A Year in Books

I haven’t had time to do a book review since my break, but I will likely bring them back in 2020. No worries, I haven’t stopped reading.

This post is a bit of a refresher or maybe even a first time read if you’re new.


One of my top ten favorite books

Gone Girl

A memoir of a mom in recovery- I hope she remains sober. It’s a daily struggle.

I’m Just Happy To Be Here

A mother has to make tough decisions.

72 Hour Hold

Book? Movie? You decide which is better.

Fight Club

Friendship is EVERYTHING.

Valley of the Dolls

Book Review: “Girl, Interrupted”

This month’s book review is for another movie/book combo.

Feel free to comment or email me with your thoughts at wraemsanders@gmail.com.

I’m not sure which I like more- the book was intriguing, but the movie is a bit more in-depth. I guess it depends on whether you are more of a book or movie person.

**TRIGGER WARNING** This book review does briefly discuss suicidal thoughts, attempts, and similar topics. Please read at your own discretion.

Book cover

Title and why I chose this book:

“Girl, Interrupted” by Susanna Kaysen

It’s not often that people tell their story of mental illness- at least not from the time frame that Susanna does. This book was based on her story in the 1960s when it wasn’t acceptable to tell anyone you had a mental illness, much less write a book about it. I think it’s interesting to look at a person’s story from another angle, even if it’s a different time.

Who do I think this book is intended for?

If you aren’t familiar with what it was like to be a patient in a mental health facility during this time period, Susanna’s story will give you a peek into it. Many of us are a bit curious about that, myself included. I think it’s because of my work in similar facilities. I’ve read quite a bit about facilities in the past and how patients were treated, and it wasn’t always positive.

What did I like about this book?

I like Susanna’s honesty. She breaks down her thoughts and the events that occur in the story so that the reader can understand exactly what is going on. Some of those events may be a little hard for us to comprehend because we weren’t there to witness them, but she tries her best.

What didn’t I like about this book?

I thought that the book could have been a little longer, I think it ended a bit abruptly. Everyone has their opinions on this, so maybe it’s just me. The tone of the book was a bit formal for me, but I had to remind myself of the time the book was set in.


Susanna is hospitalized at McLean Hospital in 1967. Her hospital paperwork is actually included in the book, with some things blacked out. This wouldn’t have happened today, thanks to HIPAA. I’ve seen this in other books, but it still astounds me.

She is hospitalized following a suicide attempt- I won’t include details, but she does detail the attempt and events that follow it. She also discusses suicidal thoughts and means.

I had a laugh while reading her description of “maximum security” and McLean’s checks system. This is the way that mental health workers (“orderlies” in the book) are able to assess patients on a 1:1 (constant), 7.5, 15 or 30-minute basis for their safety. Try doing 7.5-minute checks while hugely pregnant. I did this while pregnant with Lily and it was a bit challenging.

Susanna signed herself in voluntarily and thought she would be there for two weeks- this became almost two years. She got along with her roommate and the other patients around her, and after her release, was able to find two of them. She was released after she was offered a proposal for marriage.

What was Susanna’s diagnosis? I won’t spoil that for you. It’s in her paperwork.

I’ll let you find it in the book.

Quote that I liked:

“Crazy isn’t being broken or swallowing a dark secret. It’s you or me amplified.”

Just because you’re broken inside doesn’t mean you’re “crazy”. Everyone’s a little broken, right?

Come back next month for another book review!

Picture courtesy of Google

Book Review: “Fight Club”

If you’ve seen the movie “Fight Club” and/or read the book, please feel free to compare and comment. Even if you haven’t, let me know what you think.

I love the movie, even though it’s out of my usual genres. It’s the only Brad Pitt movie I like. Edward Norton is a major babe and a great actor.

The first rule of Fight Club? Don’t talk about Fight Club.

Fight Club

Title and why I picked this book:

“Fight Club” by Chuck Palahniuk

I’ve seen the movie countless times. I may have seen it more than once in a day. Maybe. I didn’t think of reading the book until a former friend told me how good it was.

Who do I think this book is intended for?

That’s a hard one. I guess anyone who likes reading books about against-the-grain thinking because this is definitely it. If you ask a couple of my friends and my dad, it could also be for anyone who wants to read a truly messed up love story. This idea is debatable.

If you’ve seen the movie and want to know if it follows the book, this is obviously a must-read.

What did I like about this book?

The detail. Chuck Palahniuk doesn’t spare much from the reader in the story. He describes the actions of the characters like the reader was right next to him.

I also liked that it’s short. I wonder how such a short book (208 pages) became a 2 hour, 31-minute movie.

What didn’t I like about the book?

That’s another hard one. I enjoyed this novel start to finish. Maybe it’s because I saw the movie first? Is it the flow of the story? It could be a combination.


