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The Collected Schizophrenias
The Collected Schizophrenias: Essays | Esme Weijun Wang
Powerful, affecting essays on mental illness, winner of the Graywolf Press Nonfiction Prize and a Whiting Award An intimate, moving book written with the immediacy and directness of one who still struggles with the effects of mental and chronic illness, The Collected Schizophrenias cuts right to the core. Schizophrenia is not a single unifying diagnosis, and Esm Weijun Wang writes not just to her fellow members of the collected schizophrenias but to those who wish to understand it as well. Opening with the journey toward her diagnosis of schizoaffective disorder, Wang discusses the medical communitys own disagreement about labels and procedures for diagnosing those with mental illness, and then follows an arc that examines the manifestations of schizophrenia in her life. In essays that range from using fashion to present as high-functioning to the depths of a rare form of psychosis, and from the failures of the higher education system and the dangers of institutionalization to the complexity of compounding factors such as PTSD and Lyme disease, Wangs analytical eye, honed as a former lab researcher at Stanford, allows her to balance research with personal narrative. An essay collection of undeniable power, The Collected Schizophrenias dispels misconceptions and provides insight into a condition long misunderstood.
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Chelsea.Poole
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Snatched a few moments here and there between taking care of the kids at my cousin's house to read. With WINE 🍷🙃#nvnov

77 likes1 stack add
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Chelsea.Poole
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Reading in the waiting room while my husband has a small, outpatient procedure. Really savoring this essay collection from Esme Wang.
#nonfictionnovember #nfnov

DaveGreen7777 Hope everything goes well for your hubby! 1w
Chelsea.Poole @DaveGreen7777 thank you! He was in and out quickly and things went well 😊 1w
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TK-421
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“Place me in a high #stress environment with no ability to control my surroundings or schedule, and I will rapidly begin to decompensate.” #QuotsyNov19

I‘ve never come across ‘decompensate‘ till now. Dictionary.com definition: “to lose the ability to maintain normal or appropriate psychological defenses, sometimes resulting in depression, anxiety, or delusions.”
The part that really got me is where she talks about being high-funcioning ⬇️

TK-421 “I‘m a high-functioning person with an unpredictable and low-functioning illness. I may not be the ‘appropriate‘ type of crazy.” It‘s terrible to feel that way. 💔 Sometimes, being high-functioning really sucks because people can‘t see the inner turmoil. 2w
TK-421 @hermyknee Thanks for sharing this info 2w
44 likes3 comments
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Joanne1
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Pickpick

The incredible collection of essays pulled me out of a reading slump in such an unexpected way. This book blows the stereotypes around schizophrenia out of the water and I hope it destroys some of the stigma along with it. Every now and again you come across a book everyone should read. This is one of them. Now to read everything else Wang has written!

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Joanne1
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It seems non-fiction is the solution to my current reading drought. I can‘t follow a complex storyline and I don‘t really cate about characters. But fact, real life experience and something I can pick up and put down is working for me.

Julsmarshall Same! I‘m loving non fiction right now! 3w
Mogoeg I read an essay of hers years ago published on The Toast and thought it was amazing. I'm glad to see this book get some attention - I think she is a really talented writer. 3w
Joanne1 @Julsmarshall so much good non-fiction around. Have you got any favourites? @Mogoeg I heard about this on a podcast and immediately put a hold on it at the library. It‘s amazing, and hopefully stigma-busting!! And beautifully written to boot. 3w
Julsmarshall My fave no fiction right now are She Said, Catch and Kill, Dopesick and Bad Blood. 3w
41 likes4 comments
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TK-421
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“...employment remains the primary marker of someone who is high-functioning, as having a job is the most reliable sign that you can pass in the world as normal. Most critically, a capitalist society values productivity in its citizens above all else, and those with severe mental illness are much less likely to be productive in ways considered valuable...” #highfunctioning #mentalillness

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TK-421
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Pickpick

I was sure this would be an interesting read but didn‘t expect to tear through it in less than a day! I‘m grateful that such a book exists. It‘s rare to find books about sza-bp & even rarer to read one written by a person who‘s experienced it firsthand. Although her experience may be different than my own, there are similarities which made it difficult to read at times. Still, I anticipate reading it many times before it‘s due for return. #szabp

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Emilymdxn
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Pickpick

One of the most valuable books I‘ve read in ages. It‘s so easy to forget about people with schizophrenia having voices and understanding to share about themselves rather than just be discussed by others, and I was astonished by how much there was to consider that I‘d never interacted with before. Such a rare, insightful voice sharing her life with psychosis.

