Review: Thinking, Fast and Slow

thinking fast and slowFlap Copy: In the highly anticipated Thinking, Fast and Slow, Kahneman takes us on a groundbreaking tour of the mind and explains the two systems that drive the way we think. System 1 is fast, intuitive, and emotional; System 2 is slower, more deliberative, and more logical. Kahneman exposes the extraordinary capabilities—and also the faults and biases—of fast thinking, and reveals the pervasive influence of intuitive impressions on our thoughts and behavior. The impact of loss aversion and overconfidence on corporate strategies, the difficulties of predicting what will make us happy in the future, the challenges of properly framing risks at work and at home, the profound effect of cognitive biases on everything from playing the stock market to planning the next vacation—each of these can be understood only by knowing how the two systems work together to shape our judgments and decisions.

Engaging the reader in a lively conversation about how we think, Kahneman reveals where we can and cannot trust our intuitions and how we can tap into the benefits of slow thinking. He offers practical and enlightening insights into how choices are made in both our business and our personal lives—and how we can use different techniques to guard against the mental glitches that often get us into trouble. Thinking, Fast and Slow will transform the way you think about thinking.

Review: A ground-breaking take on how our minds work and what we mean (and what we think we mean) when we say “I”. Kahneman walks us through a cadre of logical phallacies that can hold us back or let us lead lives not fully examined. He explains the two systems of thinking (which are innate and in each of us, by the way – this is not Meyers-Briggs type tendency typing) in a variety of ways to allow understanding to develop through the reading. His examples include lab findings (gambles and scenarios) as well as real world application (explaining why people develop blinders during real estate transactions or how hard it is to get rid of something you already own when you wouldn’t pay money to purchase it again).

I do think that this book could be quite a bit shorter for the lay reader. Many of the distinctions between phallacies were opaque to me, and 200 fewer pages would have kept me from getting quite as fatigued with the material. Especially because the more I learned about how my mind works, the more discouraged I became – many of these reactions are so instantaneous and automatic that we don’t even realize a decision has been made. It would be impossible to slow down enough to be truly thoughtful about each decision, but I feel like being armed with the knowledge that my brain often doesn’t look for additional information about a situation can allow me to be more cautious about the things that really matter. This is a great read for anyone truly interested in personality and the economics of choice.

Source: Public library

Review: The Good Mother Myth

good mother mythFlap Copy: In an era of mommy blogs, Pinterest, and Facebook, The Good Mother Myth dismantles the social media–fed notion of what it means to be a “good mother.” This collection of essays takes a realistic look at motherhood and provides a platform for real voices and raw stories, each adding to the narrative of motherhood we don’t tend to see in the headlines or on the news.

From tales of mind-bending, panic-inducing overwhelm to a reflection on using weed instead of wine to deal with the terrible twos, the honesty of the essays creates a community of mothers who refuse to feel like they’re in competition with others, or with the notion of the ideal mom—they’re just trying to find a way to make it work. With a foreword by Christy Turlington Burns and a contributor list that includes Jessica Valenti, Sharon Lerner, Soraya Chemaly, Amber Dusick, and many more, this remarkable collection seeks to debunk the myth and offer honest perspectives on what it means to be a mother.

Review: This is an excellent collection for all new mothers. The experiences shared by the contributors cover the gamut of what it means to be a mom today and how we learn to cope with pressures often of our own manufacture. What a gift it would be to our kids if we stopped comparing ourselves to someone who doesn’t exist!

Source: Public Library

Review: The Shadow Girls

MankellFlap Copy: Jesper Humlin is a poet of middling acclaim who is saddled by his underwhelming book sales, an exasperated girlfriend, a demanding mother, and a rapidly-fading tan. His boy-wonder stockbroker has squandered Humlin’s investments, and his editor, who says he must write a crime novel to survive, begins to pitch and promote the nonexistent book despite Humlin’s emphatic refusals. Then, when he travels to Gothenburg to give a reading, he finds himself thrust into an entirely different world, where names shift, stories overlap, and histories are both deeply secret and in profound need of retelling.

Leyla from Iran, Tanya from Russia, and Tea-Bag,w ho is from Nigeria but claims to be from Kurdistan (because Kurds might receive preferential treatment as refugees) — these are the shadow girls who become Humlin’s unlikely pupils in impromptu writing workshops. Though he had imagined their stories as fodder for his own book, soon their intertwining lives require him to play a much different role.

