What We’re Reading at CUCS
January 2, 2020

Here at CUCS, we’re thrilled for any opportunity to learn and grow. Of course, one of the best ways to do so is by diving into a good book. So, we asked our staff to recommend some great reads in their areas of expertise.

From mental illness to poverty, these books give insight into the experiences of the individuals with whom we work, as well as larger systemic challenges. Whether you’re a social worker or simply someone wanting to expand your horizons, these reads offer a chance to explore fresh perspectives and dig deep into the topics they cover.

We hope these books will make the perfect addition to your reading list for the new year. Happy reading!

The Collected Schizophrenias by Esmé Weijun Wang

One of the most effective ways I have found to develop my capacity to empathize with people living with serious mental illness is to read people’s accounts of their own experiences. The Collected Schizophrenias is the best memoir about lived experience I’ve ever read. Ms. Wang has provided not only a vivid description of her illness, but has also shined a light on how the people around her have reacted to her, both supportively and hurtfully, in different situations.

Dr. Van Yu, Chief Medical Officer

Elderhood: Redefining Age, Transforming Medicine by Louise Aronson, MD

This book is a good resource for anyone working with older clients. Written by a physician who has spent her entire career working with older people, it provides a comprehensive look at the way our society views and addresses aging and includes a strong focus on the healthcare industry.

Joe DeGenova, Associate Executive Director

9 Highland Road by Michael Winerip

9 Highland Road captures the complexities of the very mentally ill residents in an honest and compassionate way. The book speaks of the challenges and daily struggles endured, while also honoring the resilience of the people who live in the group home. I especially liked how the author made sure to include humor where appropriate; the residents referring to the medication room as “Club Med” shows that the mentally ill can, and often do, have full lives.

— Desirée Lopez, Program Director, Park House

Grand Central Winter: Stories from the Street by Lee Stringer

I like this memoir written from first-hand experience. This book offers insight into to the day to day activities of being homeless in NYC, the impact of substance use, poverty, class and racial inequity from the perspective of those impacted directly. The story is an expression of survival, resilience, community, and recovery, that I think humanizes the experience of homelessness. We sometimes forget that our clients are whole people with rich stories that should be told and that should inform how we think and how we serve street homeless individuals.

— Abbey Nyamekye,
Deputy Chief Program Officer

The Center Cannot Hold by Elyn R. Saks

Dr. Saks writes about her own experience with schizophrenia. The story is a great example of someone living a full and satisfying life while having a severe mental health issue. She goes into the different therapies and medications she’s used over the years and talks extensively about the value of support from friends and loved ones.

— James Holmes, Director of the Academy for Justice-Informed Practice