Thursday, November 18, 2010

Anatomy of an Epidemic: Magic Bullets, Psychiatric Drugs, and the Astonishing Rise of Mental Illness in America by Robert Whitaker

Rating 4/5

This book should be required reading for everyone with a prescription pad, and everyone even contemplating being on the receiving end of a psychiatric prescription. Society at large and especially those of us in the mental health system have been lied to and duped into taking drugs that can and do turn a single episode into chronic, disabling illness.

I was skeptical when I picked up this book. Part of me expected a hysterical tirade a la an irate Scientologist. Instead I found a meticulously researched, heavily referenced and calmly reasoned expose of the psychiatric industry's self-salvation, at the expense of millions of already suffering and marginalized people. It's a travesty and an outrage. This is a book of vast importance, and I wish I could buy a copy for every doctor and fellow patient I've come across during my nearly twenty year journey as a psychiatric "consumer". It will change your mind about everything you've been told about psychopharmacology.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

The Ark by Boyd Morrison

Rating 2/5

Written like an action movie, a mediocre one at best. I picked this up because of the Ark archeology, but there wasn't much in there. Most of it was engineering, weapons, military stuff...definitely a "guy" book. Not to say I ever read chick-lit (no offense to those who do) - I prefer books that both genders can relate to. I couldn't relate to anything in this book, really. I wouldn't recommend anyone waste their time with this book, unless it's very much up their alley and they can't find anything better to read. So unless you are a guy stuck in a cabin with nothing but a copy of this book...

Sunday, November 7, 2010

Waking the Witch (Women of the Otherworld, #11) by Kelley Armstrong

Rating: 3.5/5

I enjoyed this more than I expected. Usually in Armstrong's witchy books there's Cabal involvement, which I don't like, but there was none in this book - bonus! The mystery was great, full of twists & turns. Not much character development or emotion, tho, just a smattering here & there. I like Armstrong's other characters (werewolves/Jaimie) much more because of their emotional intensity.

When Things Fall Apart: Heart Advice for Difficult Times by Pema Chödrön

Rating 3/5

I had some strong emotional reactions to this book, notably resistance to tonglen practice. Which is worth exploring, obviously. I think part of it is the fact that since I have a chronic pain condition, the idea of breathing in even more suffering seems like masochism, even though intellectually I understand why/how it works paradoxically. Maybe I'm just not ready for that teaching yet. Chodron talks a lot about meditation, which I'm unable to do because of the pain I'm in - it's so uncomfortable, it also feels like masochism. Maybe I'm just not facing up to it, but I don't think torturing myself is the way to go. So there wasn't as much in this book for me as I hoped there would be. I'm much more amenable to mindfulness and philosophy as opposed to sitting meditation. But I have great respect for Chodron as a person and a Buddhist, and anything she has to say is worth a read. Perhaps one day I will be able to come back to this book and have it be more helpful.

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Betrayal of Love and Freedom by Paul Huljich

Rating 1/5

Alright, I just can't take anymore. I've never read a book so in need of an editor in my life. The author apparently has such a low opinion of his reader that everything has to be spelled out - blatantly and repeatedly. There is absolutely no subtlety here. There are phrases so melodramatic they'll make your eyes roll, and paragraphs so dry you imagine the author intended to come back and polish them up later. This book reads like an unaltered first draft - punctation and spelling mistakes included. And it's a shame, because the story had some potential. Unfortunately that potential blew away in the author's long-windedness and histrionics.

Note: I won this book in the Goodreads First Reads giveaway, which had no influence over my rating or review. Obviously.