Review: Henning Mankell did a great job of bringing to life his protagonist and all of his scourges. Fleeing from the encroaching collapse of his personal and professional life, Jesper Humlin stumbles into the underworld of foreign refugees hiding in Sweden and hoping for the best. Those stories — of the Shadow Girls — were amazing, and all the more incredible for being the stories that millions of refugees live out all over the globe. Sudden flight, hidden identities and forged papers — all the while a persistent belief that the uncertainty will end and there will be a better day tomorrow. When he compares his own worries against this, Humlin wakes up and starts to embrace his life on his own terms. This was not an entirely uplifting read — the happy moments are relative to the uncomfortable truths about the human condition. But it’s a great read for character studies and some incredible stories about what people will do to survive.

Source: ARC from New Press.

Review: Seed

AhlbornFlap Copy: I’ve always been here, and I’ll never leave. That’s the mocking promise of a relentless monster that, decades before, took hold of a boy — body and soul — and swore to hang on like hell. But young Jack Winter cut and ran, leaving his parents and the only life he knew. Falling in love, raising a family and making music were just what he needed to bury the hideous past — like the unknown dead in that hidden Louisiana bayou cemetery where his nightmare began.

Now, twenty years later, Jack and his family will discover than surviving a harrowing car crash wasn’t a blessing, but the prelude to a new reign of terror by an old friend who’s back in town with time to kill.

Review: This book is so good. If you’ve been looking for a spine-tingling, terrifying read that makes you jump when the house creaks, this is it. Not only is it full-on Southern Gothic horror, it’s a cleverly woven tale of the human condition, our frailties, our weaknesses and how what we hope will save us can become untamed and destroy us. MAJOR ALERT: demon-possession and children-in-peril abound; don’t say I didn’t warn you!

Source: ARC from 47North.

Review: After I’m Gone

LippmanFlap Copy: When Felix Brewer meets Bernadette “Bambi” Gottschalk at a Valentine’s Dance in 1959, he charms her with wild promises, some of which he actually keeps. Thanks to his lucrative—if not all legal—businesses, she and their three little girls live in luxury. But on the Fourth of July, 1976, Bambi’s comfortable world implodes when Felix, newly convicted and facing prison, mysteriously vanishes.

Though Bambi has no idea where her husband—or his money—might be, she suspects one woman does: his mistress, Julie. When Julie disappears ten years to the day that Felix went on the lam, everyone assumes she’s left to join her old lover—until her remains are eventually found.

Review: Ah, mothers and daughters. Imagine your relationship with your mother shadowed entirely by your rich ex-con’s father disappearance, presumably with his younger stripper-cum-caterer lover. These are steel magnolias in Philadelphia, dealing with a man’s disappearance for a span of nearly fifty years. But the mysteries Laura Lippman is weaving is not about where he’s gone — even the reader stops caring — but what happened to those he left behind, who has done what, and who is covering for who — and why. This book really kept me guessing and just when I thought I had it, I was wrong. It’s bittersweet, lovely and highly recommended.

Source: ARC from HarperCollins.

Review: I Always Loved You

OliveiraFlap Copy: The young Mary Cassatt never thought that moving to Paris after the Civil War to be an artist was going to be easy, but when, after a decade of work, her submission to the Paris Salon is rejected, Mary’s fierce determination waivers. Her father is begging her to return to Philadelphia to find a husband before it is too late, her sister Lydia is falling mysteriously ill, and worse, Mary is beginning to doubt herself. Then one evening a friend introduces her to Edgar Degas and her life changes forever. Years later she will learn that he had begged for an introduction, but in that moment their meeting seems a miracle. So begins the defining period of her life and the most tempestuous of relationships.

