Thursday, January 23, 2014

"Brain on Fire: My Month of Madness" by Susannah Cahalan

I had been eyeing Brain on Fire: My Month of Madness by Susannah Cahalan for a long time at Barnes & Noble.  I finally picked it up one night.  After I graduated with my B.S., I went back to school and took some psychology classes.  I love learning about the mind and the brain: what makes the brain function normally, what kinds of abnormalities persist, how the brain works, and what amazing things it's capable of.

Brain on Fire isn't what I thought it was going to be.  It was a good book about a rare disease that the Cahalan has which is beneficial for anyone who may be reading the book and going through a similar diagnosis.  It's great that she gets awareness out for her disease.  Most of the book was about her time in the hospital and diagnosing her condition.

I did love this quote from the book:

"Looking back at this time, I see that I'd begun to surrender to the disease, allowing all the aspects of my personality that I value - patience, kindness, and courteousness - to evaporate.  I was a slave to the machinations of my aberrant brain.  We are, in the end, a sum of our parts, and when the body fails, all the virtues we hold dear go with it."

Overview from Barnes & Noble's website:
An award-winning memoir and instant New York Times bestseller that goes far beyond its riveting medical mystery,Brain on Fire is the powerful account of one woman’s struggle to recapture her identity.
When twenty-four-year-old Susannah Cahalan woke up alone in a hospital room, strapped to her bed and unable to move or speak, she had no memory of how she’d gotten there. Days earlier, she had been on the threshold of a new, adult life: at the beginning of her first serious relationship and a promising career at a major New York newspaper. Now she was labeled violent, psychotic, a flight risk. What happened?
In a swift and breathtaking narrative, Susannah tells the astonishing true story of her descent into madness, her family’s inspiring faith in her, and the lifesaving diagnosis that nearly didn’t happen. “A fascinating look at the disease that . . . could have cost this vibrant, vital young woman her life” (People), Brain on Fire is an unforgettable exploration of memory and identity, faith and love, and a profoundly compelling tale of survival and perseverance that is destined to become a classic.

"I Am Malala" by Malala Yousafzai

I hadn't heard about Malala Yousafzai until she was nominated for the 2013 Nobel Peace Prize.  I heard about her story on NPR and couldn't wait to find out more about this remarkable young lady.  I picked up her book I Am Malala: The Girl Who Stood Up for Education and Was Shot by the Taliban at Barnes & Noble one night.  Although I wasn't impressed with the writing style of the book, her story is incredible.  She has achieved so much for someone so young and survived an assassination attempt.  I hope that she achieves great things in life.  She's already brought so much awareness to education of women all over the world.  If you read the book and want to help, I suggest donating to the Malala Fund which aims at bringing awareness and education to young girls in developing countries.

Overview from Barnes & Noble's website:
When the Taliban took control of the Swat Valley, one girl spoke out. Malala Yousafzai refused to be silenced and fought for her right to an education.
On Tuesday October 9, 2012, she almost paid the ultimate price. When she was shot in the head at point blank range while riding the bus home from school, few expected her to survive.
Instead, Malala's miraculous recovery has taken her on an extraordinary journey from a remote valley in Northern Pakistan to the halls of the United Nations in New York. At sixteen, she has become a global symbol of peaceful protest and the youngest ever nominee for the Nobel Peace Prize.
I AM MALALA is the remarkable tale of a family uprooted by global terrorism, of the fight for girls' education, and of Malala's parents' fierce love for their daughter in a society that prizes sons.
It will make you believe in the power of one person's voice to inspire change in the world.

"The First Phone Call From Heaven" by Mitch Albom

I've read all of Mitch Albom's books that I can get my hands on.  I saw his latest book The First Phone Call From Heaven in Barnes & Noble recently and had to pick it up.  It did not disappoint.  It kept me on the edge of my seat trying to figure out how residents of a small town were receiving calls from their loved ones in heaven.  It's a pretty quick read and his books are always good for your soul.

Overview from Barnes & Noble's website:
"What if the end is not the end?"
From the beloved author of the #1 New York Times bestsellers Tuesdays with Morrie and The Five People You Meet in Heaven comes his most thrilling and magical novel yet—a page-turning mystery and a meditation on the power of human connection.
One morning in the small town of Coldwater, Michigan, the phones start ringing. The voices say they are calling from heaven. Is it the greatest miracle ever? Or some cruel hoax? As news of these strange calls spreads, outsiders flock to Coldwater to be a part of it.
At the same time, a disgraced pilot named Sully Harding returns to Coldwater from prison to discover his hometown gripped by "miracle fever." Even his young son carries a toy phone, hoping to hear from his mother in heaven.
As the calls increase, and proof of an afterlife begins to surface, the town—and the world—transforms. Only Sully, convinced there is nothing beyond this sad life, digs into the phenomenon, determined to disprove it for his child and his own broken heart.
Moving seamlessly between the invention of the telephone in 1876 and a world obsessed with the next level of communication, Mitch Albom takes readers on a breathtaking ride of frenzied hope.
The First Phone Call from Heaven is Mitch Albom at his best—a virtuosic story of love, history, and belief.