Mental Wellness Book Club

With new offerings every season, the Mental Wellness Book Club gives you the opportunity to read about a topic that interests you and to have a discussion about it in a welcoming and open environment. It is requested that those interested only register for ONE session to discuss a book that truly interests them. Each discussion can accommodate twelve (12) participants. Each participant will be supplied with a free copy of the book to read in advance.

The Mental Wellness Book Club is a Year of Healthy U project of the University Senate's Committee on Benefits and Welfare--Mental Wellness Task Force.

If you have questions or would like more information, please contact Linda Tashbook, chair of the Senate's Benefits and Welfare Committee, at or by calling 412-648-1303.

Summer 2024

Four Thousand Weeks: Time Management for Mortals by Oliver Burkeman

Talk to just about anybody regarding their stress and they will tell you how pressured they are about time. They can’t get everything finished, they can’t be in two places at once, they don’t have enough hours for sleep… Given the standard estimate for a lifespan, author Oliver Burkeman notes that we all have approximately four thousand weeks in which to live our lives. His practical yet amusing book, Four Thousand Weeks: Time Management for Mortals, is a handy guide to making use of that time without overworking or getting aggravated.

Spring 2024

Turning the Mind Into an Ally by Sakyon Mipham

"Strengthening, calming, and stabilizing the mind is the essential first step in accomplishing nearly any goal. Growing up American with a Tibetan twist, Sakyong Mipham talks to Westerners as no one can: in idiomatic English with stories and wisdom from American culture and the great Buddhist teachers. Turning the Mind Into an Ally makes it possible for anyone to achieve peace and clarity in their lives."

Fall 2023

Succeed: How We Can Reach Our Goals by Heidi Grant Halvorson

"Do you ever wonder how some people make success look so simple? In Succeed, award-winning social psychologist Heidi Grant Halvorson offers counterintuitive insights, illuminating stories, and science-based information that can help anyone set a goal to pursue even in the face of adversity, build willpower, which can be strengthened like a muscle, avoid the kind of thinking that makes people fail."

Fall 2022

The Relationship Cure by Dr. John M. Gottman and Joan DeClaire

If you are a Pitt faculty or staff member and you are hoping to improve your relationships or you just like thinking about the ways that people relate to each other—as friends, couples, colleagues, teammates, and in other situations, you might enjoy the next Mental Wellness Book Club discussion where we talk about The Relationship Cure: A 5 Step Gide to Strengthening Your Marriage, Family, and Friendships by John M. Gottman, Ph.D. and Joan DeClaire. This is a fast-paced book—loaded with vignettes, sample dialogues, self-inventories, and exercises.

Summer 2022

Dopamine Nation by Dr. Anna Lembke

Dopamine is a brain chemical that registers pleasure. We all prefer to engage in behaviors that raise our dopamine because we all want to feel pleasure. People who have addictions feel compelled to keep triggering that dopamine release excessively. So, they keep eating, using drugs, masturbating, drinking alcohol, and otherwise engaging in addictive behavior. Have you ever wondered what a psychiatrist really hears from people who have addictions? Would you like to know, in plain English, what an individual can do about regulating their own system? If so, please register to discuss Dr. Anna Lembke’s book Dopamine Nation

Spring 2020

Hidden Victims, Hidden Healers, by Julie Tallard Johnson

“The impetus of this book began with a personal search of mine for support groups for families of those with mental illness. I had a brother with Schizophrenia. I was also finishing up my graduate degree in Social Work (back in 1982). What these groups for families of the mentally ill ‘supported’ concerned me. What I typically found were dysfunctional groups supporting negative and even hostile mindsets. Most of them encouraged a victim mentality to the surrounding culture and to the mental illness. When I considered using other group processes such as the 12 Steps, it didn’t convert well enough to help family members struggling with a loved one’s persistent and chronic mental illness. I also recognized that mental illness happens within the context of a family – not just the individual. Too often these groups focused on the mentally ill person at the expense of the family’s over-all own mental health and the health of other family members. I discovered in my research that how the family responds to the mental illness will either be part of the antidote or continued problem. In any give difficulty we are either part of the problem or part of the solution. I intended to offer a means for family members and friends to be part of a solution.”

Summer 2020

Almost a Psychopath, by Ronald Schouten and James Silver
“Grandiosity and exaggerated self-worth. Pathological lying. Manipulation. Lack of remorse. Shallowness. Exploitation for financial gain. These are the qualities of Almost Psychopaths. They are not the deranged criminals or serial killers that might be coined "psychopaths" in the movies or on TV. They are spouses, coworkers, bosses, neighbors, and people in the news who exhibit many of the same behaviors as a full-blown psychopath, but with less intensity and consistency.

If you think you have encountered an Almost Psychopath, this book offers practical tools to help you: recognize the behavior, attitudes, and characteristics of the Almost Psychopath; make sense of interactions you've had with Almost Psychopaths; devise strategies for dealing with them in the present; make informed decisions about your next steps; and learn ways to help an Almost Psychopath get better control of their behavior.”

