Books We Like

Here are books that NAMI Farmington Valley members recommend.

(In alphabetical order by Author)

I Am Not Sick, I Do Not Need Help by Xavier Amador (Available digitally from NAMI) About 50% of all people with schizophrenia and manic-depression do not understand that they are ill and refuse treatment. Whether you are a family member or a therapist, in this book you will find hope in what the new research is revealing about the problem of poor insight into illness.

Prepare to be surprised and to have new hope. There is much you can do to conquer denial.

Comfortably Numb; How Psychiatry is Medicating a Nation   Charles Barber.  American doctors dispense approximately 230 million antidepressant prescriptions every year, more than any other class of medication. Charles Barber explores this disturbing phenomenon, examining the ways in which pharmaceutical companies first create the need for a drug and then rush to fill it.

Song’s from the Black Chair; A Memoir of Mental Interior  Charles Barber.   Day after day, night after night, desperate men come to sit in the black chair next to Charles Barber’s desk in a basement office at Bellevue and tell of their travails, of prison and disease, of violence and the voices that plague them.

In the Water They Can’t See You Cry   Amanda Beard.   A seven-time Olympic medalist describes her battles with depression, eating disorders and substance abuse in spite of her successful career, recounting how she hid her struggles from her loved ones before seeking help.

A Scary Scene in a Scary Movie  Matt Blackstone.  Being different is just fine even after being bullied.

The First Episode of Psychosis   Michael T Compton and Beth Broussard.  The First Episode of Psychosis is the ideal book for patients experiencing the frightening and confusing initial episode of psychosis, which often occurs during late adolescence or early adulthood, and which affects nearly 3% of all people over the course of their lifetime. The book covers a range of disorders, focusing on primary psychotic disorders such as schizophrenia and schizophreniform disorder, clearly describing symptoms, early warning signs, and treatment–information that is essential for patients and families faced with the challenges posed by psychosis. The book also discusses psychiatric evaluation, healthy lifestyle choices, and the stigma often associated with mental illnesses. Worksheets allow readers to keep records of symptoms to facilitate communication with care providers, and an extensive glossary clarifies the dizzying array of terms used by medical professionals. Optimistic, practical, and recovery-oriented, The First Episode of Psychosis will help patients and their families to take an active, informed role in their care to ensure the best possible prognosis.

The Dark Side of Innocence  Terri Cheney. “Killing yourself at any age is a seriously tricky business. But when I was seven, the odds felt insurmountable”

Manic   Terri Cheney.   An attractive, highly successful Beverly Hills entertainment lawyer, Terri Cheney had been battling debilitating bipolar disorder for the better part of her life.

Henry’s Demons: Living With Schizophrenia, A Father and Son Story     Patrick Cockburn and Henry Cockburn.   This is the extraordinary story of the eight years since Henry’s descent into schizophrenia—years he has spent almost entirely in hospitals—and his family’s struggle to help him recover.

A Lethal Inheritance; A Mother Uncovers the Science Behind Three Generations of Mental Illness   Victoria Costello.   Every family has secrets; only some secrets are lethal. In Victoria Costello’s family mental illness had been given many names over at least four generations until this inherited conspiracy of silence finally endangered the youngest members of the family, her children.

A Legacy of Madness  Tom Davis  NAMI’s Director of media relations – why perfect people are more imperfect; perfectionism fear of germs.

Shockaholic   Carrie Fisher.   From never-before-heard tales of Hollywood gossip to outrageous moments of celebrity desperation; from alcoholism to illegal drug use; from the familial relationships of Hollywood royalty to scandalous run-ins with noteworthy politicians; from shock therapy to talk therapy—Carrie Fisher gives an intimate portrait of herself.

Sharp; A Memoir   David Fitzpatrick.  An extraordinary memoir—a fascinating, disturbing look into the mind of a man who, in his early 20s, began cutting himself due to a severe mental illness.

Your Voice in My Head   Emma Forest.  You have struggled now you can change.

A First-Rate Madness  Nassir Ghaemi M.D  Uncovering the links between leadership and mental illness; Greatness as in Lincoln; down fall as in Hitler with Bipolar.

A Blueprint for Recovery   Milt Greek.   Innovative techniques to work with a person in psychosis, move him or her into recovery, and aid in rejoining mainstream society.

