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4.3 out of 5 stars
4.3 out of 5 stars
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on 7 April 2017
as always, marya delivers fantastically, can't believe i'd never read it. her writing is so rich and vivid and manic, it spills from the page so effortlessly. never found a writer quite like marya, and i wish she would write more!
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on 11 November 2009
Just finished madness. A really gripping read, just as when reading Wasted (MH's first bosk), I found myself awake at 3.30 am with the book and my mini-bright light under the duvet reading like a teenager.

In reading Madness I got a sense of excitement, and a little trepidation as the time-line got closer to the present as the narrative really drew me in leaving me itching to find out where Marya (the author) got to and what happened to her.

This is a wonderful read for anyone interested in the effects of compulsion and the ineffectiveness of the intellect - the self - in dealing with lifes problems. Also anyone interested in how someone struggling with Bipolar can be both ill, friendly, tremendously productive, warm and also mad at the same time.

The book wrestles with the issues of Bipolar whilst telling a really personal and interesting story about the authors fight with the illness.

It is a compelling read and I would highly recommend it.
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on 13 April 2010
I really enjoyed this. In fact, I enjoyed it a lot more than I expected to. I guess the problem with reading an autobiography that deals with something you've experienced yourself is that you go into it with different expectations to other books. After some disappointing memoirs in the past I usually go in with a rather pessimistic view - that it'll be okay but it just won't hit the mark, somehow. Unfortunately the nature of many mental disorders is such that memoirs can be very disjointed and relentlessly harrowing, whether deliberately or otherwise, which makes it harder to 'get into' and distances the reader from the story. I always HOPE that I'll really connect with the book and the author, that I'll find parts that I relate to, and that I'll come away liking and respecting the author for the way they've voiced their experiences.

Anyway, this one did what I wanted it to. It had its disjointed moments, it had its moments of utter, well, madness - but to my great joy Hornbacher kept this at a level where it deftly illustrated the mania and the psychosis she was experiencing, but didn't detract from the flow of the book and the building picture the reader was getting of Marya, her life, and the friends and family helping her along the way. Other reviews have pointed out the overlap between 'Madness' and 'Wasted', but given how closely her bipolar and eating disorders intertwined with each other at certain points, it would have been difficult to separate them completely.

All in all, the memoir reads as a journey, not from madness to sanity, but a journey from a wild place to one of growing wisdom and maturity, acceptance and hope. There was a fair bit that I could relate to, despite every person's experiences being so different, and as I read I just got the impression that Hornbacher is a very genuine, self-aware and intelligent woman - which isn't always the case ('Passing for Normal''s Amy Wilensky - I mean you). She writes with humour and sparkle which stops her story feeling too self-involved and introspective. And a final nice touch: the end of the book has a useful and informative section comprising lists of helpful organisations and websites for everyone from sufferers to families to the interested public, bipolar facts and figures, and an extensive bibliography which I've perused with some interest! Recommended - and if you like this one, I'd also highly recommend Kay Redfield Jamison's 'An Unquiet Mind' which is truly a classic among bipolar memoirs.
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on 15 September 2009
This book was fab a really good informative read telling the truth o bipolar at times it jumps about a bit but thats the nature of the illness and so u get a real feel for just how bad things can get with bipolar.
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VINE VOICEon 18 August 2008
I had read Marya Hornbacher's previous memoir Wasted, where she describes her experiences with anorexia and bulimia, so I picked up Madness with high expectations. As someone with personal experience of eating disorders and bipolar disorder, Hornbacher's writing resonates with me. However I think Madness goes deeper than being merely a memoir, and reveals Hornbacher's considerable talent as a writer. She structures her narrative in a sometimes disjointed way (moving through time and episodes) that really allows the reader a real insight into her experiences with bipolar.

Ultimately this book has a lot to say about living well, not just surviving with mental illness and, I think, does a lot to break the stigma surrounding bipolar disorder. However, Hornbacher's experience of learning to love and accept herself makes a humbling read for anyone, not just bipolar sufferers.
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on 13 November 2011
The five stars are for the author's honesty.

I would give minus 5, if I could, for the person who designed the sensationalist book cover. For anyone who just looks at the cover of the book it gives a very damaging impression and only encourages the general public to misunderstand and further stigmatise us.

One in forty adults in the UK has bipolar disorder. Many of us are high-functioning and taking our meds, and unless it is very severe, or we self-medicate too much, we do not look or act 'mad'. Unless we are truly crazy, powerful or famous, we are mad to disclose our diagnosis outside our close circle of friends. I wish it was not that way, but it is. Books like this do not encourage me to be completely open about being bipolar.

Try Kay Redfield Jamison's books if you want a deeper look into bipolar disorder.
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on 28 June 2015
Unputdownable. As I read this I thought of my friend, who is both anorexic and bipolar, and it really helped me understand some of her stranger excesses, anxieties and moods, so I am grateful for that. I cannot give this 5 starts as it is hard not to sometimes feel that the graphic details (self harm and descriptions of being very thin) are described with some pride (I know, I've been there and felt a little guilty pride in doing the same when retelling my extreme behaviours). Mind you, it is almost impossible to write about these things without coming across that way, its the nature of the beast. It is amazing Marya managed to produce the great writing that she has though, despite all this, and so vividly.
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on 16 August 2012
At first the language used in the book really annoyed me - short sentences with lots of information in each. Reminded me of someone going through a highs' writing. I however believe it was intentional - to make the reader get a sensation of what she feels like during a high. When I was on a high myself, the writing language suited me perfectly well!
The book is really good. She describes the ups and downs of bipolar excellently and honestly. The book is serious, gives plenty of information about bipolar and it's even funny at times. You really feel with her. Would definitely recommend!
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on 9 September 2016
it just feels like she wrote a book to emphasis just how much she suffers more than the average sufferer of mental illness, her personality leaves a bad taste and she comes across self obsessed and highly unlikable
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on 16 April 2009
I have read 'Wasted' numerous times and for me 'Madness...' falls a bit short. I *loved* Mayra's writing in Wasted, but somehow Madness seemed rather contrived... I can't quite put my finger on it. It wasn't just that it was an uncomfortable read, which it absolutely and unsurprisingly was, it just wasn't as well written I didn't think. Perhaps partly because it covered some of the same ground as Wasted, I just don't know. I do wish Mayra all the very very best though, she is an amazing woman.
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