a partner or a best friend or an aspirationally active social life in which you’re laughing all the time. It’s a variance that rests in the space between the relationships you have and the relationships you want. Loneliness lives in the gap.” I read Seek You in one tender squeeze, feeling eerily seen most of the way through. It’s intimate and expansive, a beautiful balance of the personal and the researched. I didn’t know until reading it how “Loneliness isn’t necessarily tied to whether you have a partner or a best friend or an aspirationally active social life in which you’re laughing all the time. It’s a variance that rests in the space between the relationships you have and the relationships you want. Loneliness lives in the gap.” I read Seek You in one tender squeeze, feeling eerily seen most of the way through. It’s intimate and expansive, a beautiful balance of the personal and the researched. I didn’t know until reading it how much I wanted this thorough explanation of loneliness, how it develops, how it morphs, how it contributes to laugh tracks and the need for gossip and so many other things— and how it’s more universal than it ever feels when you’re in it. Kristen Radtke is a genius!

  18. 5 out of 5

    Alli Cadle

    I had the thought while reading that this is how I would have preferred all my grade school textbooks to be written. Expanding the weird little margin fact-bubbles into something more meaningful and interesting to look at without relying on chronology. I connected more with some pieces of the book than others, but that's bound to happen when an author is curating a bunch of things that intersect at one subject. Early on Radtke addresses the way that people project loneliness onto others, which I I had the thought while reading that this is how I would have preferred all my grade school textbooks to be written. Expanding the weird little margin fact-bubbles into something more meaningful and interesting to look at without relying on chronology. I connected more with some pieces of the book than others, but that's bound to happen when an author is curating a bunch of things that intersect at one subject. Early on Radtke addresses the way that people project loneliness onto others, which I appreciated as a person who doesn't want to be 80 having a nice lunch at a cafe when a table of young adults nearby smiles too sweetly at me because I'm old and out alone so I must be tragically widowed and on the verge of tears. At the same time, I recognize that aging (and all ages) comes with loneliness. You can't work in a public library without knowing that, especially during a pandemic. The lonely senior hotline that Radtke writes about exists for a lot of people as their library, their post office, their McDonald's cashier. Radtke also writes that loneliness is pretty well-established to be contagious. I wonder how we go about accepting/trying to heal others' loneliness and being honest about our own without spreading it. Radtke writes, "I want us to use loneliness--yours, and mine--to find our way back to each other." I guess that's a nice idea.

  19. 4 out of 5

    Hannah

    Honestly, this book is not something I would normally pick up; however, I was intrigued by the idea of a nonfiction graphic novel. The book was very interesting and presented a lot of different research on loneliness and how it can impact a person's life. Especially in the wake of a long quarantine where people were experiencing more loneliness and isolation from groups that they normally interacted with I wanted to learn more about the topic and decided to read this book. It ​was set to be a 3 Honestly, this book is not something I would normally pick up; however, I was intrigued by the idea of a nonfiction graphic novel. The book was very interesting and presented a lot of different research on loneliness and how it can impact a person's life. Especially in the wake of a long quarantine where people were experiencing more loneliness and isolation from groups that they normally interacted with I wanted to learn more about the topic and decided to read this book. It ​was set to be a 3 or 4 star read until I read the line "This was the era, after all, in which BF Skinner raised in daughter for over two years in a box" (p.266). This line is a gross oversimplification and false statement. As someone who majored in behavior sciences for both my undergraduate and graduate degree, at first I was surprised that I had never heard of BF Skinner raising his daughter in a box, so I did some research. It appears that what the author was talking about was BF Skinner's Air Crib. The air crib was a climate controlled crib similar to an incubator that we see at today's hospitals. Skinners hope was that by using a climate controlled environment, parents would have less laundry to do and the child's movements wouldn't have to be restricted by being wrapped in blankets or extra layers of clothing (https://www.psychologicalscience.org/...). Deborah (Skinner's daughter) has even been interviewed on the use of the box. She states that she was never left in the box for extended periods of time and her parents used it as any other playpen or crib (you can read Deborah's interview about it here: https://www.schoolforthedogs.com/bein...). Which then leads me to my concern about this book. If the author made such a false statement about Skinner's air crib, the book is either poorly researched (I was able to find a lot of information on it through simple google searches) or Radtke purposely ignored the information presented in her research and made a broad and misleading statement to illustrate her point with the assumption that her readers wouldn't know enough to question what she said. Personally, that was a large turn off for me and left me questioning which other statements in the book might be misleading or false. Because of this I did drop my rating to two stars. To add some positives- the illustrations in this book were beautiful! They fit well with the text and enhanced the points Radtke was trying to say. Additionally, the book did present some very interesting ideas on the concept of loneliness and the different ways that people might experience it.

