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May 18, 2011 / schulerbooks

Some summer reading suggestions… :)

Even though events are keeping me busier than ever, I’ve been reading non-stop and have been lucky enough to run on a great string of great books. While I haven’t had time to review all of them, here are a smattering of those I have written up. (And here’s a little homework – some titles I’ve LOVED that you should look up: Slice of Cherry by Dia Reeves, Unwind by Neal Shusterman, and the not-yet-released titles The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern (simply adoring this – should finish it tonight) and Sybil Exposed: The Extraordinary Story Behind the Famous Multiple Personality Case by Debbie Nathan.)

The Psychopath Test: A Journey Through the Madness Industry by Jon Ronson

This absolutely fascinating book is another hit for Jon Ronson, a journalist who has made his career nosing into the strange outskirts of society in the international bestsellers  and Them: Adventures with ExtremistsThe Men Who Stare At Goats, the basis for the George Clooney film adaption.

Beginning with a strange quest to determine the origins of a mysterious book that had been sent anonymously to a number of the most brilliant people in the world, Ronson’s explorations lead him deep within the equally mysterious field of psychological diagnoses, particularly the diagnoses of psychopaths.

Ranging from individual cases of psychopathy to revelations regarding the shocking increase in the number of psychopaths in positions of power (think CEOs, politicians, etc.) vs. the normal population, Ronson’s exploration is as gripping as any novel I’ve read this year.

Divergent by Veronica Roth

(If you read our blog from time to time, you may have seen posts of my joy over having the Dark Days of Supernatural Tour coming to our Lansing store on June 11 @ 4p.m. Veronica Roth is one of the featured authors!)

Now that Twilight fever has essentially passed (at least in the book world) and The Hunger Games trilogy has taken over the young adult book world, literary focus has moved from vampires to the more cynical futuristic fare of Dystopian fiction. Take 1984 or Brave New World, throw in a lot more action sequences and a love triangle and you’ve generally got the picture. (A number of notable examples are Matched by Allie Condie, The Inferior by Peadar O’Guilin, and Wither by Lauren DeStefano.)

But the one that’s currently topping my list is the highly anticipated, recently released Divergent. Set in a decrepit future Chicago, society has divided itself into five factions based on the particular virtue that group considers to be the most important. Beatrice Prior has grown up within Candor (the honest), but she has reached the age where she must test to see which faction best suits her, and then make the choice that could separate her from her family forever. The initiation that follows her decision carries much of the story, but it’s the grander political machinations of the society at large, as well as Beatrice’s strong-willed character that really hooked me in and left me dying for the next installment.

Guilt By Association by Marcia Clark

You’re looking at the author and wondering, “That Marcia Clark?” Yep, it’s that Marcia Clark. The lead prosecutor on the ill-fated O.J. Simpson trial has been quietly making a name for herself as a writer, penning TV dramas and a column for the Daily Beast, and now she’s released the first of an anticipated series of legal thrillers featuring main character Rachel Knight, a tough, intuitive DA in Los Angeles.

This not a genre I typically read, but I was lucky enough to attend an author dinner with Clark in which she completely won me over. The woman is S-M-A-R-T and witty, and likes a drink as much as her heroine does. Her thriller is much like she is — clever with a wry sense of humor, and full of behind-the-scenes details. While the novel has some of the weaknesses of debut novels, overall it’s a fun, guilty-pleasure kind of read that’s perfect for summer.

I cannot tell you how giddy I am for the release of this collection, nevermind the fact that I already own everything it contains in the original paperback format, well used and well loved. The moment I discovered Bloom County, the hilariously absurd yet incredibly astute comic strip that perfectly punctuated the ‘80s, I was obsessed, wearing my Bill the Cat t-shirt til it literally began to disintegrate; listening to the scratchy floppy Billy and the Boingers LP single while reading and re-reading the strip collections until I had them memorized.

This edition is especially dear to my heart because it contains my beloved Bill and his ne’er do well Boingers, a brash satire of the ‘80s hair-metal scene, including brilliantly funny segments on the controversial Senate Hearings fronted by Tipper Gore, here cunningly disguised as Mrs. T. Gorp.

Like all truly genius comics, Bloom County had an appeal to all ages—I adored it even when I didn’t recognize names like Caspar Weinberger, and then enjoyed it on a deeper level when I went back to it as an adult. Do yourself a favor and take a look back at the 80s through Berkeley Breathed’s eyes.

We All Fall Down by Nic Sheff 

We All Fall Down: Living With Addiction — follow-up to the runaway bestseller Tweak: Growing Up On Methamphetamines  — reenters the narrative of Nic Sheff’s battle with addiction as he attempts to navigate his way through relapse and recovery with all the candor and stark self-assessment that made ‘Tweak’ such a startling read.

In an age of ubiquitous celebrity rehab, Sheff is open about his struggles to find a place within 12-Step Programs and AA meetings, working against people who insist that their way to sobriety is the only way, to finally find a sense of peace that he has forged for himself. I found it very refreshing that someone had the guts to stand up and say “These programs aren’t working for me.” It doesn’t make him a bad person, a whiner or a failure, but rather proves the point that people are not one-size-fits-all, and not every program will work for every person.

After many attempts to negotiate with his addictions (“maybe I can just drink” or “pot won’t be a problem”) Nic finally finds all the right puzzle pieces to attain a hard-won sobriety, which he has maintained for over two years. Like his first memoir, this will serve as a source of inspiration to people struggling with addiction, as well as those trying to support them.

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One Comment

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  1. Diandio / Aug 1 2011 8:27 am

    I am glad I read this post – now I know what to do. Great post.

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