How would you feel if your doctor took a sample of your tissue without your consent and then used it to further his own research studies and then shar...moreHow would you feel if your doctor took a sample of your tissue without your consent and then used it to further his own research studies and then shared that tissue with laboratories and medical research centers around the world for a profit?
After your death, what would happen if your family discovered that your cells had been used in medical research against the family's wishes for years, but that those cells had also been used to make some of the most important innovations that modern science has ever known?
This is what happened to an African American woman named Henrietta Lacks in 1951. Henrietta was diagnosed with an aggressive form of cancer that eventually led to her death. Her doctors at Johns Hopkins Hospital in Baltimore discovered that Henrietta's cells were immortal, meaning that they could be grown in a lab without dying after a few cell divisions. Samples of Henrietta's cancerous tissue were taken without her knowledge or consent during her treatments and then again after her death. Henrietta's cells were used to conduct many experiments from developing a cure for polio and studying the effects of radiation and other toxic substances on the human body to gene mapping as well as cancer and AIDS research. Her cells represented a boon to medical research.
In the meantime, Henrietta's family had been kept in the dark. They lived in poverty and poor health, often without health insurance, and they only found out about her contribution to science years later.
Journalist Rebecca Skloot does an excellent job of gathering what little information there is on Henrietta's life and telling her remarkable story and the aftermath of her death. It's unusual for a journalist to get so close to the subjects she is writing about, but Rebecca's close relationship with the family only made me feel more indignant about how they were treated. The end of the novel, in particular, was a real eye-opener for me. I had spent so much time feeling angry about what had happened to the Lacks' that I never stopped to consider what would've happened if Henrietta's cells hadn't been used.
This isn't a story about Henrietta Lacks, although she is certainly the most important figure in this novel. It's about her children, her friends, and the debate over whether or not human tissue should be used with or without a patient's consent and what that means for the future of medical science.
Malcolm Gladwell has an uncanny ability to get right to the heart of some of our most perplexing questions and he answers them in such an easy way tha...moreMalcolm Gladwell has an uncanny ability to get right to the heart of some of our most perplexing questions and he answers them in such an easy way that he almost makes it look like child's play. Every time I sit down to read one of his books, I feel like I'm right in the room speaking with him directly.
The Tipping Point is written about specific point in time, the tipping point, when information goes viral, and how the nature of relationships, economics, genetics and pop culture all combine in any number of ways to make a product or information into a worldwide phenomenon.
Given the fact that this book was written in 2000, on the very cusp of the world of social media as it was getting ready to explode, is even more astounding. I'd love to read a sequel which accounts for the last twelve years and the explosion of social networking and real time information.(less)
The Power of Habit is an interesting journey that takes the reader through the process of how we develop personal habits and how to go about changing...moreThe Power of Habit is an interesting journey that takes the reader through the process of how we develop personal habits and how to go about changing said habits. It also covers how habits are formed in sports and businesses, and at how habits can affect us sub-consciously. This isn't a self-help book that gives you a step-by-step guide on how to change your own habits, but you will learn how habits are formed and how they define our behavior.
I ordered this book because I have some personal bad habits that I would like to break, but also because I thought it might be able to provide some much-needed insight for my own business. All in all, I'd say that the book was especially helpful in helping me to identify my habit loops. Now that I've finished the book, I'm going to move forward with identifying the cues and rewards that trigger and support my habit behavior and then come up with substitutes to see if I can break my habits.
I was successful at quitting smoking in 2009 after smoking for almost 15 years, but in this particular case, I was motivated by a life-changing event and had a solid reason to do so. The habit that I want to break now will be harder. I don't necessarily want to lose weight, but I do want to change my eating habits to support a healthier style of living. I have a feeling that this is going to be really hard, but I also feel that Duhigg has put me on the right path to accomplishing my goal.
The other thing that stood out for me with this book was how organizations like Target collect information from their customers and then use that information to entice people to shop at their stores more often. I'm going to think twice about handing out my personal information now that I know how that information is used.
