Andy WarholWhen I first heard the title of the book Andy Warhol Was a Hoarder : Inside the Minds of History’s Great Personalities I was intrigued. I wish I could say it drew me in because I am a cultured art lover. But, no. It was more due to the fact that I have -on multiple occasions- looked around my house and asked, “Is this hoarding?”

It was the perfect book for me at the perfect time. Not only did each self-contained chapter work nicely with my catch-as-catch-can reading schedule, but it also  more than satisfactorily answered this question that had been nagging at me recently.

In this book, author Claudia Kalb examines some of the most interesting personalities throughout history with an angle toward how their unique foibles might be regarded today. For example, according to the prevailing cultural thought on mental and emotional development Albert Einstein would be what we call “on the autism spectrum.”

If the musical genius George Gershwin were growing up today, he likely would have been diagnosed with ADHD and prescribed Ritalin. I can’t help but ask: if that happened, would he still have written a composition as wonderful as Rhapsody in Blue?

Charles Darwin was so wracked with anxiety that I think if he could have known the impact his work would have on science and religion today, he might have reconsidered publishing it. Today’s 24 hour news pundits would have terrified him.

Not so Frank Lloyd Wright. The famous architect had such grand ideas about himself and his work that he was said to be out of touch with reality and often flouted laws of physics (a rather important thing for an architect to consider!) Kalb qualifies him as a candidate for Narcissistic Personality Disorder if there ever was one.

Abraham Lincoln suffered from bouts of depression. If he had access to the same kind of antidepressants that we have today, would he have taken them and if so, would he have been remembered as the same great president?

Marilyn Monroe. Princess Diana. Fyodor Dostoyevsky. Christine Jorgensen. Howard Hughes. Betty Ford. All famous and influential in their own time, their own ways and probably lived with conditions defined in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual. Commonly referred to as the DSM, it is the go-to reference book used by mental health professionals in identifying and diagnosing mental disorders. First published in 1952, it did not even exist when many of these personalities arrived on the scene.

If you would like to read more about these fascinating people and their interesting ways, check out The book Andy Warhol Was a Hoarder : Inside the Minds of History’s Great Personalities by Claudia Kalb.

Oh, and in case you are wondering: I decided that I am not a hoarder. I just happen to be in the season of life where I share a household with some enthusiastic young collectors of “treasures.” I suppose I will have to find another excuse if the house is still a disaster when the kids move out!

 

 

Juliet, Naked by Nick Hornby is the story of three people and their love of music and each other.  Duncan and Annie are a couple from England who have been together for 15 years, for reasons neither are really sure of.  Duncan is obsessed with musician Tucker Crowe, who abruptly gave up his music career two decades ago following the release of Duncan’s favorite Crowe album, titled Juliet.  When the book begins, Duncan and Annie (a much less enthusiastic Crowe fan) are on a trek through America visiting famous spots where Tucker Crowe spent time.  After disagreeing about the merits of Crowe’s comeback album (an acoustic work entitled Juliet, Naked), Duncan commits the ultimate betrayal, and he and Annie part ways.  But while working to mend her broken heart, Annie is contacted by the person she least expects:  the musician himself, Tucker Crowe.  The two forge a relationship that is completely unexpected, yet fitting when you finally see it come together.

I was drawn to this book for two reasons: I thought the cover was cool (yes, even librarians sometimes judge books by their covers), and the fact that it’s written by Nick Hornby.  This is the second book by Nick Hornby that I have read.  One of his earlier books, About A Boy, is another enjoyable read if you liked this book.  If you like books about musicians and their fans, Hornby’s books are for you; he is clearly very interested in music, with this book being focused on the fictitious Tucker Crowe and About A Boy carrying a large focus on one character’s fascination with Kurt Cobain.  It was interesting to see a sort of “behind the scenes” look at the life of the musician (even if he wasn’t real), and because of this, Tucker Crowe himself ended up being my favorite character.  The ending, while slightly open-ended, provided enough closure that I had high hopes for Annie and her new life.  Overall, I found this to be an interesting and enjoyable read.