The Noonday Demon

“I cannot find it in me to regret entirely the course my life has taken. Every day, I choose, sometimes gamely and sometimes against the moment’s reason, to be alive. Is that not a rare joy?”

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I have just been through a monumental study of depression, via Andrew Solomon’s work of nonfiction, The Noonday Demon. And as I sit here, after an entire week of reading nothing but this, I have absolutely no idea where to even start. There is a part of me that just wants to quote the whole damn book…but I’ve already done mostly that on my tumblr page, so it would be redundant. It wouldn’t make for a very good review either, would it?

I am not typically a marker of books–it just isn’t a compulsion I have. But more than once…a dozen times at least…I had to sit on my hand as not to highlight quotes and mark all over the margins of this library copy of The Noonday Demon. It’s not a light read, and the subtitle An Atlas of Depression is extremely fitting. You will study this and take notes. I wouldn’t be surprised to see it on a college psych syllabus. Even though Solomon is not medically trained or licensed, the research is extremely thorough and he dives deep into the subject of depression.

I did find this book very wordy. Every paragraph is massive–full of not only Solomon’s thoughts, but also quotes and statistics. All are formatted into one giant block of text with no break or indentation, which makes it hard to discern who is providing the information–Solomon or third party, especially when it switches back and forth. The chapters are just as massive, 25-30 pages each. There are a few breaks within the chapters, but with so much text and information coming at you at once, it can get overwhelming at times.

However, as much information as there, it is all good and helpful information. If you ever need to read a book to remind you that your mental illness is not your fault–this is just the book. Solomon breaks down not just the history of mental illness discovery and treatment, but the very evolution behind our brains’ development and why we feel the way we do. He talks to several people suffering from depression throughout the book, and writes openly about his own breakdowns. The goal of The Noonday Demon is to reduce stigma surrounding mental illness through education, and this is a great tool for anyone willing to take a deep dive into depression.

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