Hurry Down Sunshine     Michael Greenberg.    The psychotic break of his fifteen-year-old daughter is the grit around which Michael Greenberg forms the pearl that is Hurry Down Sunshine. It is a brilliant, taut, entirely original study of a suffering child and a family and marriage under siege.

I Never Promised You a Rose Garden      Joanne  Greenberg.   This semiautobiographical novel stands as a timeless and unforgettable portrayal of mental illness.

The Music of Madness  Tracy L. Harris.  A human triumph filled with the drama of real life. The Music is playing Have you heard it?

What Becomes of the Brokenhearted: A Memoir   E. Lynn Harris.  The memoir of his life–from his childhood in Arkansas as a closeted gay boy through his struggling days as a self-published author to his rise as a New York Times bestselling author.

How We Got Barb Back  Michael Hawkins.  The Story of My Sister’s Reawakening After 30 Years of Schizophrenia

Black Men and Depression  John Head.    Millions of black men are suffering in silence or getting treatment only in extreme circumstances–in emergency rooms, homeless shelters, and prisons. The author’s account of the neglect of emotional disorders among men in the black community.

Broken Glass: A Family’s Journey Through Mental Illness    Robert V. Hine.   Robert Hine shares the story of his family’s struggle with his daughter’s serious personality disorder.

Cracked Not Broken by Kevin Hines. At 19 years old, Kevin attempted to take his own life by jumping off the Golden Gate Bridge – a distance which took four seconds to fall. The fall would break his body, but not his spirit. His story chronicles the extraordinary will of the author to live mentally well in the face of his mental illness: bipolar disorder with psychotic features. With each mental breakdown, however, the author’s desire to live mentally well– and to be a mental health advocate– pulls him from the depths of his condition. Kevin’s story is a remarkable testament to the strength of the human spirit and a reminder to us to love the life we have. His story also reminds us that living mentally well takes time, endurance, hard work, and support. With these disciplines in place, those living with even very difficult diagnoses can achieve better lives for themselves and those who help to support and care for them.

Ultraprevention: The 6-Week Plan That Will Make You Healthy for Life (Paperback). Mark Hyman.  Their fact-packed book presents a convincing argument that most prescription and over-the-counter medications do nothing more than treat the symptoms of sickness, ignoring the root cause of illnesses like asthma, diabetes, arthritis and heart disease. They also blame pharmaceutically indoctrinated doctors for neglecting their duty to examine the real causes of illness in their patients. “If you have high blood pressure,” they remark, “Doctors give you a high blood pressure pill, instead of trying to figure out why you might have high blood pressure in the first place.”

Night Falls Fast: Understanding Suicide  Kay Redfield Jamison.  There is epidemic of suicide in this country and she knows first hand.

Exuberance; the Passion For Life   Kay Redfield Jamison.     With the same grace and breadth of learning she brought to her studies of the mind’s pathologies, Kay Redfield Jamison examines one of its most exalted states: exuberance. This “abounding, ebullient, effervescent emotion” manifests itself everywhere from child’s play to scientific breakthrough and is crucially important to learning, risk-taking, social cohesiveness, and survival itself.

perfect chaos  Linea Johnson.  NAMI keynote speaker- co-written with her mother.

The Phantom Tollbooth   Norton Juster.  Milo is a boy who is bored with life. One day he comes home to find a tollbooth in his room. Having nothing better to do, he gets in his toy car and drives through. Some may find the journey of a person in recovery.

Ben Behind His Voices; One Family’s Journey from the Chaos of Schizophrenia to Hope        Randy Kaye.    Ben is swept along by an illness over which he has no control—one that results in runaway episodes, periods of homelessness, seven psychotic breaks, seven hospitalizations, and finally a diagnosis and treatment plan that begins to work.

Wrestling with Our Inner Angels: Faith, Mental Illness and Journey to Wholeness     Nancy Kehoe.  Nancy Kehoe’s compelling, intimate, and moving story of how she brought her background as a psychologist and a nun in the Religious of the Sacred Heart to bear in the groups she formed to explore the role of faith and spirituality in their treatment – and in their lives.

This Much I Know is True   Wally Lamb    A heartbreaking and poignant multigenerational saga of one man’s search, denial, and acceptance of self.  Dominick Birdsey’s twin suffers from paranoid schizophrenia.

