Staff Picks: January 2014

The Valley of Amazement

The Valley of Amazement Book Cover

Lulu owns and runs a courtesan business in Shanghai. Her daughter, Violet, lives there too and is fascinated by the lives of the glamorous women. When she is abandoned by her mother, Violet has no choice but to become a courtesan too. Luckily for her, she is taken under the wing of an older woman who helps her survive some very difficult times. Amy Tan brings China in the early 20th century to life, while presenting mother-daughter issues and the position and options of women at that time.

Brain on Fire: My Month of Madness

Brain on Fire: My Month of Madness Book Cover

This book brought the realities of madness right to the forefront. I couldn’t put it down. Miss Cahalan is a journalist who retells the story of her diagnoses and treatment of a form of autoimmune encephalitis which attacked her brain. I couldn’t help but think “this could happen to anyone”. Her experience was terrifying and she shows selflessness in sharing her story with others. An unbelievable telling of an incredible journey back to wellness both mentally and physically.