Not since Lucy Grealy's Autobiography of a Face has a disability/disease memoir captured my consciousness so intensely. Jones, a philosopher by training, shares her most intimate observations of life–beauty, suffering, and the quotidian acts we all perform–through her scholar's lens, but does not leave out her personal circumstances: she has a rare congenital condition known as sacral ageneis and is small, hunched, unable to walk "normally", and is in chronic pain. Without making an explicit argument or banging the drum of identity politics, she nevertheless ignites a radical empathy in the reader. I did not want to work the day I wrote this: I only wanted to read this gorgeous book.
“The subtitle ‘memoir’ doesn't do justice to this spectacular, sui generis meditation on art, disability, parenting, and travel. It's about more than memory — it's about living in the now and creating the future we want for our children.”
— Rebekah Shoaf, Boogie Down Books, Bronx, NY
A New York Times Notable Book of 2022 * A Washington Post, Los Angeles Times, Publishers Weekly, Time, BuzzFeed, and New York Public Library Best Book of the Year* “Gorgeous, vividly alive.” —The New York Times * “Soul-stretching, breathtaking…A game-changing gift to readers.” —Booklist (starred review)
From Chloé Cooper Jones—Pulitzer Prize finalist, philosophy professor, Whiting Creative Nonfiction Grant recipient—an “exquisite” (Oprah Daily) and groundbreaking memoir about disability, motherhood, and the search for 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.
“Bold, honest, and superbly well-written” (Andre Aciman, author of Call Me By Your Name) Easy Beauty is the rare memoir that has the power to make you see the world, and your place in it, with new eyes.
About the Author
Chloé Cooper Jones is a philosophy professor and freelance journalist who was a finalist for a 2020 Pulitzer Prize in Feature Writing. Her work has appeared in publications including GQ, The Verge, VICE, Bookforum, New York magazine, and The Believer, and has been selected for both The Best American Travel Writing and The Best American Sports Writing. She lives in Brooklyn, New York.
"A rich, decadent book that rewards close reading... anyone who immerses themselves in Chloé's writing will come away with a greater understanding of everything beautiful about the human experience, and how to behold it." —Isaac Fitzgerald, The Today Show
“[An] exquisite memoir.” —O, The Oprah Magazine
"Easy Beauty is bold, honest, and superbly well-written. Chloé Cooper Jones is ruthless in probing our weakest and darkest areas, and does so with grace, humor, and ultimately, with something one seldom finds: kindness and humanity." —André Aciman, author of Call Me By Your Name
"A spiky and inspiring book for any reader at odds with a superficial culture." —Los Angeles Times
“Part travelogue and part treatise... Philosophy, art, gender, sex, travel, motherhood, academia, humor—this book has it all.” —New York Public Library
“Written with the curiosity of a scholar, the compassion of a mother, and the keen insight of a person who has lived on the margins of what is deemed acceptable, Easy Beauty is a rare, poignant gem of a memoir... Transcendent.” —Bookreporter
"Jones resists sentimentality and is as unsparing on herself as she is on other people, yet she writes with such graciousness, too. A wonderful debut." —Buzzfeed
"Transcendent... In keeping the reader close as she navigates the world, Jones lets us in on the effort it takes to move through the world in a disabled body... This is all rendered in sentences, insights, and metaphors so precise and evocative that demonstrate her literary mastery." —Oprah Daily
"Soul-stretching, breathtaking... A profound, impressive, and wiser-than-wise contemplation of the way Jones is viewed by others, her own collusion in those views, and whether any of this can be shifted... A game-changing gift to readers." —Booklist (starred review)
"Jones’ writing is thoughtful and deeply felt, and her stories will fascinate anyone who wants to look at the world in a new way." —Apple Books (Best of the Month)
"Perceptive, stylish, and darkly funny, Easy Beauty is an act of grace, and a reckoning. Chloé Cooper Jones is a remarkable writer—I would follow her mind anywhere." —Anna Wiener, author of Uncanny Valley
"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