A classic can mean several things. A foundation to which modern thought springs from, a perennial resource, and an outdated way of looking at things.A classic can mean several things. A foundation to which modern thought springs from, a perennial resource, and an outdated way of looking at things. Fu Qing is all of the above, but modern practitioners should definitely read with a wary eye--in the days before we knew what cancer was, and in a male dominated society, bleeding in older may very well have been thought to be caused by "indiscreet sexual intercourse". Reading such out of touch and sexist words are a reminder that the past is something to build on and learn from, not get stuck in, especially in a field as dynamic as medicine--complementary or otherwise. ...more
Well, that was a fun bit of nonsense. Outlander is a pulpy sci-fi/fantasy historical romance where a woman magically goes back in time, seemingly uncoWell, that was a fun bit of nonsense. Outlander is a pulpy sci-fi/fantasy historical romance where a woman magically goes back in time, seemingly unconcerned that her every action could re-write history, AND has the best sex of her life with a handsome, tragic-hero Scotsman without having to feel guilty about the beloved husband she left behind because of a plot loophole. If that sounds absurd to you, but at the same time you're in the mood for a fun, light read and you happen to be a woman, don't write it off. Outlander is a bit silly for sure, but it also has a ton of action, momentum and sex, which makes it compulsive reading. You may have a guilty pleasure hangover when you finish akin to eating a pint of frozen yogurt one sitting, but Outlander is probably one of the better books in the romance genre (which really just means that it's readable and has a cover that won't make you ashamed to be seen with it in public), which spares you the complete shame that a pint of ice cream would bring.
Anyway, read, don't try to think critically about anything while you read, and enjoy. ...more
Whatever it is, Elena Ferrante understands. Your darkest self, the part of you that you desperately hope no one ever sees, she does, and she gets it.Whatever it is, Elena Ferrante understands. Your darkest self, the part of you that you desperately hope no one ever sees, she does, and she gets it. She might pass judgement, she may hold it against you, ever so slightly, but she knows where you're coming from when you're at your worst. She sees and writes about so clearly that delicate tightrope we walk with our friendships between honesty and loving support. As humans we are flawed, and these flaws most often come out into the light when we are interacting with other people.
"Every intense relationship between human beings is full of traps, and if you want it to endure you have to learn to avoid them." --pg 451
As we go through our lives, there are things about ourselves that we hide from our own consciousness, and hope no one notices them. As a mother, protagonist Elena lashes out at her children when she's stressed or angry about outside situations and often leaves them for weeks at a time without thinking twice, but when her friend mentions being a shitty mother, Elena defends herself, never copping to the fact that she may have been somewhat wanting in that area. Yet the way Ferrante portrays it, you can tell that the character Elena sees it, like a shadow flickering in the corner of her eye, where many of our deepest flaws lurk.
This is what is at the heart of the Neapolitan Novels and their appeal to me. Beyond the fantastic writing and storytelling, the complete honesty is what ensnared and enmeshed me in with the characters. Their complexity and intelligence, their mistakes and successes--nothing is black and white. All people have a part of themselves that is their best self, and a part that is the worst, and those differing parts surface despite and because of our best intentions. I feel like it is rare to see an author who is able to portray this as well as Ferrante does, and for this reason alone these books enter my pantheon of favorites. When this book ended and Lila and Lenu left my life, I felt very much as Lenu does as she ponders her friends absence and realizes it's bitter finality. I wonder how long I'll wait to re read the series......more
A lifelong insomniac, my interest was piqued when one of my book club members chose "Lights Out: Sleep, Sugar and Survival" as her September pick. BefA lifelong insomniac, my interest was piqued when one of my book club members chose "Lights Out: Sleep, Sugar and Survival" as her September pick. Before I started reading it, I was assuming that it's premise would be that as it gets dark outside, we should start using less lights inside, the dimmer you can get away with the better. As a natural healthcare practitioner, the number one thing I recommend to people with trouble sleeping is sleep hygiene. Sleep hygiene is basically behavioral health conditioning--you go to bed only when you're really sleepy, you don't read in bed, you aim to have a consistent sleep schedule and other, common sense things. It's a well-known part of any sleep hygiene regime that an hour before bedtime you turn down the lights, turn off any screens, and start doing activities that aren't very stimulating in an effort to calm your nervous system. Based on this, I was looking forward to a book that was going to take that one step further, and that might actually help me when the chips are down and I'm not sleeping well. So last night when I couldn't sleep, I lit some candles and settled down with "Lights Out".
No such luck. While the premise is indeed what I thought it would be, the book was written in a way that was meandering, disorganized, and without any attempt and a neutral, scientific tone. Instead of lulling me back to sleep with it's sound advice, it stirred me up. Who the hell is this person, I kept thinking as I read, and what are her qualifications. No medical professional would draw so recklessly from pop culture to give examples that support their hypothesis, and the hundred pages of endnotes seemed excessive for what little she was actually saying when you cut through the garbage (lack of sleep causes health problems, sleep more, especially in the winter and have less health problems-oh, and don't eat too much in the way of carbs, sugar, and processed foods). A little foray onto Wikipedia reveals that: "Wiley has claimed on her website and in speaking engagements that she earned a B.A. in anthropology from Webster University in 1975. On November 27, 2006, Newsweek reported that Webster has no record of this degree. Wiley's bio page was then changed to "Pending B.A. in Anthropology, Webster University, 1975" and then again to "Attended the B.A. Program in Anthropology, Webster University, 1970-1975". ABC News reported on February 16, 2007, that, according to Webster, she received only a blank diploma. Wiley was awarded a B.A. from Webster University in May, 2013." Not even a B.S. to qualify her giving out nutritional advice.
