Well, I had a fabulous quarter two non-fiction time! These weren’t easy reading though and all for different reasons.
The Great Pretender really highlights the huge issues with the lack of mental health services in the US and the disaster that is the use of prisons as modern day asylums all while investigating a study that was one of the cornerstones for the development of the DSM-II.
The Disordered Cosmos highlighted how difficult it is to be a queer Black woman in science and also gave a fascinating insight into how colonists have shaped how we talk about science and All Boy’s Aren’t Blue also discussed being queer and Black but it’s aimed at a YA audience but it was a book I think everyone should read as it’s beautifully accessible and honest.
All five star reads and all important books!
The Great Pretender: The Undercover Mission That Changed Our Understanding of Madness by Susannah Cahalan– 5 ⭐
For centuries, doctors have struggled to define mental illness-how do you diagnose it, how do you treat it, how do you even know what it is? In search of an answer, in the 1970s a Stanford psychologist named David Rosenhan and seven other people — sane, normal, well-adjusted members of society — went undercover into asylums around America to test the legitimacy of psychiatry’s labels. Forced to remain inside until they’d “proven” themselves sane, all eight emerged with alarming diagnoses and even more troubling stories of their treatment. Rosenhan’s study broke open the field of psychiatry, closing down institutions and changing mental health diagnosis forever.
But, as Cahalan’s new research shows, very little in this saga is exactly as it seems. What really happened behind those closed asylum doors, and what does it mean for our understanding of mental illness today?The Great Pretender Synopsis
The Disordered Cosmos: A Journey into Dark Matter, Spacetime, and Dreams Deferred by Chanda Prescod-Weinstein – 5 ⭐
From a star theoretical physicist, a journey into the world of particle physics and the cosmos — and a call for a more just practice of science.
In The Disordered Cosmos, Dr. Chanda Prescod-Weinstein shares her love for physics, from the Standard Model of Particle Physics and what lies beyond it, to the physics of melanin in skin, to the latest theories of dark matter — all with a new spin informed by history, politics, and the wisdom of Star Trek.
One of the leading physicists of her generation, Dr. Chanda Prescod-Weinstein is also one of fewer than one hundred Black American women to earn a PhD from a department of physics. Her vision of the cosmos is vibrant, buoyantly non-traditional, and grounded in Black feminist traditions.
Prescod-Weinstein urges us to recognize how science, like most fields, is rife with racism, sexism, and other dehumanizing systems. She lays out a bold new approach to science and society that begins with the belief that we all have a fundamental right to know and love the night sky. The Disordered Cosmos dreams into existence a world that allows everyone to tap into humanity’s wealth of knowledge about the wonders of the universe.The Disordered Cosmos Synopsis
In a series of personal essays, prominent journalist and LGBTQIA+ activist George M. Johnson explores his childhood, adolescence, and college years in New Jersey and Virginia. From the memories of getting his teeth kicked out by bullies at age five, to flea marketing with his loving grandmother, to his first sexual relationships, this young-adult memoir weaves together the trials and triumphs faced by Black queer boys.
Both a primer for teens eager to be allies as well as a reassuring testimony for young queer men of color, All Boys Aren’t Blue covers topics such as gender identity, toxic masculinity, brotherhood, family, structural marginalization, consent, and Black joy. Johnson’s emotionally frank style of writing will appeal directly to young adults.All Boys Aren’t Blue Synopsis