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Emilymdxn
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Who is this alleged “person” who is a “person living with psychosis,” once the psychosis has set in to the point that there is nothing on the table save acceptance? When the self has been swallowed by illness, isn‘t it cruel to insist on a self that is not illness? Is this why so many people insist on believing in souls?

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Lindy
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I've tagged my favourite book of September. I also decided to retitle my “By a woman author“ category because two of the books this month are by genderqueer folks. #SeptemberWrapUp

KarenUK Love your ‘not written by a man‘ category! 👍😊 2mo
Lindy @KarenUK 😘 2mo
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Lindy
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Pickpick

So good that I just bought a copy to give as a gift.
⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

TheLudicReader They interviewed the author on CBC a few weeks back and the book sounds intriguing. 2mo
saresmoore Oh, good! I‘m looking forward to this one. 2mo
Megabooks One of my favorites of the year 2mo
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Lindy @TheLudicReader She writes so well about an important topic. 2mo
Lindy @saresmoore 😊👍 2mo
Lindy @Megabooks 😁 2mo
erzascarletbookgasm I‘ve already gifted myself a copy after seeing the quotes and blurbs you‘ve been posting. 😊 2mo
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Bindrosbookshelf
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The two books I ordered from Thriftbooks arrived and then I went and had some retail therapy on Friday night after work at Dymocks.

With Death Grip, I‘m collecting a childhood favourite series. I needed a new edition of Gone With the Wind because my previous copy was falling apart and I had loaned To Kill a Mockingbird out and never got it back.

The others are just books I‘ve had my eye on for awhile. Have you read any in this stack?
#bookhaul

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Lindy
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As Bly‘s anecdotes, and my own, indicate, a primary feature of the experience of staying in a psychiatric hospital is that you will not be believed about anything. A corollary to this feature: things will be believed about you that are not at all true.

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Lindy
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As I grew older and my symptoms worsened, my mother at times expressed deep remorse and guilt at the fact that she had passed this “suffering” on to me, and presently tells me that I would be better off not having children. There are two issues here: one being the act of passing on a genetic burden, and the other being my ability, as a woman living with severe mental illness, to be a good mother.

Aimeesue Excellent book, though a tough read at times. A lot of insight into a painful situation. 3mo
Lindy @Aimeesue Agreed. 3mo
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Lindy
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“I went to Yale” is shorthand for “I have schizoaffective disorder, but I‘m not worthless.”

(author photo from internet)

Megabooks Loved this book so much! 3mo
Lindy @Megabooks 👍I think you might have been the person who recommended it to me. 3mo
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alisonrose
Pickpick

Even going into this having seen absolute rave reviews from people whose opinions I value highly, I‘m still amazed and profoundly moved by this book. Brave, honest, searing, poignant, informative, singular, and like 500 other things. I learned a lot, and while my chronic illnesses are different from the author‘s, I still also felt a kinship. I think this is a phenomenal work, and should be required reading for everyone, sick or not. 5/5 ⭐️

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alisonrose

However my life unfolds, goes my thinking, is how I am meant to live it; however my life unspools itself, I was created to bear it.

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alisonrose

“Let‘s go and look around. We can see how we feel,” she said, which was a common refrain during that trip, and is a common attitude among the chronically ill.

[And one healthy people don‘t/refuse to understand, unfortunately.]

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alisonrose

Would it have been better if I‘d never been born? Even though I‘ve made my parents proud, I can‘t help but wonder if that outweighs watching me break down over the years. Perhaps if my mother had been able to choose my genetics, she would‘ve rearranged some things. I would be someone else entirely.

[Something I‘ve wondered myself many times in recent years 😞]

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alisonrose

Among psychiatric researchers, having a job is considered one of the major characteristics of being a high-functioning person. [...] Most critically, a capitalist society values productivity in its citizens above all else, and those with severe mental illness are much less likely to be productive in ways considered valuable: by adding to the cycle of production and profit.

IamIamIam That's a really interesting statement. 3mo
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alisonrose
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alisonrose
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When a book already interests you and it also gets a 5-star rating from RinceyReads, you obviously have to read it. #nowreading

Megabooks It‘s incredible! I hope you enjoy it! 3mo
alisonrose @Megabooks Not sure if enjoy is the right word but it‘s definitely hitting me hard 3mo
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alvingregorio
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Starting this one after just finishing a training on trauma and chronic pain treatment. Something light to end a heavy day. 😝

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Megabooks
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Pickpick

Esme faces a couple of difficult diagnoses in this book-schitzoaffective disorder and chronic Lyme disease. It is roughly chronological from being a Yale student through years of having hallucinations and delusions to a semblance of recovery.

