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review 2018-06-07 19:19
Facts, anecdotes, some opinions, and a very engaging way of learning about the human body.
Human Errors: A Panorama of Our Glitches, from Pointless Bones to Broken Genes - Nathan H. Lents

Thanks to NetGalley and to the publishers (Weidenfeld & Nicolson) for providing me an ARC copy of this book that I freely chose to review.

When I saw this book on offer, I could not resist. I studied Medicine and have been fascinated by Biology and the Natural Sciences for ages. I have also thought and often commented on our (mostly mine, but yes, most of the issues are general, not exclusive to me) flawed design, no matter how superior we feel to the rest of the species that share the planet with us. In a later chapter of the book, the author sums it up observing that if we participated in an Olympic Games-style contest that included all of the Earth’s species, we would not win at anything, apart from perhaps decathlon (or chess if it was included), as we are generalists. We might not be able to compete with the physical prowess shown by many other species (we are not the fastest, the strongest, the best hunters, the ones who jump higher or who can run for longer), but we can do many things to a reasonable level. And yes, we are pretty intelligent (however we choose to use our minds).

There is enough material to fill several books under the general title of this book, and Lents chooses pretty interesting ones (although I guess some will appeal to some readers more than others). He talks about pointless bones and anatomical errors, our diet (here he talks about our tendency to obesity and our need to eat a varied diet due to the fact that our bodies have lost the ability to synthesise a number of vitamins, amino acids… while other species do),junk in the genome (issues to do with our DNA), homo sterilis (we are not very good at reproducing as a species), why God invented doctors (about our immune system and autoimmune diseases, cancer…), a species of suckers (about cognitive biases. The title of the chapter refers to P.T. Barnum’s edict ‘a sucker born every minute’ although as the author notes, this is an underestimate), and he discusses the possible future of humanity in the epilogue. There is a fair amount of information contained in this book, and that includes some useful illustrations, and notes at the end (I read an ARC copy, but it is possible that the final version contains even more documentation and resources). It is an educational read that I thoroughly enjoyed. I listened to the book thanks to the text-to-speech facility, and it suits it well, as it has a very conversational tone and manages to impart lots of information without being overbearing or obscure.  I read some reviews suggesting that it was so packed with facts that it was better to read it in small bites. Personally, I read it in a few days and never got bored of it, but it might depend on the reader’s interest in the subject.

I was familiar with some of the content but I appreciated the author’s take and the way he organised the materials. Although I enjoyed the whole book, I was particularly interested in the chapters on genetics (the DNA analysis and the identification of specific genes have moved on remarkably since I completed my degree) and on cognitive biases. As a doctor, I also agreed with his comments about autoimmune diseases, the difficulties in their diagnosis, and how these illnesses can sometimes be confused with psychiatric illnesses (being a psychiatrist, I know only too well this can happen). Of course, as is to be expected from the topic, the book reflects on the development of the species and discusses natural selection and evolution, and I was fascinated by the reviews of people who took his arguments as personal attacks on their beliefs. I agree that some of his interpretations and his hypothesis of the reasons for some of these flaws can be debatable, but that does not apply to the facts, and I did not feel the book is intended as a provocation but as a source of information, and entertainment. As the writer notes, we remember better (and believe in) anecdotes and stories than we do dry data. (I am not an expert on the subject but was fascinated by the comments on his blog.)

I found the book fascinating, and as a writer, I thought it was full of information useful to people thinking of writing in a variety of genres, from science-fiction (thoughts about how other species might evolve crossed my mind as I read it), historical fiction (if we go back many years), and any books with a focus on human beings and science.  I would recommend checking a sample of the book to see if the writer’s style suits the reader. I highlighted many lines (and was surprised when I learned that female Bluefin tunas don’t reach sexual maturity until they are twenty years old and was pleased to learn about the important roll old female orcas play in their society) but I particularly like this one:

Scurvy is a dystopian novel written by the human body.

A great read for those who prefer non-fiction and fact-packed books, perfect for people with little time, as it can be picked up and savoured in bite-size instalments, and a book that might pique our interest in and lead to further research on some of the topics. Experts are unlikely to find new information here, but other readers will come out enlightened and with plenty to think about. I strongly recommend it.

