nonfiction

Book Review: The White Darkness

The White DarknessThe White Darkness by David Grann

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

It’s better to be a live donkey than a dead lion.

Full disclosure, I’ve never read a book by David Grann and didn’t love it. This book was no different.

In another riveting book by Grann, The White Darkness tells the tale of Henry Worsley who dreams of crossing the Antarctic on his own. Long an adventurer in his own right, Worsley spent years in the British military while pining for the icy abandon of the South Pole. Finally, Worsley is able to complete the quest of his idol, Ernest Shackleton, and he and his two companions (and relatives of those who originally traveled with Shackleton) voyage together to the South Pole.  Not satisfied with making history just once, Worsley decides to traverse the Antarctic alone with no food caches, just a single sled and his own fortitude. A lifelong leader, he always said “It’s better to be a live donkey than a dead lion” but his quest puts his motto to the ultimate test.

The White Darkness is short, coming in at only 140 pages. It’s built off Grann’s previous retelling, a short article in The New Yorker. The book doesn’t specifically improve on the earlier piece, but the photos are stunning. I was able to finish the book in about 2 hours and thoroughly enjoyed it.

*I received an advanced electronic copy of this book courtesy of NetGalley.*

Advertisements

Book Review: The Neuroscientist Who Lost Her Mind

The Neuroscientist Who Lost Her Mind: My Tale of Madness and RecoveryThe Neuroscientist Who Lost Her Mind: My Tale of Madness and Recovery by Barbara K. Lipska

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

As the step-parent of a child with mental illness, I’ve often wondered what is really going on in his head. Granted, he suffers from autism as well, but there was so much cross-over between Barbara Lipska’s experiences and what I see with my stepson. The idea that every human is just one unlucky event away from madness is terrifying, but Lipska presents her story brush with mental illness factually and scientifically in a way that only a scientist could. Despite the clinical nature of some passages, Lipska could be any of us, her family could be my own as we deal with the changes in one of our own, and the story it frighteningly relatable.

I highly recommend this book to anyone dealing with mental illness in their family. I’ve already recommended it to a friend whose mother has dementia. It is a powerful passage into the psyche of someone in the throes of brain disease and it is a view not often granted to those on the outside.

Book Review: The Danger Within Us

The Danger Within Us: America's Untested, Unregulated Medical Device Industry and One Man's Battle to Survive ItThe Danger Within Us: America’s Untested, Unregulated Medical Device Industry and One Man’s Battle to Survive It by Jeanne Lenzer

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Wow — this book was terrifying but it’s probably one of the most important books out there in the market right now. The Danger Within Us: America’s Untested, Unregulated Medical Device Industry and One Man’s Battle to Survive It has been on my radar since I saw a review on NPR and I’m so glad I was able to get an early reviewer copy. This book is well researched, insightful, and the most horrifying book I’ve read about the dysfunction in the United States’ healthcare system.

Having worked in the healthcare industry and suffering from a chronic illness, I’ve had more than my fair share of run-ins with the medical device industry. Even then, I had no idea just how corrupt the system really was. Learning that many medical devices are implanted with little or no testing is awful — especially when I consider the fact that I was thinking about having an off-label device implanted myself!

The United States is at a pivotal moment. There is a lot of upheaval happening. Perhaps this book could stir the pot and lead to change in the current healthcare system. I know one thing: Everyone should read this book before considering medical device implants. Do your research. Know your risks. Be your own advocate. The healthcare industry won’t help you there.

Book Review: Limp

Limp: A Funny MemoirLimp: A Funny Memoir by Simon Eli Vella

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

The only thing I have in common with Simon Eli Vella is introversion. Despite that fact, Vella is an incredibly relatable person and his memoir is painfully beautiful.

Recounting his awkward childhood, Vella discusses the dangers of letting the voice in your head get the better of you. As an extremely imaginative child myself, I totally understand the constant background chatter. I can also vouch for the fact that the voice is often really, really mean. Vella also teaches the reader how to be really cool in high school, though being cool comes at the price of ethics. Finally, the reader meets adult Vella who still struggles with the voice in his head and well, being an adult.

It’s a story of finding oneself through the darkness that is addiction. This book is not for the faint of heart. It’s more than a little graphic. There is gratuitous…everything. It’s totally worth it however. Vella writes from the heart and he’s good at it.

I was given an advance copy of this book from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.