Review: A reader hoping for a scandalous tale of a torrid love affair between two greats of the Impressionist period may be disappointed, but a reader hoping for a vividly drawn personality will be greatly rewarded. This book taught me quite a bit that I did not know — Mary Cassatt was an American woman routinely counted among the greats of the Parisian Impressionists back when they were avant garde breakaways from the established Salon. The novel reads like a Who’s-Who of great artists, from Manet and Monet to Pissarro and Renoir. At times some of the references seemed to stretch just for the sake of a mention, but the relationships, particularly among Berthe Morisot, a well-regarded artist in her won right, and the Manet brothers, were deeply dimensioned. The relationship between our heroine Cassatt and Edgar Degas, however, lacked a certain expected sparkle — this was no grand romance but a decades-long friendship, perhaps colored in for the sake of a historical novel. (Though Berthe and her brother-in-law — now there’s a scandal in an art studio!) However, the words did bring to life the era, the people and the art — here, I’d always been thinking Impressionist “technique” was an oxymoron, but the novel certainly paints Mary as a fascinating talent who history has — just as she feared — overlooked because she was a woman. I will certainly be reading what Robin Oliveira has to say in her novel about Mary Sutter!

Source: ARC from Penguin Group USA.

Review: Eating Aliens

LandersFlap Copy: North America is under attack by a wide range of invasive animals. Black spiny-tailed iguanas in Florida, Asian carp in Missouri and Virginia, nutria in Louisiana, European green crabs in Connecticut, and other alien species throughout the United States are devouring our native plants and animals, pushing many to the brink of extinction. Jackson Landers has a unique solution to the problem: Eat them! This adventure narrative describes Landers’s quest to hunt twelve invasive animal species and turn them into delicious meals, showing how anyone can feed a family while enjoying the thrill of the hunt and helping to protect and conserve the natural environment.

Review: This is a great book with a great idea! Got problems with invasive species? How about them Asian carp? Catch ‘em and fry ‘em! Jackson Landers really hit on an obvious idea that no one is implementing — it should be open season on species that unbalance regional ecosystems because their removal would actually help restore them. It makes a ton of sense and, helpfully, Mr. Landers went out and tasted all of these encroaching critters, including fish, snakes, snails and nutria (it’s delicious and nutria-cious — get it?). If I ate meat, I would certainly take Mr. Landers up on his suggestions but instead I think I may advocate at work (I luckily have access to those to form hunting regulations and so forth) to trust the author’s formidable palate and encourage intervention against invasive baddies.

Source: ARC from Storey Publishing.

Review: Eleven

elevenFlap Copy: Xavier Ireland is the assumed name of a radio-show host with a devoted following of listeners riveted by the sleepless loners who call in throughout the night to seek his advice. Off the air, he leads a low-key life of avoiding his neighbors, playing Scrabble, and maintaining an awkward friendship with his cohost, Murray. But his life begins to change when he meets a cleaning lady named Pippa, who becomes a constant, surprisingly necessary presence in his life as he starts facing up to his past and discovering solace and redemption in the most unexpected places. British comedian Mark Watson’s North American debut humorously and poignantly explores life and death, strangers and friends, heartache and comfort, and whether the choices we don’t make affect us just as powerfully as the ones we do.

Review: This book enthralled me from page one. I do wish there had been a little bit of a warning of child in peril (so, consider yourself warned if that bothers you). This is a really well done exploration of the ways we affect the lives of other people, even with decisions that don’t seem like they make any difference outside of ourselves. There are some characters I wanted to know more about, but no one seemed contrived or out of place. It made me look back at specific incidents in my own life, to try to piece together how it might have affected people two, three, or even more degrees away. An interesting thought experiment, kickstarted by a really good read.

Source: Personal Library

Review: Game

gameFlap Copy: One Sunday morning after a long night of partying, Henrik Pettersson, a slacker with a lot of ego and very little impulse control, finds a cell phone of an unfamiliar make on a commuter train. Through insisting and slightly uncanny messages that refer to him by name, the phone invites him to play a game. HP accepts without hesitation.

The rules are that HP must complete tasks that range from childish pranks to criminal acts, as allocated by the mysterious Game Master. HP is the perfect contender – alienated from society, devoid of morals, and desperate for fame. His completion of the assignments are filmed and uploaded onto a protected server where viewers rate the Players’ performances.

The Game starts out innocently enough and then becomes increasingly risky, threatening the safety of someone close to HP. He is determined to become a superstar, but when the dark and tragic secrets of his family’s past are at stake, HP must make a choice. Will he suffer the humiliation of defeat, or will the need to win push him to the limit – no matter the cost?

First in a fast-paced and riveting trilogy, Game will leave you guessing. Follow the rules, and everybody gets hurt . .

