Today Kim is bringing you a video review of the coffee table book Asylum: Inside the Closed World of State Mental Hospitals with photography by Christopher J.Payne and an essay by Oliver Sacks.
Asylum: Inside the Closed World of State Mental Hospitals
Photographer: Christopher J. Payne
Published: September 4, 2009
Reviewed By: Kim
Kim’s Rating: 5 stars
For more than half the nation’s history, vast mental hospitals were a prominent feature of the American landscape. From the mid-nineteenth century to the early twentieth, over 250 institutions for the insane were built throughout the United States; by 1948, they housed more than a half million patients.
The blueprint for these hospitals was set by Pennsylvania hospital superintendent Thomas Story Kirkbride: a central administration building flanked symmetrically by pavilions and surrounded by lavish grounds with pastoral vistas.
Kirkbride and others believed that well-designed buildings and grounds, a peaceful environment, a regimen of fresh air, and places for work, exercise, and cultural activities would heal mental illness. But in the second half of the twentieth century, after the introduction of psychotropic drugs and policy shifts toward community-based care, patient populations declined dramatically, leaving many of these beautiful, massive buildings–and the patients who lived in them–neglected and abandoned.
Architect and photographer Christopher Payne spent six years documenting the decay of state mental hospitals like these, visiting seventy institutions in thirty states. Through his lens we see splendid, palatial exteriors (some designed by such prominent architects as H. H. Richardson and Samuel Sloan) and crumbling interiors–chairs stacked against walls with peeling paint in a grand hallway; brightly colored toothbrushes still hanging on a rack; stacks of suitcases, never packed for the trip home.
Accompanying Payne’s striking and powerful photographs is an essay by Oliver Sacks (who described his own experience working at a state mental hospital in his book Awakenings). Sacks pays tribute to Payne’s photographs and to the lives once lived in these places, “where one could be both mad and safe.”
Kim’s Video Review:
Author: Robert Harris
Published: November 22, 2016
Reviewed By: Kim
Kim’s Rating: 5 stars
The Pope is dead.
Behind the locked doors of the Sistine Chapel, one hundred and eighteen cardinals from all over the globe will cast their votes in the world’s most secretive election.
They are holy men. But they have ambition. And they have rivals.
Over the next seventy-two hours one of them will become the most powerful spiritual figure on earth.
Robert Harris has reawakened my love of tiny details. Normally I’m not that detail oriented with anything in real life, but you offer to take me on an hour by hour tour of the actions of Chamberlain at Munich or, in this case of the College of Cardinals picking a new Pope, then you bet your booty I’m gonna say yes while jumping up and down and feeling out in my pants. I acknowledge that a book about the Conclave is probably not that appealing to most, and certainly not to Catholics. If there’s anything I learned from this book, it’s that very little within the Vatican has to do with religion and politics play a bigger role in Conclave than the Holy Spirit. Since I’m not a Catholic, I wasn’t offended by anything I read, however, I wouldn’t recommend this to any Catholics.
There were certain things that I thought were relatively predictable so at first I was feeling smug that I had figured it all out barely halfway through. But then I got to the end, where I realized that I had been so distracted by the predictable, that I completely missed the twist. And oh what a twist! I really liked this book and I’d recommend it to any who love those little nitty gritty details of culture and history.
Author: Jessica Simpson
Narrator: Jessica Simpson
Published: February 4, 2020
Reviewed By: Jessica
Dates Read: January 1-9, 2021
Jessica’s Rating: 5 stars
Jessica reveals for the first time her inner monologue and most intimate struggles. Guided by the journals she’s kept since age fifteen, and brimming with her unique humor and down-to-earth humanity, Open Book is as inspiring as it is entertaining.
This was supposed to be a very different book. Five years ago, Jessica Simpson was approached to write a motivational guide to living your best life. She walked away from the offer, and nobody understood why. The truth is that she didn’t want to lie.
Jessica couldn’t be authentic with her readers if she wasn’t fully honest with herself first.
Now, America’s Sweetheart, preacher’s daughter, pop phenomenon, reality tv pioneer, and the billion-dollar fashion mogul invites readers on a remarkable journey, examining a life that blessed her with the compassion to help others but also burdened her with an almost crippling need to please. Open Book is Jessica Simpson using her voice, heart, soul, and humor to share things she’s never shared before.
First celebrated for her voice, she became one of the most talked-about women in the world, whether for music and fashion, her relationship struggles, or as a walking blonde joke. But now, instead of being talked about, Jessica is doing the talking. Her book shares the wisdom and inspirations she’s learned and shows the real woman behind all the pop-culture cliché’s — “chicken or fish,” “Daisy Duke,” “football jinx,” “mom jeans,” “sexual napalm…” and more. Open Book is an opportunity to laugh and cry with a close friend, one that will inspire you to live your best, most authentic life, now that she is finally living hers.
First, I must say I am not a fan of Jessica Simpson’s music. I have seen parts of her Newlyweds show with then husband Nick Lachey, and seen the tabloids in the grocery store. What made me decide to listen to her memoir is that we do have some things in common, and more than I originally thought when I started her memoir: We have the same first name and now both have the same legal last name, we were both born the same year (1980, myself in April and her in July) , we both met our husbands the same year (2010), we are both from the south (Georgia for me and Texas for her) and have body issues in regard to our ample bosoms.
I chose to listen to the audiobook version which is narrated by Jessica herself. Listening to her candidness you feel like you know her as the person she is. She is very frank with her dependency issues dealing with pills, alcohol, and men. Now knowing all about her, Jessica feels like a friend you can totally open up with and not be judged.
As she was growing up she was definitely challenged by other famous young singers in her age group who were always seemingly one step ahead of her. Jessica unsuccessfully tried out for the Mickey Mouse Club. I enjoyed hearing about this time in her life because she met some other famous celebrities before they became who they now are.
I had no idea how extremely religious she was and still is. Her faith is a very strong part of her, and she has been tested throughout her life. Imagine as a teenager already with body issues trying to sing to celebrate the Lord, but then be told you can’t wear a particular outfit because of how it makes you look (and the outfits were tame!)
Jessica is open yet not negatively focusing on her relationships with men, from choosing to remain a virgin until she married Nick Lachey, an emotional affair with Johnny Knoxville while filming the Dukes of Hazzard, to the extremely toxic relationship with John Mayer (Douche!), and also her relationship with Tony Romo and current husband Eric Johnson.
This is a memoir that opens your eyes to a particular celebrity and definitely shows the person she is, has become, and what she has accomplished in her life thus far (her fashion line). I feel I know Jessica now and would love to talk and hang out with her. As I was listening to the book that is how it felt: That you were hanging out, catching up, and talking with a long lost friend.
If you are a fan of Simpson’s then this memoir is must read, and even if you are not a fan, like me it is also a memoir you must read. There are also some new songs that are played that came apart of writing this memoir. Jessica honestly and with lots of heart put her story out there for us to learn about who she truly is.
Open Book is recommended.
And Happy First Book Birthday to Jessica and Open Book! It has been one year from when this memoir was first published![Top]