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photo 2018-04-26 13:30
Books on Alternative medicine for careers by Malini Chaudhri
Sports Massage

http://malinichaudhri.wordpress.com

 

The author has retired two titles on Amazon in favor of Library sales only. The range of her books is exclusively to support careers.

 

The new era of the internet shows libraries to be the focal point of change management, and the platform for new development, exploration and awareness.

 

These books have been submitted to libraries foir review and will put a perspective on global standardized education of Occupational Standards.

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text 2018-04-01 05:35
March Reading
The Lost Plot - Genevieve Cogman
Endurance: My Year in Space, a Lifetime of Discovery - Scott Kelly
Nelvana of the Northern Lights - Adrian Dingle
Medicine Walk - Richard Wagamese,Tom Stechschulte
The Prey of Gods - Nicky Drayden
Out Standing in the Field: A Memoir by Canada's First Female Infantry Officer - Sandra Perron
City of Light, City of Poison: Murder, Magic, and the First Police Chief of Paris - Holly Tucker
Ester and Ruzya: How My Grandmothers Survived Hitler's War and Stalin's Peace - Masha Gessen
Lavinia - Ursula K. Le Guin
Penric's Fox - Lois McMaster Bujold

Fourteen Books Read:

The Lost Plot - Genevieve Cogman 

Endurance: My Year in Space, a Lifetime of Discovery - Scott Kelly 

Nelvana of the Northern Lights - Adrian Dingle 

Medicine Walk - Richard Wagamese

Beyond Band of Brothers: The War Memoirs of Major Dick Winters - Dick Winters, Cole C. Kingseed 

The Prey of Gods - Nicky Drayden 

Out Standing in the Field: A Memoir by Canada's First Female Infantry Officer - Sandra Perron 

Place to Belong - Claire Boston 

City of Light, City of Poison: Murder, Magic, and the First Police Chief of Paris - Holly Tucker

Ester and Ruzya: How My Grandmothers Survived Hitler's War and Stalin's Peace - Masha Gessen 

The Girls in the Picture: A Novel - Melanie Benjamin (DNF)

Lavinia - Ursula K. Le Guin

The Covert Captain: Or, A Marriage of Equals - Jeannelle M. Ferreira (DNF)

Penric's Fox - Lois McMaster Bujold  

 

Women Writers Bingo: 10/25

(Personal take: Finish 25 books by new-to-me female authors in 2018*)

Finished in March: Nicky Drayden, Sandra Perron, Claire Boston, Holly Tucker, Masha Gessen**

 

Gender Balance:

Fiction: 7 by women, 2 by men, 0 by non-binary

Non fiction: 3 by women, 2 by men, 0 by non-binary

 

Format:

Paper books that I own: 1

Paper books from library: 4

E-books that I own: 2

E-books from library: 1

Audiobooks that I own: 5

Audiobooks from the library: 1

 

March Goals:

Read two Hugo nominated novels and all of the short stories.

 

*Women Writers Bingo Bonus Points:

5 of those books in translation: 1/5

5 of those books are non-fiction: 4/5 (Warmth of other Suns, Out Standing in the Field, City of Light, Ester and Ruzya)

 

Bingo Companion Round:

5 books by non-binary authors: 0/5

 

**As per this essay, I'm not completely sure about listing Masha Gessen under female authors, but it seems at the moment the best option.

 

Previous months:

January Reading

February Reading

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review 2018-03-16 15:54
Ever wondered about the anatomy of a leech?
Quackery: A Brief History of the Worst Ways to Cure Everything - Lydia Kang,Nate Pedersen

