Thumbs up for Taking the Medicine: A Short History of Medicine’s Beautiful Idea, and Our Difficulty Swallowing It by Druin Burch. History.
If the history of medicine, in the specific sense of “things we take to feel better”–from opium to thalidomide, penicillin to aspirin–sounds at all interesting to you, read this book. That won’t apply to most of you, of course.… >> Read more
Thumbs up for A Thousand Naked Strangers: A Paramedic’s Wild Ride to the Edge and Back by Kevin Hazzard. Nonfiction/Memoir.
Obviously, you shouldn’t read this if you are easily grossed out, or are offended by the mundanity of death. Before you think my reading tastes are horrifying, let me tell you: you have no idea. I know people whose reading tastes make even me—a novelist—want to back away slowly.… >> Read more
Thumbs up for Rabid: A Cultural History of the World’s Most Diabolical Virus by Bill Wasik and Monica Murphy. Medicine/history.
Somewhat uneven—or perhaps it’s just that I found the development of the rabies vaccine a far more riveting story than the section on the folklore of vampires and werewolves, which even the authors acknowledge have only a pretty vague connection with rabies.… >> Read more
Thumbs up for Brain Maker: The Power of Gut Microbes to Heal and Protect Your Brain – for Life by David Perlmutter. Health.
Building on Blaser’s Missing Microbes (my review) with the newest research plus what that book was missing—practical steps to build up and support your microbiome. The kind of important book that I want to beg every one of my friends to read, because it explains so much, so lucidly, and is backed with such well-documented science.… >> Read more
Thumbs up for Missing Microbes: How the Overuse of Antibiotics Is Fueling Our Modern Plagues by Martin J. Blaser. Science.
Oh look! Another book that makes intelligent decision-making even more difficult! You probably should not read this if you’re easily freaked out by the end of the world. I am somewhat immune (pun intended) to being freaked out by certain things, since I’ll never have children: I will not, for example, have to decide whether treating my six-month-year old with antibiotics for a painful ear infection is worth the risk of permanently throwing their microbiome out of whack, which may lead to a host of other difficulties down the road.… >> Read more
Thumbs up for Vitamin K2 and the Calcium Paradox: How a Little-Known Vitamin Could Save Your Life by Kate Rhéaume-Bleue. Health.
A fascinating book, if you’re into this sort of thing. In short, it explains the newest research on why taking calcium supplements for bone health (i.e. to avoid osteoporosis) increases your risk of heart attack and stroke. I won’t hide the answer from you; it’s because of a now-pervasive dietary deficiency of vitamin K2, which is necessary to activate the proteins responsible for distributing calcium out of the arteries into the bones.… >> Read more
Thumbs up for The Paleo Manifesto: Ancient Wisdom for Lifelong Health by John Durant. Health.
I tried this because of glowing reviews and was surprised to find it was different (in a good way) than I’d expected. Rather than being just yet another paleo how-to guide – though it does have enough basic info that it would certainly serve as a good introduction to the paleo lifestyle – it’s a well-organized collection of paleo-related thoughts, on topics ranging from the possible scientific basis of Jewish dietary laws to barefoot running to the benefits of jumping in freezing cold water.… >> Read more
Thumbs up for Drop Dead Healthy: One Man’s Humble Quest for Bodily Perfection by A. J. Jacobs. Memoir.
Every time A. J. Jacobs comes out with a new book I am filled with dread, because how many books about I-tried-this-weird-thing-and-this-is-what-happened can one man write? But I have not yet been disappointed. He is genuine, and genuinely funny. He embraces his projects as wholeheartedly as only someone with OCD can.… >> Read more