A Very Bookish Mental Health Week

Next week is Mental Health Awareness week. As a result, I thought I would write about my own experiences dealing with my mental health. And mixed in I will have book recommendations for novels (mostly YA) that deal amazingly with mental health.

I grew up in a household where mental illness was common knowledge. I always knew that my sister, 10 years my senior, struggled with mental illness. I didn’t realize until later that my father did as well. When I was around 8 or 9 my parent’s did try and “shield” me from the worst of my sisters cycles. At that point she was going on 19, diagnosed bi-polar (still the label at the time), and about to enter what we now refer to as her “dark years.” Mostly because she doesn’t really remember what happened during those years. My belief as to why they hid it from me was I was in a “copying Kate” phase. I think the worry was I would intentionally try and be like her, even in her depressive cycles.

When We CollidedWe are seventeen and shattered and still dancing. We have messy, throbbing hearts, and we are stronger than anyone could ever know…
Jonah never thought a girl like Vivi would come along.
Vivi didn’t know Jonah would light up her world.
Neither of them expected a summer like this…a summer that would rewrite their futures.
In an unflinching story about new love, old wounds, and forces beyond our control, two teens find that when you collide with the right person at just the right time, it will change you forever.

Fast forward about 5 years. I was a sophomore in high school when the anxiety started really kicking in. The feeling like I wouldn’t ever fit in. My friends joked that I was like the chameleon. Every day at lunch I would hang out with a different friend group. Constantly worrying that if I spent too much time with one group they would realize just how out of place I was. That I didn’t really work with them. So I jumped from group to group and never let anyone get too close. That became my norm.

Turtles all the way downSixteen-year-old Aza never intended to pursue the mystery of fugitive billionaire Russell Pickett, but there’s a hundred-thousand-dollar reward at stake and her Best and Most Fearless Friend, Daisy, is eager to investigate. So together, they navigate the short distance and broad divides that separate them from Russell Pickett’s son, Davis.
Aza is trying. She is trying to be a good daughter, a good friend, a good student, and maybe even a good detective, while also living within the ever-tightening spiral of her own thoughts.

The thoughts I had about myself seemed completely normal to me. “Maren, you are so ugly.” “Maren, you are so fat.” “There is no way that guy would like you, look at the all the way prettier and skinnier girls that are in this show too.” “Why would they possibly invite you out? You are so boring.” Every day these thoughts would swirl through my brain. No matter how many times I had friends that would ask me to sit with them, or go out with them on weekends, the thoughts persisted. By my senior year in high school these thoughts were part of how I lived. I didn’t realize that they were part of a mental illness. I completely believed them to be true.

In college the anxiety worsened, and the depression that had been simmering for years on the back-burner started to boil. No matter what I did, the thoughts and worries began increasing. My personal life took a serious toll. I never let anyone get close enough to do more than a first date. Friends left, either because I pushed them away or because they legitimately sucked. My family went through a significant downfall (this one luckily figured itself out after many months). Because of everything I couldn’t keep a lid on the depression anymore.

But I did.

For years and years I compartmentalized everything in my life. Every few months I would go through, what I referred to as, my compartments “busting open.” For a few days or a week all the self control I had would be decimated. I would avoid contact with everyone, going on a hermitage. I didn’t have interest in anything I loved. All I could do was binge watch TV and go to the beach to stare at the ocean.

Fast forward 8 more years. My ability to maintain control on the anxiety and depression has deteriorated significantly. I “break” far more often. I promise those around me that I will get help, but I never do. I promised my father that I would follow his recent example and finally get the help I deserved. Not only for me, but for those around me that loved me. A couple of months later, I hadn’t followed through on that promise, and my father died suddenly of a heart attack. The next few months were a blur of emotions. By September I had, unknowingly, slipped so much further down than I ever had in my life.

