Art as Therapy

What is art's purpose? In this engaging, lively, and controversial new book, bestselling philosopher Alain de Botton and art historian John Armstrong propose a new way of looking at familiar masterpieces, suggesting that they can be useful, relevant, and - above all else - therapeutic for their viewers. De Botton argues that certain great works offer clues on managing the tensions and confusions of everyday life. Chapters on Love, Nature, Money, and Politics outline how art can help with these common difficulties - for example, Vermeer's Girl Reading a Letter helps us focus on what we want to be loved for; Serra's Fernando Pessoa reminds us of the importance of dignity in suffering; and Manet's Bunch of Asparagus teaches us how to preserve and value our long-term partners. Art as Therapy offers an unconventional perspective, demonstrating how art can guide us, console us, and help us better understand ourselves.

Anatomy of an Epidemic: Magic Bullets, Psychiatric Drugs, and the Astonishing Rise of Mental Illness in America

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In this astonishing and startling book, award-winning science and history writer Robert Whitaker investigates a medical mystery: Why has the number of disabled mentally ill in the United States tripled over the past two decades? Every day, 1,100 adults and children are added to the government disability rolls because they have become newly disabled by mental illness, with this epidemic spreading most rapidly among our nation’s children. What is going on?

The Bride Stripped Bare: A Novel

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A woman disappears, leaving behind an incendiary diary chronicling a journey of sexual awakening. To all who knew her, she was the good wife: happy, devoted, content. But the diary reveals a secret self, one who's discovered that her new marriage contains mysteries of its own. She has discovered a forgotten Elizabethan manuscript that dares to speak of what women truly desire, and inspired by its revelations, she tastes for the first time the intoxicating power of knowing what she wants and how to get it. The question is: How long can she sustain a perilous double life?

With My Body: A Novel

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From the author of the international bestseller The Bride Stripped Bare comes the raw and resonant story of a middle-aged wife and mother who attempts to reclaim her lost sense of self by exploring the memory of an old love affair, the consequences of which have remained unresolved for years. Nikki Gemmell is “one of the few truly original voices to emerge in a long time” (Time Out New York), and With My Body is a unique and captivating novel. Poetic and boldly, unabashedly sensual, Gemmell’s gorgeous writing and explosive content evoke the seductive power of The Secret Life Of Catherine MDamage, and The Story of O, but this instant classic bears a modern insight into present-day sexuality and that could only come from the intimate and invigorating voice of Nikki Gemmell.

Books I am currently reading

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I read a lot of books. I always have since I was 8 years old.

These are some of the current books I'm reading. 

If I could have a job where all I had to do every day was read and write - I would be happy.

The Last Living Slut: Born in Iran, Bred Backstage

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The Last Living Slut is the salaciously literary and sexually liberated account of one young woman’s transition from traditionally-raised Iranian to rock and roll groupie for Guns N Roses, Motley Crew, and many others. Paired with a powerful introduction by New York Times bestselling authors Neil Strauss and Anthony Bozza, Roxana Shirazi’s The Last Living Slut is a passionate tale of jilted love, brutal revenge, and backstage encounters that make Pamela Des Barres’s I’m With The Band read like the diary of a nun.

Loneliness

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“One of the most important books about the human condition to appear in a decade.”—Daniel Gilbert, author of Stumbling on Happiness

University of Chicago social neuroscientist John T. Cacioppo unveils his pioneering research on the startling effects of loneliness: a sense of isolation or social rejection disrupts not only our thinking abilities and will power but also our immune systems, and can be as damaging as obesity or smoking. A blend of biological and social science, this book demonstrates that, as individuals and as a society, we have everything to gain, and everything to lose, in how well or how poorly we manage our need for social bonds.

The Other Side of Desire: Four Journeys into the Far Realms of Lust and Longing

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How do we come to be who we are sexually? How do we cope with the forces of desire? How can we understand the relationship between the transcendent and the physical, between the wish for love and the anarchy of the erotic? Award-winning writer Daniel Bergner looks for answers in the stories of four people whose unusual desires raise fascinating questions about the erotic differences between men and women and the nature of ecstasy itself.

 

Perv. The Sexual Deviant in all of us

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“You are a sexual deviant. A pervert, through and through.” We may not want to admit it, but as the award-winning columnist and psychologist Jesse Bering reveals in Perv, there is a spectrum of perversion along which we all sit. Whether it’s voyeurism, exhibitionism, or your run-of-the-mill foot fetish, we all possess a suite of sexual tastes as unique as our fingerprints—and as secret as the rest of the skeletons we’ve hidden in our closets.

