Only When I Laugh

Non-fiction titles about people facing life's greatest hurts - catastrophe, calamity, illness, reversal of fortune and death - with clarity, wit, and above all, humor.

The Girl's Guide to Homelessness: A Memoir

By Brianna Karp

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Karp delivers a heartwrenching and darkly funny memoir about her experience becoming homeless after losing her corporate job in the Great Recession.

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Imagining Robert: My Brother, Madness, and Survival

By Robert Neugeboren

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"This heart-rending and ultimately uplifting memoir tells the story of two brothers - one a prize-winning novelist; the other an extraordinarily witty, intelligent man who has suffered the ravages of chronic mental illness for more than three decades - and how their love for one another has enabled them not only to survive, but to thrive in miraculous, surprising ways. In the literature of mental illness, Imagining Robert is the first book to tell us what it is like for the millions of families who must cope over the course of a lifetime with a problem for which, most of the time, there is no solution.

"This is a memoir by one man of another man's life - a brutally honest, deeply tender tale without a familiar (or predictable) happy ending. It gives us something better: an unforgettable story of two brothers that heartens by showing us how even the grimmest of lives can be sustained and graced by the power of love."

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Here's the Deal, Don't Touch Me

By Howie Mandel with Josh Young

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"A frank, funny, no-holds-barred memoir that reveals the Deal or No Deal host's ongoing struggle with OCD and ADHD-and how it has shaped his life and career. Now, for the first time, he reveals the details of his struggle with these challenging disorders. He catalogs his numerous fears and neuroses and shares entertaining stories about how he has tried to integrate them into his act. 'If I'm making myself laugh,' he writes, "then I'm distracted from all the other things going on in my head that are, at times, torturous." And he speaks frankly and honestly about the ways his condition has affected his personal life-as a son, husband, and father of three."

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Food and Loathing: A Lament

By Betsy Lerner

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"Never before Food and Loathing has the intimate relationship between mood swings and food swings been so honestly chronicled. As a bright but chubby girl, Betsy Lerner believed that thinness was the key to success with friends and boys. By junior high, she had precisely divided the world of food into two camps: the dietetic and the forbidden. Becoming a member of the then-fledgling Overeaters Anonymous, she formed a cult-like devotion to the program and lost fifty pounds in a matter of months, only to gain it all back and more. 'I am powerless over Hostess cakes,' she writes, 'and my life has become unmanageable.'"

"Her twenties are marked by yo-yo dieting, depressive episodes, and a sadistic shrink who dubs her 'the boy who cried wolf.' Then, just as Lerner begins to realize her dream of becoming a writer, entering Columbia's prestigious MFA program, she spirals into a suicidal depression and lands at New York State Psychiatric Institute. There, a young doctor helps her take her first steps toward selfhood and unraveling the dual legacy of compulsion and depression."

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Expecting Adam

By Martha Beck

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"From the moment Martha and her husband, John, accidentally conceived their second child, all hell broke loose. They were a couple obsessed with success...They had two Harvard degrees apiece and were gunning for more...When their unborn son, Adam, was diagnosed with Down syndrome, doctors, advisers, and friends in the Harvard community warned them that if they decided to keep the baby, they would lose all hope of achieving their carefully crafted goals. Fortunately, that's exactly what happened."

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Electroboy: A Memoir of Mania

By Andy Behrman

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"An emotionally frenzied memoir that reveals with kaleidoscopic intensity the terrifying world of manic depression. For years Andy Behrman hid his raging mania behind a larger-than-life personality. He…changed jobs the way some people change outfits...But when he turned to art forgery, he found himself the subject of a scandal lapped up by the New York media, then incarcerated, then under house arrest. And for the first time the golden boy didn't have a ready escape hatch from his unraveling life."

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Daughter of the Queen of Sheba

By Jacki Lyden

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As a foreign correspondent for National Public Radio, Lyden has spent her adult life on the frontlines in some of the most dangerous war zones in the world. Her childhood was a war zone of a different kind. Her mother suffered from what we now call manic-depression; when Jacki was a child in a small Midwestern town, her mother was simply called crazy.

Also available on audio.

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A Million Little Pieces

By James Frey

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When he entered a residential treatment center at the age of twenty-three, James Frey had destroyed his body and his mind almost beyond repair. He faced a stark choice: accept that he wasn't going to see twenty-four or step into the fallout of his smoking wreck of a life and take drastic action.

Also available on audio. The sequel, My Friend Leonard, is available as an eBook.

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A Heartbreaking Work of Staggering Genius

By Dave Eggers

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"The literary sensation of the year, a book that redefines both family and narrative for the twenty-first century. A Heartbreaking Work of Staggering Genius is the moving memoir of a college senior who, in the space of five weeks, loses both of his parents to cancer and inherits his eight-year-old brother. Here is an exhilarating debut that manages to be simultaneously hilarious and wildly inventive as well as a deeply heartfelt story of the love that holds a family together."

Also available on audio.

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Running with Scissors: A Memoir

By Augusten Burroughs

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The true story of a boy whose mother (a poet with delusions of Anne Sexton) gave him away to be raised by her unorthodox psychiatrist who bore a striking resemblance to Santa Claus. So at the age of twelve, Burroughs found himself amidst Victorian squalor living with the doctor's bizarre family, and befriending a pedophile who resided in the backyard shed.

Also available on audio.

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