"Imagine the worst thing in the world."
This is the mantra that runs through the brilliant debut from Fletcher Wortmann, TRIGGERED: A Memoir of Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder. You might have heard Fletcher’s deeply moving interview on NPR’s Talk of the Nation recently (link). He’s a talented new voice, a recent Swarthmore grad writing about the devil in the details. Forget the whimsical portrayal of Detective Monk. We’re talking "Pure O," a highly debilitating form of the illness, one marked by intrusive thoughts of the darkest and even apocalyptic kind.
But no mere "misery memoir," this. As brutally intimate and honest as TRIGGERED is—an "acid bath of self-revelation," one blurber calls it—what charmed me about this memoir was its quirky balance of the heartbreaking and the hysterical, the profound and the light-hearted. (One of my favorite lines: "If a girl accepts an invitation to help count the tiles on your bedroom ceiling, then she will probably be disappointed when she realizes you were speaking literally.") The experience of reading TRIGGERED is akin to "reading" a Wes Anderson film, if that makes sense. Wortmann’s a unique talent; it’s a rare author indeed who can weave eclectic allusions to David Bowie, Kurt Vonnegut, psychology, Christian comic books, Pokémon, Edgar Allen Poe, the family cat, and St. John of the Cross. As engrossing as this memoir is on the subject of mental illness, fundamentally it’s a universal coming of age story that takes us on a journey through American culture both high and low. (And it’s entirely appropriate for teen readers, as well. My 16-year-old nephew polished it off in a couple days…)
People magazine gave TRIGGERED 3 1/2 out of 4 stars, bestselling memoirist Janine Latus declared "Bravo!" and OCD authority Jonathan Grayson praised its "hip, dark humor" and likened TRIGGERED to "Jack Kerouac’s on the Road for OCD and the twenty-first century."
...Staying on the subject of moving memoirs, I also want to draw your attention to SPARKY AND ME: My Friendship with Sparky Anderson and the Lessons He Shared About Baseball and Life by Dan Ewald.Read more
Let's kick this post off with some difficult questions...
Should we allow corporations to pay for the right to pollute the atmosphere? Is it ethical to pay people to test risky new drugs? What about hiring mercenaries to fight our wars? Auctioning admission to elite universities? Selling citizenship to immigrants willing to pay?
In WHAT MONEY CAN'T BUY, Michael J. Sandel takes on one of the biggest ethical questions of our time: Is there something wrong with a world in which everything is for sale? If so, how can we prevent market values from reaching into spheres of life where they don’t belong?
Kirkus Reviews just gave it a starred review and called it, "An exquisitely reasoned, skillfully written treatise on big issues of everyday life."Read more
Terry Tempest Williams' unconventional and curious collection of essays, WHEN WOMEN WERE BIRDS: Fifty-four Variations on Voice, has already earned two starred reviews!
"Each book by ecologist, activist, and writer Williams is an event, so lucid, caring, spirited, and incantatory is her approach to the matrix of nature, place, culture, family, and sense of self. [...] Williams is transcendent in her piercing, musical, elegiac, and loving reflections on women’s lives and wilderness, light and shadow, words expressed and words unspoken and invisible." -Booklist (starred review)
"Williams, the sensitive author of REFUGE, is shocked to discover her deceased mother’s unwritten memoirs—shelves worth of blank pages. Under such unpromising circumstances commences a kaleidoscopic celebration and palimpsest—all metaphorical clichés but apt—on finding a voice and woman’s identity beyond the silenced, selfless existence informed by children and a husband—even a family brimming with love." —Publishers Weekly (starred review)
Your patrons might also catch an excerpt of this one in O Magazine this May!Read more
COURAGE BEYOND THE GAME
The Freddie Steinmark Story
By Jim Dent
The Next 100,000 Years of Life on Earth
By Curt Stager
Unearthing Britain's Visionary Music
By Rob Young
"A breathtakingly accomplished, entertaining and illuminating epic."
HALFWAY TO HOLLYWOOD
By Michael Palin
THE ORIGINS OF POLITICAL ORDER
From Prehuman Times to the French Revolution
By Francis Fukuyama
By Margaux Fragoso
"A gripping, tragic and unforgettable chronicle of lost innocence and abuse."
WE MEANT WELL
How I Helped Lose the Battle for the Hearts and Minds of the Iraqi People
By Peter Van Buren
"One of the rare, completely satisfying results of the expensive debacle in Iraq."
THE BOY IN THE MOON
A Father’s Journey to Understand His Extraordinary Son.
"Brown combines a reporter’s curiosity with a novelist’s instinctive feel for the unknowable in this exquisite book"
THINKING, FAST AND SLOW
"In this comprehensive presentation of a life’s work, the world’s most influential psychologist demonstrates that irrationality is in our bones, and we are not necessarily the worse for it."
