Tag Archives: Psychology

Help for the Haunted

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Title: Help for the Haunted

Author: John Searles

Publisher: William Morrow, Sep. 2013

Summary/Review: Since I am not a fan of ghost stories, I was reluctant to read a book titled “Help for the Haunted” for worry that I would not sleep afterward, but I wanted to conquer my fear of the unknown. Although this book focuses on the paranormal, it becomes clear that you see what you want to see and believe what you chose to believe.

The Masons are quite successful in taming the unusual behavior of those possessed by spirits but are incapable of handling and helping their disobedient older daughter, Rose. When they agree to drive during a snowstorm to meet her in a church to talk, they do not know this encounter will end their lives. As their younger daughter, Sylvie, awaits their return to their car, she ends up being the only witness to the murderer. As Sylvie struggles with the past and present she starts putting together the pieces of her parents’ work and the events preceding their murder, which eventually lead her to the person who pulled the trigger.

“Help for the Haunted” is a good choice for book groups as it features interesting characters, including an evil doll named Penny, and provides several topics for discussion.

Who will like this book: Anyone who enjoys reading about mysteries with dark family secrets.

If you like this, try this: “The Returned” by Jason Mott

Recommended by: Sharyn, Circulation

Summary/Review: “Help for the Haunted” is the story of two girls – Rose and Sylvie Mason – whose parents were helpers of the haunted (I kept thinking of the Warrens throughout).  Sylvie is the “good one”, always responsible.  She plays counterpart to her older sister Rose, whose bad temper, negative attitude, and overall rebellious behavior put a deep strain on the family.  When Sylvie’s parents drag her out of bed to drive to a church to meet Rose, who has left the house angry, she is awakened by gunshots only to find her parents dead in the church.  But what happened?  Who would have killed them?  Why did Sylvie tell the police she knew exactly who it was? And who is keeping the light on in the basement, waiting for her parents’ return?

I started this book, unfortunately, late one night while I was home alone.  What was I thinking?  The first half is extra creepy, laying the foundation for why the Masons became involved with people like Lynch (who Sylvie points to as her parents’ killer) and their pasts.  The book focuses on 14-year old Sylvie throughout, and the second half deals more with her sister, their relationship and past, and her desperation to find the real killer.  I found the book compelling and wanted to know, exactly, what happened to her parents and why.  While the ending didn’t come together as well as it could have (it’s clear Searles is an extremely talented writer, who I will definitely read again), I was pleased to find I was surprised at the unexpected finale.

Who will like this book? : Someone who’s not afraid of a little creepiness.  The book comes out in September and would make an awesome Halloween read.

Recommended by: LB, Library Assistant

If this looks like the type of book you’d like to read when it’s released, visit the Fairfield Public Library catalog to check availability and place a hold!

World’s Strongest Librarian

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Title: The World’s Strongest Librarian: A Memoir of Tourette’s, Faith, Strength, and the Power of Family

Author: Josh Hanagarne

Publisher: Gotham Books, 2013

Summary/Review: Josh Hanagarne is not your average librarian. He’s a 6’7”strongman, who lives each day battling with Tourette Syndrome.

What started out as twitches at an early age progressed into frequent harmful tics as Josh grew older. After he was diagnosed with Tourette’s, he tried several treatments that produced little results.

As Josh struggled attending classes and holding down jobs, you begin to wonder how this guy is ever going to make it in the world. His honesty hits home—whether he’s talking about what it is like to have Tourette’s, dating, marriage, having children, or questioning his Mormon faith. His certainty comes from the love and support of his family.

After Josh discovered that weight lifting provided some relief to Tourette’s, he begins experimenting with different strength building techniques. He is left with hope of getting his tics (and life) under some control. The way Josh challenges himself, whether with weights or by working in an environment that requires silence, is inspiring.

Evident throughout the pages are Josh’s love of reading and the importance of libraries in his life. He incorporates humor in his story where you expect to find none. This book not only motivates you to be a stronger person, but also to have compassion of those around you.

