It is hard to find a more engaging non-fiction writer than Mary Roach. I have loved all her previous books and again she has hit it out of the park. IIt is hard to find a more engaging non-fiction writer than Mary Roach. I have loved all her previous books and again she has hit it out of the park. I kept thinking the entire time that I was listening to it on Audible that this would be an ideal book for my A&P classes to read. I'm dying to mention some of the gems I learned but I hate to spoil the surprise. The story of how we came to understand the workings of our digestive system is fascinating but also littered with harmful quackery, greedy marketing, and human suffering. Wonderful book, I highly recommend it. ...more
I am a big fan of microhistories, books that explore one subject and show how important and wide-ranging the impact that topic has had on the world. SI am a big fan of microhistories, books that explore one subject and show how important and wide-ranging the impact that topic has had on the world. So I was very excited to see this book on hair. As a biology teacher I am on the lookout for microhistories on topics that students are familiar with, that also explore, from a unique angle, the fundamentals of biology.
Ever since I read "Academically Adrift" a few years ago, I have been very concerned about including more outside reading in my survey courses. Dr. Stenn has written a masterpiece that is ideal for the college classroom. It is a general biology course in and of itself. I would love to have my Human Anatomy and Physiology I students read this book. It is the perfect length (~170 pages), the writing is wonderful, the book is extremely well-organized, and more importantly, most of us are obsessed about our hair. The book is absolutely fascinating and would make an excellent starting point for deeper explorations by students. ...more
When a geologist looks at a layer of rock, they see an ancient landscape. A layer of fine-grained shale indicates that during deposition, this area waWhen a geologist looks at a layer of rock, they see an ancient landscape. A layer of fine-grained shale indicates that during deposition, this area was a region of quiet water, like those seen in the deep ocean, lagoons, ponds, or swamps. Limestone strata may tell of a time of tropical coral reefs in shallow warm seas. Layers of tough sandstone may represent a time, especially if the grains are well-sorted, when the landscape was covered with sand dunes.
There are places on earth where the rock record is remarkably displayed. For example, the Grand Canyon has 14 visible formations spanning over a billion years of geology. Luckily, there are other places with more. One of the best is found in northern Wyoming, just east of Yellowstone and Grand Teton National Parks. I am sure millions of people drive through this beautiful area and never realize what a geologic gem they are traversing. This is the Bighorn Basin.
The Bighorn Basin has 25 visible formations totaling 17,000 feet thick (many of them are folded due to the formation of the Rocky Mountains) that span over 500 million years. Many of the strata are rich in fossils providing a beautiful record of the history of animal and plant life on Earth. In the book, this history is explained using paintings of what this part of Wyoming looked like during 12 episodes of time, starting at the Cambrian period (500 mya) clear up to the recent Pleistocene (18,000 years ago). The landscape and critters go through some remarkable changes over time: ice caps, warm tropical seas, vast sand dunes, swamps, and wide river deltas.
As an amateur geonerd, I learned about the Bighorn Basin by reading Kirk Johnson's previous masterpiece "Cruisin' the Fossil Freeway" but I didn't completely comprehend the uniqueness of this western valley when I drove through it several summers ago. Now, since I have read this new book, I need to return and do some serious exploring. Luckily in the back of his book, he includes a travel guide to museums and spots to visit in the Bighorn Basin. I have used his previous book "Ancient Denvers" in my Physical Science class to show the geological transformation of the Front Range near Denver through time. "Ancient Wyoming" has excited me even more. Funded by a NSF grant, this wonderful book is a boon for science teachers wanting introduce and explain the fascinating world of geology....more
A few months ago I caught part of an interview with the author on Fresh Air discussing his book. I was fascinated so I found it on Amazon and orderedA few months ago I caught part of an interview with the author on Fresh Air discussing his book. I was fascinated so I found it on Amazon and ordered it. For years I wondered how a high school dropout, destitute postcard painter, rose to power, becoming responsible for the deaths of 50 million people. This book does a wonderful job of doing just that. The book focuses primarily on Hitler's life following WWI until he was released from prison on December 20, 1924. You can watch his twisted ideas coalesce into his horrific worldview in these few short years. The Hitler of 1924 is very close to the Hitler of 1939. The year 1924 is also important because that is when Hitler wrote volume one of Mein Kampf. Range does an excellent job describing the chaotic times of the Weimar Republic and the hotbed of right-wing nationalism that Bavaria had become. I couldn't help comparing it to modern-day Texas. Excellent book. I am donating my copy to the LBWCC library if anyone is interested....more
Amazing book! I haven't enjoyed a book this much in years! Incredibly well-crafted plot, I was on the edge of my seat the entire time. I cannot wait tAmazing book! I haven't enjoyed a book this much in years! Incredibly well-crafted plot, I was on the edge of my seat the entire time. I cannot wait to see the movie if they ever attempt to make one. Superb!...more
I knew very little about Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder (OCD) outside what I gleaned from sit-coms (I'm looking at you Monk) and jokes. Like most peoplI knew very little about Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder (OCD) outside what I gleaned from sit-coms (I'm looking at you Monk) and jokes. Like most people I had focused on the compulsion side of the disorder but the real terror and tragedy of the disease is the obsession. An obsession is not a hobby or a crush, it is an intrusive thought (often irrational) that will not leave. Intrusive thoughts are a normal part of being human but folks with OCD, some of these thoughts stick and plague them for years. The author, David Adam, does an excellent job explaining the disorder from the inside out. He has suffered from the same recurrent intrusive thought for more than two decades.
I am familiar with the phenomenon of medical student syndrome where a student is convinced they have all the symptoms of the disease they are currently studying. I had the same experience reading this book. However, I realized that there were several times in my life when I too suffered from obsession. These episodes lasted for years in my teens, twenties, and thirties. I had to put the book down for a few days to quell the fear and anxiety I felt recalling my own battle with obsession. I am so glad I went back and finished reading the book. I now understand myself better and, hopefully, empathize more with people who suffer from this terrible disorder.
Every so often I come across a book that I consider good enough to be an entire introductory college course because it touches on so many important concepts perfectly. This book is just that. I feel like I learned an entire semester of psychology from it. Books like that are treasures....more