Reading Fanatic ReviewsAll Nonfiction Reviews
A Window into the “Golden Age” of Medicine
I am an RN–a generalist, not a neuro nurse–so I found this collection of this doctor’s patient stories from what he calls the golden age of medicine (back before the heavy influence of administrators and insurance companies) to be quite a fascinating one. Given what I know of HIPAA, I’m actually surprised that he could publish a book like this, but it is a fascinating read. There’s not much of a distinct organization to it. The bulk of the book is a set of patient stories, and at the end, he talks about malpractice, being an expert witness, and gives one detailed case study. If you have an interest in medicine, or neurology, you might find this book to be an intriguing one like I did.
Life Hacks… Or Common Sense?
Perhaps it’s my age, somewhere north of 50, but I have an issue with the word “hack” being used everywhere for everything. Yes, it’s silly; I know. Sometimes, I actually feel like I’m still kind of fuzzy on the precise definition because different people seem to use it in different ways.
But enough about that. This is a very short and quick read. Because of my aversion to the word “hack,” I might call this more social common sense–that probably isn’t quite as common as it should be. He has clearly organized each of the ten hacks, talking about it in general, giving an exercise, and providing a similarly structured FAQ. Surprisingly, he does have some good insights into how these small changes which can actually make a positive influence on social interaction. None are tricky or difficult; they just take a little bit of thought and remembering. But I imagine if one started to practice them, they would become second nature in no time–especially if you get good results. These simple but good ideas, if followed by more people, would indeed make the world a more pleasant place to be in.
Available at Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Kobo, Google Play, Scribd, 24 Symbols, Mondadori and Angus & Robertson
Broad Swath of Mental and Physical Health Topics Addressed
The topics that this book explores are vast. The author is a naturopathic doctor and gestalt psychotherapist who practices holistic integrated medicine. All of this is quite obvious when you read the book. The book is split broadly into three parts. The first part looks at emotions, the second how the body affects the mind, and the last covers a variety of topics and healing modalities. He explores mental as well as physical issues and ways to heal each. He does explain some of the science that is the background for some of his recommendations, like neurotransmitters and hormones. Much of the latter part of the book explores issues with hormones, like with the adrenals and the thyroid, as well as common issues like gut and liver issues. I am an RN, and I don’t wholly agree with everything that he says in this book, but he has given the reader much to think about, and I do believe he has the right of it in many places. He explores such diverse topics as sex, insomnia, and nutrition. He does give suggestions for different supplements throughout the book and shares some meditative practices. All in all, I found it to be a fascinating read.
More than Just the Art of Minimalism
I have read another book by this author on mindfulness, and in this book, she brings mindfulness to minimalism in a variety of ways. The book is roughly divided into thirds: generalities and mindset about minimalism, specific strategies for decluttering your physical environment, and ideas for decluttering your relationships, your thoughts, and your day. What I like about this book is that you can tell that the author walks the talk. She isn’t just cobbling together a variety of information from online sources and other books as happens far too often in nonfiction books these days. Instead, she shares personal stories and insights as well as tips that she herself has come up with. I particularly loved the section on how to naturally clean all the areas of your home after you’ve decluttered. I’m planning to implement some of those ideas very soon.
I have read several books on minimalism, but her approach draws you right in because she helps you understand your thinking about the excess of “stuff” in your life and the history of consumerism. Much of her advice is very detailed, like the specific recipes for natural cleansers and how to use the pomodoro technique in your decluttering. The book has some unusual topics for a book on minimalism, like affirmations and time management—and of course, the entire last section that is more about the mental aspects, like clearing toxic relationships and thoughts from your life and replacing those thoughts with more positive ones. It might seem from the outside like it’s an odd combination of ideas, but the ideas do work together to help support you in decluttering all aspects of your life.
Available at Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Kobo, Google Play, Scribd, 24 Symbols, Thalia, Mondadori, Angus & Robertson, and Bol.de
Required Reading for Would-Be Nonfiction Authors
On so many levels, I found this book to be an absolute delight and would recommend it to anyone who is considering writing a nonfiction book. It seems like these days most nonfiction authors are going for the quick reads category on Amazon, so unfortunately so many nonfiction books are more flash than substance, sometimes with just a paragraph or two given to a meaty topic. That’s part of what makes this book a refreshing change. The author goes into deep detail about the process of writing a nonfiction book. That’s not entirely accurate. He actually starts well before the writing begins. The book begins by discussing, in what he calls the philosophy section, whether or not you should write a book and what you may have to offer the world. Later sections dig deep into the preparation, writing, and publishing process, with step-by-step instructions with lots of details and advice given. As an author and a freelance copy editor myself, I don’t always agree with everything that he says in this book, but for the fledgling nonfiction writer, he gives you much to think about and consider as you approach and work through the process of conceptualizing, writing, and publishing your nonfiction book. I liked, too, that he gives information about how to think about your book even after publication so that you can learn lessons that will take you further in your writing career. With his book, the author is trying to set up future writers for success. Well done!
The Art of Conversation
Conversation and sincere dialogue are essential even in this day of tweets and texts. Especially when dealing with those who are close to us, meaningful conversation is essential to true intimacy; it is also crucial to getting the most out of life both personally and professionally. I think that sometimes when we have the need for one of the great conversations that can cause a shift in life, we can have a lack of clarity within ourselves that is magnified when we attempt to communicate our wants, desires, and needs to another. This book gives you seven shifts or frameworks for the important conversations that we have with those who matter. The author has many examples to show what these mean and what effective and ineffective conversation looks like. She even has exercises at the end of the book that will help you increase your capacity for creating meaningful conversations, although some of them are simply helpful just to help you get clarity about your thoughts and your regular patterns of communication. If you’ve ever felt yourself at a loss for those significant conversations or they didn’t turn out quite as you had hoped, this book can guide you on the path to more effective conversations.