  20. 4 out of 5

    Sarah

    I didn't feel lonely until I saw how my rating is so different from others!!! Jokes aside I am not someone who feels lonely very often. I am, like the author points out, one of those people who "is only lonely when she thinks she is." But if this book made a person like me feel worse I can only imagine the effect it may have on others. At first I thought this book was a solid 5 stars. I did wish that it had woven in some more pertinent-to-the-times information with what was probably written/drawn I didn't feel lonely until I saw how my rating is so different from others!!! Jokes aside I am not someone who feels lonely very often. I am, like the author points out, one of those people who "is only lonely when she thinks she is." But if this book made a person like me feel worse I can only imagine the effect it may have on others. At first I thought this book was a solid 5 stars. I did wish that it had woven in some more pertinent-to-the-times information with what was probably written/drawn long before. But other than that I was amazed at how much was resonating with me and were things I had been pondering this pandemic. HOWEVER, the Harry Harlow section near the end just broke me. I had known about the main experiment but I did not know about some of the other details (spoiler: pit of despair, rape rack, motherless mothers, etc.) and to see them visualized through the drawings...for nearly 100 pages... I fell into my own pit of despair. To top it off I felt like it just ended there. There wasn't a real conclusion -Casey Kasem does not count- or advice going forward, there was no light at the end of this tunnel. The light turned out to be a train heading straight for you. I think it's dangerous to put out a book like that at a time like this. The loneliness epidemic is real and it's killing people alongside the virus. To leave us without resolution, or even hope, is a risky choice that I'm surprised was made. If all I can do is dedicate you who reads this a song, I am doing it. But as the last line states, to hear a voice calling back to me would be miraculous. :( We need something more tangible than miracles. Sad dedication: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7CAYF... Slightly less sad dedication: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hIeEm... Helplines organized by countries: https://www.opencounseling.com/suicid... Great forums as well as free listeners when you need: 7cups.com/forum/

  21. 5 out of 5

    Elena L.

    " Perhaps we see loneliness in others simply to feel less lonely ourselves." "Loneliness is one of the most universal things any person can feel." In SEEK YOU, Radtke captures the depth of human loneliness. Through personal, historical and scientific lenses, loneliness is scanned in our mundane routine. It was interesting to read about the difference between loneliness and aloneness; how socially distanced and social rejection/exclusion (exacerbated by the pandemic) justify some of the extreme s " Perhaps we see loneliness in others simply to feel less lonely ourselves." "Loneliness is one of the most universal things any person can feel." In SEEK YOU, Radtke captures the depth of human loneliness. Through personal, historical and scientific lenses, loneliness is scanned in our mundane routine. It was interesting to read about the difference between loneliness and aloneness; how socially distanced and social rejection/exclusion (exacerbated by the pandemic) justify some of the extreme social behaviors such as aggression and strong impulse; and also how loneliness is often associated with newness and major life changes. I also found engrossing the fact that childhood experiences, such as overprotection, influence the loneliness and fear of intimacy amongst adolescents and adults. The contrast of dark/light palette heightens the sense of loneliness in the pages, enriched by psychological analysis and experimental studies. This graphic novel enforces the disconnection attributed by the technology - especially social media - showing that what we post isn't representational extension of who we are, then conveying the false impression of socially connected and "all-happiness". Furthermore, loneliness is interwoven with American history, which events are meticulously presented and examined. All in all, SEEK YOU drives you into a journey of vulnerability and reflection. I do recommend this graphic novel. [ I received a complimentary copy from the publisher - Pantheon Books - in exchange for an honest review ]

