A multi-layered tale of medical ingenuity, ethics, race relations and family ties. It is the true story of a poor black woman named Henrietta Lacks wh...moreA multi-layered tale of medical ingenuity, ethics, race relations and family ties. It is the true story of a poor black woman named Henrietta Lacks who died of cervical cancer in 1951. Pieces of her tumor were sampled and become the first "immortal cells" or tissue that lives and grows outside of the human body. These cells go on to become a multi-billion dollar industry and were instrumental in developing chemotherapy, the polio vaccine and the foundation of major medical advances up until today. The science in this book is enough to dazzle the mind but Skloot manages to show the human side of this story but telling the story of the Lacks family.
Skloot's writing transitions effortlessly between the past and present as she balances the intimate story of the Lacks family against an an epic number of medical advances and scientific findings spanning 60 years and several generations. The book is well written and interesting and nonjudgmental in a way that really invites the reader to think for themselves. I never would have thought that such a scientific topic could be so personable.
In my own opinion, the most disturbing part of the book was not the debate on tissue rights or informed consent. It was what happened to Henrietta Lack's family after she passed away. The level of abuse and the lack of education was gut-wrenching. (less)
Very short and funny read. I liked Plummer's personality and outlook on life. After reading several duds, this pulled me out the depressing reading fu...moreVery short and funny read. I liked Plummer's personality and outlook on life. After reading several duds, this pulled me out the depressing reading funk I've been in. (less)
Generally, I love classic books. I almost feel apologetic about my review on this one. I think I would have loved this one, but it was a bad time for...moreGenerally, I love classic books. I almost feel apologetic about my review on this one. I think I would have loved this one, but it was a bad time for me to read an 850+ page book that takes a good 200 pages to really start. It started to weigh on me and feel like a chore to get through. That rarely happens to me and I blame the weather. Middle March is elegantly written and Mary Anne Evans is an incredible author. It just a very large cast of characters and too many subplots for me to concentrate on right now. It is a witty work with plenty of insight into women, marriage and the human condition but I just couldn't get into it. Maybe next time.(less)
**spoiler alert** This was my book club's pick for the month. It is basically, the story of Ernest Hemingway's "doomed starter wife." It is a fictiona...more**spoiler alert** This was my book club's pick for the month. It is basically, the story of Ernest Hemingway's "doomed starter wife." It is a fictional memoir written from Hadley's point of view. The book captures her whirlwind romance with the unknown artist and follows the downward spiral as she is cast aside as a supporting character in the larger story of Hemingway. The two strike out as expatriates in Jazz-age Paris and befriend a motley crew of friends with a broad spectrum of morals.
This book was just kind of disturbing. It describes my worst nightmare of a marriage. (Other than a violently abusive marriage.) I knew the train wreck was coming and I just kept reading anyway. Ernest Hemingway is selfish, vain and a terrible husband. Even when McLain is trying to describe the supposed "good times" between Hadley and Ernest it made me slightly sick. Perhaps all great artists need to be tortured and self involved but I don't really believe it. Hadley is a flat character but I did like that her heart breaks a little bit at a time, rather than all at once. I think that is more honest. I think that is the way it really happens although the very end of the book did push me over the edge. The Paris Wife was mildly boring to read but might provide fodder for an interesting discussion on morality and the arts.
**Spoiler Alert** When he chastises Hadley for bringing up his affairs I actually wanted to scream. When Hadley remains friends with the mistress and only slowly removes herself I was ill. When McLain romanticizes the phone call between Hadley and Ernest after Hadley has been married for 35 years to someone else, I actually laughed out loud. Was Hadley truly that self loathing and pathetic? I truly truly hope not. I think McLain has a sick sense of romance.***(less)
I wasn't sure I wanted to read this but I felt like I needed the other side of the story after reading Beautiful Boy. This book is a hard one to revie...moreI wasn't sure I wanted to read this but I felt like I needed the other side of the story after reading Beautiful Boy. This book is a hard one to review. The language is horrible and the subject matter is beyond disturbing. It is raw and candid and I suppose that a book about serious drug addiction should be horrible. It should be shocking and Tweak is a traumatizing read. The Chicago tribune called it "difficult to read but impossible to put down." I wouldn't go quite that far but it does give a clear window into the mind of a drug addict. Nic Sheff is extremely transparent and open to sharing the horrors of his path to drug addiction. He doesn't try and excuse the choices he makes or blame them on a less than ideal childhood. His childhood does sound terrible but he seems almost numb to that. The book starts in his early twenties when he is already four years in to a serious drug addiction and follows him through two relapses. It is ugly and haunting.
