By Ralph Ellison
I am a therapist, and from my perspective, all high school students should be required to read and discuss this book. It is filled with important Messages--for example, pleasing (or trying to please) others often leads to failure and devastation. Rather, Ellison seems to argue, "Be true to yourself!"
On Agate Hill
By Lee Smith
Lee Smith is a favorite author of mine. This novel (which is set during the Civil War) portrays characters with a variety of complex psychological disorders. Nonetheless, they all demonstrate resilience and a wide array of coping mechanisms.
How to Be Alone
By Jonathan Franzen
If you are a fan of Franzen (The Corrections), you will love reading this collection of his essays, which range in topic from the American novel to Manhattan, prisons, and his family's lives.
By Sibylle Knauss
This historical novel takes place at Hitler's Bavarian retreat between 1944 and 1945 and is written from the perspective of Hitler's mistress, Marlene. It asks a timeless question: how is it that many of us can live in the lap of luxury while so many in the world suffer immensely? Denial? Rationalization? Small acts of penance to appease our conscience? A thought-provoking, well-written book.
Veronika Decides to Die
A Novel of Redemption
By Paulo Coelho
Most readers are likely familiar with Coehlo's novel The Alchemist--another of my favorites. Veronika Decides to Die contains fascinating insights regarding the nature of mental illness. Who is really "crazy," and what does "craziness" mean? I loved this book, which criticizes conformist societies.
My Story of Addiction and Redemption
By William Cope Moyers
"Cope" Moyers, the son of well-known journalist Bill Moyers, wrote this autobiographical account of his significant and terrifying addiction to cocaine and alcohol. This beautiful, well-written story of addiction, recovery, familial love, heartache, and triumph is one of the best of this genre that I have read.
By Jose Saramago
This gripping novel raises many questions about who really "sees," which reality is true, how we are accountable (and to whom), to whom we are loyal, what values actually exist, and what happens in the absence of light, or rules, or societal roles. It is a very thought-provoking, albeit dark, book. Highly...