This is not an empowering book. This is a let-me-feel-sorry-for-myself kind of book. At some point, it has become hip and "good writing" to use profan...moreThis is not an empowering book. This is a let-me-feel-sorry-for-myself kind of book. At some point, it has become hip and "good writing" to use profanity and say shocking things like "I hate my baby". While I acknowledge that feeling overwhelmed is very real for some mothers, especially those without a partner (myself included in the latter category), reading "Operating Instructions" gave me a dark feeling, somewhat akin to the feeling that reading Dostoevsky causes (minus the mastery of the prose). Lamott describes herself as being in a dark hole most of that first year, unwashed, depressed, extremely tired and lonely, with rare glimpses of her son's beauty. I think a lot of her issues stem from the self-acknowledged substance abuse problems of the past and losing her father some years earlier though, not from having a baby on her own. All in all, I would much rather read a positive, upbeat book written by somebody who is capable of maintaining self-discipline and organizing their lives than an author who aims at being brutally honest but really sounds like another common wreck of a person. (less)
I deliberately started my vaccine research with this book - this is a history of vaccines from the times of Jenner and variolation to George Bush bein...moreI deliberately started my vaccine research with this book - this is a history of vaccines from the times of Jenner and variolation to George Bush being vaccinated for now non-existent smallpox on TV to demonstrate his belief in the threat of bio-terrorism. I expected for this book to be as neutral as possible for a text on a controversial subject. As a parent to be, I am trying to go into the issue with an open mind - it is after all about the safety of my child, not which political group I happen to identify with the most. On this particular criterion of neutrality, however, Allen does not quite measure up. For instance, after describing numerous confirmed cases of vaccine injuries, he would still refer to vaccines as "completely safe" or "entirely safe" without providing any justification for his logic. As a reasonable human being, I understand that both diseases and vaccines come with risks. What scares me is the denial or belittling of risks which leaves me in no position to compare them intelligently.
Another quite annoying aspect is Allen's description of those people who don't vaccinate. He admits it that in some communities people who don't vaccinate are mostly PhD's, quite successful and well-off, but he mentions it in passing. However, an entire chapter is devoted to describing wackos in sects and with no understanding or respect for science as an example of the people "who prefer the whooping cough". That is offensive, as many people I personally know who choose to not vaccinate or vaccinate selectively (which is the option that I am leaning towards) are very reasonable people who did their homework.
This is a thoroughly researched text, however, and it serves its purpose. Definitely a good starting point for those parents who want to know everything there is to know about vaccinations to make the right decision.(less)
All commonsense information, nothing new. More pertinent information would have been on the balance of the two languages in the child's life, and mult...moreAll commonsense information, nothing new. More pertinent information would have been on the balance of the two languages in the child's life, and multilingualism. Both are mentioned, but glossed over. (less)
A wonderfully touching biography of an extraordinary "literary wife". Always elegant, regal, unbelievably erudite, Vera Nabokov (nee Sirin) is an easy...moreA wonderfully touching biography of an extraordinary "literary wife". Always elegant, regal, unbelievably erudite, Vera Nabokov (nee Sirin) is an easy subject for an interesting biography. The book is filled with amusing anecdotes from the Nabokovs' life together, but it gets rather sad toward the end, as it really becomes difficult to consider somebody so full of llife as either one of the pair mortal. As impressive as Maria Dostoevsky's and Sophia Tolstoy's support to their great husbands might have been, Vera Nabokov's story is by far my favorite. (less)
Maybe it is the compulsive beauty of its avant-garde paintings, or the exotic Afro-Cuban motifs, or the translucent light that floods every object on...moreMaybe it is the compulsive beauty of its avant-garde paintings, or the exotic Afro-Cuban motifs, or the translucent light that floods every object on the island, or the plentiful subject matter for photo journalism, but Cuban art is infinitely interesting to any visual art aficionado. This particular book is a collection of chronologically organized but somewhat thematically disjointed essays and full color reproductions of major Cuban artworks. Of particular interest are the rare photography of Walker Evans and the excellent selection of Wifredo Lam's genius paintings. (less)