As soon as I saw Quackery: A Brief History of the Worst Ways to Cure Everything by Lydia Kang I knew that I had to get it in my hands. If the name alone doesn't intrigue you then I don't know what will. This book is full to bursting with historical facts about crazy medical practices through the ages. It is an excellent resource about the history of the medical profession as well as education and social change. Much like when I read Soonish, I felt that it was a little heavy with the 'relatable' humor but this was easily overlooked. (I think Kang pulled it off better anyway.) As someone who has read quite a bit about the history of medicine, I was surprised by just how much I didn't know. For example, did you know that leeches have 3 stomachs, 3 jaws, and 100 teeth in each of those jaws?! Kang sets up the different medical practices and procedures by first giving a history of the person that started it off (generally a 'medical practitioner' or someone at least purporting to be one). She then shares accounts from the patients who endured such crazy routines (like bloodletting or ingesting arsenic) paired with diagrams of the medical equipment used to accomplish such feats. (I hope you have a strong stomach for the bloodletting chapter.) I especially enjoyed the little asides about what we now know about the concoctions put together long ago to 'cure' and how the vast majority of them were either complete hokum or actually increased the chances of the patient suffering an agonizing death. It makes you wonder how the future generations will view our supposedly 'innovative' medicines and treatments of the sick. Will we be seen as medical charlatans and blind fools or will they take into account the socioeconomic and political climate that we live in and how that shapes our view on medicine as a whole? As you read this book (and I hope you will) ponder that very question because then perhaps you won't judge past generations quite so harshly...unless it's the guys who took Strychnine in order to increase their sex drive. Always judge those guys. 9/10

 

I wasn't lying about the leeches. [Source: Amazon]

 

 

What's Up Next: HiLo Book 4: Waking the Monsters by Jeff Winick

 

What I'm Currently Reading: The Murderer's Ape by Jakob Wegelius

 

Source: readingfortheheckofit.blogspot.com
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review 2018-03-15 16:53
A psychologically astute book that will make you think about your own mortality. And what an ending!
The Healer - Christoph Fischer

I have read and reviewed a couple of the author’s books in the past and enjoyed them, and I was intrigued by this book when it came out, but due to my personal circumstances (my father suffered from cancer and died around the time of its publication) I didn’t feel I was in the best frame of mind for it. Now that it has been published as part of The Fraud and Miracle Trilogy, I was very pleased to receive a paperback copy and finally get to read it.

The story is deceptively simple. A woman suffering from terminal pancreatic cancer, desperate, follows the advice of her personal assistant and approaches a healer, Arpan. I am not sure if he would call himself a “faith” healer, but he insists that those he treats should be totally invested in the process, including transferring 50% of their assets to his account. Although he states all that money goes to charity, it caused suspicion and scandal years back, and he has been keeping a low profile ever since. After much insistence and a different deal, he agrees to treat Erica, who also has secrets of her own. There are strange conspiracies surrounding Arpan and his healing process but Erica’s life is changed forever. Things are not as they seem, of course.

The story is written in the third person from Erica’s point of view, and we get to share in her doubts, suspicions, paranoia, hope, and also to experience the healing with her. The book transmits a sense of claustrophobia, and although there are treks around the Welsh countryside and later we move to a different country, most of the story takes place within Arpan’s tent, and there are only a few main characters (mostly Erica (Maria), Arpan (Amesh), and Anuj) with some secondary characters that we don’t get to know very well (Hilda, Julia, Gunnar). There are no lengthy descriptions of settings or of the appearance of the characters, because we follow the point of view of a woman totally preoccupied with her health and her mortality, and that makes her not the most reliable of narrators. She describes the physical and mental effects that the illness and the healing process have on her, and we are also privy to her suspicions and doubts. The book offers fascinating psychological insights into how much our “rational” point of view can change when our life is at stake, and it is impossible to read it and not wonder what we would do in Erica’s place.

I kept thinking that the story, which relies heavily on dialogue (both between characters and also internal dialogue), would make a great play, and its intensity would be well suited to the stage. Although most of the characters are not sympathetic, to begin with, their humanity and the big questions they are forced to deal with make them intriguing and worthy subjects of our observations.

The ending brings a great twist to the story. Although I think most readers will have been suspicious and on alert due to the secrets, false information, continuous doubts, and different versions of the truth on offer, the actual ending will make them question everything and re-evaluate the story in a different light. And, considering the nature of the subject it deals with, that is a great achievement.

I recommend it to those who enjoy stories that make them think, to readers who are not searching for cheap thrills and prefer a psychologically astute book and especially to those who want to feel personally invested in the stories they read. I look forward to the rest of the books in the trilogy.

 

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