Turn off Netflix and pick up one of these books.
After traveling to Haiti to cover the 2010 earthquake, human-rights reporter and former Bay Area local Mac McClelland found herself struggling with PTSD, reliving the constant physical and sexual violence she witnessed, unable to sleep or stop crying. Her memoir, Irritable Hearts: A PTSD Love Story, dives into the research behind PTSD, explaining its hold on our brains and what we might be able to do to lessen it. But it's also a romance, exploring how McClelland fought desperately to overcome her trauma in order to make a life with the kind, compassionate French soldier she'd fallen for during her time in Haiti.
Issues of religious faith have been the centerpiece of innumerable books, but Victoria Zackheim's Faith is unique in that it brings together essays by not only the traditional faithful (including Christians, Muslims, and Jews), but also those who are agnostics, atheists, or even have faith in less-traditional spiritual paths, including astrology and quantum physics. The book features 24 essays from a wide variety of writers; at the book's Bay Area readings, Zackheim will appear with contributors Anne Perry, David Corbett, Aviva Layto, and Barbara Graham.
Matt Sumell's funny, powerful Making Nice is a novel in stories about Alby, an utter trainwreck of a man who's just lost his mother. Struggling with all manner of anger issues and a violent personality, he's prone to fits of rage in which he'll punch anything at hand, up to and including a microwave and his sister's face. Trying to make sense of his loss without the help of his insensitive, alcoholic father, he leads himself down all kinds of misguided paths. It might sound like a real downer, but Sumell's surehanded writing makes Alby both fascinating and perversely rootable, not to mention darkly hilarious.
Appearances: Green Apple Books (9th Ave.), 2/24