Monthly Archives: October 2014

Beyond the Gates of Gomorrah

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Beyond the Gates of Gomorrah is the true story of a psychiatrist who is beginning a new job in the forensic unit of a mental health hospital in California (which he refers to as Gomorrah).  Every day he walks among rapists and murderers, all there because the justice system deemed them not responsible for their actions due to mental illness.  Despite being terrified to go to work, being the target of threats of and witnessing violent attacks he is able to see the humanity in his patients and even misses one of them when gone.

Dr. Seager also deals with several current issues, most notably proposed gun law changes after the Newtown, Connecticut shooting at Sandy Hook elementary school. To target those who have been treated for some kind of mental illness would do nothing to reduce mass shootings, he says.  Those who commit this type of crime are a specific, small subset of those afflicted with a mental illness: paranoid, but organized (are able to hold down a job, handle money, etc.).This type of person will refuse treatment and would be less likely to be picked up by a background check.  The assumption that the mentally ill are, as a whole, dangerous is false; they are more likely to be victims of crime, rather than the perpetrators.
I was drawn to this book because I did a co-op at a similar facility in Toronto when I was in school.  I could  relate to the duality of feeling that even knowing you are speaking with someone who has committed a terrible crime, in that moment you can still get past what they have done and relate to him.  Although some of the things he describes can come off as surreal (for example the staff vs. patients baseball game), it made me remember things like pick up soccer games in the courtyard during recreation periods.
In the book, Dr. Seager continually tries to figure out why he stays despite his fear. I remember the feeling of helping to care for people in the margins of society, of giving compassion to people who probably haven’t seen much compassion in their lives and I think I know why he stayed. The time I spent at my “Gomorrah” was an experience that really changed my mind about mental illness, crime and the law – and if this book is read with an open mind I think it too can make a difference.
Melissa

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Children’s Books Adults Won’t Mind Reading 900 Times

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Bedtime stories can be the bane of a parent’s existence.  Reading to your child is a wonderful thing for many reasons, but many books aimed at kids are likely to put mom or dad to sleep long before the little one.

There are some fantastic books that are wonderful at any age, and will hopefully help mitigate the sting of having your child pick one of them that needs to be read at least once a night – FOREVER.

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Is Your Mama a Llama is my husband’s favorite read aloud book for little ones.  He reads the whole thing in a ridiculous accent, and has as much fun as the kids (maybe more).  A silly little rhyming book, and very sweet.  You can also go for the Llama LLama series, by Anna Dewdney if you’re a llama fan – and who isn’t?

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I love Chester.  I would buy these books with or without children.  Mélanie Watt set out to write a book about a mouse… until Chester the cat got his paws on the manuscript.  Chester is the spiritual twin of my orange tabby Beaker.

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Click Clack Moo is the story of cows who are unhappy with their working conditions – and they’re not going to take it any more. One of my regular customers works for a union, and this is her standard baby gift for all her coworkers’ baby showers.

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The bus driver is leaving the bus for his break – and his parting works are… Don’t Let the Pigeon Drive the Bus!  Now, it’s on you to avert disaster. I love Mo Willems illustrations, and his pigeon with the anger management issues.

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The Practical Princess and Other Liberating Fairy Tales is still a book I love reading.  With heroines who solve problems with their smarts, and don’t just fall for the prince automatically, these are well told and just great.  I had a hard time finding this, and had to get a used copy.

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A Better Love Story Than Twilight – Twilight, the Sesame Street Version

I can’t tell you how happy I am that Sesame Street has a self-control themed Twilight parody.  Sesame Street is the best thing ever.

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Comfort Food for the Mind

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The Firebird, by Susanna Kearsley, has caught my eye more than once – I have picked it up and set it down.  One of the travails of working in a book store is settling on which of the multitudes is coming home with you this time.  Finally, it was The Firebird‘s turn.

What a lovely, lovely book.  This was such a nice read, such a perfect blend of mystery and romance.  Kearsley is a whiz at setting up landscapes and characters.

The heroine is supposed to have the gift of psychometry, the ability to learn about an object through touch – it is a gift she uses with reluctance.  She is working as a specialist in Russian art, and a client in desperate need of money brings in a family heirloom she is hoping to sell, but with no proof of its authenticity.  When Nicola touches it, she realizes it is indeed authentic, but has no way of proving it.  Touched by the client’s desperate situation, Nicola reaches out to a man whose gifts are stronger than her own, hoping to find a way to prove the heirloom’s provenance.

A fairly fast read, perfect glass of wine and your feet up at the end of the day book, or on the patio with a coffee and a decadent pastry.

I would recommend this to fans of Diana Gabaldon’s Outlander series, or The Sugar Queen by Sarah Addison Allen.

Christie

PS If any of you are watching Castle, that was a hell of a season premiere, eh?

 

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