Who will like this book: Anyone interested in an inspiring story or those who want to know more about Tourette Syndrome.

If you like this, try this: “Always Looking Up” by Michael J. Fox or “Wonder” by R.J. Palacio

Recommended by: Sharyn, Circulation

Think that this book could be your next read?  Visit the Fairfield Public Library catalog to see if it’s available and/or place a hold!

Let Me Go

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Title: Let Me Go

Author: Chelsea Cain

Publisher: St. Marten’s Press, 2013

Summary/Review: “Let Me Go” is the sixth book by Chelsea Cain featuring Detective Archie Sheridan, journalist Susan Ward, and Psychiatrist Gretchen Lowell. Gretchen was a consultant for the Portland police on a case involving a serial killer. During the investigation, Archie had an affair with her but only to find out that she herself was the killer. Archie spent 10 days of his life being tortured by Gretchen, only to let him go. Gretchen is captured but soon after escapes leaving Archie always wondering when she will show herself again.

In Cain’s latest novel, “Let Me Go”, Archie is working on a case involving Russian drug lords, a dead DEA agent, and an undercover CI named Leo Reynolds, Susan’s boyfriend. While Archie attends a party thrown by Jack Reynolds, Leo’s drug dealing father, a murder is committed. Upon reviewing the property’s surveillance video, Archie discovers Gretchen in attendance.

Now Archie must find Gretchen who has abducted Susan all the while trying to solve a murder. With time running out, Archie carelessly and desperately seeks Gretchen’s help to solve the most recent crime so Susan can be released.

Who will like this book?: If you love repeating characters, fast paced stories, and devilish crime novels, this book is just what you are looking for.

If you like this, try this:Heartsick” (reviewed previously on the blog), “Sweetheart”, and “Evil at Heart”, the first three Archie Sheridan/Gretchen Lowell novels by Chelsea Cain. Starting at the beginning of this journey between Archie and Gretchen will give the reader a greater insight as to their twisted and complicated relationship.

Recommended by: K.C., circulation assistant

Does this look like something you’d like to read? Visit the Fairfield Public Library catalog to check its availability and/or place a hold!

Dangerous Instincts

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Title: Dangerous Instincts: How Gut Feelings Betray Us. (Fear Can’t Help You. An FBI Profiler Can)

Author: Mary Ellen O’Toole, Ph.D.

Publisher: Penguin, 2011

Summary/Review: The author knows her business.  She is a retired FBI profiler and has seen and interviewed violent criminals of all types: mass murderers, rapists, kidnappers, pedophiles.  The purpose of this book is to impart to readers how people don’t make safe decisions on a regular basis:  hiring a contractor in the home, deciding at whose home your child can play, or even opening the door to a complete stranger.  We get lulled into a false sense of safety because our biases lead us to deem someone harmless when we really don’t have enough information to make a decision. The author tries to instruct on how to assess risk: physical risk, health risk, social or emotional risk, professional, or financial.  Being a good listener is key; but “listening between the lines” is even better.  She also discusses how to observe a persons behavior to try to make an assessment.  She also discusses those people in our society who are most dangerous:  the sociopath.

Scary when I think of the number of times that I have done exactly what the author warns us against.  I will never be able to read someone’s mind, but I will try to employ some of these techniques in my own danger-filled life!

Who will like this book?:  Those who are interested in psychology, or are interested in true crime.

If you like this, try this:  If you are interested in the psychology topics discussed in the book, Malcolm Gladwell has a number of books, including “Blink” which you may find interesting- especially because he discusses the decisions made on impulse.  “The Sociopath Next Door” by Martha Stout may also be interesting for you, as she discusses the nature of humans and what makes them stray from a healthy psychological profile.

If you would like to learn more about criminal profiling, Truman Capote’s “In Cold Blood”, Erik Larson’s “Devil in the White City”, and Vincent Bugliosi’s “Helter Skelter” might be good choices, but beware – they may be graphic.

