What Are the Students Reading? Spring 2015 edition, part 2

A couple weeks ago, I posted some book reviews written by student assistants that work in Gleeson Library | Geschke Center. Here are some more to get you excited about future reads.

brainBrain on Fire: My Month of Madness, reviewed by Ariana Varela

This memoir by Susannah Cahalan depicts the life of the author, a young woman working in New York City as a journalist for the New York Post, as she suddenly descends into mental illness. While doctors and psychologists alike fail to come up with a viable explanation for her change in behavior, the reader witnesses first hand the violence, paranoid hallucinations and helplessness that accompany her unexplainable illness. Although Cahalan notes that she herself is an unreliable source due to the fact that she has no memory of this “month of madness,” she has complied evidence from video surveillance, hospital records, and interviews with all the individuals who witnessed her harrowing journey and miraculous recovery. It is not until a last “real-life House” doctor comes on the scene that the reader finds out Cahalan’s actual rare disease that differs from clinical mental illness as defined in the DSM-V. This book will leave the reader on edge with its vivid depictions of insanity and will make the reader question the small day to day mishaps in their own lives.

Down These Mean Streets, reviewed by Hannah Ingram down

Originally read for a high school English class I was student teaching, Down These Mean Streets by Piri Thomas became one of my favorite “easy reads.” Taking place in the Spanish Harlem, Long Island, and various locations “down South,” Down These Mean Streets tells the engrossing tale of a young man’s journey into adulthood and self-discovery all the while struggling with the immensely prominent racial mindset of 1950s America. As Piri moves readers through his epic memoir, dragging us quite literally through the muck and mire of each mean street, he quietly reveals the humanity which ties us all together, a message that becomes even more striking when juxtaposed with the inhumane, treacherous life of a poor, young, Puerto Rican man. Full of carefully chosen epigraphs, chapter titles, and colloquial language, Piri Thomas weaves a tale that is as impressive in its craft as its social appeal. I highly recommend this for anyone seeking an entertaining and gut-wrenchingly truthful look at a world that has mostly gone unknown.

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