  22. 4 out of 5

    Amanda

    This was a fairly interesting book, though it ended up being much gloomier than I'd anticipated. Like, the second to last chapter went into a lot of detail about some horrific experiments that were conducted on monkeys. The last chapter, which was only 3 minutes long, tried to end on a somewhat positive note, but for me it fell flat after hearing so much about the Pit of Despair and the Rape Rack. And even that wasn't quite as disturbing as what happened to the monkeys born from that.*shudders* M This was a fairly interesting book, though it ended up being much gloomier than I'd anticipated. Like, the second to last chapter went into a lot of detail about some horrific experiments that were conducted on monkeys. The last chapter, which was only 3 minutes long, tried to end on a somewhat positive note, but for me it fell flat after hearing so much about the Pit of Despair and the Rape Rack. And even that wasn't quite as disturbing as what happened to the monkeys born from that.*shudders* Maybe if the book had been longer it would have allowed for some much needed cushioning between topics and wouldn't have been such a rough read towards the end (it's only a two hour long audiobook). I generally pick up books like this (or what I thought this book was going to be) to find some solidarity and maybe some hope, but, I'm sad to say, Seek You left me feeling the complete opposite, with an extra dose of horrified to go with it. Thanks, book... ------------------------------- I'm a little conflicted on what to rate it, because the earlier sections of the book were fine and insightful. For now I think I'll settle on a flat 3 stars, though that might change after I've thought about it some more.

  23. 4 out of 5

    pugs

    phenomenal, i listened to the audiobook because physical is still on hold at the library; even if it meant i’d miss out the illustrated portion on my first reading, it sounded so promising, i had to listen asap. will do a proper review upon physical read, but definitely worth a quick listen if available to you.

  24. 4 out of 5

    * Anjuli *

    Oof. This was was brilliant. I love that it was in the graphic novel format. The author did a wonderful job researching loneliness and connection. It hits on many things I have reflected on as a psychologist and that I talk about with clients. It hits hard.

  25. 5 out of 5

    Susan Tunis

    2.5 stars. In what should be incredibly relevant in this time of isolation, it manages to be... not.

  26. 4 out of 5

    AitziST

    I am fond of graphic novels that are, at least at first glance, a compilation of studies rather than a cohesive story per se. Let me explain myself: when I started reading Seek You, by Kristen Radke, I was looking for a mature and deeply worked point of view regarding loneliness, separate and independent segments that did not need a continued reading. What I found was that and so much more. Separated indeed in very distinctive segments (Touch, Listen, Watch…), the author shares some deeply person I am fond of graphic novels that are, at least at first glance, a compilation of studies rather than a cohesive story per se. Let me explain myself: when I started reading Seek You, by Kristen Radke, I was looking for a mature and deeply worked point of view regarding loneliness, separate and independent segments that did not need a continued reading. What I found was that and so much more. Separated indeed in very distinctive segments (Touch, Listen, Watch…), the author shares some deeply personal stories but also a lot of academic information and details, and she manages to do so in a way that feels organic in a more or less harmonious way throughout the book. There are segments that feel more ‘artificial’ than others do, but all of them give the reader the opportunity of learning a lot about the topic discussed, and never feels heavy. There is this amazing moment where all you read are small descriptions of what loneliness feels like for different people. It feels like a window to the most vulnerable moments of their life, and even if they are completely different, you as the reader understand that, if it hurts, it hurts. There is no need for a more complex explanation; something that I feel is a triumph. I think I will be recommending this book a lot.