Combining cutting-edge studies and critiques of landmark research and conclusions drawn by Sigmund Freud, Alfred Kinsey, and the DSM-5, Bering pulls the curtain back on paraphilias, arguing that sexual deviance is commonplace. He explores the countless fetishists of the world, including people who wear a respectable suit during the day and handcuff a willing sexual partner at night. But he also takes us into the lives of “erotic outliers,” such as a woman who falls madly in love with the Eiffel Tower; a pair ofdeeply affectionate identical twins; those with a particular penchant for statues; and others who are enamored of crevices not found on the human body. 

Moving from science to politics, psychology, history, and his own reflections on growing up gay in America, Bering confronts hypocrisy, prejudice, and harm as they relate to sexuality on a global scale. Humanizing so-called deviants while at the same time asking serious questions about the differences between thought and action, he presents us with a challenge: to understand that our best hope of solving some of the most troubling problems of our age hinges entirely on the amoral study of sex.

As kinky as it is compassionate, illuminating, and engrossing, Perv is an irresistible and deeply personal book. “I can’t promise you an orgasm at the end of our adventure,” Bering writes, “but I can promise you a better understanding of why you get the ones you do.”

 

The Erotic Engine: How Pornography has Powered Mass Communication, from Gutenberg to Google

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Pornography: The force for change that has been written out of the history of world culture.

From cave painting to photography to the internet, pornography has always been at the cutting edge in adopting and exploiting new developments in mass communication. And in so doing, it has helped to promote and propel those developments in ways that are rarely acknowledged. Without pornography, the internet would not have grown so quickly. The e-commerce payment systems that are now commonplace would be at a far more primitive stage security and usability. Without video streaming software developed for pornography sites, CNN would be struggling to deliver news clips. Without advertising from sex sites, Google could not have afforded YouTube.

This smart, witty and well-researched history shows how a vast secret trade has bankrolled and shaped mainstream culture and its machines.

 

How Children Fail (Classics in Child Development)

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First published in the mid 1960s, How Children Fail began an education reform movement that continues today. In his 1982 edition, John Holt added new insights into how children investigate the world, into the perennial problems of classroom learning, grading, testing, and into the role of the trust and authority in every learning situation. His understanding of children, the clarity of his thought, and his deep affection for children have made both How Children Fail and its companion volume, How Children Learn, enduring classics.

Summerhill School: A New View of Childhood

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Originally published in 1960, Summerhill became an instant bestseller and a classic volume of education for an entire generation. Now, this thoroughly expanded and revised version of the originalSummerhill reinstates the revolutionary "free school" traditions begun by Summerhill's founder A.S. Neill.

As American education lags behind the rest of the world, this new edition is more timely than ever. The children of today face struggles far greater than any previous generation and we, as parents and teachers, must teach them now to make choices for themselves and to learn from the outcome of their decisions.

This classic work yet again invites a new view of childhood and presents an essential treatise that challenges us to rethink our approach to education.

 

Deviant: The Shocking True Story of Ed Gein, the Original Psycho

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Known for meticulously researched and brilliantly detailed accounts of horrific true crime legends, Harold Schechter takes readers inside the very heart and mind of true evil. Here is the grisly truth of Ed Gein, the killer whose fiendish fantasies inspired Alfred Hitchcock's 'Psycho' - the mild mannered farmhand bound to his dominating mother, driven into a series of gruesome and bizarre acts beyond all imagining. In chilling detail, DEVIANT explores the incredible career of one of the most twisted madmen in the annals of crime - and how he turned a small Wisconsin farmhouse into his own private playground of ghoulishness and blood.

 

The Last Victim: A True-Life Journey into the Mind of the Serial Killer

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DEAR MR. MANSON...

It started with a college course assignment, then escalated into a dangerous obsession. Eighteen-year-old honor student Jason Moss wrote to men whose body counts had made criminal history: men named Dahmer, Manson, Ramirez, and Gacy.

DEAR MR. DAHMER...

Posing as their ideal victim, Jason seduced them with his words. One by one they wrote him back, showering him with their madness and violent fantasies. Then the game spun out of control. John Wayne Gacy revealed all to Jason -- and invited his pen pal to visit him in prison...

 

Toxic Parents: Overcoming Their Hurtful Legacy and Reclaiming Your Life

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When you were a child...

• Did your parents tell you you were bad or worthless?
• Did your parents use physical pain to discipline you?
• Did you have to take care of your parents because of their problems?
• Were you often frightened of your parents?
• Did your parents do anything to you that had to be kept secret?

Now that you’re an adult...

• Do your parents still treat you as if you were a child?
• Do you have intense emotional or physical reactions after spending time with your parents?
• Do your parents control you with threats or guilt? Do they manipulate you with money?
• Do you feel that no matter what you do, it’s never good enough for your parents?

