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Extended Audio Sample Madness: A Bipolar Life, by Marya Hornbacher Click for printable size audiobook cover
3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 3.00 (4,472 ratings) (rate this audio book) Author: Marya Hornbacher Narrator: Tavia Gilber Publisher: Blackstone Audio Format: Unabridged Audiobook Delivery: Instant Download Audio Length: Release Date:
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When Marya Hornbacher published her acclaimed first book, Wasted: A Memoir of Anorexia and Bulimia, she did not yet have the piece of shattering knowledge that would finally make sense of the chaos of her life: the underlying reason for her distress. At age twenty-four, Hornbacher was diagnosed with type I rapid-cycling bipolar disorder, the most severe form of the condition there is.

In her wry and utterly self-revealing style, Hornbacher tells her new story in Madness. Through scenes of astonishing visceral and emotional power, she takes us inside her own desperate attempts to counteract violently careening mood swings by self-starvation, substance abuse, numbing sex, and self-mutilation. Her brave and heart-stopping memoir details her fight up from madness and describes what it is like to live in a difficult, sometimes beautiful life and marriage when the bipolar tendency always beckons.

Millions of people in America today are struggling with a variety of disorders that may disguise their bipolar disease. Marya Hornbacher’s fiercely self-aware portrait revolutionizes our understanding of this all-too-common, all-too-misunderstood disorder.

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Quotes & Awards

  • “Hornbacher, who detailed her struggle with bulimia and anorexia in Wasted, now shares the story of her lifelong battle with mental illness, finally diagnosed as rapid cycling type 1 bipolar disorder...Hornbacher ends on a cautiously optimistic note—she knows she’ll never lead a normal life, but maybe she could live with the life she does have...Hornbacher will touch a nerve with readers struggling to cope with mental illness.”

    Publisher's Weekly

  • “[She] tiptoes along the same high wire as Plath, Lowell, Woolf…Her talent has created a third self, an appealing, rueful narrator who can look back on three decades of manic-depressive illness, much of it untreated, and spin a story that is almost impossible to put down.”

    New York Times

  • “Hooks readers from the start…As [Hornbacher] whips around this rollercoaster ride, her unflinching style keeps us firmly seated beside her.”


  • “Hornbacher’s testimony grabs and doesn’t let go through episode after episode of bulimia, substance abuse, and promiscuity...With cutting perception and skill, she makes palpable not only madness’ losses but the things gained as well.”


Listener Opinions

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 by Teresa | 2/15/2014

    " I read this book fairly quickly, at least for me, in order to get through it. I had to be hospitalized for two episodes that I had, but my experience, while some descriptions of things such as feeling like hearing people as though we were underwater were relatable, are nothing as intense and extreme and self-destructive as Hornbacher's. I'm sure this is an accurate picture of her bipolar life, and she shares it completely. It's a terrible disorder, and it was terrible to read about it, but I'm glad she wrote it. There's lots of brain research going on these days, so maybe one of these days a cure will be found. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 by Terry | 2/12/2014

    " I'm a big fan of "Wasted" so I was interested in reading "Madness" because I think she's a great writer. I think this book is valuable because it is a very honest picture of living with a mental illness. Many memoirs, especially ones that deal with depression and/or eating disorders and/or dysfunctional families, sort of (sometimes accidentally, I'm sure) romanticize mental illness as a component of creativity--you know, that people who are a little unstable are more creative artists or writers, or that artists/writers are a little more sensitive, live a slightly more unhinged life, than "normal" people do, etc. etc. But this book makes it very clear that mental illness is brutal and unrelenting and devastating and many times those with mental illnesses are their own worst enemy. And so forth. This would be a good book to read for any adolescents (real or prolonged!) who are a little too dreamy about the whole tortured-artist thing. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 by Molly | 2/7/2014

    " Loved it. Hated it at first because it was too much like listening to my own thoughts but even louder, and for fun. But she is just a golden writer and story teller and is so easy to follow. Great story. "

  • 1 out of 51 out of 51 out of 51 out of 51 out of 5 by Beneath | 2/3/2014

    " No thank you. I couldn't even finish it. It's just her style of writing. "

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