Heavy Kiese Laymon A personal narrative that illuminates national failures, Heavy is defiant yet vulnerable, an insightful, often comical exploration of weight, identity, art, friendship, and family that begins with a confusing childhood—and continues through twenty-five years of haunting implosions and long reverberations. (NAMI FV author visit 2021)

Annie’s Ghosts; A Journey Into a Family Secret   Steven Luxenburgh   A journey into a family secret.

A Comb for a Bald Man  Austin McCawley, MD.  The problems and unusual situations encountered by a psychiatrist.

Damaged Goods  Claudia McLaine, RN.    Jim’s first few years were a delight; he was the love of my life. One of my fondest memories was when we had lunch together – he talked, I listened. I memorized his teeth, so clean and perfect, in his beautiful little face. However, there were times when he scared me. When he did not get his own way, he would kick and scream; during those times he would become as strong as a grown man but he was not yet three. I saw something in his eyes that I can only describe as Satanic. He also began to say horrible words. I would often ask the physicians about my anxieties. They would dismiss it as an overprotective mother. We were in Florida, our daughters were suffering, and I had no time for them. I sought release in my Journal. God became my constant companion. We did not know that we were raising a schizophrenic child. Claudia Blackstone was born and raised in Caribou, Maine and studied for her RN in Bangor, Maine, graduating in 1958. While in Bangor, she met, and eventually married, Dick McClaine, who was at that time a USAF Navigator stationed at Dow AFB in Bangor. Soon after their wedding they moved to California for Dick’s next assignment. Their two daughters were born in California. In 1968 Dick was transferred to Hickam AFB in Hawaii, and it was during this assignment that they adopted their son, Jim. They were not perfect parents but the Lord knew that they would “hang in there.” God, without a doubt, had a perfect plan for them and for their son. God also kept His promise for their daughters, as stated in Psalms 37:25. Claudia and Dick will celebrate their 50th wedding anniversary in March 2009.

 Recovered, Not Cured; A Journey through Schizophrenia   Richard McLean      Mental illness is common, and often devastating. In this day and age it is a treatable condition, yet many are left untreated, misunderstood. Richard McLean is one of the lucky ones. His words and pictures give us a unique and poignant insight into a hidden, internal world.

Until Tuesday: A Wounded Warrior and the Golden Retriever Who Saved Him   Carlos Montalvan & Bret Witter.   A heartwarming dog story like no other: Tuesday, a lovable golden retriever, changes a former soldier’s lifeThe First Episode of Psychosis  The First Episode of Psychosis is the ideal book for patients experiencing the frightening  forever.

A Beautiful Mind;  Sylvia Nasar, The true story of John Nash, the mathematical genius who was a legend by age thirty when he slipped into madness, and who–thanks to the selflessness of a beautiful woman and the loyalty of the mathematics community– emerged after decades of ghostlike existence to win a Nobel Prize for triggering the game theory revolution.

Transforming Madness  Jay Neugeboren.    New Lives for People Living with Mental Illness

My Son’s Name was Fred  Gwill Newman.  A beautiful, moving and informative account of raising a son who developed schizophrenia; Gwill Newman became a fierce advocate as well as donor for research about the brain. Early NAMI advocacy. When I read Gwill’s book about her son Fred’s disease, I was struck by the depth of what she revealed about herself. When you suffer as much as she did, to find help, you reveal your soul. Gwill did. It is a book that every family victimized by this disease must read. William E. Fay,Jr. Brain Research foundation.

In Her Wake   Nancy Rappaport.  The story of your mother’s suicide, is a deeply personal one. What motivated you to share it with people outside of your immediate family?

When Someone You Love is Depressed   Laura Rosen and Xavier Amador.  Jane, a thirty-six-year-old advertising executive, has been feeling overwhelmed with her new responsibilities…”

January First; A Child’s Descent into Madness and Her Father’s Struggle to Save Her          Michael Schofield     A passionate and inspirational account, January First is a father’s soul-bearing memoir of the daily challenges and unwavering commitment to save his daughter from the edge of insanity while doing everything he can to keep his family together.