Even if you or a loved one does not have schizophrenia, there is something to be taken from this book, no matter what mental illness you or they face. I‘ve learned a lot about myself with both readings. 5⭐️

TheEllieMo Sounds interesting. And look at you smashing that book goal 😮 👏🏼 👏🏼 👏🏼 (edited) 5mo
Emilymdxn I really really want to read this one! You‘re killing it on the books goal 5mo
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Megabooks @TheEllieMo Thanks!! 🥳🎉🥳🎉 I‘ll revise it up based on how frequently I‘ll be going under anesthesia in the coming weeks. I think I could do 30 if all goes well. 🤞🏻🤞🏻🤞🏻 5mo
Megabooks @Emilymdxn It‘s a fantastic book. I learned a lot from it. She is an amazing woman and refuses to give up or be defined solely based on her diagnoses! 💪🏻💪🏻 Thank you!! 🥳🥳 5mo
Crystalblu Would it be weird to give to a Lyme patient? 5mo
cobwebmoth This book sounds interesting. You've read 11 books! You rock! 5mo
thecurlybookworm I saw this the other day and it caught my eye but I hadn‘t heard anything about it—so I‘m glad to have your review! :) 5mo
wanderinglynn Way to go! 🙌🏻 Crushing your book goal! 🎉 5mo
Reviewsbylola This sounds interesting. My cousin has a schizophrenia diagnosis. It‘s absolutely terrible. She‘s just finishing up a three year sentence in a mental hospital. We‘re all praying she will be able to assimilate back into her life. 🙏🏻 5mo
Megabooks @Crystalblu probably. That‘s only about the last 15% (edited) 5mo
Megabooks @cobwebmoth Thanks!! 👍🏻👍🏻 5mo
Megabooks @thecurlybookworm Great! I really enjoyed it. 😁 5mo
Megabooks @wanderinglynn Thanks! 💪🏻💜📚 5mo
Megabooks @Reviewsbylola Wow! That must be terrible for all of you. There are a lot of good resources and perspectives in the book for anyone in your family who may find it helpful. I wish the best for her. 💙💙 5mo
TK-421 I really want to read this! It's difficult to find books that deal with schizo-affective disorder. 4mo
Megabooks @TK-421 it‘s really good! I hope you enjoy it as much as I have. 4mo
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tholmz
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Pickpick

Intense and beautiful and honest and smart.

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mandarchy
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First Saturday of summer vacation for this teacher librarian. Live love and learn.

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Chelsea.Poole
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Cute little work lunch with a great little book. #currentlyreading #nonfiction

Cortg Oooh, I have this checked out from the library. I need to get on it!
5mo
cathipink Mmm, are those enchiladas? 5mo
Chelsea.Poole @Cortg it's good! I have so many going right now, and I need to dedicate more time to this one too! 5mo
Chelsea.Poole @cathipink lasagna--my mom's! She makes the best! 😋 5mo
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BestOfFates
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“On the day of my consult, I helped C. back the Ford our via hand gestures from the sidewalk. As I leaned against a parked car, hands up, two young men walked by. The attractive, curly-headed one turned his head as he passed. Yes, I thought, our eyes meeting, you may think I‘m hot, but I‘m also a rotting corpse. Sucks to be you, sir.”

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suzisteffen
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Pickpick

My 3rd book of essays in May, a good book of careful, thoughtful discussion about living w/a chronic disease that many - perhaps most - people misunderstand & make bad jokes about. I have enjoyed following the author on Twitter for many years, and it‘s fascinating to have read this Graywolf Press Prize-winning book. Yale (and other colleges) comes off very badly in the early essays, and the institution should feel ashamed. More in comments. ⬇️⬇️