Review: Game is a fast-moving thrillery kind of fantasy set in the near future. It’s the stuff of conspiracy theories, which makes it fun. There is some clunky phrasing, as if the author is trying a little too hard to sound hip with tech speak, but I’m not sure if that’s a casualty of the translation or what. I blew through this book pretty quickly, so it certainly holds the attention!

Source: Advance reader’s edition from Atria Books

Review: Super Baby Food 3rd Edition

9780965260329.inddFlap Copy: Absolutely everything you need to know about feeding your baby during the first three years of life! With over half a million copies already in the hands of savvy parents, Super Baby Food by Ruth Yaron provides a complete baby food preparation system and go-to food reference manual.

Review:  If you think you’re seeing double, you’re not – I did review the second edition of Super Baby Food just a few months ago, and I had some issues with it. Happily, almost all of those issues have been resolved in the new third edition of the book (which was actually published before my review came out; I certainly had nothing to do with it!).

Some of my issues centered around datedness; the second edition was 15 years old and much has changed in the world of nutrition and pediatrics in that time. The new edition has the latest information, matching my pediatrician and nutritionist’s recommendations for allergy and sensitivity testing and timelines, among other things. I was also a bit thrown by the randomness of the previous edition; there was information about party planning and other random tips which didn’t seem to fit with the overarching theme of the book. This information has been toned down or pulled together in an overall “green” section at the end of the book.

The third edition is much more accessible in terms of the process for making baby food from scratch, with recommendations for different routines timed down to the minute. At first I thought that the grinding grains bit had been removed, but then I realized that it had been revised so that it was still included but in a way that no longer seems intimidating. There is a whole section detailing various foods, how to prepare them for easy digestion and when to introduce them, which is really helpful.

I still take issue with the claims that this diet alone kept two preemies healthy (if only nutrition could do everything!) and some of the “crunchier” recommendations about microwaves, organic, and plastic – it makes the book harder to take seriously in a way, and that’s unfortunate. I would also really love to see a foreword or introduction from a pediatrician or registered dietician who works with pediatrics. Then again, I pay a lot more attention to the minute details of my child’s diet due to our unique situation, and in a lot of ways the only qualifications you need to make parenting recommendations is to have gone through it yourself and say, “Hey, this is what worked for me.”

The team behind Super Baby Food did reach out and offer me a review copy of the new edition after my last review appeared, but that did not influence my changed opinion of the book. The third edition is a much improved one, one that I will be actively using in the rest of my parenting career, and one that I would be comfortable in recommending to other parents.

Source: Review copy from the Super Baby Food team

Review: Jonathan Strange & Mr. Norrell

jonathan strange pFlap Copy: Two magicians shall appear in England.
The first shall fear me; the second shall long to behold me…

The year is 1806. England is beleaguered by the long war with Napoleon, and centuries have passed since practical magicians faded into the nation’s past. But scholars of this glorious history discover that one remains: the reclusive Mr Norrell whose displays of magic send a thrill through the country. Proceeding to London, he raises a beautiful woman from the dead and summons an army of ghostly ships to terrify the French. Yet the cautious, fussy Norrell is challenged by the emergence of another magician: the brilliant novice Jonathan Strange. Young, handsome and daring, Strange is the very opposite of Norrell. So begins a dangerous battle between these two great men which overwhelms the one between England and France. And their own obsessions and secret dabblings with the dark arts are going to cause more trouble than they can imagine.

Review: Ahhhhhhhhh… a long drink of water, finishing a fantastic novel is so refreshing and pleasurable. This was my second reading of Jonathan Strange & Mr. Norrell, and I enjoyed it every bit as much as I did the first time. (Enough time had elapsed that I had completely forgotten all but the most basic plot structure.)

Susanna Clark’s writing is just delightful. It’s like eating a box of chocolates, but where each one is something you like instead of the fear of a gross one hanging over your head. The story is complicated enough to require your full attention but not draining to read. I would argue it’s an instant classic – it has all the elements of a perfect classical novel with the imagination of a modern one, and I’m absolutely astonished that it was a first novel. There is a depth and maturity to it that you rarely see.

And of the plot I’ll say little, because it’s really something you just need to read. This is a great one for book clubs who aren’t intimidated by a big page count! (It still goes quickly!).

