New and popular titles at Juniata County Library

AT THE LIBRARY

With so many good books being released all the time, it can be hard to determine what to check out next. Every week, I offer a run-down of significant releases available here at the library.

Visit our online card catalog at juniata.sparkpa.org to search today or call (717) 436-6378 to have a helpful library staff member assist you.

Dopesick: Dealers, Doctors, and the Drug Company that Addicted America by Beth Macy

A best friend of mine, who was a groomsman in my wedding, passed away just over 2 years ago from an overdose. I met him while we both went to Shippensburg University. I went to Ship to swim competitively; he went to Ship to gain an upper hand in the workforce he would soon enter in Central Pennsylvania. As he returned to the area after college, he was faced with limited opportunities: either live in this area and find arduous, minimum wage work, or move to State College or Harrisburg and find better work but also be isolated from friends and family. He tried both but could not overcome his struggle with drugs, of which there seemed to be limited recovery options. In the end, I continued to think of this lost friend of mine while I read Dopesick, hoping so dearly that no more friends would be lost to addiction.

A huge number of Americans, many of them poor rural whites, have died in the last couple of decades of what one Princeton researcher has called “diseases of despair,” including alcoholism, suicide, and drug overdoses caused by the hopeless sense that there’s a lack of anything better to do. Roanoke-based investigative journalist Macy locates one key killer–the opioid epidemic–in the heart of Appalachia and other out-of-the-way places dependent on outmoded industries, bypassed economically and culturally, and without any political power to speak of, “hollows and towns and fishing villages where the nearest rehab facility was likely to be hours from home.” Prisons are much closer. Macy’s purview centers on the I-81 corridor that runs along the Appalachians from eastern Tennessee north, where opioid abuse first rose to epidemic levels. She establishes a bleak pattern of high school football stars and good students who are caught in a spiral: They suffer some pain, receive prescriptions for powerful medications thanks to a pharmaceutical industry with powerful lobbying and sales arms (“If a doctor was already prescribing lots of Percocet and Vicodin, a rep was sent out to deliver a pitch about OxyContin’s potency and longer-lasting action”), and often wind up dead or in jail, broke and broken by a system that is easy to game. Interestingly, Macy adds, “almost to a person, the addicted twentysomethings I met had taken attention-deficit medication as children.” Following her survey of the devastation wrought in the coal and Rust belts, the author concludes with a call to arms for a “New Deal for the Drug Addicted,” a constituency that it is all too easy to write off even as their number climbs. You can find this book in the New Adult Nonfiction section.

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Bookshots…Here are some quick recommendations and star ratings I give them.

¯ Fear by Bob Woodward (5 stars)

¯ Astrophysics for people in a hurry by Neil deGrasse Tyson (5 stars)

¯ Grit by Angela Duckworth (4 stars)

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Vince Giordano has been the director of the Juniata County Library since 2015.

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