Leaving the Hall Light On  Madeline Sharples  A note from the publisher: I have seen Madeline Sharples read from her memoir and talk about her son’s suicide at multiple events. Afterwards, people always come up to Madeline to tell her “My son killed himself too” or “My husband committed suicide,” etc. Sometimes the people can’t even talk. They are in tears, and they just want to hold Madeline’s hand for a minute or ask for a hug. Clearly, there are a lot of people who have experienced the suicide of a loved one. And clearly, they don’t have many opportunities to share their grief. That’s why they are quick to embrace Madeline when they hear her story. They connect, and they always thank her for sharing her story. I tell you this because I have heard from a small handful of people who believe that Madeline is selfish to focus on her story when the real victim of this tragedy was her son. I find that criticism hypocritical on multiple fronts. Madeline would be the first to agree that the person who suffered most is Paul, her son. There is no question about that. And Madeline honors Paul’s memory by volunteering her time to prevent suicide and erase the stigma of mental illness — and by telling Paul’s story in the first part of the book. But Paul is gone, and the tragedy did not end with his suicide. For survivors, a suicide is only the beginning of suffering. Most people carry that suffering with them for years, rarely talking about it. But Madeline Sharples is willing to talk about what happens after a suicide. For her (and for many others), what happens is a journey deep into one’s self in the hope of maintaining sanity and having some semblance of a life after a loved one commits suicide. To call a journey into the self “selfish” misses the point. If you have experienced the suicide of a loved one, you already know this. If you have not experienced such a tragedy, be thankful, and look at Leaving the Hall Light On as an example of what it takes to enable the “self” to survive a tragedy of that magnitude.

Lincoln’s Melancholy; How Depression Challenged a President and Fueled his Greatness   Joshua Wolf Shenk       Drawing on seven years of his own research and the work of other esteemed Lincoln scholars, Shenk reveals how the sixteenth president harnessed his depression to fuel his astonishing success.

Monkey Mind; A Memoir of Anxiety       Daniel   Smith   Monkey Mind is the stunning articulation of what it is like to live with anxiety.

Noonday Demon  Andrew Soloman.  An atlas of depression book award winner.

Insanity Plea: On Race, Mental Health, and the Judicial System LaShawne Houston Sowell. The story of a teenager’s journey dealing with the mental health and judicial system in America seen through a mother’s eyes. (NAMI FV author visit 2020)

Divided Minds: Twin Sisters and Their Journey Through Schizophrenia by Pamela Spiro Wagner and Carolyn S. Spiro. Growing up in the fifties, Carolyn Spiro was always in the shadow of her more intellectually dominant and social outgoing twin, Pamela. But as the twins approached adolescence, Pamela began to succumb to schizophrenia, hearing disembodied voices and eventually suffering many breakdowns and hospitalizations. Told in the alternating voices of the sisters, Divided Minds is a heartbreaking account of the far reaches of madness as well as the depths of ambivalence and love between twins. It is a true and unusually frank story of identical twins with very different identities and wildly different experiences of the world around them. It is one of the most compelling histories of two such siblings in the canon of writing on mental illness.

Reading My Father    Alexandra Styron.  William Styron’s youngest child explores the life of a fascinating and difficult man whose own memoir, Darkness Visible, so searingly chronicled his battle with major depression.

Changing Ways trilogy. Julia Tannenbaum. A book about growing up written by a local teen author. Topics include struggling to cope with the constant stress of school, her mother, and her confusing social life with sixteen-year-old Grace Edwards finding sanity in the most destructive of ways: dieting and self-harming. (NAMI FV author visit 2021)

Face Your Fears   Dr. David Tolin   A celebrated therapist Dr. David Tolin (IOL) introduces highly effective and scientifically proven treatment called exposure therapy.

Media Madness  Otto Wahl.  This book is a valuable contribution to efforts to overcome the stigma of mental illness and ‘media madness.

The Glass Castle  Jeanette Walls.   Jeannette Walls grew up with parents whose ideals and stubborn nonconformity were both their curse and their salvation.

Black Pain; It Just Looks Like We’re Not Hurting     Terri Williams   In the African American community, the stigma about talking about mental health challenges is very real. As a result, many African Americans who struggle with depression and post-traumatic stress disorder do not get help until they enter the juvenile justice system.

It’s Not Mental  Jeannie Wolfson  Finding Innovative support and medical treatment for a child diagnosed with severe mental illness; collaborate with physicians- advocates a bio-psycho-social approach.

Lowboy  John Wray.  Lowboy has a plan to save the Earth from global warming: He will cool the planet by losing his virginity on the New York City subway. The idea may seem far-fetched, but not to Lowboy. He is a 16-year-old schizophrenic who has recently escaped from a mental hospital.

The Rules of the Tunnel  Ned Zeman  Thriving Vanity fair writer – Bouncing from therapist – friends made all the difference