Source: Personal library

Review: The Babywise Books

babywiseBabywise: Giving Your Infant the Gift of Nighttime Sleep
Flap Copy:
Scientists can put a man on the moon but they can not answer the most basic question of early parenting: how to have a happy and contented baby who sleeps continually through the night like the rest of the family and a mother who is not in a perpetual state of exhaustion. Now, moms and dads need look no further than On Becoming Babywise. Babywise is an exciting infant management plan that successfully and naturally helps infants synchronize their feeding, waketime and nighttime sleep cycles. Find out what four million grateful parents worldwide have already learned. Discover the positive prescription for curing sleepless nights and fussy babies. Recommended by doctors across the country.

Babywise II: Parenting Your 5-12 Month Oldbabywise II
Flap Copy: It’s reality-check time! You’re at least four months into your tour of parenting, and the complexities of child training are starting to multiply. As your baby is growing physically, his mind is adapting with an increasing awareness to new sights, sounds and sensations. He can now interact with his material universe with greater attentiveness. Now feeding time is more than a biological response initiated by a baby’s sucking refles. For the five-month-old, meal times become a complex and conscious interaction between child and parent, food and drink, preference and need, likes and dislikes, must do and won’t do! Watch out – big changes are coming to his world and yours! Babywise II is filled with age-appropriate parenting strategies, that will make sense to you and your baby.

Pre-Toddlerwise: From Babyhood to Toddlerhood
pretoddlerwiseFlap Copy: The period between twelve and eighteen months places a child on a one-way bridge to the future. Infancy is a thing of the past and toddlerhood is straight ahead. A baby still? Not really, but neither is he a toddler and that is the key to understanding this phase of growth. This is a period of great of exchange: baby food is exchanged for table food; the highchair for booster seat; finger feeding replaced with spoon; babbling sounds transition to speaking, the first unsteady steps are conquered by strides of confidence, and the list goes on. Moving forward at a lighting pace, pretoddlers are driven towards a new level of independence, equipped with a mind of their own. Whether a parent is ready or not, a toddler’s natural inclination and challenge of ‘I do myself’ will become increasingly apparent, not to mention frustrating. The drive toward independence is very strong yet, unpredictable. He is always in motion and not easily restrained, directed or controlled, but he needs to be! Boundaries will be tested, rules understood as suggestions, and curiosity will become a force to reckon with. How will a parent meet the unfolding challenges? The answer begins with understanding the various growth transitions of the one-hundred and eighty days linking babyhood with toddlerhood.

Review: Yes, yes, yes, sleep training books. Boo, hiss, and all that. Here’s the thing: parenting is hard (nighttime parenting is really hard) and while you know your own baby best, you would be remiss to ignore the wealth of information that’s out there from people who have studied it or done it before. I suggest reading ALL the parenting books out there, from Sears to Ezzo, and picking the things that work best for you.

In our case, I found the Babywise books to be most helpful. It helps that my daughter is a very scheduled little person and really does best when things are consistent and predictable. The Babywise series gave me ideas for creating a routine for her that allows her to be comfortable. I should note that I didn’t start implementing these ideas until she was about one year old, more than twice the age these books recommend. I just don’t believe that a weeks-old baby or even a months-old baby needs to be taught anything. They need to be fed, changed, rocked, and loved, and that’s about it. Crying at bedtime or waking in the night is not a manipulation, and until it starts being a problem for them, it’s not a problem.

My other big criticism is that there’s something flat about the delivery of these books. It’s almost like they were written by someone who has observed parenting but hasn’t actually done it, or they did it in a dream. But they still managed to pick out the important points. And they’ve got a self-publishy vibe, or maybe it’s a lack of structured organization that some other parenting books have. I’ve read through them all though, some more than once, and I have found useful information in there, and ultimately that’s the important point.

I think parents should read this series. And books by Sears, Karp, Weissbluth, Pantley, Hogg, and everybody else. Your family situation is unique, your kid is unique, and what’s more, your kid hasn’t read any of the parenting books. So take in a lot of information and be choosy about what works for you. No dogma here!

