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review 2017-10-10 22:17
The Emperor of All Maladies: A Biography of Cancer - Siddhartha Mukherjee

After reading 'The Gene' (Mukherjee's newest book), I saw that a common thread in many of the reviews for that book said that 'Maladies' was the superior effort. It was one of those books that I planned to read "someday" and it took years to buy it and then a few more years to finally get around to reading it. Sometimes it felt like years getting though the book, unfortunately. 


Mukherjee looks at the history of cancer: its origins, its place in history, the different ways people have tried to treat it, the advances, the frustrations, etc. It's an epic look at the people who have diagnosed it, treated it, worked on it, suffered from it. Other than the basics of cancer and bits and pieces elsewhere I can't say I knew much that Mukherjee covers.


Unfortunately the book suffers for it. It is far too long and covers too much. Initially it reminded me of 'Neurotribes' in its approach but like 'The Gene' (although TG suffers a lot more from this), the book really needed a better editor. As other reviews note, it's like Mukherjee threw everything he found in his research into the book. Sometimes that can be a fantastic approach but depending on the audience it can mean the eyes glaze over and it becomes information overload. There are some great parts and cutting though some of the wordier places made it worth for some of the text. For example, I really wanted to know what happened to Carla (his patient) who pops in and out of the text. Some readers probably didn't care for that (understandable) but I found her story of her diagnosis and treatment interesting and hers was a narrative I wanted to follow.


I think there is definitely an audience for this: medical students in general, people who intend to study cancer specifically for school or for their job that is related to the medical field, maybe cancer patients and/or their family members/friends (although that would probably depend on the individual), etc. But as a read for a general audience this was just too much and one of those books that make me wonder who thought this was noteworthy or why it gets so many accolades and awards. 


I got this as a bargain book and that was probably best since I kept putting off reading it but wanted to get around to it eventually. I don't think I'll be reading anything else by Mukherjee, though. 

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review 2017-09-21 05:49
Zwei Frauen - Diana Beate Hellmann

This was a reread. The last time I read it was about 20 years ago so it wasn't exactly fresh in my mind but it was surprising how familiar some parts of it were after all these years. 

The story is set in the mid 1970s and is about 18 year old Eva Martin who gives up her family and her childhood to train for her dream of becoming a prima ballerina. Just as she reaches her goal she collapses and is diagnosed with cancer. She shares her room in the clinic with Claudia, a 26 year old loud mouth who has been in and out of remission for years. The young women seem to be opposites in every way but they strike up a friendship that helps them through the trials ahead. 

From the summary of the story the book sounds like sentimental twaddle but in fact it is raw depiction of a cancer patient who is given only months to live. The story is based on experiences in the author's own life and is written as a kind of memoir. I don't know if the book was ever translated into English. 

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text 2017-09-07 22:42
Reading progress update: I've read 178 out of 557 pages.
Zwei Frauen - Diana Beate Hellmann

This is a reread for me. I vaguely remember reading the book about 20 years ago and watching the film and still remember some of the funny bits but I forgot how heart-wrenching the story was. I am enjoying it though.

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review 2017-09-07 19:03
Amazing Book on Macrobiotics!
The Complete Macrobiotic Diet - Denny Waxman

I started reading Denny Waxman's book because I am interested in health and natural healing. I started by looking at his website when i was searching for a macrobiotic counselor. Then, I learned about his non-profit macrobiotics school the Strengthening Health Institute. Once I got there, i found the best macrobiotic book ever in the Complete Macrobiotic Diet book. 


The book itself was the easiest macrobiotic book that I have read and has so many ways to improve your health through easy to implement tips. He is all about adding instead of subtracting things to your diet and routine... such a great way to think about things!

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