In this remarkable self-help guide, Dr. Susan Forward draws on case histories and the real-life voices of adult children of toxic parents to help you free yourself from the frustrating patterns of your relationship with your parents — and discover a new world of self-confidence, inner strength, and emotional independence.

 

Hollywood Animal: A Memoir

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He spent his earliest years in post WWII–refugee camps. He came to America and grew up in Cleveland—stealing cars, rolling drunks, battling priests, nearly going to jail. He became the screenwriter of the worldwide hits Basic Instinct, Jagged Edge, and Flashdance. He also wrote the legendary disastersShowgirls and Jade. The rebellion never ended, even as his films went on to gross more than a billion dollars at the box office and he became the most famous—or infamous—screenwriter in Hollywood. 

Joe Eszterhas is a complex and paradoxical figure: part outlaw and outsider combined with equal parts romantic and moralist. More than one person has called him “the devil.” He has been referred to as “the most reviled man in America.” But Time asked, “If Shakespeare were alive today, would his name be Joe Eszterhas?” and he was the first screenwriter picked as one of the movie industry’s 100 Most Powerful People. Although he is often accused of sexism and misogyny, his wife is his best friend and equal partner. Considered an apostle of sex and violence, he is a churchgoer who believes in the power of prayer. For many years the ultimate symbol of Hollywood excess, he has moved his family to Ohio and immersed himself in the midwestern lifestyle he so values. 

Controversial, fearless, extremely talented, and totally unpredictable, the author of the best-sellingAmerican Rhapsody and National Book Award nominee Charlie Simpson’s Apocalypse has surprised us yet again: he has written a memoir like no other.

 

On Writing: 10th Anniversary Edition: A Memoir of the Craft

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“Long live the King” hailed Entertainment Weekly upon publication of Stephen King’s On Writing. Part memoir, part master class by one of the bestselling authors of all time, this superb volume is a revealing and practical view of the writer’s craft, comprising the basic tools of the trade every writer must have. King’s advice is grounded in his vivid memories from childhood through his emergence as a writer, from his struggling early career to his widely reported, near-fatal accident in 1999—and how the inextricable link between writing and living spurred his recovery. Brilliantly structured, friendly and inspiring, On Writing will empower and entertain everyone who reads it—fans, writers, and anyone who loves a great story well told.

The Devil's Guide to Hollywood: The Screenwriter as God!

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Mike Ovitz told him his Wilshire Blvd. "foot soldiers" would hunt him down. He's antagonized almost everyone at the top in Tinseltown. And now, Joe Eszterhas tells everything he knows -- in brief, quotable bursts -- about the business, the history of Hollywood, and how to write screenplays that make millions. Idiosyncratic, gruff and as shaggy as Eszterhas himself, The Devil's Guide to Hollywood makes a character/leitmotif of Eszterhas' fellow Hungarian Zsa Zsa Gabor ("Money is like a sixth sense that makes it possible for you to fully enjoy the other five."), and makes the case that Marilyn Monroe was the sharpest tack in Hollywood ("Hollywood is a place where they'll pay you a thousand dollars for a kiss and fifty cents for your soul. I know, because I turned down the first offer often enough and held out for the fifty cents."). Refreshing, dirty, tough, there's no book like it.

 

The God Argument. The Case against Religion & Humanism

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What are the arguments for and against religion and religious belief--all of them--right across the range of reasons and motives that people have for being religious, and do they stand up to scrutiny? Can there be a clear, full statement of these arguments that once and for all will show what is at stake in this debate? 

Equally important: what is the alternative to religion as a view of the world and a foundation for morality? Is there a worldview and a code of life for thoughtful people--those who wish to live with intellectual integrity, based on reason, evidence, and a desire to do and be good--that does not interfere with people's right to their own beliefs and freedom of expression?

In The Case Against Religion, Anthony Grayling offers a definitive examination of these questions, and an in-depth exploration of the humanist outlook that recommends itself as the ethics of the genuinely reflective person.

 

Look me in the Eye. My life with Aspergers

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Ever since he was young, John Robison longed to connect with other people, but by the time he was a teenager, his odd habits—an inclination to blurt out non sequiturs, avoid eye contact, dismantle radios, and dig five-foot holes (and stick his younger brother, Augusten Burroughs, in them)—had earned him the label “social deviant.” It was not until he was forty that he was diagnosed with a form of autism called Asperger’s syndrome. That understanding transformed the way he saw himself—and the world. A born storyteller, Robison has written a moving, darkly funny memoir about a life that has taken him from developing exploding guitars for KISS to building a family of his own. It’s a strange, sly, indelible account—sometimes alien yet always deeply human.