This book is so great on multiple levels but here's two:
Level 1: It's just a fascinating story. Period. The birth of today's multi-billion (trillion?)This book is so great on multiple levels but here's two:
Level 1: It's just a fascinating story. Period. The birth of today's multi-billion (trillion?) bio-tech industry started with a few immortal cells that came from the cervix of one poor black woman by the name of Henrietta Lacks. Her family didn't know her cells were taken for decades. They never received a dime of all the money made off of them. As in, to this day. And that's a damn shame.
Level 2: Rebecca Skloot is my journalistic hero. Having once been a journalist, I can recall the handful of times I worked on a story that I felt truly mattered. How I would spend but a few hours with the people I'd profile but how much work (observing, taking notes, research, etc.) was caught up in just doing that little bit. Rebecca is someone who spent YEARS working on this book. An idea that caught her attention at 16 (when she first learned about HeLa cells), followed her through college and carried her on as she began work on the novel with no advance (just her student loans and credit cards to get her by). The courage and tenacity it took to get this family behind her and then to stick with them as sources, coax them into trusting her, put up with their behavior (Henrietta's daughter Deborah ... wow, I couldn't imagine sticking with her..at one point in the book, she has Rebecca up against the wall) through publication of this book? Unbelievable.
It's for these reasons alone that I highly recommend this one. By far one of the best non-fiction books I've read by an author for whom I have the utmost respect and admiration....more
This book is truly fascinating. Bronson and Merryman do their research, delving into topics concentrated on kids and teens the way Atul Gawande jumpsThis book is truly fascinating. Bronson and Merryman do their research, delving into topics concentrated on kids and teens the way Atul Gawande jumps into medical research or Malcolm Gladwell jumps into...well, his zany way of making the crazy connections he does.
Each chapter is dedicated to a new topic, covering topics from parents' tendency to emphasize their child's natural intelligence (versus praising a specific effort) and the ill effects of doing so to how much damage kids endure for the hour less sleep each night they receive than kids 30 years ago (seriously, a sleep disorder can impair a kid's IQ as much as lead exposure - isn't that insane?)
More topics covered: Why we're testing our kids too young for high IQ and advancement placement courses and why parents are doing their infants a disservice by having them watch Baby Einstein videos.
I'm not quite ready to start a family - still a few years out actually - but I'm fascinated by books like these and this one was no different.
I think it just won a major award too.... great read for people who want to read about scientific studies written in an engaging way or for parents with kids. ...more
If you've never read any of Atul Gawande's stuff, I HIGHLY recommend it. I'm in awe of the way he can take complicated medical issues and make them boIf you've never read any of Atul Gawande's stuff, I HIGHLY recommend it. I'm in awe of the way he can take complicated medical issues and make them both easy to understand and completely fascinating at the same time.
He's like Dr. Oz meets Malcolm Gladwell.
When I saw his new book was out, I knew I needed to add it here ;) ...more
It was my first foray into reading Gladwell (it was a book club pick and the topic intrigued me a bitI gotta say, this book pretty much blew my mind.
It was my first foray into reading Gladwell (it was a book club pick and the topic intrigued me a bit more than the subjects of his previous titles), but now I think I'll have to go back and read everything this man has written. I'm suddenly that fond of him.
Gladwell is a genius for the corollaries he picks up on in the chapters of this book. I found every subject matter just as fascinating as the first.
A couple of the principles that left me most intrigued: the 10,000 hour rule (the notion that while we like to think a person is naturally gifted at something - be it an instrument or programming a computer - that the magic number to reach genius/perfection level is 10,000 hours); cultural legacies (the chapter on plane crashes and the backgrounds of the pilots involved is mind-blowing stuff IMO); and the first chapter on opportunity and the factors that can come into play with your degree of life success (down to what time of year you're born and in what decade) just left me shaking my head in awe. And the last chapter that ties it all back to Gladwell's own story? Icing on the cake.
I also can't help but think about how some of the ideas in this book apply to my own efforts in starting a photography business. In chapter 5, Gladwell explores the idea that three things — autonomy, complexity, and a connection between effort and reward — are the 3 qualities that work must have to be satisfying:
"Work that fulfills those 3 criteria is meaningful. Being a teacher is meaningful. Being a physician is meaningful. So is being an entrepreneur ... Hard work is a prison sentence only if it does not have meaning."
And a final sentiment that I really, really loved about the lessons that early 20th century immigrants instilled in their children: "If you work hard enough and assert yourself, and use your mind and imagination, you can shape the world to your desires." So true!
