A Review of Brain on Fire: My Month of Madness by Susannah Cahalan

About a month ago, a dear friend of mine asked if I’d be interested in writing a quick review of a book I recently read. I jumped at the chance because when I first read Brain on Fire: My Month of Madness by Susannah Cahalan, I couldn’t put it down. Her story not only was so interesting, it was scary to think that someone could go through what she experienced.

Without further ado – my review as featured on Traditional Femme:


A Review of Brain on Fire: My Month of Madness by Susannah Cahalan

brain on fireOn a rainy summer Saturday afternoon, I was cruising the shelves at our local bookstore and stumbled upon Susannah Cahalan’s memoir, Brain on Fire: My Month of Madness. I admit I was drawn to it by the haunting image of the author and the book’s title on the front cover, but once I read the summary on the back, I was sold. I took it home and I couldn’t put it down.

Cahalan is a young, twenty-something woman with a bright career ahead of her as a journalist with one of New York’s most famous publications. She has a wonderful boyfriend, with whom she recently entered a serious relationship. She’s healthy and ready to take on the world. Life is great. Not much later, she wakes up in a hospital unsure why she is strapped down with wires hooked to her body that are traced back to monitors and machines.

While the precise point of when her illness began is hard to pin down, she realized in the time leading up to her diagnosis some of her symptoms: migraines, light/color sensitivity, difficulty controlling emotion, seizures, numbness in her left hand, hallucinations, and intense paranoia.

With her paranoia, it started with a bug bite that prompted her to fumigate her apartment to rid it of the bed bugs she thought she saw. She suddenly had the urge to read through her boyfriend’s emails – something she never would normally do. She started to feel like she was slipping into a deep darkness. (more…)

Literacy and My Life

Literacy and My Life

Since I was young, I have been in love with books.I began reading when I was very young, right after I turned three. By the time I started kindergarten, I breezed through every book at a quick rate. From then on, I could hardly be found without a book in my hand.

Learning the alphabet, forming letters into words, and reading complete sentences on my own were the most important things I could have learned at that young age. I excelled in the “Book-It” programs (a sponsorship my school held with Pizza Hut where students had to read a required amount of books to win free pizza and other prizes). I couldn’t stop visiting the library. I remember reading plenty about Abraham Lincoln, panda bears, the Civil War, and plenty of fiction.

When I was in elementary school and challenging myself to read every single book in the Baby Sitters Club series. I probably read the first 100 books, including all their ‘summer specials’ – longer stories about the characters and their summer vacations. Reading these books started my real love for reading anything I could get my hands on. I got to the point where I could finish one book each day – driving my mother crazy, as I would always need a ride to the library.

As I was growing older, I started to mature in my reading material choices. I loved the required readings in my classes in middle and high school, such as Hatchet, The Outsiders, Of Mice and Men, and A Separate Peace. Understanding Shakespeare was also a large influence on me, as it prompted me to read and write much more, especially in poetic settings. Romeo and Juliet, Hamlet, the Odyssey, and many other works have made me feel confident that my literacy stretches far and wide.

Everything I learned over the past 20 years have prompted me to continues my education and keep expanding my knowledge of literacy. Last year, I started a book club with my best friend. We both share a love for reading, and it became a way for us to stay close after she moved 3 hours away.

People keep saying books are dead, books are becoming extinct, books won’t be around much longer. I beg to differ. There is nothing like holding a book in your hands and turning the pages with great care. The smell of a new book is so comforting. Even though I own a Kindle (which I love, by the way), I alternate between reading physical and electronic books. I have a stack of books on my bedside table, waiting for me to peel the edges of the cover off the printed paper. There is not a feeling quite like the one I get when I am able open a new book I’ve been waiting to read.