This wrap-up will only contain three books as my next wrap-up is going to be a special one!
As a reminder, here is how I rate my books:
- (★★★★★): Loved it
- (★★★★): Really liked it
- (★★★): Liked it enough
- (★★): Didn’t care for it
Another few notes: I will warn if there are any spoilers with (start spoiler) and (end spoiler) so you know when to stop reading and pick up again if you don’t want to ruin the book for yourself. I no longer go out of my way to watch adaptions, but will continue to mention them and their general critiques (from Rotten Tomatoes) in my reviews. Finally, you can always check out my book review index page if you’re looking for my extremely important opinion on any book in particular.
Acid Test: LSD, Ecstasy and the Power to Heal by Tom Shroder
Genre: Non-fiction, psychology, science, spirituality
GoodReads rating: 4.29 / 5 (933 ratings)
Medium used: Paperback (purchased from Elliot Bay Book Co. in Seattle)
Summary: “It’s no secret that psychedelic drugs have the ability to cast light on the miraculous reality hidden within our psyche. Almost immediately after the discovery of LSD less than a hundred years ago, psychedelics began to play a crucial role in the quest to understand the link between mind and matter. With an uncanny ability to reveal the mind’s remote frontiers and the unmapped areas of human consciousness, LSD and MDMA (better known as Ecstasy) have proven extraordinarily effective in treating anxiety disorders such as PTSD—yet the drugs remain illegal for millions of people who might benefit from them.” This book follows “Rick Doblin, the founder and executive director of the Multidisciplinary Association for Psychedelic Studies (MAPS), who has been fighting government prohibition of psychedelics for more than thirty years; Michael Mithoefer, a former emergency room physician, now a psychiatrist at the forefront of psychedelic therapy research; and his patient Nicholas Blackston, a former Marine who has suffered unfathomable mental anguish from the effects of brutal combat experiences in Iraq. All three men are passionate, relatable people; each flawed, each resilient, and each eccentric, yet very familiar and very human.”
Warning: This book contains mention of rape, violence, suicide, murder, body horror and animal abuse.
Thoughts: Why, oh why doesn’t this have more reviews?! This was a great accompanying book to one of my all-time favorites How To Change Your Mind. Slightly more biographical as you follow several people throughout their whole lives and usually I wouldn’t mind it, but in this case already being really interested in the topic, I just wanted the information. Especially when it came to the Marine, there was far too much war faff for my liking. It was interesting to learn more about MDMA and love the paraphrased quote of “medication treats symptoms for depression, anxiety and PTSD while psychoactives get to the cause.” I am a huge advocate for wise use of psychedelics and feel more empowered every time I educate myself more about them.
The Crucible by Arthur Miller
Genre: Classics, historical fiction, plays
GoodReads rating: 3.60 / 5 (353,000 ratings)
Medium used: Paperback
PopSugar prompt: A book in a different format than what you usually read.
Summary: “Based on historical people and real events, Miller’s drama is a searing portrait of a community engulfed by hysteria. In the rigid theocracy of Salem, rumors that women are practicing witchcraft galvanize the town’s most basic fears and suspicions.”
Thoughts: I remember reading this in my junior year of high school and watching the movie in class and liking both. This is a good, short piece for spooky season. The book is my grandma’s and when I opened it, I found an airline ticket from my great uncle from the 90’s! So special. Anyway, the plot is decent, but I feel there were too many named characters that didn’t really matter in the end as we didn’t get closure for everyone. When I first read this, I didn’t realize this was a metaphor for “the anti-communist hysteria inspired by Senator Joseph McCarthy’s “witch-hunts” in the United States. Within the text itself, Miller contemplates the parallels, writing, ‘Political opposition… is given an inhumane overlay, which then justifies the abrogation of all normally applied customs of civilized behavior. A political policy is equated with moral right, and opposition to it with diabolical malevolence.’” It’s funny how a lot of these fiction books from 50+ years ago also seemed apt for the Trump administration, literally tweeting the phrase “witch hunt” 45 times in 34 days.
Other adaptations: Several, but I’m partial to the 1996 movie with Winona Ryder and Daniel Day-Lewis.
The Girls Who Went Away: The Hidden History of Women Who Surrendered Children for Adoption in the Decades Before Roe V. Wade by Ann Fessler
Genre: Non-fiction, history, feminism
GoodReads rating: 4.20 (nice) / 5 (5,000 ratings)
Medium used: E-book (borrowed from library via OverDrive)
Summary: In the decades before abortion was legal and having a child out of wedlock was unspeakable, 1.5 million girls were sent away to carry out the last months of their pregnancies in homes where once their child was born, it was promptly taken from them and put up for adoption. This book tells the stories of those mothers and their experiences leading up to the pregnancies, their loved ones’ reactions, how they were forced to give their child away and the aftermath that still haunts them decades later.
Warning: This book contains mention of rape and suicide.
Thoughts: Holy hell, this was so powerful. It was an emotional rollercoaster that brought tears to my eyes. I love those non-fiction books that beg the question, “Why didn’t we learn about stuff like this in school?” It’s interesting, still relevant today and so important. This wasn’t that long ago, just my grandparents’ generation. I could have an aunt or uncle out there I don’t know about. I loved the format of this book: the author would write a few paragraphs introducing a topic, then quote interviewees on the matter. There were also longer monologues from the interviewees that gave a full, comprehensive story. The irony of forcing to give your kid up for adoption (what pro-lifers want) being arguably more traumatizing than getting an abortion is still lost on so many. Although it was slightly repetitive at times, I understand it’s important to get as many points of view as possible. This is one of those non-fiction that reads like a fiction book for anyone struggling to get into the genre. I highly recommend this book!
Have you read any of these?
Photo by Radu Marcusu.