Source: Some public library, some personal library

Joint Review: Complete Tubefeeding and Homemade Blended Formula Handbook

These are extremely specialist publications, so I’ve put them together in a single review. This isn’t something for the casual reader, but I would heartily recommend them for anyone who’s about to become or have a tubie in their life, as well as anyone in the medical profession who will come into contact with tubies.

complete tubefeedingComplete Tubefeeding
Flap Copy:
Complete Tubefeeding is the definitive guide for anyone living with or preparing to receive a feeding tube, and those who care for them. The author, happy owner of a feeding tube himself, combines the best and latest medical research with insights from his and others’ real-world tube feeding experiences. This helpful handbook provides comprehensive and compassionate coverage of all aspects of tube feeding and nutrition via tube, including:

  • The different types of enteral feeding tubes, their placement, use and care, with loads of useful tips and tricks to make living with a feeding tube easy as can be.
  • Tube nutrition, with sections on commercially available formulas as well as a detailed approach to a blended diet (sometimes known as a blenderized diet) — how to use real food for tube feeding while ensuring complete nutrition and stress-free management of blending.
  • Commonly faced problems with tubefeeding, discussed at length and with solutions presented, ranging from possible medical complications to psychological and emotional issues and the impact on family life.

The introduction of a feeding tube within the family can be a time of fear and isolation, and even for many a sense of helplessness. Complete Tubefeeding empowers readers with a treasure trove of targeted, practical information, presented in down-to-earth language for the tubie, parent, carer and professional alike. Those just starting out on the tube feeding journey will reap the collected wisdom of hundreds who live and thrive with feeding tubes in addition to best practices gleaned from medical science. Those seeking nutrition information and considering a switch to a blended diet will find simple but thorough explanations and handy instructions for homemade blends. Health professionals will benefit from in-depth analysis, particularly on increasingly popular blended diets. Also included are over 35 sample blend recipes (with nutritional information provided) to adapt and quickly put to use, all created with good health, ease, and enjoyment in mind.

Alongside the invaluable knowledge of hundreds of tubie parents, carers, and tubies themselves, the author presents his own personal experiences and hands-on research. Eric Aadhaar O’Gorman brings his unique and readable style, the voice of a friendly, no-nonsense expert, to an all-encompassing work on this woefully under-resourced topic. Complete Tubefeeding sheds light, inspires confidence, and proves that for tube-fed people of all ages, a healthful, easy, and indeed normal life is entirely within reach.

homemade blended formulaThe Homemade Blended Formula Handbook
Flap Copy:
The Homemade Blended Formula Handbook offers the reader an integral way of thinking about providing meals for children–meals that are nourishing physically, mentally, emotionally and spiritually.

Its primary focus is to offer a deep understanding of how to create tube feeding meals that are compiled from foods that are available to all children and families. It provides a guide to the process from the initial concept to the development of formulas that offer dietary diversity and high-level nutrition. It focuses on the continuum that identifies the best fit for each child and each family.

At its deepest level this is a book about children and their families. It is a book about mealtimes as a focal point in the life of the child, family and community.

It offers practical ways of including children who receive their nutrition by feeding tube into the life of the mealtime community. It celebrates their unique contributions, in partnership with the person who feeds them.

The book is designed as a reference and “how to” for parents and professionals who together are making the choice to try a homemade blended diet for tube feeding. 35 reproducible chapters and 16 food references charts have been written by feeding therapists, dietitians, physicians and parents.

Review: Both of these books together provide a wealth of information about the tube-feeding lifestyle. Complete Tubefeeding offers a first-person account of an adult living with a feeding tube. Providing history, context, and just enough medical information to make it complete, Complete Tubefeeding is a perfect primer. In addition, it contains a wealth of recipes and ideas for creating recipes.

In this way it is a perfect complement to Homemade Blended Formula, which focuses on children with feeding tubes and provides parents with enough information to make decisions for little ones who cannot speak for themselves. HBF includes worksheets and “spine” recipes that provide an easy way for parents to develop their own routine.

Both books recommend a blended diet in favor of formula when medical conditions allow. Both are clear that there is no one right way to do things, and both provide much-needed support and even humor to a situation that is often fraught. While each book stands on its own, they are so complementary to one another that I have to recommend them both to complete a tube-feeding library. And as I said above, I feel strongly that not just tubies or caregivers should read them, but anyone who may work closely with a tubie. Our experience with medical professionals, even those specifically related to our tube feeding journey, is that they are pretty ignorant of what it’s actually like to live with a feeding tube and these books could clear up a lot of misunderstandings.

