Hello book lovers!
It’s probably no surprise that I absolutely despised the misogyny, racism and general buffoon style of One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest. While the story itself was interesting and engaging, it left a sour taste in my mouth and I can’t recommend this book. I know this is a very popular classic and I hope I don’t get too much hate for this, but I am standing to what I think about it: it’s a narration of hating on women and a need to battle any sort of power women may hold. A woman with power is a bitch, according to this book. I do not mean to say with this that the Big Nurse is an angel of goodness, but the discourse from this book isn’t about her in particular, and instead refers to women in general. I will not got into detail too much, as this has been discussed already and I would not like to have to re-read certain parts to make my point with accuracy that I would like to. It suffices to say that it is problematic and I will be linking below a few articles to support that.
Some quotes that solidify my point:
“Mr. Harding has been heard to say that she ‘damn well gives the bastards a reason to stare.”
“Tell Me, McMurphy, how does one go about showing a women who’ boss, I mean other other than laughing at her?”
“So you see my friend, it is somewhat as you stated: man has but one truly effective weapon against the juggernaut of modern matriarchy, but it certainly is not laughter.”
Everything Here Is Beautiful for a representation of mental illness that is both painful and humane. There are also parts of the novel which take place in a psych hospital, so it shows the relationship between the patients as well, if that is what interested you from the Cuckoo’s Nest. The writing is also so gorgeous but not flourished.
The Woman in White is maybe the very best book to read if you want the atmosphere of Cuckoo’s Nest, plus the main characters outwitting figures which hold power over them, plus strong personalities. It’s also a classic book, and it’s got psych ward scenes, so I think you can get all the interesting elements from Cuckoo’s Nest also with a better plot and writing.
Girl, Interrupted is fantastic, taking place in a hospital where Susanna must stay due to her mental illness. It’s a tense story with lots of mystery and a stressful environment, like Cuckoo’s Nest. The movie is also pretty great.
The Bell Jar is a mix of autobiography and fiction. Based on the author’s own experience, including the time she spends in a hospital due to her depressive episodes, this is one of my favorite books of all time! Its writing is very gorgeous and deeply moving. While not having the same atmosphere of Cuckoo’s Nest, it’s a great book for getting inside the head of a person with mental illness.
Gone Girl is a very well-known book, and I think it has most of the elements that are attractive from Cuckoo’s Nest: the stressful atmosphere, the manipulative villain, the clear need that most of the people in this book have for some serious therapy.
Shutter Island I recommend hesitantly, but recommend nevertheless. It’s set in an island where the criminally insane live, and there is a murderess on the loose. Radical experimentation, dangerous people, conspiracy – this book has everything and a little more, it’s so tense and horrifying and awesome! But the representation of mental illness is quite sensationalized, so if that bothers you, skip it.
An Unkindness of Ghosts has a similar environment feeling from Cuckoo’s Nest, with tension, stress and mistrust. If I’m not mistaken, the main character Aster is autistic, and this is a sci-fi book, if you feel like something a bit different!