Winter 2020

The Body Keeps the Score: Brain, Mind, and Body in the Healing of Trauma, by Bessel van der Kolk, M.D.

Trauma is a fact of life. Veterans and their families deal with the painful aftermath of combat; one in five Americans has been molested; one in four grew up with alcoholics; one in three couples have engaged in physical violence. Dr. Bessel van der Kolk, one of the world’s foremost experts on trauma, has spent over three decades working with survivors. In The Body Keeps the Score, he uses recent scientific advances to show how trauma literally reshapes both body and brain, compromising sufferers’ capacities for pleasure, engagement, self-control, and trust.

Fall 2019

iGen: Why Today’s Super-Connected Kids Are Growing Up Less Rebellious, More Tolerant, Less Happy—and Completely Unprepared for Adulthood—and What That Means for the Rest of Us, by Jean Twenge

Born in the mid-1990s up to the mid-2000s, iGen is the first generation to spend their entire adolescence in the age of the smartphone. With social media and texting replacing other activities, iGen spends less time with their friends in person—perhaps contributing to their unprecedented levels of anxiety, depression, and loneliness. With the first members of iGen just graduating from college, we all need to understand them: friends and family need to look out for them; businesses must figure out how to recruit them and sell to them; colleges and universities must know how to educate and guide them. And members of iGen also need to understand themselves as they communicate with their elders and explain their views to their older peers. Because where iGen goes, so goes our nation—and the world.

January 2018

An Unquiet Mind, by Kay Redfield Jamison, Ph.D.

Even while she was pursuing her career in academic medicine, Jamison found herself succumbing to the same exhilarating highs and catastrophic depressions that afflicted many of her patients, as her disorder launched her into ruinous spending sprees, episodes of violence, and an attempted suicide. Here Jamison examines bipolar illness from the dual perspectives of the healer and the healed, revealing both its terrors and the cruel allure that at times prompted her to resist taking medication.

Secrets to Winning at Office Politics, by Marie G. McIntyre, Ph.D.
Hosts: Sue Oerkvitz and Angie Riccelli

Office politics are a fact of life in every workplace. To accomplish your personal and business goals, you must learn to successfully play the political game in your organization. This smart, practical guide shows you how to stop wasting energy on things you can’t change and start taking steps to get what you want.

When Panic Attacks, by David D. Burns, MD
Hosts: Sue Oerkvitz and Linda Tashbook

Dr. Burns shows you how to overcome anxiety using more than forty simple, effective techniques, and also shares the latest research on drugs commonly prescribed for anxiety and depression and explains why they may sometimes do more harm than good.

Man Enough, by Frank Pittman MD
Hosts: Cliff Cohen and Linda Tashbook

A man raises himself as he raises children and learns to understand and forgive his parents as he becomes one. An important book for men and women, Man Enough offers a new approach to issues of commitment, caring, and control, and creates a positive model for the fathers of tomorrow’s men.

For One More Day
, by Mitch Albom
Hosts: Angie Riccelli and Amy DeGurian

For One More Day is the story of a mother and a son, and a relationship that covers a lifetime and beyond. It explores the question: What would you do if you could spend one more day with a lost loved one?

She's Come Undone, by Wally Lamb
Hosts: Christina Newhill and Linda Tashbook

Dolores Price is 13, wise-mouthed, but wounded, having bid her childhood goodbye. Stranded in front of her bedroom TV, she spends the next few years nourishing herself with the Mallomars, potato chips, and Pepsi that her anxious mother supplies. When she finally orbits into young womanhood at 257 pounds, Dolores is no longer stronger and life is no kinder. But this time, she’s determined to rise to the occasion and give herself one more chance before she really goes under.

Daring Greatly: How the Courage to Be Vulnerable Transforms the Way We Live, Love, Parent, and Lead, by Brene Brown
Hosts: Tom Koloc and Lori Carnvale

When we spend our lives waiting until we’re perfect or bulletproof before we walk into the arena, we ultimately sacrifice relationships and opportunities that may not be recoverable, we squander our precious time, and we turn our backs on our gifts, those unique contributions that only we can make.

Stop Walking on Eggshells, by Paul Mason and Randi Kreger
Hosts: Christina Newhill and Angelina Riccelli

Are you the focus of intense, violent, and irrational rages, manipulation, or controlling behaviors? Do you feel you are ‘walking on eggshells’ to avoid the next confrontation? If the answer is ‘yes,’ someone you care about may have borderline personality disorder (BPD). Gain a better understanding of this destructive disorder, learn how to set boundaries, and help your loved ones to stop relying on dangerous BPD behaviors.

Why Won't You Apologize?, by Harriet Lerner, Ph.D.
Hosts: Tom Koloc and Linda Tashbook

Dr. Harriet Lerner has been studying apologies–and why some people won’t give them–for more than two decades. Now she offers compelling stories and solid theory that bring home how much the simple apology matters and what is required for healing when the hurt we’ve inflicted (or received) is far from simple. Learn how to craft a deeply meaningful ‘I’m sorry’ and avoid apologies that only deepen the original injury.