They Both Die at the EndOn September 5, a little after midnight, Death-Cast calls Mateo Torrez and Rufus Emeterio to give them some bad news: They’re going to die today.
Mateo and Rufus are total strangers, but, for different reasons, they’re both looking to make a new friend on their End Day. The good news: There’s an app for that. It’s called the Last Friend, and through it, Rufus and Mateo are about to meet up for one last great adventure—to live a lifetime in a single day.



The wake-up call came during one of my late night runs. I had taken to running at 10 o’clock at night, which came with it’s own dangerous behavior. I collapsed at my 2 mile mark in the middle of a park and thought to myself “Gods, this would be such much easier if I was just dead.” That thought scared the shit out of me. Through all the years of battling depression I never once went to a suicidal place. It was a point of (ridiculous) pride for me. But here I was, wishing I was dead. And I didn’t just think it once, I thought about it a lot, over several weeks. I scared the shit out of my best friend, who felt so upset that he was all the way across the country and couldn’t help me. I scared my sister. I scared my husband. So, in honor of my dad, I finally did it. I made an appointment with my doctor to get a referral for a psychiatrist. The first step of many. My psychiatrist put me on medication and it seemed to get so much better, after a month of insane side effects.

13 Reasons Why.jpgYou can’t stop the future.
You can’t rewind the past.
The only way to learn the secret . . . is to press play.
Clay Jensen returns home from school to find a strange package with his name on it lying on his porch. Inside he discovers several cassette tapes recorded by Hannah Baker–his classmate and crush–who committed suicide two weeks earlier. Hannah’s voice tells him that there are thirteen reasons why she decided to end her life. Clay is one of them. If he listens, he’ll find out why.
Clay spends the night crisscrossing his town with Hannah as his guide. He becomes a firsthand witness to Hannah’s pain, and as he follows Hannah’s recorded words throughout his town, what he discovers changes his life forever.

Two weeks ago my multiple jobs became a little busier, and my anxiety/depression began to skyrocket without my realizing it. I was working 80 hours a week and sleeping 3ish hours a night. Until 4 days ago. I had a day long panic attack. I spent the day crying and hyperventilating at random intervals, shaking, a million thoughts racing through my head all at once. Until that night when my husband and my mother rushed me to the ER because they were sure I was going to pass out from erratic breathing. Doctors and nurses kept coming in to ask me if I had a “plan” for suicide. They were taking away my phone (which for me is a big deal), talking about putting me on a 72 hour hold, and I had no control over what was happening. Needless to say this didn’t help the anxiety. Luckily, the ER psychiatrist finally determined I was not a danger to myself or others, so they let me go.

Over the past few days since then, my family has forced me to give up commitments. To get myself down to a 40 hour work week (or as close as I could manage on such short notice).

My struggle with mental illness is far from over. But that is exactly what it is. An illness. And this illness is something I can fight, as long as I have the strength to make myself do so. I hear some people say “Being sad is a choice.” I say, fuck that. For those with depression and other mental illnesses being sad isn’t a “choice.” But I can amend the statement. Doing everything I can to fight the sad, that is a choice. And it is the choice I am taking every day.


April Wrap-Up!

As I mentioned in one of my most recent blogs I am just getting back into reading. As a result I haven’t read a ton of books this month by my old standards, but I did get back into the swing of it! Hopefully I will be able to write reviews of these too, or at least some of them. 🙂

Books read in April:
Stalking Jack the Ripper
Stalking Jack the Ripper
  • Review to come 🙂
Always and Forever, Lara Jean
Always and Forever, Lara Jean
  • I loved this book! 4.5/5
The Season
The Season
  • Fun retelling of Pride & Prejudice
Obsidio (currently reading)
  • Review of the entire series to come when I finish this last book!



The Real Deal

Where I’ve been.


Look, I’ll be the first to admit I wasn’t the most prolific of book bloggers. Hell, I was easily bottom of the barrel as far as views went. But, like a lot of us, I don’t blog for the readership numbers. I blogged about books because of how much I love reading. How much a good story could drag me in, nestle in my heart, and stay there for a few hours or a few days.

