This week’s Post-apocalyptic Reads is from James Withey; who runs The Recovery Letters, a website dedicated to helping and supporting those with mental health issues, such as depression, by providing letters from others in similar positions. Withey has great aspiration for the website, hoping to translate the letters into other languages, and even making them into a book.
James Withey’s Fallout 5:
1. I Capture the Castle by Dodie Smith: A wonderful book where the adults are dysfunctional and the children poised, appealing and dynamic. Cassandra the main character is so memorable (I always think the mark of a great character is if you can retain their name) she is a perfect blend of naivety and sophistication with loyalty running through her bones. The book traces Cassandra’s family who rent a castle on a long lease. It’s a magical book that I wish I had read as a child. (Amazon UK/ Amazon US)
2. 84 Charing Cross Road by Helene Hanff: A series of real letters between the author living New York and a bookshop owner in London in the 1950’s. It’s Helen Hanff’s passion for books that is so enticing; her love of the content but also her love of the books as beautiful objects which fill her tiny New York apartment. It’s also about friendship, and the joy of letters; the excitement of receiving them and how letters stay with you in a way that e-mails never can. Hanff is spirited and funny and captivates you completely. (Amazon UK/ Amazon US)
3. Breath by Tim Winton: A book so beautifully written that it has stayed with me. I grew up and now live by the sea and I adore the description of the water, the danger and glamour of it and how it gets into your bones. The characters are wonderfully drawn and the whole feeling of the book is primitive and sophisticated. Winton writes wonderfully about humans interaction with nature and how it shapes our lives. It’s also about growing up and the mistakes that we make that ultimately influence who we are. (Amazon UK/ Amazon US)
4. The Night Watch by Sarah Waters: I love Sarah Waters’ books and this is undoubtedly the best. The structure of the book is clever and sucks you in, going backwards and forwards in time. It is set in 1940’s London in World War 2 and afterwards. It follows a group of women and one man and their relationships, misfortunes and loves. I would be able to read it again and again, and see something different in the details of the time period and the real, warm and human characters. (Amazon UK/ Amazon US)
5. Depression: Curse of the strong by Tim Cantopher: I would take with me as it’s an essential guide to depression and would keep me focused on the lies that the illness tells you. It is probably the only accessible book about depression that speaks the truth and doesn’t confront you with endless exercises and endless pages to read. (Amazon UK/ Amazon US)
You Suddenly have to run from the bunker, you can only save one book, which do you rescue?
I would take ‘I Capture the Castle’ because it is hopeful, beautifully written and entertaining.
For more on James Withey’s work or using reading for depression, see my feature; Reading to Recovery.
For the rules and how to take part yourself see the original Post-apocalyptic Reads post.