Nic's obsession with fame and acceptance is almost more disturbing than his addiction to drugs. His unhealthy relationships made me shudder. I'm glad he doesn't go into extreme detail about his life in New York or his days of prostitution because that would have been too much for me. My heart ached for the people around Nic who are constantly trying to help him and lift him up. When Nic talks about killing himself by using until he is dead it is heartbreaking. The pain of reaching out to someone who seems intent on killing themselves seems unbearable but his family continues to reach out to him. Nic describes his efforts to make amends like "trying to put a band-aid on shot gun wound."
This book has given me a lot to think about. I'm not sorry I read it, but I will not be reading Sheff's second book. One window into his mind was enough. (less)
Supposedly the latest and greatest parenting book out there. It's sort of like Outliers but focused on parenting. Two journalists gathered the latest...moreSupposedly the latest and greatest parenting book out there. It's sort of like Outliers but focused on parenting. Two journalists gathered the latest studies relating to raising/teaching children. It isn't really a "how to" book but it has a lot of fascinating ideas and it really made me think about things I can do better. (Something I love in any book.) If you want to know about what I thought of specific chapters, check here- http://fishypeople.blogspot.com/2011/...(less)
I was actually pretty excited for this book. I'm definitely a goal driven person and I love any inspiration for self improvement and resolutions. This...moreI was actually pretty excited for this book. I'm definitely a goal driven person and I love any inspiration for self improvement and resolutions. This book seemed a lot like my 12 month improvement plan I've tried to do a few times but she actually stuck through all 12 months. Maybe I need to write a book in order for me to stick to my plan.
I liked that I had some things in common with Gretchen Rubin. We like the same parenting books. We're both working moms with two kids. We both like books etc. and I felt a certain kinship with her in the beginning. The second chapter on love was my favorite. I definitely felt inspired to work on my family relationships. The six second hug seemed like a great idea to me.
Then I started to get a little bored. Maybe I've read too many analytical books lately. By the fifth chapter I started to get a tiny bit annoyed every time she said "and research says that blah blah blah." The notes by her blog readers were pretty uninteresting to me and I started just skipping them. It's like reading someone's blog and then feeling the need to read all of the comments- I never feel the need. I usually don't read the blog to hear what all of the readers think. By the time I got to chapter eight she had just about lost me entirely. I raced through the last few chapters mostly because I hate to leave a book unfinished. I suppose that's part of "being Kerstin."
I don't get the bluebird collection at all. Collecting crap just to have a collection. Not appealing at all- but then I have collections that are meaningful to me and have never needed to be forced. Her spiritual endeavors just seemed kind of forced.
Overall the book was decent. I loved the beginning and disliked the end. I appreciate the idea that moving forward in small ways will always make you a better, happier person. I completely believe that. It should make for an interesting discussion in bookclub. (less)
In case you have been living on another planet lately and have missed the controversy surrounding this book and the author's ideas you must read this...moreIn case you have been living on another planet lately and have missed the controversy surrounding this book and the author's ideas you must read this article. http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001...
The book is much the same. Maddening and fascinating. There is a lot of preaching about the "Chinese way" and the "Western way." Chua does have a dry sense of humor and she does poke fun at herself and point out her faults in a way that is somewhat endearing and partly irritating. There are parts of this book that made me laugh outloud, mostly at some of her over the top "tiger mother" ways. A few things were downright hysterical. I don't think she really knew where she wanted the book to go and it kind of just stops- perhaps because she isn't through parenting yet. I always appreciate a book that makes me reflect on my own parenting values and makes me think about where I want to go from here. If there is one thing I learned from this book, it's that I yell too much and that's not who I want to be.
I would be fascinated to know what my fellow mothers out there think about all this hubbub and also - when/what do you think the best way to introduce music to your children is?(less)
A story of superstition and harmony in the natural world set in the countryside near the Welsh border. The female protaginist, Prudence Sarn, is plagu...moreA story of superstition and harmony in the natural world set in the countryside near the Welsh border. The female protaginist, Prudence Sarn, is plagued with a hare lip and whispered accusations of witchcraft. Her desperation for love and acceptance are sharply contrasted by her ambitious brother and his unrelenting drive for wealth. There are some great descriptions of nature in here and Webb is a talented writer. It is beautifully written but completely morose and a tad boring. The religious allegory gets kind of lost in the dark and twisted plot. I didn't feel very invested in the characters or in their relationships. It is written in the local dialect of Shropshire in the early 1800's and it isn't difficult to read but did get on my nerves after awhile. Perhaps it was my mood but the story just didn't quite live up to my expectations. I'm kind of shocked by the majority of online reviews which seem to disagree with me.(less)
A grueling and heartbreaking read. I think it is fair to say that just about everyone I know has had a drug addict in their life in some capacity. We...moreA grueling and heartbreaking read. I think it is fair to say that just about everyone I know has had a drug addict in their life in some capacity. We are all affected by this insane siege of evil that seems to be destroying families everywhere. I admire Sheff's candid writing and found his journey riveting and disturbing. It is agonizing to go through each triumph and each relapse in the book. It tears at your heart. His denial, his guilt and his struggle to believe in hope is hard to read. Sheff battles his own demons as he tried to save his son and comes to understand and accept the disease of addiction.