Available at Amazon, Barnes & Noble, iBooks, Kobo, Google Play, Thalia, Mondadori, Angus & Robertson, Indigo (Chapters), and Bol.de
The City of Lights from a Writer’s Perspective
What an unusual and delightful book! I’m been finding it hard to describe precisely. The author is a writer who has spent time writing his books in Paris, and this book is meant to encourage other authors to make a similar pilgrimage for their art. He is very specific about places to go, sometimes just to appreciate the place and sometimes to inspire writing. It’s broken down into 34 lessons, which are bite-sized nuggets about writing, Paris, or some aspect of the French or France. He discusses practical issues on occasion, like writing blueprints for your time in Paris and how to work around the potential language barrier. The glimpse he gives of Paris is very intimate, discussing things like footbridges and the human scale of the city. You can tell the man has a great affection and appreciation for Paris, and not only for what magic it evokes for his creative Muse but also for itself. I have never been to France—but took the language in high school and college—but I will admit that this book has given me a bit of the travel bug, making me wish that I would take such a writing pilgrimage. Perhaps one day. And I know just the guidebook to help me along the path.
Available at Amazon, Barnes & Noble, iBooks, Kobo, Google Play, Scribd, Thalia, Mondadori, Angus & Robertson, Indigo (Chapters), and Bol.de
Modern Voices of Feminism
This book is a collection of social history interviews of women who are prominent either nationally or locally in the feminist movement. For some reason, the author restricts herself to women between the ages of 20 and 50. This is such a fascinating read that I find myself curious about what the interviews would have looked like with women who are older feminists. After all, 50 is still relatively young in general and particularly if you look at the broader history of the feminist movement. In fact, those around the age of 50 would have been children during the feminist wave of the late 1960s and early 1970s. So I would have loved to have seen interviews with the still-living women who might have been a part of that particular wave. That said, this book does give fascinating insights into the lives and minds of 25 unabashed feminists. Their individual journeys are both unique and universal. With three decades looked at, are there are definitely generational differences between how they came to feminism and how they approach it now. I like how the book looks at feminism’s past, present, and future.
With the #MeToo movement, women’s marches, pink hats, and media leaders like Samantha Bee, feminism and all that it means is at the forefront of national consciousness quite often. As it well should be, because these issues matter to more than the just over 50% of the population that women are.
Available at Amazon, Barnes & Noble, iBooks, Kobo, Google Play, Scribd, 24 Symbols, Thalia, Angus & Robertson, and Bol.de
Scientific and Practical Guide to Death and Dying
As an RN who has seen death firsthand, I was curious about what this book had to offer. The author is a hospice volunteer, so she does have some viable personal insights into death and dying, and she has gone further and talked with medical professionals, some of whom specialize in palliative care, and studied current research into death and dying. She also shares some of her personal experience in dealing with her own mother’s death. If one is up for reading the science, I believe that this book would be helpful for those who are newly diagnosed with a terminal illness and for family members touched by such. The book not only looks at the physical aspect dying process itself (insofar as we can know it) but also at coping with it and getting your affairs in order. You’ll learn a little about the hospice system, which is not as well understood as it could be.
I feel like the book should have actually been several books: one just for the person who is dying, one for family members, one for caregivers, and one that speaks directly to the science of it all. At times, this book does feel like it is trying to be too much to too many types of people, so a specialized set of books would be more helpful. For instance, I believe that a simplified, well-organized version would be fantastic for the person who is actually dying, stressing the situations so they will run across in the physical aspect as well as the mental and financial preparation.
I find myself wondering at the statistic that she gave in the beginning, that 90% of us will die after living with a disease for days, weeks, or years. I don’t quite buy that, or at least, wouldn’t put it that way. Life is terminal; we will all die. Chronic diseases give one a higher chance for mortality but don’t necessarily cause death directly. After all, say, a person with high blood pressure doesn’t necessarily die from it even if they’ve lived with it for years. Sometimes death is sudden, like in a car crash. However, often it is more of an aggregate of certain factors: age, general health, and chronic diseases (co-morbidities) than a specific terminal illness.
All in all, though, I do you think this is a very helpful book for those involved in the dying process. you may want to cherry-pick your way through, picking the nuggets that apply to you and your situation.
Concepts Standing Between Us and True Understanding
The subtitle of this book definitely intrigues: The little space between what you know and don’t know. In this book, the author seeks to make us aware of this gap that can exist personally, professionally, and culturally. It isn’t a step-by-step blueprint to, say, help you better understand your relationship with your spouse or how to understand your company’s corporate culture. Rather, he looks at several concepts like gatekeepers, intelligence, bias, and specialists; and gives insight into them so that you can better understand what these really mean and how they are reflected in our experience of the world. Within each concept, he gives an example, sometimes a counterpoint, and a one-sentence takeaway. Given that some of the concepts can be a little intangible, the book is surprisingly engaging and makes you think about some of your preconceptions about yourself, others, and the greater world. It is a book best taken in small doses so you can ponder the information presented. The line isn’t always clearly drawn about how a concept is necessarily part of the gap between the known and the unknown, but the ideas are still interesting to think about. If you want to explore some of what could be seen as barriers to true understanding, you may very well enjoy this book. I know I did.