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Critics’ Choices for Christmas


by Richard Cohen

This National Book Award winner encompasses the literary and scientific history of the disease, as well as charting the author’s own battles, in sometimes greater detail than one needs, but always in an engrossing way. “I have never written on any subject about which so many people have so much to say,” says Solomon, a regular New Yorker contributor, and he includes many personal stories besides his own. Acedia, lethargy of spirit, was once described by Dorothy Sayers as the worst of all sins, because it was the negation of all things. “The opposite of depression,” writes Solomon, “is not happiness but vitality.” Considering its subject, a remarkably addictive and invigorating history.