The Daily Beast Recommends
This week: an Adderall addiction memoir mixed with murder, a hate-crime victim's mother remembers, a journalist on her imprisonment in Iran, new theories on parenting, and a rallying cry for journalists.
The Adderall Diaries: A Memoir of Moods, Masochism, and Murderby Stephen Elliott
A thrilling murder trial forms the backdrop to an addict’s memoir.
Half memoir, half true-crime story, Stephen Elliott’s The Adderall Diaries uses a murder case to structure a strange, jumpy memoir. Hooked on Adderall, paralyzed by writer’s block, Elliott becomes oddly obsessed with a murder that has little to do with him. The case of a genius computer programmer husband accused of murdering his ex-wife takes an exciting turn, after the wife’s former lover (and Elliott’s former friend from the San Francisco S&M scene) confesses to eight murders he did not commit. The murder plot provides the backdrop to a skittish investigation of the self that feels both exciting and voyeuristic. Roddy Doyle calls Elliott’s book “brilliant” and Time Out says: “Elliott’s style is unadorned and often achieves a quiet poetry.”
My Prison, My Home: One Woman’s Story of Captivity in Iranby Haleh Esfandiari
An Iranian journalist spends eight months in a notorious prison.
After an annual Christmas visit to see her elderly mother in her native Tehran, Haleh Esfandiari was incarcerated in one of Iran’s most notorious prisons. In the pages of My Prison, My Home, Esfandiari recounts how she was detained, searched, and interrogated by her home country’s Intelligence Ministry, after the government became suspicious of her work as a scholar with the Woodrow Wilson International Center in Washington, D.C. She was imprisoned for eight months, and spent 105 days in solitary confinement, accused of using her work as a cover for her involvement in an American conspiracy to overthrow the Iranian government. As Publishers Weekly explains, “Esfandiari weaves together strands of her family and professional life, the problematic and complex history of American-Iranian relations, along with a reasoned eyewitness account of being held as a political prisoner.”
A mother who lost her son to an infamous hate crime shares her story.
Matthew Shepard, the 21-year-old University of Wyoming student killed in a brutal hate crime, has become synonymous with the gay-rights movement in the last decade. Now Shepard’s mother, Judy, shares memories of her son and the impact of his loss. More than the story of a young man who became a household name and a symbol for a greater cause, the book is a mother’s tale of dealing with the loss of a child under horrific circumstances and the legacy his murder left behind on the legal system and the country’s view of intolerance and prejudice toward the gay community. Shepard is at her best, The San Francisco Chronicle says, “when she lets her guard down and speaks frankly, as a mother and an activist with a wincingly simple message, ‘Go home, give your kids a hug, and don’t let a day go by without telling them that you love them.’” In her son’s memory, Shepard is working to pass the Matthew Shepard Act, a bill to expand federal hate-crime laws to protect those, like her son, attacked on the basis of their sexual orientation or gender.
NurtureShock: New Thinking About Children by Po Bronson and Ashley Merryman
Precious parenting myths debunked.
Think that dishonesty in children is a bad thing? In NurtureShock: New Thinking About Children, journalists Po Bronson and Ashley Merryman show, among other things, that lying may be a sign of intelligence, social savvy, and an emerging identity. The authors, whose 2007 New York magazine article “ How Not to Talk to Your Kids” changed the way some parents talk to children, look at commonly held parental assumptions with a scientific eye. Why is it, they ask, that if 96 percent of kids think lying is morally wrong, 96 percent of kids still lie? And why do cross-racial friendships decrease in schools that are more integrated? NurtureShock, which Susan Dominus of The New York Times calls a “counterintuitive tour of psychological and scientific thinking about child rearing,” shows that many of our theories about parenting are seriously flawed.
Losing the News: The Future of the News That Feeds Democracyby Alex S. Jones
Democracy will be doomed if we continue to lose serious factual journalism.
If newspapers are in trouble, so is American democracy, argues Pulitzer Prize-winning author Alex S. Jones in his new book, Losing the News: The Future of the News That Feeds Democracy. Fact-based reporting is being pushed out by the pressures of online journalism, and without serious journalism there will be no one to hold the powerful accountable, to serve as a watchdog over the government, or to inform the public, Jones writes. As a result, he argues, our democracy will weaken—or even fail. However, Losing the News is not as gloomy as it sounds, as Jones presents a series of solutions about how to keep news-gathering intact. The book could serve as a rallying cry for the industry, warning journalists and the public not to continue to let standards slip. The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette calls it a “penetrating analysis of an industry in turmoil.