It was an interesting month of reading during the past month of May, to say the least. One thing is for certain, I am author loyal. When I read anything I like, I backtrack on what else has been written by the person, and anticipate what they’ll put out in the future. It keeps my stacks tall and shelves heavy.
One woman’s work I’ve had on the periphery of my mind is Mary Roach. She picks a singular topic and rips it to shreds with her very morbid curiosity. No faint of hearts or sensitive stomachs should read her work. The most recent book, Gulp, was spotlighted on NPR, and after hearing the interview with her, I decided to get on Amazon and order the top 4 out: Stiff, Spook, Bonk, and Gulp. Just think about these singular words. As you may imagine, Stiff is about what happens to our bodies after we die. This was the first I read of the four. Absolutely fascinating! I already have an understanding and serious appreciation for the human body. As an A+ student in Anatomy and Physiology, plus experience dissecting cadavers at the Parker Chiropractic School in Dallas, I was captivated once again. From the origins of human dissection and why it is absolutely necessary, how the body decays after death and why forensics needs this research, human crash test dummies, the search for the soul, plastic surgeons using the facial muscles to practice on, and all the various other uses for organs, it’s riveting. One body donated to science saves an upwards of 8 lives. Regardless of how you feel about your own inevitable death, you will seriously consider donating your body to science after reading this book. I am. (I already made the decision prior to the book, but still) It also brought back the memory of dabbing quite a bit of peppermint essential oil under my nose prior to being in the cold room of cadavers.
The other I read of the 4 was Spook. This highlights all the ways and means scientist and charlatans both tackle the afterlife. From reincarnation to ghost and ghost hunters, to seance’s and the pseudo-psychics whom try to make a buck on people’s sadness, to ‘misadventures in paranormal research’. It is frustrating, ridiculous, and slightly irritating to read truthfully. So much of the coverage in this book, under the guise of the afterlife, I just don’t personally believe in, so the physical act of reading it was like nails on a chalkboard truthfully. But as far as her thorough to the core style, she’s a superstar in my eyes for the patience it took to investigate and interview. I’m taking a break from these before I tackle the other 2.
Another author I revere is Alexander McCall Smith. He’s a Scottish writer and professor of Medical Law. His books are simply structured (detective or mystery) stories, using these frames as context for the morals, ethics, and philosophy he covers in the subplots. He analyzes behavior, decorum, manners, and honesty. He questions interpersonal relationships like when it’s ok to tell a lie, for example. As you’ll see on his wiki page, calling him a prolific writer would be an understatement. I’ve only read the Detective Series novels and The Philosophy Club ones. He has been a fave for at least 7 years. The one pictured is the newest.
And let us not forget Dan Brown, the controversial Da Vinci Code author. At it again with history, drama, suspense, fantastical writing of facts, cultural place settings and adjective-filled ridiculous sentence structure. A great story teller he is, regardless. The newest Inferno is set in Italy, mainly Florence and Venice and grapples with the big question of population control. It’s on the verge of going over the precipice with global warming schtick and liberal dogma, but the characters offer insight into both sides of the coin. Will we run out of resources? Are we over-populating? I mostly enjoyed the place setting descriptions. I love Italy, and learning more about places I’ve been adds more richness and familiarity to my memories. National Review did a great review. I would categorize it as a fast-paced guilty pleasure.
History and History. Let’s reclaim why i read!! I don’t know why that all felt like I ate too much candy, and need to drink a lot of water to recalibrate. Edward Rutherfurd is similar to Mary Roach. One topic, then everything you possibly ever wanted to know about it. He does it with places, the geography, how it was founded, the wars, the land grids, the cultural transformations, the government enterprise and manipulation, the real historical characters, characters, characters…the people whom really make history worth reading. New York is phenomenal. From its Dutch founding and original name of New Amsterdam all the way to the terrorist attack on 9/11. I am currently on Paris, the newest one, then I’ll backtrack to read London. Stoked.
It’s a great summer of books. Even by a pool (or ever), I won’t make time for chick-lit though. If you’re reading something you think I’d enjoy, PLEASE tell me about it. I will make time. The Rolf Potts book was in last month’s review.