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November of the Soul: The Enigma of Suicide

4.08  ·  Rating details ·  259 ratings  ·  16 reviews
Written with the same graceful narrative voice that made his bestselling National Book Award finalist The Big House such a success, George Howe Colt's November of the Soul is a compassionate, compelling, thought-provoking, and exhaustive investigation into the subject of suicide. Drawing on hundreds of in-depth interviews and a fascinating survey of current knowledge, Colt ...more
Paperback, 640 pages
Published February 21st 2006 by Scribner (first published February 21st 1991)
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Oct 20, 2008 rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: Anyone that has lost someone to suicide or is even contemplating suicide themselves.
Shelves: read-in-2009, suicide
Wow! Finally finished this one. Okay fair warning, if you plan on tackling this book, be prepared that it's not going to be a quick read. This is a huge book, with small type and small spaces. It is chock full of every aspect of suicide. Methods used, history of, survivors of suicide, survivors of a loved one committing suicide, the right to die movement, the legal aspect, the way society views suicide throughout different eras, adolescent suicide, elderly suicide, accidental suicide, warning si ...more
Mar 28, 2008 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Picked this up at a time when I was involved with a woman who was suicidal, and for anyone who wonders about what goes through the minds of those contemplating suicide, or about how it affects those around the person who kills herself, or about the larger cultural meanings of suicide in the United States, this book is indispensible. Colt has assembled an intimidating amount of research and interviews and the result is thorough, at times thoroughly depressing, but mostly enlightening and revelato ...more
Danielle Wolfus
Jan 03, 2021 rated it liked it
This book is odd. I almost put it down for good after reading the first section about adolescent suicide. There was a lot of blame cast (not necessarily from the author himself) on parents of kids who have passed from suicide. I would caution parents who are considering this book that it can seem really insensitive. The cases in the beginning were all very old and outdated as well.

This also reminds me to mention that although it has been updated it is now again out of date as most of the data s
Dec 13, 2012 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2012, non-fiction, writing
I bought this ebook as background reading for writing my latest novel during National Novel Writing Month. I'd hunted around for a comprehensive, well-written book on suicide, and this was it according to a few sources. It's rather large, which fortunately one has no sense of with an ebook. No intimidation factor! Yet it's an easy read for such a fact-filled ebook. I didn't read the whole of it because there were certain sections that were not relevant to my novel. But I assume that if they were ...more
Maria Ryan
Sep 25, 2018 rated it it was amazing
A Dedicated and Comprehensive Guide to Suicide
The Enigma of Suicide is a comprehensive historical deep dive into the topic of suicide. It is the culmination of over ten years of Colt’s research and begins by framing suicide within its cultural and historical contexts. The book traverses time in a back and forth manner to illuminate the various tenets of this enigma and how it has shifted over time, yet seems to run in a more circular pattern in terms of belief systems. The most compelling expert
This took me a very long time to read, in part because of its length and subject matter and in part because I owned a copy and had to give priority to books I'd borrowed from the library and had to give back. I was very impressed with it.

November of the Soul is a comprehensive study of suicide, exploring it from psychological, sociological, medical, historical and legal angles and probably other angles I can't think of at the moment. In addition to being a very fine work of scholarship, with ext
Oct 14, 2013 rated it really liked it
This book explores many issues relating to suicide. The author write compelling descriptions of several cases as well as investigating many of the "big picture" issues. Important issues include: contagion, cause, prevention programs, the impact on survivors. A large book that does a good job of investigating a large topic. ...more
May 18, 2012 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: completed, hardbacks
A must read and indispensable for an approach toward understanding suicide. I cannot imagine a better book on the subject.
Christopher Quolke
This was quite a read. I learned a great deal from this book, but it was a difficult read. It challenged me to keep on keeping on, and it made me examine how I have dealt with loss in my life.
Bill H.
Dec 21, 2011 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: suicide, favorites
The absolute best book on the topic of Suicide. Thoroughly researched, well put together and written in a tone that is perfect for the layperson. A fun read on an interesting topic.
Jul 30, 2020 rated it really liked it
This book was not the first book on suicide that I’ve read but I do feel like it has been the most illuminating. Colt delves deeply into the seeming bewildering complexity of suicide. Starting from the cluster of suicides in New England in the 1980’s that focused the attention of the American public on the increase in the rate of adolescent suicide, Colt goes through everything from the latest psycho-biological understanding of suicide, to the different historical and cultural understanding of s ...more
P.S. Winn
Nov 16, 2018 rated it really liked it
Although we may never understand any of the aspects of suicide, this book takes a look at the subject with compassion and as much understanding as you can get. Anyone whose life has been touched by a suicide should pick this up and find a bit of comfort.
Lou Fillari
Oct 22, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Dense read. Lots of words. Both sad and happy words.
Dec 30, 2016 marked it as didn-t-bother-finishing
As with Night Falls Fast, I found myself feeling depressed and enticed when reading this, until I was too exhausted to continue forcing a confrontation with the material. I got about 200 pages in before showing myself a little compassion and stopping. I'm donating this book to the Prison Library Project; it may be put to better use there as a resource, a therapy, a source of help, and a comfort than triggering my ass from the shelf. ...more
Jan 10, 2015 marked it as to-read
Shelves: psych
not at HCPL
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George Howe Colt is the bestselling author of November of the Soul The Enigma of Suicide and The Big House, which was a National Book Award finalist and a New York Times notable book. He is married to the American author Anne Fadiman and lives with his family in Western Massachusetts. ...more

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