Recommended by: Sue Z, Reference Librarian

If this looks like your kind of book, visit the Fairfield Public Library catalog to check if its available and place a hold. [Link will open in a new window]

Defending Jacob

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Title: Defending Jacob

Author: William Landay

Publisher: Delacorte Press, 2012

Summary/Review: Andy Barber has been a well-respected assistant district attorney in Massachusetts for many years until his 14-year-old son Jacob is accused of killing former classmate Ben Rifkin. As the community presumes Jacob’s guilt before the trial starts, Andy and his wife, Laurie, struggle internally and externally to maintain their son’s innocence. Even after evidence points toward his son, Andy sticks to his belief that the neighborhood pedophile is responsible for this murder.

As the story unfolds, it brings up many questions, such as how well do parents know their own child, how far would they go to protect him, what role do genes and family history play in influencing an individual’s destiny, and do childhood actions indicate future behavior?

Defending Jacob is a compelling novel with a shocking ending. Once you start it, you can’t put it down.

Who will like this book?:  Someone who is interested in crime dramas but who is more interested in the psychology of crimes and the criminal mind.  Someone who is interested in
family bonds and how far someone will go to protect them.

If you like this, try this:  If you’re interested in novels about the criminal mind, try “Hannibal” or “Silence of the Lambs” by Thomas Harris, which both focus on the question of mental insanity.  If you would like a newer novel that focuses on criminal minds, try any Chelsea Cain book.

If you are more interested in the suspense/thriller aspect, try Gillian Flynn’s “Gone Girl” or the popular Stieg Larsson novels.  Michael Connelly and John Grisham are also well-known for their legal thrillers.

If you’re interested in this book, visit the Fairfield Public Library catalog to check availability and place a hold! [Link will open in a new window]

Finally, this isn’t William Landay’s first book- his historical novel is focused on the Boston Strangler, entitled “the Strangler”, and he also writes other fiction such as “Mission Flats”.

Recommended by: Sharyn, Circulation Assistant

The Nobodies Album

Title: The Nobodies Album

Author:  Carolyn Parkhurst

Publisher: Knopf, June 2010

 Summary: Writer Octavia Frost and her son Milo had a game they used to play together when he was a young boy.  He’d ask “have you ever heard the Beatles version of I’ve Been Working on the Railroad?” And she’d say, no, I didn’t know they’d ever recorded that.  He’d respond “they didn’t, it’s on The Nobodies Album.”  So “The Nobodies Album” is an album made up of songs that don’t exist.  It also happens to be the working title of Octavia’s yet-to-be published book, which is made up entirely of the last chapters of all her previous novels, completely rewritten with the purpose of taking her characters in the exact opposite direction she’d originally taken them – a book made up of endings that don’t exist.

It seems that Octavia is a woman who’s trying to bring many things into existence, and trying to change lots of original endings. Octavia’s relationship with her son and her career as a writer are at the top of the list, and the two are woven together brilliantly in this novel.  It is when Octavia’s on her way to deliver the manuscript of “The Nobodies Album” to her publisher that she sees her son’s name displayed in the news crawl in Times Square – Milo, a successful musician, has been accused of murdering his girlfriend.  This is the beginning of her journey back to Milo – they haven’t spoken in four years.  And it’s also the beginning of the reader’s journey through Octavia’s fiction.  The novel is interspersed with the last chapters of her previous books, both the original and the revised endings.  The family drama, the short story and the classic mystery all come together in Parkhurst’s incredibly creative, inventive and unforgettable book.

Recommended by: Mary, Branch Reference

The Interpretation of Murder

Title: The Interpretation of Murder

Author: Jed Rubenfeld

Publisher: Picador, May 2007

Summary:  The year is 1909 and Sigmund Freud has arrived in the United States with his protégé Carl Jung for a series of lectures at Clark University.  The same day of Freud’s arrival a young heiress is murdered, apparently by a serial killer. Another wealthy young socialite is suffering from amnesia after a second attack by the same criminal.