This novel has an anonymous narrator, who lives a stressful life due to his job. He travels a lot as a recall specialist and has a bad case of insomnia, to say the least. His therapist recommends that he attends a support group for men with testicular cancer because his stress levels are about the same as men with that illness.

He finds that sharing his issues helps even though he obviously does not have cancer, but while attending those groups, he meets Maria, another person who is there minus the illness. They end up arguing and decide to attend separate groups to avoid seeing each other. At some point, the narrator meets up with Tyler Durden.

The Narrator loses his house to an explosion (with a really sketchy explanation) and he ends up staying with Tyler. The two men develop the Fight Club as a way of dealing with life’s issues, with 8 rules. The first rule is the one most commonly remembered by those who have read the book and/or seen the movie- “You don’t talk about Fight Club”.

Throughout the story, the Narrator and Tyler expand the Fight Club wherever they can. They create “Project Mayhem”, which is basically playing pranks on Corporate America whenever and wherever they can. It’s the Narrator’s way of getting back at the people who made him so miserable.

The story does have many confusing pieces and plot twists- are Tyler and the Narrator the same person? Is Tyler just a separate personality? What is really behind Project Mayhem? It’s a book that draws you in from pretty much page one and keeps you intrigued until the end.

I highly recommend the movie in addition to the novel. It’s worth the time and it helps put the book into perspective.

Quote that I liked:

“Without pain, without sacrifice, we would have nothing.”

Everyone goes through something that changes them, and it’s usually not pretty. Those events teach us things that we wouldn’t have known otherwise- this might be about ourselves or the world around us. Sacrifice and pain aren’t great but we are usually better and stronger for them.

That’s it for this month! Have you read a book, seen the movie and couldn’t decide which was better? That’s how I feel about “Fight Club”.

Book Review: “Fall to Pieces”

I love to read memoirs. For some reason, I really enjoy reading memoirs of those with addiction, and this was before my drinking became a problem. I’ve read “Life” by Keith Richards, which was fantastic but took three weeks because it’s over 500 pages.

I’ve also read Nikki Sixx’s book, “The Heroin Diaries”. It was a bit wild, but still very interesting. I’m just waiting for a member of Fleetwood Mac to come out with their memoirs. If anyone knows of one, please let me know.

I”ve read “Fall to Pieces” before, but it was a bit different re-reading it this time. This book was written by Mary Forsberg Weiland, the first wife of Scott Weiland.

He was the lead singer for Stone Temple Pilots, one of the best rock bands of the 90s. If you’re too young to know who this band is, you might want to go on YouTube. They were a great band. Scott died in December 2015, unfortunately from an overdose.

Book cover

The book opens with a very descriptive explanation of her childhood in California, a bit in New Jersey after her mom’s remarriage and, of course, when she met Scott.

Mary also became a model while moving around and became quite successful while still a teen. She also met her best friends during this time. She became friends with Anthony Kiedis, lead singer of Red Hot Chili Peppers. They have remained friends for many years.

It wasn’t until I read Scar Tissue, his autobiography, that I understood all the while Anthony was being my true friend, his own soul was being badly shaken.”

This stood out. We don’t always know what our friends are going through, much less anyone else. People hide things but still make things look at least bearable. I’ve been there for my friends through their own issues but yet struggling through my own.

The story of her relationship and later, marriage, with Scott, is so well detailed. She tells of the good, bad and in between. They were together off and on nearly a decade before marrying, and they had two kids together- a daughter and a son.

During this time, Mary drank and used a lot of substances. She knew it wasn’t the best way to live, but it took multiple attempts to finally stop using.

Mary also has had a long battle with bipolar disorder, possibly beginning when she was a teen. It’s hard for her or anyone else to know. She wasn’t diagnosed until well into adulthood, and this is well documented in the book. She struggled to accept this diagnosis along with being an addict.

Many people with either issue do. I will say she is being treated and is sober, but I won’t spoil the ending for you on how she got there.

Mary shared a quote from a community college class:

“In recovery, we look for progress, not perfection.”

Collage 2018-04-15 14_57_12.jpg

This is very accurate. Nobody is perfect, and anyone recovering from any kind of addiction certainly isn’t. Progress is what counts the most. It is not close to easy, and anyone who tells you it is- they are not entirely correct.

One of my best friends, Tyson, once asked me if I was okay while sitting at dinner and the talk to turned to beer for a while. I wasn’t a fan of beer to begin with, and he knows this, but he was making sure I wasn’t thinking about having a drink.

I wasn’t, but I am very grateful that he asked. It took a year before I could even go into a sports bar. “One day at a time” is the best quote I have ever heard that applies to recovery.

As many of us know, Scott and Mary did not work out (the section about the end of their marriage is a sad one) but they were able to co-parent, at least as of the writing of this book. I’m one of the millions of fans that were saddened to hear of Scott’s death. He was incredibly talented, like many others, but yet, he had an addiction that he was never quite able to end.

Pic courtesy of Google