So why did I stop reviewing? I could easily spin some bullshit excuse about how life got busy, and I didn’t have time to commit to it. But, in actuality, I stopped reading. Why would I stop reading, you might ask. Well, it all started 10 1/2 months ago when my father died.

I was 28 when my mother called me and told me that my father had had a heart attack, driven himself to the hospital (typical), and was in the ER. I’ll spare you the details of my family going through varying stages of emotion, but within 72 hours (seriously..? wow that’s insane), my father had passed away after a triple bypass surgery that he had never really woken up from. The shock was immeasurable. Dad was a giant of a man, but, more to the point, he was where I developed a love and a passion for reading. Growing up in my house was wonderful because both my parents filled our lives with books. Movies, games, ect were harder to get our parents to buy, but my sister and I could always count on our parents splurging on some books for us. Dad taught English at a local Jesuit high school since before I was born. Which mostly translated to my being the only 9 year old I knew who had read Dune by Frank Herbert, various William Faulkner short stories, and was trudging her way through Moby Dick.

So how does this have any bearing whatsoever on why I stopped reading? I quickly discovered that reading, my once glorious escape from the world and the demons in my head, was causing me pain. Every time I tried to read I would think of Dad and break down. It didn’t take long for me to stop trying all-together. My husband tried encouraging me to just pick up books and start, to no avail. My best friend then decided that not reading was no longer an option. He took it into his own hands and said if I wouldn’t read to myself then I would read to him. Over the next few months I slowly read him Pride & Prejudice over the phone/discord. Not only did it help my slump, but it was a way for him and I to keep in contact while he was away at school. And when I really didn’t feel up for reading my books, he would read to me. Together we worked our way through P&P, several volumes of The Sandman Graphic Novels, and a good chunk of book 4 or 5 in The Expanse series.

I don’t think he’ll ever really understand how much of an impact these read-togethers had on my soul. To an outside observer, my inability to really read might have not been that odd. But, for me, it was like I was in a constant fog. It took ages to me to realize the true problem I was having with books. My imagination was gone. 90% of what I would read fell in the Fantasy and/or Science Fiction genre. As one might imagine, reading books that fell in that category is somewhat difficult if you do not possess the ability to create that world in your head. When my father died, my ability to fantasize about other world died along with him. Or at least went into a long slumber. Reading with my best friend slowly brought that part of me back to life. I will always treasure those moments with him, and I know we will continue the tradition for many years to come.

So, now where am I? Well, I still live an insanely busy life in the theatre world. But I still managed to read 3 books in the last week. Although, to be fair, a good part of that probably has to do with my being sick for the last 48 hours. But, I enjoy reading again. Contemporary is easier for me to do on my own, since the world is already built in the one I live in. But I just burned through Illuminae by Amie Kaufman and Jay Kristoff in a day, so I’m hoping that is a shard of light. Hopefully I can get a review up for it in the next day or so, unless I wait and do a full trilogy review.

I’m not even sure if anyone will read this. But, like I said, I’m doing this for me. And this girl wants to get her nose back in a book.

Love, Maren

Book Funsies, Random

Through the bookish glass


How long have you been a blogger?

Technically on this blog only for like 2 months. My sister currently has a Nancy Drew focused blog that I sometimes do guest reviews on. Our goal is to go through all the Nancy Drew novels and write reviews for all of them. She called it The Nancy Drew Project. It has taken a little bit of a back burner quality since she brought a tiny girl human into the world though J

At what point do you think you will stop?

I don’t know if there is an easy way to answer that. Presently this blog is for me, and my book minded friends. I am thoroughly doing it and don’t believe I will be stopping anytime soon. That being said I could see myself stopping simply if it does not become enjoyable anymore. Like with any hobby, once it becomes a chore and you no longer have fun then should you really be doing it? (Obviously that changes if it is your source of income)


What is the best thing?