In addition, her formula would make it seem like she must be a beacon of health. On the cover, this book claims it can help you "loose weight, curb your cravings for carbohydrates, eradicate depression, lower your blood pressure and stress levels, reverse type 2 diabetes, minimize the risk of heart disease, and help prevent cancer". Wow. Now, I don't mean to be biased against people based on their body type, but when someone is telling me that they basically found a way to cure obesity and to loose weight without really trying, I want to see that they're a shining example of their own medicine.
Not so much:
While in theory, I like Wiley's idea that in wintertime, maybe we should eat less, as it was traditionally famine time, and sleep more. Sounds like a cozy way to spend the winter. But man, this book does more to discredit the idea than support it. When it comes down to actually presenting her regime, you have to skim through chapter after chapter of haphazardly presented factoids about how and why we're so unhealthy in modern-day America, covering the same ground that so many have already covered. I gave "Lights Out" two stars only because the premise still has an appeal to me, and I hope someone with a healthcare background takes up this idea again and do a better job of researching and presenting it. In the meanwhile, if you're having problems sleeping, try following sleep hygiene rules, and if you want dietary advice, read "The Abascal Way", which, while also written by someone with no letters behind their name, is well presented and has sound nutritional know-how behind it. ...more
If you are an aging human being with an interest in ensuring your quality of life for the rest of your life, read this book.
Dr. AtulRead this book.
If you are an aging human being with an interest in ensuring your quality of life for the rest of your life, read this book.
Dr. Atul Gawande makes no assumptions about where your decisions come from or your beliefs, and he advocates no particular health regime or ethos. What he does is walk you through the choices you will have to make, either as a person of advanced old age or with a terminal illness, and articulate how being clear in those choices will empower you to live the life you wish up until your inevitable end. We are all going to die. There's just no way out of that one, no matter how tightly you shut your eyes and plug your ears. The question is not can we stop death from happening, but rather, how can we make life as good and comfortable as possible until then.
Since my grandmother was in her mid-eighties, she lived with my mother and my aunt. This arrangement was beneficial to all. My grandmother helped with the bills, did the laundry and made coffee every morning, and her daughters provided her with comfort, company and assistance in her old age. At the end of 2013, when her body began to constantly ache, her right arm swelled up to twice the size of the left, and she had periodic bouts of intense vertigo, she started talking to us about death. She wasn't afraid of dying, she said; she had a vision of the afterlife that she took immense comfort in. What she was afraid of was a slow, agonizing death. She wanted to die quickly and painlessly before she became too enfeebled and unable to enjoy the pleasures that life had to offer. Her death became her favorite topic of conversation--not in a morbid, self-absorbed kind of way, but more like she was talking it up so that we, as her loved ones, would see her death as the natural next phase of her life. It got to the point where it was nearly constant--I couldn't talk to her on the telephone for five minutes without the subject coming up. It came to the point where it was like, ok, enough already, Grandma, I get it, you're going to die. That's cool, but I just want to be with you and enjoy your company without thinking about your death every couple minutes.
The thing was that when she died, though I was sad that I was no longer going to be able to spend time with my beloved grandmother, I didn't mourn her loss. I had been prepared for this eventuality for a while now--she had made absolutely sure of that. She had lived to the ripe old age of ninety-four, and died quietly in her sleep, exactly as she had wanted to. I saw her body before the undertakers came, and she looked so peaceful, no different than if she were taking a nap. It made me strangely proud of her. By accepting the fact that she was dying, and by dying as she did, autonomous to the end and in her own bed, she had a graceful and gracious death that I as her granddaughter could look to and say yes, that was good, and I hope that I can die as she does.
I thought of this so many times as I read "Being Mortal". To stay alive simply not to die, even as your body fails, your finances collapse, and you lack the capacity to enjoy your life--is that something that you want for yourself? How can we embrace the fact that we will die and plan accordingly? This is not an advertisement for assisted suicide, but for thinking through what communities you ally yourself with as you age, what healthcare choices you make, and for really determining what matters to you when all is said and done. This is important stuff, perhaps the most important, and Atul Gawande does a brilliant job addressing it with humanity, humility, and realism. I am grateful to my godmother for giving me this book, and I highly recommend without reservation to everyone and anyone: Read this book. ...more
What a wonderfully humane and enchanting book this was. Without being preachy or moralistic, "We Are All Completely Beside Ourselves" delivers a thoroWhat a wonderfully humane and enchanting book this was. Without being preachy or moralistic, "We Are All Completely Beside Ourselves" delivers a thoroughly engaging meditation on what it is to be human. Karen Joy Fowler's writing makes the reading effortless, and the sly, entertaining presentation of the plot provides a mask for the complex and deeply thoughtful heart of the story itself. Bittersweet but life-affirming, this is a versatile read, as at home with the light-reading crowd as with someone who wants something a little more to their books. I can understand why this might not be the book for the highbrow literary crowd, but as a person who found myself as an oddball loner throughout my school years, my connection with the main character compelled me to overlook any shortcomings. ...more
I'm not usually a reader of self-help books, but I make an exception for Harriet Lerner. Not only is she a gifted writer and story-teller, but unlikeI'm not usually a reader of self-help books, but I make an exception for Harriet Lerner. Not only is she a gifted writer and story-teller, but unlike I imagine most of the genre, she most adamantly allows for imperfection. Quoting Mary Karr, Lerner embraces the fact that a dysfunctional family is where there is more than one person in it and that there is no such thing as the ideal family environment. Instead of defining a right and a wrong way to be, she simply tries to help people communicate their boundaries and preferences in a more open and honest way whenever doing so will be productive and helpful. The goal is not to be different than you are, or a more perfect version of yourself, but to make allowances for your own vulnerability so that you can be more yourself in relation to other people. Sounds right on in my book. ...more