Recommend this book for anyone wanting to bend their mind a little and looking for a quick read outside of the fiction aisle. ...more
If I had to pick just one of Gawande's books to read, it would be Complications. But this is still a great collection of stories on fascinating fieldsIf I had to pick just one of Gawande's books to read, it would be Complications. But this is still a great collection of stories on fascinating fields of and issues related to medicine.
What I admire so much about Gawande is his ability to wrap his analytical mind so effortlessly around storytelling. His writing is conversational, straightforward and thoughtful. Medicine isn't a topic that would necessarily appeal to me, but with Gawande at the helm, it's fascinating.
In this book, his stories include a closer look at issues physicians and others in the medical field could tackle better (hence the title). The subject material ranges from hand washing in hospitals to eradicating polio in India to chapters covering what doctors earn to what doctors owe (a look at a U.S. malpractice system riddled with holes).
Again, if you're a first-timer to Gawande, start with Complications but know this one will keep you turning the page from start to finish with equal ease. ...more
This book has gotten mixed reviews on GoodReads and after tackling it, I can see why.
I had a love/hate relationship with the book myself. I love KingsThis book has gotten mixed reviews on GoodReads and after tackling it, I can see why.
I had a love/hate relationship with the book myself. I love Kingsolver's fiction, so reading this non-fiction account of how she and her family lived off local food for a year was a departure from her typical fare.
What got me about this book was the air of superiority I felt she brought to her storytelling when it came to buying anything but local food. (You wanna buy bananas at the grocery? Shudder ... do you KNOW how far that fruit traveled to wind up on your kitchen counter?) I also felt like she beat us over the head with the message of the book -- her family has the ultimate green thumb, they grow a killer garden, she can make a gourmet meal out of anything (pumpkins included), we get it, we get it.
That's not to say this book doesn't have merit. It does -- in fact, I found myself learning a lot about subjects I already thought I knew about (mad cow, farm subsidies, lactose intolerence, CAFOs (did you know a 6x8 foot room can house 1,150 chickens - ugh) and I've also given a lot of thought to Kingsolver's push for us to eat foods when they are in season (as she notes, there's a reason tomatoes look gnarly at the grocery store come December).
I have the best of intentions to make better use of my local farmer's market and to buy meat only when I know where it came from. Intentions being the key word here, of course.
There is a multitude of books on the subject of eating better (ie, green, local) out there. Is this best one? Maybe not (Nick has Omnivore's right now, and I'm curious how it compares) but Kingsolver does make this novel interesting -- if you don't mind a side of preach with your parsnips. ...more
If you're a first timer wanting to read Roach, I suggest starting with "Stiff". It's not that I didn't like "Bonk" (her latest title); I just liked itIf you're a first timer wanting to read Roach, I suggest starting with "Stiff". It's not that I didn't like "Bonk" (her latest title); I just liked it a bit less ...
Maybe it was the subject material. Roach tackles the topic of science and sex with aplomb, but there are admittedly parts that still make you squirm a tiny bit while you're reading them.
I felt like the book hit a dry spell in the middle, but picked back up again with Roach displaying her wit once more toward the end.
What a great book ... I didn't know I would be so enthralled by the medical field, but Gawande's writing is so readable that I found myself tearing thWhat a great book ... I didn't know I would be so enthralled by the medical field, but Gawande's writing is so readable that I found myself tearing through this (thanks Ellen for the borrow!)
A collection of sorts of his work over the years for the New Yorker, Gawande tackles all kinds of subjects in this book — from the learning curve doctors encounter as interns/residents, etc, to a better understanding of ailments ranging from nausea to flesh-eating bacteria(!), and all of it is equally fascinating.
This was certainly an informative read, but Andy, I have to disagree with you that it's better than DITWC. Maybe it's because I found the subject mateThis was certainly an informative read, but Andy, I have to disagree with you that it's better than DITWC. Maybe it's because I found the subject material in that book (a serial killer, the World's Fair) more captivating, but the sections in this novel where Larson goes into detail on the makings of a hurricane just weren't as interesting to me. All in all, I learned quite a bit about the 1900 hurricane and was enthralled at the descriptions from the scenes....more
After my hubby finished reading this book by the pool during our honeymoon, I picked it up while we were delayed on our flight back to IN and couldn'tAfter my hubby finished reading this book by the pool during our honeymoon, I picked it up while we were delayed on our flight back to IN and couldn't stop reading its (now-bloated) pages.
I admire journalists who have a flair for telling non-fiction in fabulous ways and Mary Roach fits the bill.
Definitely a fun read and don't let the subject material fool you elsewise!!! ...more