My decision to join the Book Blogging community stemmed from my love of reading others’ blogs. For 8 years I worked at a Barnes & Noble so I never had an issue being exposed to different books, new books, and old titles waiting to be discovered. But since leaving to follow my passion, technical theatre, it became harder and harder to keep up on book releases and what was going on with authors. I didn’t have the luxury of “cover shopping” when new books in and reading hundreds of dust jackets until I found books I knew I would like. That is when I turned to the bookstagram community and, consequently, this community. So, in short ;), the best thing is meeting new people here, and learning about new books!

What is the worst thing? What do you do to make it okay?

The hardest part for me is trying to balance all the aspects of my life. I have a job at a school in the theatre program, I run my own Etsy business, I’m trying to build up a successful bookstagram, and now I’m trying to get myself into the book blogging community. Two of those things rely on one thing: reading. With all of those interests, plus having a happy marriage that involves a lot of video games, I often don’t carve out enough time to actually read. Which is the thing that I love most of all, and never seem to have enough time to do.

How long does it take you to create/find pictures to use?

So far my photos have been book covers that I have pulled for optimum resolution. But in the future I will most likely be pulling photos from my bookstagram. And that involves big photoshoots on the weekends, usually with the aid (or hindrance) of 1 of our 3 cats.


Who is your book crush?

Ummmm Valek Ixia is my number one book boyfriend/book husband. I love him soooo much J A close runner up would be Jesse de Silva in Meg Cabot’s the mediator series. He can call me querida any day!

What author would you like to have on your blog?

I’m going to go ahead and agree with my friend Bree at thebookishlifeblog and note how amazing it would be to have Maria Snyder on my blog. Although I cannot promise that it wouldn’t involve some insane fangirling and begging her to never stop writing about Valek. Having Meg Cabot would also be amazing, she is just hilarious! Other authors include: Barry Lyga, Sarah J Maas, Mary E Pearson, and Marissa Meyer.

What do you wear when you write your blog?

Either I’m on my couch with my cats in sweatpants and oversized Disney shirts, or I’m in my normal style of leggings, oversize shirts, and boots sitting at the Starbucks by my work because it’s the only place I can get some peace and quiet away from my students J

How long does it take you to prepare?

It depends on the type of blog post. If it’s random book musings I can be as natural as writing down what I’m thinking for a while, but then coming back and editing and deleting and adding. With book reviews I try and think of types of things I would like to be putting in my reviews as I’m reading the book. Usually by about halfway through a book I can tell if it’s a book that I’m going to want to go all out with and review. Sometimes the prep work involves posts, like this one, that I writing in advance for days where I really want to make sure I am able to post, but life is going to be too busy for me to actually take the time to sit down and write one.

How do you feel about the book blogger community/culture?
I haven’t been a part of it for very long, but it seems like a very open and accepting community! I’m excited to meet so many more book minded people, and not people who think I’m nuts for bothering to read after college graduation.

What do you think one should do to get a successful blog?

I think it can be so easy to just write about what you think people want to read. But if you aren’t passionate about what your writing/reading then it is going to show in your blog. I believe that being successful just really means being passionate about what you want to read, and get excited about sharing that with your readers. If you are bored by what you are reading, then people will be bored reading your posts as well!


Book Funsies, Random

Hello fellow bookworms!

A little bit about me! My name is Maren and I consider myself a bookworm for life. There may be years where my list is shorter, but I never leave the house without at least one book. My preferred reading genre is YA Fantasy, at least for the last few years that’s what it has been!

I’ve been dabbling in a bookstagram, @marenbobarenreads, for the last few months and have had a Nancy Drew centered book blog that my sister ran and I would be a random contributor on. But I decided that will all the books I read I wanted a place to write down my thoughts and musings about them!

I’ve been an avid reader for the last 27 and my bookshelves have grown considerably. They may not be the prettiest looking, lots of books crammed into different cases spread all over my house, but year after year I collect more. Now it feels like my house is filled with old friends. Some that I will only meet and have a great time with once, and some who we have a lifelong relationship that get’s revisited year after year.

Hopefully this book blogging journey will be as fun as I’m hoping! Happy Reading everyone!