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The Collected Schizophrenias

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As far as diagnoses go, there's nothing more frightening that schizophrenia -- at least in my book. Some could argue that cancer is scary -- it is certainly a tyrant, but schizophrenia's symptoms can be so unpredictable, bizarre, and varied that is scares me more. In addition, people with schizophrenia may not even know they are ill, which makes any kind of treatment very challenging.

As a person trained to work with people with disabilities, I have been taught to use "person first" language. Did you notice above I said, "people with schizophrenia" and not "schizophrenics?" This is evidently a rule you can break if you are a person with schizophrenia as Esmé Weijun Wang is. She makes the point in the book that even the language we use about the disease shows that we fear it -- there is no adjective for cancer that relates to people. So, you may say that someone has cancer, but you wouldn't say that they are cancer or even cancerous. But, you …

Holy Envy

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I am a religious person. Being spiritual (and not religious) is something that people take pride in. Religion has a bad name, and I get it. I wish I could say that I'm one of those people who is spiritual and not religious -- that I'm in a relationship with God, not a regimen. However, the fact remains that I am religious to matter how you define it. I'm routined. I'm predictable. I find comfort in schedules. I'm religious about my morning routine, my diet, my favorite baseball team, and my worship of God.

While I have chosen what I believe to be the most meaningful and true path to God (and I'd be happy to share why I believe this to anyone who asks), I do respect other attempts at the same. Even though I do not necessarily believe that these are legitimate ways to God, there is something to learn from each path. Holy Envy, written by an ordained episcopal priest, is about respecting each path and learning from other religious traditions.

I didn't take no…

Thrillers -- Not My Thing

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When it comes to television shows and movies, I like thrillers. Not horror; that is totally different. Thrillers are usually focused on some psychological torment of the main character. I haven't read very many thriller books, and maybe this was just the wrong one.

Just One Look by Harlan Coben was a book I stumbled upon on Facebook where some mutual friends of mine were discussing the book. It wasn't directly recommended to me; I picked it up because their discussion about it was interesting to me.

The story centers around a woman who had been injured at a stampede at a rock concert a few years earlier. After her husband disappears, we realize that nearly all of the major players have something to do with this concert. As events transpire, the reader follows her struggle to put all of the pieces together while questioning the meaning of it all.

In my opinion, this book was mostly keeping track of one character after another, and in the end, I finished it, but I didn't rea…

The Not-Quite States of America

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I listened to a fascinating book recently -- The Not-Quite States of America by Doug Mack. This book was about the United States territories. As a lover of non-fiction books, I considered this the perfect type of book for entertainment purposes because it covers a subject of which everyone is aware, but about which very few people know. However, as a book club book, it was lacking because the contents resulted in the learning of facts, rather than discussion points -- though there were a few.

Prior to reading this book, the only things I knew about the territories is that they existed, that Puerto Rico and Guam were two of them, and that my co-worker has a heck of a time at the local license branch with people understanding that her husband from Puerto Rico is able to get a driver's license.

Now I know there are five territories administered by the United States -- American Samoa (I also learned how to pronounce this), Guam, Northern Mariana Islands, Puerto Rico, and the U.S. Vir…

Follow the Leader

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Various challenges at school have prompted my kids to do quite a lot of reading lately. It started with the local library hosting a Battle of the Books challenge for fourth graders. My son's school decided to assemble a team. As part of this challenge, he was given a list of books to read, all of which were out of his comfort zone. Prior to that time, he only liked to read non-fiction books -- Guinness record books, books about caves, Weird But True books, etc. During his preparation for the challenge, he read and re-read the five recommended books and even talked to me about them.

Later, the library hosted a Family Battle of the Books, but we were not able to participate due to travel plans. However, we decided to read one of the books -- Because of Mr. Terupt. What a good book, and good material for kids to read and process.

The book is written from the perspective of several kids in Mr. Terupt's class. Each student has some issues to work through, sometimes with family and…

The Road by Cormac McCarthy

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Since this book won the Pulitzer and has been made into a movie, it is likely that most people are already familiar with it. However, I was a little late to the game on this one. The Road is a post-apocalyptic story of a father and son trying to survive. They try to beat winter by heading south while attempting to do so without being noticed by others, some of whom have turned to cannibalism to survive. It's bleak.

The manner and style of writing is unique as there are no chapter delineations, no quotation marks, no character names, and infrequent apostrophes. In that way, the style of writing mirrors the unfolding of the story -- going and going with few interruptions, going south, getting to the end, stunted conversation. Just survive. Get through. Simplify things.

I found that I moved quickly through the book, which is the opposite of what happens when the chapters are long. Instead, this had no chapters but frequent spaces or gaps in the text, which made it seem OK to stop re…

First Audiobook of the Year

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When I was in college, I could always justify spending money on books. Perhaps it was the expensive textbooks that numbed me to the cost. In any case, I decided that books were educational and I should never feel guilty about buying them or having more. The expense was justified for reasons of education, but also for reasons of comparison. The money I spent on books gave me a much better feeling than when I spent money on fast food or tchotchkes. The irony of the situation is that now that I have more money, I am reluctant to spend it on things I can get for free. In college, had I not realized there were libraries?

That preamble explains why I "read" my first audiobook of the year! The Flavia DeLuce books that were recommended to me were available for free through my library's Overdrive app. The book, A Red Herring Without Mustard, was delightful as an audiobook. In fact, I am uncertain as to whether I would have liked a print version as well. The narrator did a great …