suzisteffen Of course, as she says, many people, perhaps most people, including the author herself, don‘t want to and don‘t know how to deal with people in the deepest grip of verbally challenging psychoses. And yet! They need care, careful care, including having people around who know what‘s going on and can be safe for them. Perhaps the most frustrating essay is the one about Slenderman - & then there are hints about how fantasy worlds can truly cause ⬇️ 6mo
suzisteffen issues for people who must be cautious about guarding their boundaries so they don‘t slip into delusional worlds. Any fiction at all can be a problem, she notes, including (!) Marilynne Robinson‘s smalltown Iowa. 6mo
suzisteffen I did find it more distant, more clinical, less intense than I had expected, but I also think the emotional impact of the essays accreted over the course of the book until I had pretty strong feelings about treatments etc. by the end. 6mo
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sarahbarnes Great review. 6mo
suzisteffen @sarahbarnes thanks! Have you read it? 6mo
sarahbarnes I haven‘t read it yet! But I‘ve heard a lot about it, and your review definitely makes me want to read it. 6mo
26 likes6 comments
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suzisteffen
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🔥🔥: “Employment remains the primary marker of someone who is high-functioning, as having a job is the most reliable sign that you can pass in the world as normal. Most critically, a capitalist society values productivity in its citizens above all else, and those with severe mental illness are much less likely to be productive in ways considered valuable: by adding to the cycle of production and profit.”

This seems all kinds of accurate, no?

TheNerdyProfessor My research is focused on employees with mental illness. Sadly, these individuals still face discrimination in the workplace and are much more likely to be unemployed or underemployed. We have to find a way to break the stigma so that all individuals have a chance to thrive in society. 6mo
suzisteffen @TheNerdyProfessor That‘s true, and it‘s also true that thinking of work as indicating societal value (or thriving) is a problem with capitalism. 6mo
hjreviews The more I look into issues we have in society, the more connections I find to capitalism. I have a running joke with a friend from college who studied Marxism and all its theories for her English capstone that anything that goes wrong is because of capitalism 6mo
suzisteffen @hjreviews I mean it‘s got good moments, but only when modified. Like ... how DO we take care of everyone? 6mo
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suzisteffen
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Look what came in at the library yesterday! I finished one book of #essays today and will start this book, which I think I put on hold like 8 months ago?? or whenever it came out, tomorrow.

suzisteffen OK it only FEELS like 8 months. 😂 pub date 2/5/19. 6mo
Weaponxgirl Your library is so good! 6mo
suzisteffen @Weaponxgirl it is very good! I think it‘s one of the most used in the US, by population/circulation numbers? I‘ll look it up. I might have something to do with that. 😂 6mo
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review
masofia
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Pickpick

This book is an intimate account of a woman trying her best to understand what it means to live with schizoaffective disorder. She very effectively brings you into her perspective as she shares stories of her prior involuntary admissions and delusions. Very important reading for anyone working with people with mental illness.

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lalatiburona
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Grad school is SOOOOO close to done, so I think I can make time for a little reading of my own choosing. Plus homemade granola. 😍🙏

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eringreeno
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A contemporary, more thoughtful collection of pieces comparable to Foucault and RD Laing. Loving it.

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mdemanatee
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The Independent Bookstore haul so far thanks to Women and Children First, the Book Cellar, and @RoscoeBooks in Chicago. #ChiLoveBooks

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Samplergal
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When a book you are currently reading references another book you‘re reading. 😂

TheBookKeepers Haha that‘s cool! 7mo
Lindy Love it when that happens. 😊 7mo
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Samplergal
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As with all types of mental illness, decision making is difficult, because the organ that makes decisions, is the place of dysfunction.

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LittleWonder
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Busy and productive morning followed by a lazy literature filled Sunday afternoon. 😊

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Lauren.Archer
Mehso-so

I totally had different expectations going into this essay collection. A lot of this book seemed too technical, but it is nice to read a collection of essays from someone suffering this mental illness that I have no personal experience with.

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Lauren.Archer
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Next up!

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RowReads1
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Megabooks
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Pickpick

This is a great book. She examines her illness (schizoaffective disorder bipolar type) from scientific, historical, social scientific, and personal perspectives. As a person living with mental illness, I appreciated her approach and found it informative. I definitely agree that high-achieving people receive better treatment. She also has a wonderfully supportive husband. #envious 5⭐️

Reviewsbylola A supportive spouse is so important. It‘s very difficult to understand mental health issues. 8mo
Megabooks @Reviewsbylola That is so true! I have seen so many marriages either get stronger or break off in the face of mental illness. 8mo
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Megabooks
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I am REALLY enjoying this book. She is thoughtful about mental illness in a way only someone who has been pretty ill can be. She definitely made some points about the hierarchy of mental illness that are very valid.

