Our members' book club runs four times a year. Mind members and staff share reviews of the books they have been reading and members can enter a prize draw to win copies of all the books that have been reviewed.
Elif Shafak’s How To Stay Sane In An Age Of Division is 90 pages long - small enough to post to a loved one as a large letter. You won’t find short platitudes in here. Read this little book if you want sincere engagement with big ideas.
The title is directive, but the writing isn’t. I was a little wary of the “how to stay sane” angle; when it comes to mental health, placing responsibility to “stay sane” on individuals within systems is something we see a lot. Read beyond the title, because Shafak tackles this powerfully. “Negative” emotions including anger, despair and anxiety are given space as legitimate responses to the world we are living in. Shafak reminds us to allow ourselves to feel these emotions, but not to let ourselves fall into destructive patterns.
Above all else, she reminds us to fight apathy, and actually listen to one another.
Poetic turns of phrase and clear, incisive language come together as something deeply resonant and very readable. Shafak’s own memories are interwoven with broader reflections on the pandemic, social media, the news cycle, education, multiple identities, and much more besides... In this year of quarantine and isolation, it can be hard to remember other people feel the way we do. This book is both a comforting reminder, and a call to action – listen, and keep caring.
Reviewer: Rachel, Trust and Statutory Assistant at Mind
Little Women was written by Louisa May Alcott in 1868. It is a classic novel written with girls in mind and graced my sister’s bookshelf in her teenage years.
The story follows the lives of Mrs March and her four daughters, Meg, Jo, Beth and Amy whose ages range from 16 to 12. Their absent father is chaplain to the Union army in the American Civil War which results in them living in reduced circumstances, or poverty as the girls put it, as Christmas is on the horizon but Santa Claus isn’t. They do have a live-in servant, Hannah, who is regarded as part of the family. Having a servant could be a sensitive issue given the time period and may be why Hannah’s status was emphasised.
Family, friendship, overcoming challenges and the transition from being a child to a young woman are familiar themes, and strongly represented in this tale.
There are some tensions in this page-turner of a story but these are appropriate to the target audience. The follow up book, Good Wives is a plot spoiler, but forms part of the highly acclaimed 2019 film directed by Greta Gerwig, which hopefully will encourage a new generation of readers.
Reviewer: Keith, Mind member
I regret that it has taken me so long to read this incredibly powerful and eye opening book. Although Malorie Blackman wrote Noughts and Crosses for a younger audience, I think this is a book which is accessible to all ages, and still so relevant today, twenty years later.
Noughts and Crosses challenges your thinking about race in an extraordinary way, providing insight into the fictional lives of Noughts (inferior white citizens in a society controlled by the black Crosses), and Crosses, which bear resemblance to society in a number of countries around the globe.
The book centres around two teenagers, Callum (a Nought) and Sephy (a Cross), and the developmental of their friendship into love, which is fraught with challenges belonging to different races.
What I most enjoyed about this book is that you are forced to see the world through different lenses, and truly understand some of the practices which occurred and still occur today in our society.
I would urge everyone to read this book, if you want to develop your knowledge about race, this is a perfect book to use as a starting point. You’ll want to keep reading as you realise things you never thought about before.
Reviewer: Kate, Equality Improvement Officer at Mind
** Content warning: This book contains descriptions of depression **
Fans of Denise Welch don’t just love the Mind ambassador for her acting on stage and screen, but for her honesty and willingness to share her very personal problems. Last year she shared a candid set of videos on her social media accounts detailing a bout of moderate depression, and now she’s written a self-help-cum-memoir about the mental health problems she’s lived with for over thirty years.
The Unwelcome Visitor begins with Denise’s extremely harrowing experience of post-natal depression, and goes on to recount a lifetime of living with what she calls “her unwelcome visitor,” bouts of poor mental health that seemingly come on without warning and which she describes as hormonal and endemic.
Of particular interest was the final chapter of the book which is full of contributions from Denise's family and friends on how they've learnt to support her over the years. Too many people caring for someone with a mental health problem are left to flounder, and the illuminating experiences and tips of her nearest-and-dearest could make an ideal conversation starter if you're struggling to talk to a loved one about your depression.
If you’re looking for a celebrity memoir peppered with showbiz titbits, you aren’t going to find it here. Instead, Denise presents comforting, no-nonsense practical advice, written with warmth that truly makes the reader feel they’re having a chat over a cup of tea with a friend.
Reviewer: Victoria, Senior Media Officer at Mind
Members can enter the our draw for a chance to win a free copy of one of the books included in our book club. All you have to do is click on the button below and fill out the prize draw form telling us which book you would like to win.
The closing date for entry to the free prize draw is two weeks from the date our book club email was sent to members. The prize draw will take place within two weeks of the closing date for entry. Winners will be selected at random. Prize draw entry is restricted to UK residents who are Mind members. Mind employees and their immediate families may not apply, nor may anyone else directly associated with the competition. In case of the winner being under 18 the prize will need to be claimed by a parent or guardian.
If you have any questions, please contact the membership team via email at [email protected] or by telephone on 0208 215 2243.
You can also catch up with all of the past reviews in our members book club archive.
Do you have another book you'd like to recommend? Are you interested in writing a review to let your fellow Mind members know what you thought of it? Email us at [email protected]