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Monday, November 13, 2017

Nonfiction November, Week Three: Be an Expert


Nonfiction November, Week 3: (Nov. 13 to 17) — Kim @ Sophisticated Dorkiness — Be The Expert/Ask the Expert/Become the Expert: Three ways to join in this week! You can either share three or more books on a single topic that you have read and can recommend (be the expert), you can put the call out for good nonfiction on a specific topic that you have been dying to read (ask the expert), or you can create your own list of books on a topic that you’d like to read (become the expert).

Be the expert: Years ago in an effort to create an assignment for a high school psychology class, I did a lot of reading on mental illness and abnormal psych. Here are a few of my favorite titles that I thought were especially helpful for teen readers as they were exploring mental illness/abnormal psych topics in their classes:

Schizophrenia:

  • The Day the Voices Stopped by Ken Steele, (2002)--- For thirty-two years Steele fought the voices in his head which commanded him to kill himself. None of the drugs he tried helped him until finally a doctor was able to find a combination which turned off the voices. Steele then goes on to live a life of advocacy for those haunted by mental illnesses. This book really turned my thinking around about the horrors of untreated mental illness.
Bi-Polar Disorder:

  • An Unquiet Mind: A Memoir of Moods and Madness by Kay Redfield Jamison (1997)---Jamison is a psychologist who also lives with manic-depression (her preferred term for the disorder.) She is very insightful in her descriptions of what it is like to give up the manic periods in order to avoid the depressive ones. Now twenty years old, I am sure there are updated books on this topic that would provide more information on current treatments.
  • All the Things We Never Knew: Chasing the Chaos of Mental Illness by Sheila Hamilton (2015)---Hamilton's husband killed himself six months after his diagnosis with bi-polar disorder. This book takes a look at mental illness through the eyes of a loved one.
Munchausen-by-proxy Syndrome:
  • Sickened: A True Story of a Lost Childhood by Julie Gregory (2004)---Gregory's mother subjected her to years and years of medical exams, surgeries, treatments not because Julie was sick but because the mother was mentally ill. Munchausen syndrome is considered to be a rare, often deadly, form of child abuse.
Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder: 
  • Passing for Normal: a Memoir of Compulsion by Amy Wilensky (2000): Wilensky not only gives insight of what it is like to live with OCD but also Tourette's Syndrome. I found this book very helpful in my thinking about both these conditions.
  • Turtles All the Way Down by John Green (2017) and The Unlikely Hero of Room 13-B by Teresa Toten (2015) are two fiction books which are very good about what it is like to live with OCD and how the treatments don't always work.
Ask an expert: as you see, many of these titles are getting dated. Can you suggest any books on mental illness, appropriate for teen readers published in the last five years or so?






18 comments:

  1. I don't read much non-fiction, especially on these topics. Several hit too close to home.

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  2. Wow, impressive that you read all of those! I have accepted that I am doing Nonfiction November only unofficially - this month is just far too busy for extra blog posts!!

    But I am enjoying a bunch of memoirs :)

    Sue

    It's Monday! What Are You Reading? Super busy here with lots of travel but still enjoying our books! I'm focused on memoirs for Nonfiction November. I'm reading Mennonite in a Little Black Dress by Rhoda Janzen - hilarious!! And I'm listening on audio to Where the Past Begins: A Writer's Memoir by Amy Tan, which is excellent and fascinating. My husband is reading To Say Nothing of the Dog by Connie Willis, a farcical time travel novel set in Victorian England, which is also very funny.

    What are you and your family reading this week?

    Book By Book

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    1. I read Mennonite in a Black Dress with book club a few years ago and we had a really hard time generating a good discussion on it, unfortunately. I haven't heard of that Amy Tan book and want to read Say Nothing of the Dog. It is on some list of favorites that I read a while ago and it sounded good.

      Currently I am reading Earth Hates Me by Ruby Karp, another YA nonfiction book. I am also trying to cram in The Book of Dust by Philip Pullman before it is due next week.

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  3. Such interesting topics and good book choices!

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  4. amazing list. That makes me think about the biography of Ralph Nader A Beautiful Mind. I really enjoyed it: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/13912.A_Beautiful_Mind?from_search=true

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    1. John Nash was the subject in A Beautiful Mind. I saw the film and was blown away by his creativity and insanity. Very powerful.

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  5. I have Turtles All the Way Down on my to-read list--interested to read about a character with this disorder from the perspective of an author who has it himself.

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    1. I thought the topic of OCD was handled well in the book and I especially appreciated that the book didn't end all rosy, like often happens in YA lit.

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  6. I'm not sure on fitting ones for teens. But The Noonday Demon by Andrew Solomon is a classic on depression.

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    1. I am currently reading FAR FROM THE TREE by Solomon. He is a good writer. The book is 900+ pages, though, which is daunting. How long is the Noonday Demon. Length is definitely something I look at when choosing books for teens.

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  7. Wow, these look like tough reads. I read an interesting book about Tourette's Syndrome a few years ago, by a librarian turned bodybuilder. The World's Strongest Librarian.

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    1. Tourette's Syndrome isn't the topic of many books, at least that I could find.

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  8. This is an excellent list, a good variety of titles to consider. Thanks for joining us this week!

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  9. All of these look like great reads! Sickened especially caught my attention. I've seen Munchausen-by-proxy in tv shows and the like but have yet to read about an actual case.

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    1. Yes, the students really liked the book Sickened. It was new and horrifying information for them.

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  10. It's interesting how much of an effect school projects can have on us, still in our minds years later. This is a topic that I feel comes up fairly often in my reading (for instance, I just finished Michael Redhill's novel Bellevue Square in which mental health is a major theme) but I don't know how many of them would speak to teen readers. I guess it would depend on the reader. One that I found very compelling for being such an ordinary story was Alison Pick's Between Gods, which is about coping with depression when one doesn't recognise it as such.

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  11. Wow our high school years are pretty rough on us - you delved into mental illness - I fixated on the Holocaust!

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    1. Actually the students in the class really seemed to like the reading assignment because it made their study come to life, with real-world examples of what it was like to live with a mental illness and what it takes to get well. The students liked Sickened the best (from the list) because of the odd nature of Munchausen Syndrome.

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