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Just Checking: Scenes from the life of an obsessive-compulsive Paperback – June 1, 1999


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Just Checking: Scenes from the life of an obsessive-compulsive + An Unquiet Mind: A Memoir of Moods and Madness
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 176 pages
  • Publisher: Washington Square Press; First Edition edition (June 1, 1999)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0671024388
  • ISBN-13: 978-0671024383
  • Product Dimensions: 0.5 x 5.3 x 8.3 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 6.4 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (28 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #90,918 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

Review

New York Magazine Hilarious, harrowing.

San Diego Union-Tribune Just Checking twitches with pain and pulses with insight....It's also so enjoyable, and so frequnetly laugh-out-loud hilarious, you'll feel guilty profiting from Colas' agony.

Dallas Morning News A wonderful little book....

Deseret News In the literature of mental illness, this one is destined to be a classic....Every worrier will recognize in Colas a true sister. Everyone who likes to laugh will be glad she was brave enough to tell this story on herself.

David Sedaris author of Naked Just Checking is, in turn, mysterious, agonizing, and terribly funny. Emily Colas writes with such skill and honesty that I can't help but wish she suffers a relapse. It's selfish, I know, but I want more.

Detroit News Intimate and revealing.

Booklist This anecdotal, first-person account of Colas' illness is highly readable and funny...One hopes that Colas will take up her pen again.

Kirkus Reviews A frank and funny first-person account of living with obsessive-compulsive disorder...With its unique patient's-eye view and perceptive honesty, a valuable contribution to the literature....

Martha Manning author of Undercurrents and Chasing Grace Everyone knows what it's like to worry. But for most people, it's not a twenty-four-hour occupation. Emily Colas draws readers into a world dominated by details -- a dangerous world in which kitchen utensils are instruments of deadly contamination, restaurant food is probably poisoned, and a tiny paper cut is potentially fatal. Through a series of vignettes she paints a compelling picture of a life dominated by compulsions and the worries that fuel them. If she'd left it there, Just Checking would be a valuable case study of a psychiatric illness. But Colas is a born storyteller, and a wickedly funny one at that. Just Checking is as hilarious as it is harrowing -- a combination that makes it an engaging and ultimately powerful book.

Java A terribly funny, sad, and deeply human account...Honesty is the key here, and it's Colas' ironic self-awareness that makes for such a refreshing read.

About the Author

Emily Colas is thirty-two years old and lives in New York City. Just Checking is her first book.

Customer Reviews

She is very serious at times but makes light of her own situation throughout the book, making it a very good book to read.
Diana Scherff
I think that this book is probably a good read for people who know people with OCD, to help understand the disease a little better.
A. Allen
It's sometimes hard to follow where exactly we are at any given time--and if that's intentional, I'm not sure it really works.
dreadful light

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

7 of 8 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on November 3, 1999
Format: Paperback
You will experience great difficulty returning to work. Also, you may exhibit some strange checking behavior while eating your BLT.
Exhausting. The guilt I felt in deriving enjoyment from Colas' tale of insanity was tempered only by the recognition that facing the brink is just a matter of degrees. Nearly everyone could find a suitable diagnosis at some point in their lives, whether chemical or situational. Few, however, could find the humor to expose their disturbing mental processes as adeptly as Colas has.
I hope that in sharing her story, Emily Colas has derived a great deal of therapeutic benefit. I know I have.
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9 of 11 people found the following review helpful By dreadful light on March 25, 2002
Format: Paperback
Emily Colas' memoir, Just Checking, is like an uncomfortable stand-up comedy routine. Broken into small chunks of conversational writing with sometimes interesting, sometimes bewildering headings (for example, "Mussolini Ate His Penie"), Colas' account jumps frantically from past to present, her childhood events to her typical day-to-day life as a wife and mother. It's sometimes hard to follow where exactly we are at any given time--and if that's intentional, I'm not sure it really works.
There are some terribly intense, disturbing moments (such as when Colas' apartment fills with garbage and dirt because she becomes wary of cleaning supplies, and she refuses to take a shower for fear of harming her unborn child), but overall the book floats glibly from event to event, nearly discounting Colas' painful descent into the illness. I know that this is was an extremely uncomfortable story to tell, and I like the approach of bringing humor to a subject that normally isn't very funny, but there are times when the writing backs away when it should have really delved deeper.
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5 of 6 people found the following review helpful By K. Adkins on October 25, 2005
Format: Paperback
I use this book when I teach my Psy101 course (phobias, OCD and hypochondriasis- I read a few blurbs to illustrate to the class these topics). I always have at least 2 students a semester buy this book because they find her story so interesting. I recommend this for anyone who teachs psychology!
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on July 16, 1999
Format: Paperback
I found myself laughing out loud when reading "Just Checking." The author is a terrific writer and has a sharp, sarcastic sense of humor. She's terrific with details. I just finished a long, seriously haunting novel and found "Just Checking" to be a refreshing respite. It's smart and sassy.
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4 of 5 people found the following review helpful By Jefferbelle on July 18, 2006
Format: Paperback
Having just finished JUST CHECKING, I'm trying to think of friends to whom I might recycle my copy. That's a tough one.

The biggest plus of this book is that it is so unlike the standard disease-of-the-month narratives we've come to expect. The biggest drawback is that it's so oddly written we hardly know what to make of it. (I was pretty sure for a while that it was really a novel masquerading as biography. It's not.) I did not find it nearly as funny as some readers did--laughed out loud perhaps twice. BUT--

Sometimes it turns out that honesty can be both a style and a subject. In Colas' hands, it's definitely not just a gimmick

(as it so often is in stand-up comic routines, which many reviewers saw as analagous). Her quirky approach takes us places we have not been unless we've suffered from OCD. But why go there at all, some readers may ask. Because like every good writer, by showing us one particular "heart of darkness" (her own), Colas shows us the universal heart of darkness, including, if we have eyes to see, our own.
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4 of 5 people found the following review helpful By ElaineReads on November 9, 2005
Format: Paperback
I just finished reading Just Checking last night. I'm not sure why, but for some reason I like reading books of essays by people who suffer from OCD. Well, I think it's probably because I can see myself in some of the situations that I'm reading. While I suffer no where near as severely as Emily Colas, I still have a few minor issues of my own! Maybe you should read this book in order to get in touch with your own OCD tendencies...

I found this book to be a quick read because the pace was kept up nicely. I recommend to anyone curious about the worlds of people who suffer from OCD and the different steps and measures involved with overcoming it.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By MJC on April 29, 2014
Format: Paperback
I happened upon the book "Just Checking" sitting on the office 'free book exchange shelf' a co-worker established years ago. Since my daughter struggles with anxiety and OCD (and I struggle to understand her mind), I knew that this tattered looking book was calling out my name. So I picked it up, dusted it off, and took it home to read. Oh, how I loved Emily Colas' honest, intelligent, humorous yet heart wrenching description of her OCD life. We all worry from time to time, but Colas' worries became obsessions that led to compulsive behaviors. Despite the fact that she knew her behavior to be illogical, she could not stop the worrisome thoughts or fear. Like my daughter, intelligent women don't do well with therapists. Like my daughter, Colas did not want to take the meds. But the realization eventually comes to the intelligent mind that the burden of worrying is overwhelming and that "life's just way to short to bother with such nonsense." The OCD brain needs the meds. "Just Checking" was published in 1998 and I can't help but wonder where Emily Colas is now? I hope she is ok. I hope my daughter will be ok. I hope anyone suffering from anxiety and OCD will find their peace. I, too, count the stars.
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