Learning to Think: A Memoir of Faith, Superstition, and the Courage to Ask Questions (Hardcover)

Learning to Think: A Memoir of Faith, Superstition, and the Courage to Ask Questions By Tracy King Cover Image
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Set in 1980s Birmingham, England, a piercing memoir about the liberating power of a scientific view of the world.

Tracy King was raised in a house of contradictions—her family was happy and creative, yet shadowed by debt, phobias, her father’s alcoholism, and the illusory promises of a born-again Christian church. The uneasy balance of the King household was irrevocably upended on a rainy spring night in 1988, when her father was killed by teenagers just blocks from their public housing estate.

Her mother’s dysfunctional reliance on the church deepened following the tragedy, and King, suffering from undiagnosed anxiety, stopped attending school. The account of her father’s death remained hazy, made worse by the fact that four of the accused teenagers—neighborhood boys she could not avoid—were never charged. What could have triggered such an act of aggression? Clinging to hearsay and what little information she had from the police, King allowed her imagination to fill in the rest.

Over the years, in a bid to balm her grief and gaps in formal education, King journeyed through multiple belief systems: she distanced herself from fundamentalism, searching for clarity instead in the occult, paranormal beliefs, and conspiracy theories. Amid the chaos of her coming of age, she stumbled upon a copy of Carl Sagan’s The Demon-Haunted World on the shelves of a Birmingham bookshop —a discovery that proved transformative. Sagan’s sage caveat, “But I could be wrong,” became King’s guiding light, empowering her to confront her demons.

An eloquently written and often sharply funny account that is ever sensitive to the fallibility of memory and the nuances of truth, Learning to Think is a resounding battle cry for the value of education and the freedom to think critically, imaginatively, and for oneself.

About the Author

Tracy King is a writer, producer, and science communicator based in England. She contributes to media on subjects ranging from science and technology to politics and videogames, in outlets such as the Guardian, BBC, Telegraph, and New European.

Praise For…

An astonishing tale, well-structured and punchily told.
— Sunday Times

Impossible not to read in one sitting.
— Stylist, Best Books for 2024

A memoir you read with the same breathlessness as you read the most gripping of novels.
— i news

What would you do if you began to suspect the events of your childhood didn't happen as you remembered them? In this evocative memoir, Tracy King confronts the stories we all tell ourselves in order to live.
— Helen Lewis

Raw and unflinching.
— Caroline Craido Perez, author of Invisible Women: Data Bias in a World Designed for Men

Tracy King's memoir is heartbreaking and hopeful... An incredible true story of survival and forgiveness.
— Tim Minchin

A brilliant writer.
— Adam Kay

A stirring account of one woman’s staggering climb through grief to independence and a page-turner to boot, King is an exciting, brave new voice in memoir.
— Courtney Maum, author of The Year of the Horses
Product Details
ISBN: 9781631498732
ISBN-10: 1631498738
Publisher: Liveright
Publication Date: April 9th, 2024
Pages: 336
Language: English