  27. 5 out of 5

    Bean

    Welp. This book just irked me. Something felt a little off and shallow about it. The author came across as lacking any capacity for empathy and just kind of self absorbed. Finished it. Read the author bio at the end and was like ohhhh, it's the lady who's claim to fame was stealing a man's memorial and then cashing in on it by writing a book about it. At least it was a library book and not a purchase. Tl:dr Privileged white woman feels lonely between bouts of feeling superior to others coping wit Welp. This book just irked me. Something felt a little off and shallow about it. The author came across as lacking any capacity for empathy and just kind of self absorbed. Finished it. Read the author bio at the end and was like ohhhh, it's the lady who's claim to fame was stealing a man's memorial and then cashing in on it by writing a book about it. At least it was a library book and not a purchase. Tl:dr Privileged white woman feels lonely between bouts of feeling superior to others coping with their loneliness.

  28. 5 out of 5

    D

    An utterly unique exploration of loneliness filled with both studies on the subject and personal reflections. All of this presented in graphic form. I found it enlightening, alarming, and sad. The end had an attempt at wished for hope but not enough to override the previous indictment that as Americans our isolation feeds upon itself and creates a continuum of the same. I received a galley from Pantheon and PRH publishing. All opinions are mine.

  29. 4 out of 5

    Chris Roberts

    High lonesome grey To see me fly, you have to pay The sky inside my head - fling-myself-off-a-bridge-day Or The stars sink your spirit Unsmiling in the lonesome firmament Sadness your smile on earth too Believe, believe love comes. #poem Chris Roberts, Patron Saint of the Echo People

  30. 4 out of 5

    Suzanne LaPierre

    I received this stunningly illustrated graphic novel as part of Politics & Prose Bookstore's personalized book-of-the-month club, which was a gift. My first thought upon opening the package was that this is the last thing I need to read. I am more in the "when am I going to get a moment to myself" stage of life than the lonely stage (which I know from my parents' experience is likely to come with old age with infirmity, when it becomes physically harder to get out and interact with others). COVI I received this stunningly illustrated graphic novel as part of Politics & Prose Bookstore's personalized book-of-the-month club, which was a gift. My first thought upon opening the package was that this is the last thing I need to read. I am more in the "when am I going to get a moment to myself" stage of life than the lonely stage (which I know from my parents' experience is likely to come with old age with infirmity, when it becomes physically harder to get out and interact with others). COVID-19 has left me with little time for solitude since I have continued to work with the public for most of the pandemic but the rest of my family worked from home. However, although the topic left me flat at first glance, I quickly became absorbed in this book once I started reading it. As the author points out, it's not how much proximity we have with others that counts, it's the quality of connection that creates loneliness or the lack thereof. She looks at the history of our relationship with technology, starting with home "CB" radio hobbyists in the previous generation- they used an acronym that sounded phonetically like "Seek You" when attempting to contact others. It's interesting how we have used technology to reach out to others in various ways through time. Though many have met kindred souls this way, often such interactions can leave us feeling more isolated. Of course, social media is an example of this phenomenon- whereby we attempt to feel connected but are often not displaying or receiving genuine reflections of ourselves or others and wind up feeling more alienated. This book leads me to ponder over whether my current "leave me alone" state of mind is a form of loneliness after all. Perhaps I feel disconnected from the experiences of others because almost everyone I know (other than immediate co-workers) has been home all pandemic and few can share my experience of trying to do my usual job while also enforcing safety measures, hoping not to catch COVID-19 while working with the public pre-vaccine, and feeling like no one cares about the safety or sanity of public service workers. Everywhere you look in the media there is an assumption that "we've all been stuck at home" or "now that we're all venturing out again"... as if we have ALL been safely tucked away all pandemic. Public service workers don't count? We're not part of the "all" of human experience? This is a classist fishbowl assumption... like the lords and ladies of the manor talking to one another while the "help" remains invisible. So yes, we can certainly be surrounded by others but still feel entirely alone. Some of the authors' musings about her own life seemed like filler and didn't add much to the book - other than the anecdote about her father's use of the CB radio, which was an interesting contrast to his buttoned-up personality and relevant to the topic. The strongest parts were the parallels drawn between different parts of history and how technology can both bring us together and/or alienate us from one another. Overall, this is a beautifully made book (both the drawings and the binding are well-designed) with much food for thought. I recommend reading a paper copy because the artwork is the special part of the book and it won't be the same experience in digital format.

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