The story is a little too long and after awhile I just wanted to stop reading about another relapse but I guess that just adds to the poignancy of the story. That is the journey that the loved one of an addict often has to take, over and over. I kind of want to read his son Nick's book about the same journey but I'm not sure I can handle the details.(less)
I loved the first chapter about the rise of raunch culture and the decline of the women's liberation movement. Women have become equal opportunity cha...moreI loved the first chapter about the rise of raunch culture and the decline of the women's liberation movement. Women have become equal opportunity chauvinists. It's as if someone said we couldn't be seen as equals of men so we decided to become "one of the guys." Women can objectify other women just as well as other men. Women wear accessoires emblazoned with playboy bunny logo. Porn stars like Jenna Jameson and Paris Hilton are idolized. Girls Gone Wild has become an empire built on women desperate for attention. These are not the self confident, powerful free individuals that the women's liberation movement fought for. It's an important topic for women to address and I feel like it is especially important because I am raising two daughters. The pervading raunch culture is not what I want for them.
I loved the comparison of chubby Jay Leno wearing a suit everynight on the Tonight Show, but when Katie Couric (One of the highest paid people on tv) guest hosted she had to cut a hole in the desk to show her legs and wear a low cut dress. If a celebrity with that kind of status cannot be seen for as a witty host without pimping herself out, how are women supposed to be taken seriously?
Now that we are "in on it" and can objectify women as efficiently as the neanderthol men we once fought against- have we really risen to a new level? I have to say, I think we have taken a dramatic step backwards.
The book was witty and well written. There are a few chapters that were a little too much for me. I actually skipped after reading the first few pages. There is some foul language in some of the quotes. I found it really interesting though and would love to discuss the book with anyone else who has read it.(less)
This World War II story is narrated by Death, who tracks the story of a nine year old girl, Liesel Meminger living in Germany. Liesel steals a series...moreThis World War II story is narrated by Death, who tracks the story of a nine year old girl, Liesel Meminger living in Germany. Liesel steals a series of books that move her story along starting with The Gravediggers Handbook. This morbid bedtime story is very apropos to the events going on around Liesel and her foster parents. I liked the addition of Max, the Jewish man they hide in their basement and I loved the character of Liesel's best friend. He was the most relate-able person in the book. Overall, I liked the general direction of the book. I didn't get quite as attached to the characters as I would've liked but it was worth reading. (less)
A collection of essays centered on the LDS Church's Proclomation On The Family and the foundational aspects of relationships between the sexes, marria...moreA collection of essays centered on the LDS Church's Proclomation On The Family and the foundational aspects of relationships between the sexes, marriage, and family life. There are a lot of interesting ideas on how to break through misdirected expectations and extra baggage in our relationships. A lot of my favorite parenting ideals are in this book and it gave me new ideas on how to raise my ideals but stay grounded in reality. I loved the essays on developing traditions in order to strengthen family relationships. I liked what the books says about the roles of mothers and fathers and the balance that must be found. The research is interesting for the most part and it gave me a lot of room for self reflection.There were a few places I glossed over because it is a text book and I'm not interested in reading about the history of leisure activities. Overall, definitely worth giving a read if you believe in the importance of family.(less)
A gritty tale of a traveling circus during the 1930s. The stock market has collapsed, prohibition is in full effect and the desperation of the times c...moreA gritty tale of a traveling circus during the 1930s. The stock market has collapsed, prohibition is in full effect and the desperation of the times colors the experiences of a young vet fallen on hard times. The book is filled with interesting writing and great descriptions of the squalor, filth and moral ambiguity of what amounts to a traveling band of vagrant desperate for food and shelter. The circus lore is interesting and the story is captivating. The self imposed class war within in the circus and the bonds formed between the people and animals is an interesting commentary on society. Unfortunately the story is frequently interrupted with the crass little scenes that seem to be so trendy in popular books. Although ome of these debaucheries may have occured in the circumstances described in the book, having the nasty little details spelled out is annoying and unnecessary.(less)