Source: Personal library

Review: One Doctor

one doctortFlap Copy: An epic story told by a unique voice in American medicine, One Doctor describes life-changing experiences in the career of a distinguished physician. In riveting first-person prose, Dr. Brendan Reilly takes us to the front lines of medicine today. Whipsawed by daily crises and frustrations, Reilly must deal with several daunting challenges simultaneously: the extraordinary patients under his care on the teeming wards of a renowned teaching hospital; the life-threatening illnesses of both of his ninety-year-old parents; and the tragic memory of a cold case from long ago that haunts him still.

As Reilly’s patients and their families survive close calls, struggle with heartrending decisions, and confront the limits of medicine’s power to cure, One Doctor lays bare a fragmented, depersonalized, business-driven health-care system where real caring is hard to find. Every day, Reilly sees patients who fall through the cracks and suffer harm because they lack one doctor who knows them well and relentlessly advocates for their best interests.

Filled with fascinating characters in New York City and rural New England — people with dark secrets, mysterious illnesses, impossible dreams, and many kinds of courage — One Doctor tells their stories with sensitivity and empathy, reminding us of professional values once held dear by all physicians. But medicine has changed enormously during Reilly’s career, for both better and worse, and One Doctor is a cautionary tale about those changes. It is also a hopeful, inspiring account of medicine’s potential to improve people’s lives, Reilly’s quest to understand the “truth” about doctoring, and a moving testament to the difference one doctor can make.

Review: This is SUCH a great book. I wasn’t sure what to expect, exactly, but it is an excellent melding of two very different types of books: a warm, personal story with memorable characters and deep emotions, and an informative call-to-action about what’s going on in the medical world today. That both of these books can exist between the same two covers is extremely impressive.

Between case studies of patients seen in private practice and hospital settings, Dr. Reilly lays out the situation modern medicine has created – multiple specialists, talking to no one but the patient, who doesn’t have the background (and in some cases, the capacity) to keep things straight between them all. We have all experienced this to some degree or another, and we’ve heard the calls for pharmacists to be sure to check new prescriptions against a patient’s history for possible interactions (but even there – how many of you may not have one regular pharmacy where you go? That’s true for me, and even when I usually visit the same one, I rarely speak with an actual pharmacist.). Dr. Reilly’s call for patients to have one general doctor among a host of specialists is an important one, and it’s one I hope future doctors read – general practice internists are becoming harder and harder to find.

This is a book that made me want to go to medical school, or possibly become a politician to help reform the way our broken health care system cares for people. I have more dealings with the medical profession than most, perhaps, and I actually feel better prepared for that now that I’ve read this book. A+

Source: Review copy from Atria Books

Review: Golden Boy

golden boyFlap Copy: “A dramatic, thoroughgoing investigation of the complexities of sexuality and gender.…A warmly human coming-of-age story…emotionally engaging, and genuinely unforgettable” (Booklist, starred review).

Max Walker is a golden boy. Attractive, intelligent, and athletic, he’s the perfect son, the perfect friend, and the perfect crush for the girls in his school. He’s even really nice to his little brother. Karen, Max’s mother, is determined to maintain the façade of effortless excellence she has constructed through the years, but now that the boys are getting older, she worries that the façade might soon begin to crumble. Adding to the tension, her husband Steve has chosen this moment to stand for election to Parliament. The spotlight of the media is about to encircle their lives.

The Walkers are hiding something, you see. Max is special. Max is different. Max is intersex. When an enigmatic childhood friend named Hunter steps out of his past and abuses his trust in the worst possible way, Max is forced to consider the nature of his well-kept secret. Why won’t his parents talk about it? What else are they hiding from Max about his condition and from each other? The deeper Max goes, the more questions emerge about where it all leaves him and what his future holds, especially now that he’s starting to fall head over heels for someone for the first time in his life. Will his friends accept him if he is no longer the Golden Boy? Will anyone ever want him—desire him—once they know? And the biggest one of all, the question he has to look inside himself to answer: Who is Max Walker, really?

Written by twenty-six-year-old rising star Abigail Tarttelin, Golden Boy is a novel you’ll read in one sitting but will never forget; at once a riveting tale of a family in crisis, a fascinating exploration of identity, and a coming-of-age story like no other.

Review: Oh my God this book. This is an amazing story, heartbreaking and devastating and inspiring and thoughtful. It’s the kind of thing that’s impossible to stop, and at points I had to consciously slow myself down so I didn’t miss the important thoughts – but I was so eager to find out what happened next that I almost couldn’t help myself.

This book. Read it.

Source: Finished copy from Atria Books


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