Also, did you see this absurdly awesome suit jacket that they made out of the top ten book jackets? Seems like it might wrinkle easily, though.Read more
The New York Times has weighed in with their list of 100 Notable Books of 2011 and there are quite a few excellent Macmillan reads in both the fiction and nonfiction sections:
THE BARBARIAN NURSERIES by Héctor Tobar
BIG QUESTIONS by Anders Brekhus Nilsen
CANTI by Giacomo Leopardi
THE FREE WORLD by David Bezmozgis
THE LEFTOVERS by Tom Perrotta
LIFE ON MARS by Tracy K. Smith
THE MARRIAGE PLOT by Jeffrey Eugenides
PARALLEL STORIES by Peter Nadas
THE SUBMISSION by Amy Waldman
TALLER WHEN PRONE: Poems by Les Murray
TRAIN DREAMS by Denis Johnson
AND SO IT GOES by Charles J. Shields
THE BOY IN THE MOON by Ian Brown
EXAMINED LIVES by James Miller
IS THAT A FISH IN YOUR EAR? by David Bellos
MIDNIGHT RISING by Tony Horwitz
ONE DAY I WILL WRITE ABOUT THIS PLACE by Binyavanga Wainaina
THE ORIGINS OF POLITICAL ORDER by Francis Fukuyama
PULPHEAD by John Jeremiah Sullivan
RIGHTS GONE WRONG by Richard Thompson Ford
THINKING, FAST AND SLOW by Daniel Kahneman
WHY THE WEST RULES—FOR NOW by Ian Morris
See The New York Times' full list of notable books here.Read more
Two weeks ago, we offered you a few nonfiction suggestions to cultivate a more nuanced understanding of the Occupy Wall Street discussion.
Today, we have another excellent reading recommendation for patrons interested in learning more about America's economic condition, in this case, as it relates to law.
Over the past four decades, the principle of equality before the law has been effectively abolished. Instead, a two-tiered system of justice ensures that the country's political and financial class is virtually immune from prosecution, licensed to act without restraint, while the politically powerless are imprisoned with greater ease and in greater numbers than in any other country in the world.
Cogent, sharp, and urgent, this is a no-holds-barred indictment of a profoundly un-American system that sanctions immunity at the top and mercilessness for everyone else.
"Greenwald lets no one off the hook in demonstrating the vast differences in legal recourse between rich and poor, powerful and weak." -Kirkus Reviews
"Greenwald, called one of the '25 Most Influential Liberals in the U.S. Media' by Forbes and a 'blogosphere superstar' by Mother Jones, is just the guy to write this book. Not for legalists only." -Library JournalRead more
That's right! We're still on our Word of the Day kick and today we're talking economics.
With the Occupy Wall Street discussion on everyone's minds, your patrons might be coming to you for some nonfiction reading guidance. We have a few suggestions for you.
Nickel and Dimed: On (Not) Getting By in America
In this Alex Award winning book, Ehrenreich, a sharp and original social critic, goes "undercover" as an unskilled worker to reveal the dark side of American prosperity.
In this Pulitzer Prize finalist, Cassidy describes the rising influence of "utopian economies"—the thinking that is blind to how real people act and that denies the many ways an unregulated free market can bring on disaster.
Spence, winner of the Nobel Prize in Economic Sciences, explains what happened to cause a dramatic shift after World War II between massive growth in the industrialized West to explosive growth in the developing world.Read more
AND NOTHING BUT THE TRUTHINESS
The Rise (and Further Rise) of Stephen Colbert
AND NOTHING BUT THE TRUTHINESS (Thomas Dunne Books, October) delivers a funny and personal portrait of the ground-breaking star.Read more
We're closing out National Dog Week with a look at Lisa Rogak's THE DOGS OF WAR.
Few civilians realize we have dogs serving in combat, let alone that they can parachute from up to 30,000 feet.
In this book, Lisa Rogak shows the amazing range of jobs that military working dogs perform, such as explosives detection, patrol, and hunt for enemy combatants. Dogs have had a place in the military for decades, but their importance and our treatment of them has evolved over time. Rogak examines the training, equipment, and what it’s like to serve with them on the front lines.
THE DOGS OF WAR also tells heart-warming stories of the deep connections that grow between dogs and their handlers. Rogak recounts adventures both heroic and tragic of the courage and devotion that both human and canine soldiers have shown together on the battlefield.
Publishers Weekly recently featured a few books about heroic war dogs including THE DOGS OF WAR. They say,
"Tales of dogs participating in war are some of the few uplifting stories to come out of Iraq and Afghanistan. St. Martin's editor Peter Joseph says such titles 'are positive reminders that there are things more important than politics.' Lisa Rogak's THE DOGS OF WAR: The Courage, Love, and Loyalty of Military Working Dogs (Oct.) covers the range of jobs performed by military dogs, some of whom can parachute from as high as 30,000 feet."
This is an excellent read for dog-lovers and military aficionados, alike.Read more