How does reading and writing change you?

Joining Alice Vincent and Charlotte Runcie this week is the author Cathy Rentzenbrink, who doesn’t like being described as an “acclaimed memoirist”, and would rather we described her as an “honest puzzler” - or something even less kind.

But she has, in fact, written many excellent memoirs and novels, and there’s no getting around it. Her clear-eyed, truth-filled writing tackles subjects including profound grief, as well as her own very personal relationship with books and reading. In today’s conversation, we discuss the strange otherworldliness of writing, and how sometimes an author needs to dive down into the book and away from reality:

“I get very very lonely and then actually feel a bit mad. Especially writing fiction, I think you need to submerge. You need to go down a few layers and a few levels, but then you get the bends when you're trying to jump out.”

Each episode of In Haste is accompanied by an original essay on Substack by Alice Vincent or Charlotte Runcie exploring its wider themes at

In Haste is produced by Holly Fisher for Hasty Productions, with original music by Maria Chiara Argiró and graphic design by Alicia Fernandes.

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