I‘ve been having a lot of trouble focusing lately, so I‘m interspersing it with some basketball. Go March Madness! Go Duke! 🔵😈

tpixie Rock Chalk! KU! :) 8mo
JaclynW This book looks interesting. March Madness! Have fun! 🏀🏀🏀 8mo
Megabooks @tpixie 😁😁🏀 8mo
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Megabooks @JaclynW It is very interesting! Hopefully I can finish it this weekend. 8mo
JaclynW @Megabooks Good luck! 8mo
Megabooks @tpixie I‘m rooting for them right now!! 👍🏻 8mo
tpixie this is a great weekend for basketball!
I suspect it's pizza for dinner tonight! KU better play hard this 2nd half! I think my husband went outside because it was too hard to watch!- I 'm taping it for him, just in case! ☘️
Good luck to Duke tonight! ☘️
8mo
Megabooks @tpixie We used to think running around the dorm outside would turn the score when I was in college! Thanks for the good wishes! KU got it to within 10 as I‘m writing! Rock Chalk! 🍀🍀 8mo
tpixie @Megabooks 🍀🍀🍀 looks like Duke is going to have to do good tonight!! 8mo
Megabooks @tpixie Boo!!! 👎🏻👎🏻 Sorry KU lost!! 8mo
tpixie @Megabooks thx! Good luck to you! 8mo
tpixie 💙🏀🍀 8mo
MelleDelValle @TrinaAnnPion might interest you for research 😊 8mo
TrinaAnnPion @MelleDelValle I will definitely be getting this. Thanks! 8mo
Megabooks @TrinaAnnPion What‘s your research? 8mo
tpixie Yay for Duke!! Congrats! Kansas had a bad day between Wichita State and KU! 8mo
Megabooks @tpixie Thanks!! 😁🔵😈🏀 I‘m sorry Kansas tonight. I will be rooting for them in the NCAA tournament! I just love the Rock Chalk Jayhawk cheer 😁👍🏻🔴🔵⚪️🏀 8mo
tpixie @Megabooks thx. It is a fun cheer! 🏀🏀🏀 8mo
Megabooks @tpixie I think KU was robbed with a 4 seed!! I will be rooting for them to beat those icky Tar Holes!! 🏀 8mo
tpixie Lol thx! And I‘ll root for Duke for you!!! Lol until we meet at the final game ! Woot! 🏀🏀🏀 8mo
Megabooks @tpixie Woo hoo!! Thanks 🔵😈 I‘ve got to fill out my brackets!! 8mo
tpixie 🥳🥳🥳🥳 8mo
Megabooks Rock chalk!!! Up by 30 with a minute left! Go KU!! 8mo
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review
RebeccaH
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Pickpick

I liked this essay collection —it was tough reading at times—tough to read about Wang‘s suffering—but I learned a lot and it‘s an important subject.

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RebeccaH
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I needed something new to add to the three books I‘m already reading...

suzisteffen Can‘t wait for my hold to come in. I‘ve read SUCH amazing things about this (& love following the author on Twitter). 9mo
RebeccaH Two essays in and I‘m liking it so far! @suzisteffen 9mo
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Aimeesue
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“Schizophrenia terrifies. It is the archetypal disorder of lunacy. Craziness scares us because we are creatures who long for structure and sense; we divide the interminable days into years, months, and weeks. We hope for ways to corral bad fortune, illness, unhappiness, discomfort, and death - all inevitable outcomes that we pretend are anything but.”

merelybookish I just finished this. It's beautifully written! 9mo
Aimeesue @merelybookish It certainly is! 9mo
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RedbagReadbooks
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Pickpick

4/5💆. A great collection of thought provoking essays. I am going to school right now to be a Psychiatric NP and it provided me with some brain 🧠 food. Several things that we all need to keep in mind when interacting or treating patients with mental disorders.

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sakeriver
Pickpick

I think this book does something remarkable in making the reader—making me—sit with the ways that we have chosen not to see the people who are part of our lives and families and communities. The ways that we have chosen to distance ourselves, or the ways we‘ve refused to understand. And it makes us reckon with what it means to be ill or well, with the permeability of the border between different states of being. I feel honored to have read it.

BlazinHoney @lethallyblondee another add to the tbr! 8mo
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Hestapleton
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Pickpick

This was a brilliant and thought provoking essay collection. My husband works with people (as a counselor) with schizophrenia and I learned a lot from this book about the people he works with. Wang‘s writing is beautiful, thoughtful, and engaging. I read this in two days, though in retrospect, I should have taken it a bit slower and taken more time to let it all sink in. ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

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RebeccaH
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My latest for Book Riot: 21 essay collections from 2019 to add to your TBR: https://bookriot.com/?p=253021