Humorous, well written and very tongue in cheek. The first part of the book was slow moving, but the writing really starts to shine by the time we rea...moreHumorous, well written and very tongue in cheek. The first part of the book was slow moving, but the writing really starts to shine by the time we reach That's Amore, which outline his adventures with his next-door neighbor Helen in New York. My favorite essay by far was The Smoking Section, in which Sedaris moves to Tokyo - of all places - to quit smoking. I just loved his descriptions of Japan and of his beginner language classes.
There are several brilliant moments throughout the novel, but I don't think that When You Are Engulfed in Flames is as good as some of his earlier works. His stories are great, but they don't seem to flow as well as some of his other novels. Perhaps this is because he's pulling material from his daily life and adventures, rather than reminiscing about his family and childhood memories. (less)
As my friend Jaclynn said when she loaned me this book, there's nothing quite like reading about ancient gossip. She was right. Sex with Kings takes t...moreAs my friend Jaclynn said when she loaned me this book, there's nothing quite like reading about ancient gossip. She was right. Sex with Kings takes the reader through five hundred years of Europe's most formidable and influential monarchs and their royal mistresses. These were the women that kings sought for themselves, rather than the foreign princesses they were forced to marry for the sake of their nation. In many cases, royal mistresses were treated better and received more money, clothing and jewels than the King's Queen! But they had to be constantly on their toes for fear of replacement, given that hundreds of beautiful women in and out of court were waiting to usurp them.
We read about successful royal mistresses who cater to their king's every wish and demand, regardless of whether they're stricken by grief, ill, or exhausted. We also learn about those unfortunate mistresses who remained loyal to their lovers only to be cast aside like a bag of trash once they no longer proved useful.
I enjoyed reading this book, but there are two things that stuck with me in particular. I didn't enjoy how the author kept going back to the same women chapter after chapter. The book was very poorly organized and it was confusing to read overall.
The second is not so much a criticism as a personal preference, but I really didn't enjoy reading Herman's description of Princess Diana of Wales. I'm a die-hard Diana fan, and I took exception to the fact that she described Diana suffering from bulimia and vomiting into a toilet, all the while lamenting why Charles didn't love her.
Actually, there were several cases throughout the novel where academic objectivity was clearly not in play. Sex with Kings is listed as non-fiction, but in some places, it felt more like a romance novel. It seems well researched, but I wonder how accurate the research is.
Overall though, it's a great read and I highly recommend it if you're the sort of person who enjoys learning about ancient royal history.
I've always been fascinated with North Korean culture, mainly because there is so little known about the country, but also because it amazes me that t...moreI've always been fascinated with North Korean culture, mainly because there is so little known about the country, but also because it amazes me that total dictatorships are still around in this day and age. Did we not learn many valuable lessons with Hitler's Third Reich and his Nazi concentration camps or Stalin's Soviet gulags? Nazi concentration camps existed for 12 years, while Stalin's gulags were open for 42 years. In comparison, North Korean prison camps have existed for over fifty years and there seems to be no end in sight for the endless suffering and brainwashing for the 150,000 to 200,000 prisoners that live in these camps today.
This is the remarkable story of a North Korean man named Shin Dong-hyuk. Born and raised in Camp 14, Shin lives a brutal existence in one of North Korea's worst political prisons. As a child, Shin scavenged for bark, roots and kernels of corn to keep his hunger at bay. He was constantly reprimanded, overworked, starved, beaten and tortured, and he worked under the threat of being executed every day. He had no access to healthcare, no personal possessions to speak of, and he lived in the same clothes day in and day out. Shin grew up believing that it was natural to be hungry, and that he deserved to be treated like an animal. He ate watery cabbage soup, corn flour and corn kernels every day of the year. He was encouraged to snitch on his family and friends, and he might never be able to completely face the role that he played in the deaths of his mother and brother. Compassion, love, and honor were completely foreign concepts to Shin.
Eventually Shin does the unthinkable. He escapes from prison, and becomes the first person that was born in a North Korean prison to ever escape. He makes his way to China and then on to South Korea and the United States, where he struggles to accept that his upbringing was not normal.
Today, Shin is a North Korea human rights activist and he is still trying to deal with the horrific acts of violence and atrocities that he was forced to commit as a prisoner in North Korea
This was one of the hardest books I've ever read. It's heart-breaking to read what these people go through. The poverty, the hunger and the brainwashing that these people are subjected to is simply to much too fathom.