Dr. Stratham Younger, a thirty-three-year-old Harvard graduate teaches at Clark University.  He  is in New York to accompany Dr. Freud back to Clark.  Younger finds himself caught up in the murder mystery, being consulted about the use psychoanalysis to help the young woman recall the attack.

The plot is multileveled and intricate and includes a rivalry between Jung and Freud, a conspiracy theory against Freud’s teachings, a fascinating episode on the construction of the Manhattan Bridge, and corruption in the New York city police force. I found the story riveting and the details of that period in New York’s history to be fascinating.

Recommended by: Barbara, Head of Children’s Services

Columbine

Title: Columbine

Author: Dave Cullen

Summary: On April 20, 1999, two boys entered their high school and proceeded to unleash the most unforgettable school shooting of the modern era. Eric Harris and Dylan Klebold were troubled outcasts in black trench coats, picked on by jocks and preps, who, after years of listening to angry music and playing violent video games, finally snapped.

Or were they? Actually, none of these accepted facts about the young killers are true. In this absorbing book, a reporter who was on the scene that day and followed the story long after the tragedy of school shootings became seemingly commonplace, dispels the myths behind the shooting, its perpetrators, and even its victims. Everyone knows what you mean when you say ‘Columbine,’ but not one of us has ever heard the whole story until now.

Who will like this book: True crime readers. Anyone who remembers that day would be benefited by reading this important book.

If you like this, try this: In Cold Blood by Truman Capote. A fictional work that deals, in part, with Columbine and it’s aftermath, The Hour I First Believed by Wally Lamb.

Recommended by: Nicole, Teen Librarian

The Narcissism Epidemic

Title: The Narcissism Epidemic: Living in the Age of Entitlement

Authors: Jean M. Twenge and W. Keith Campbell

Publisher: Free Press, April 2009

Summary: This fascinating (and disturbing) book focuses on what the authors feel is an alarming rise in narcissistic behavior in the United States. They argue that narcissists, long thought to behave in ways to cover up their lack of self-esteem, are in fact overflowing with self-regard, and that the emphasis placed on self-esteem training for young children and in schools has contributed to a culture where entitlement is rampant, and everyone really believes that they are so special that rules do not apply to them.

In describing the consequences this upswing in narcissism has for schools (cheating and grade inflation,) the workplace (young adults taking their parents into the office for performance reviews,) the economy (McMansions, debt, and the mortgage crisis,) culture (celebutants and Web 2.0) and the environment (SUVs and global warming,) Twenge (author of Generation Me) and Campbell paint a very upsetting picture. While some of their arguments might be a little far-fetched, you can pick and choose what chapters interest you.

All in all this is a book that will make you think twice when you see a baby dressed in a t-shirt that says “I’m the Boss.”

Who will like this book: General non-fiction readers and people with an interest in psychology and culture. If the world seems to you a little ruder and more competitive lately, this book is for you.

If you like this, try this: For more on celebrity narcissism, try The Mirror Effect by Drew Pinsky.  For more on Milennials in the workplace, look for The Trophy Kids Grow Up by Ron Alsop. And for the effects of this cultural shift on girls and young women, read Female Chauvinist Pigs by Ariel Levy.

Recommended by: Nicole, Teen Librarian

The Unthinkable

Title: The Unthinkable: Who Survives When Disaster Strikes and Why

Author: Amanda Ripley

Publisher: Crown, June 2008

Summary: Ever wonder how you would react in a real emergency? You will keep asking that question throughout this interesting non-fiction book on surviving disasters. The author analyzes behavior in several disastrous situations to try and determine who survives – and why. The answers may surprise you.

Who will like this book?: Readers who are interested in human behavior.

If you like this, try this: Brain Rules by John Medina

Recommended by: Barb, Reference Librarian.