Nonfiction

Book Review: Letters to the Person I Was

Letters to the Person I Was
Author: 
Abuleil, Sana
Rating: 
5 stars = Bohemian Rhapsody Awesome!
Review: 

Letters to The Person I Was is a pretty recent book published on February 25, 2020. The genre of this book is poetry and for me I did have to re-read some pages because poetry is a little hard for me to understand. This book consists of poems on the past, present, and future with reflections on experience, forgiveness, and self-love. The book is basically about what she wish somebody would have told her as a struggling little girl. I on some level do relate to this book in a way because I have dealt with pretty painful stuff in my past and I’m the process of forgiveness and learning how to live myself. I 100% percent would recommend this book to anybody who ask about this book.

Reviewer's Name: 
Miguel

Book Review: I Am Malala

I Am Malala
Author: 
Yousafzai, Malala
Rating: 
5 stars = Bohemian Rhapsody Awesome!
Review: 

I am Malala is an autobiography that a young girl wrote about her life after she was shot in the head by the Taliban and survived. She is a woman’s activist who was standing up for the right for young girls to even go to school, when the Taliban tried to silence her. The story is truly inspiring, and shows just how much of an impact someone can make. I would highly recommend this book for everyone because it really is able to explain what is happening in other parts of the world in an interesting and dramatic way. Although it is at times hard to keep up with all the names and what is happening, it is still a great read.

Reviewer's Name: 
Jana M.

Book Review: The Family that Couldn't Sleep

The Family that Couldn't Sleep
Author: 
Max, D. T.
Rating: 
3 stars = Pretty Good
Review: 

The Family that Couldn’t Sleep is a bit of a misnomer. Although the underlying thread revolves around a mysterious and terrifying disease called fatal insomnia, multiple chapters are devoted to other diseases, including bovine spongiform encephalopathy (better known as mad cow disease) and kuru (a fatal neurodegenerative disorder thought to be caused by cannibalism). All of these conditions are caused by mutations in prions, which are proteins of the central nervous system.

Most of the information on these diseases is fascinating, though some of the more technical information might require several re-reads if you’re a non-specialist (like me). Also, if you picked up this book wanting to learn exclusively about fatal insomnia, you might find yourself wanting to skip some of the other chapters.

Even so, this book provides a fascinating look at the tragic nature of fatal insomnia, especially the Italian family genetically predisposed to it. You’ll find yourself both sympathizing with them and horrified by the unrelenting nature of the disease.

I would recommend The Family that Couldn’t Sleep to anyone who is interested in prion diseases or epidemiology in general.

Reviewer's Name: 
Lisa

Book Review: The Wild Trees: A Story of Passion and Daring

The Wild Trees: A Story of Passion and Daring
Author: 
Preston, Richard
Rating: 
4 stars = Really Good
Review: 

You might know Richard Preston from his nonfiction thriller The Hot Zone or Micro, a techno-thriller Michael Crichton started before his untimely death in 2008. Although the subject matter of The Wild Trees is very different from these works, it continues Preston’s trend of combining scientific detail with narrative finesse. Specifically, this book focuses on the California redwoods, but readers will learn as much about the redwoods themselves as they will about the men and women who study them. Steve Sillett, for instance, started climbing redwoods freehand without any equipment to break his fall. Considering some redwoods are nearly 400 feet tall, this feat is as awe-inspiring as it is terrifying.

This book also provides fascinating detail on redwood canopies, which house salamanders, copepods (a type of crustacean), and even other trees! Thanks to Preston’s meticulous research and eye-popping descriptions, readers will feel like they’re exploring the redwoods alongside him.

The Wild Trees is a must-read for anyone who loves the redwoods or nature in general.

Reviewer's Name: 
Lisa

Book Review: Girl, Wash Your Face

Girl, Wash Your Face
Author: 
Hollis, Rachel
Rating: 
5 stars = Bohemian Rhapsody Awesome!
Review: 

I really loved this book. It really hit home for me and made me think and examine some things in my own life. I would highly recommend this book to other women.

Reviewer's Name: 
Lisa S.

Book Review: Humans: A Brief History of How We F---ed It All Up

Humans: A Brief History of How We F---ed It All Up
Author: 
Phillips, Tom
Rating: 
4 stars = Really Good
Review: 

A thoroughly entertaining account of how far modern humans have come and how often they messed it up in groan-worthy ways despite best intentions. Journalist and humor writer Tom Phillips relies on sound scholarship to inform, entertain and maybe demoralize (in a funny way) the reader. Examples run the gamut from a Chinese emperor who stored gunpowder in his palace then hosted a lantern festival, the inadvertent forensics pioneer/lawyer defending an accused murderer who proved to the jury that the victim may have accidentally shot himself by accidentally shooting himself, the Austrian army that attacked itself one drunken night, and other equally spectacular blunders of modern times.

Reviewer's Name: 
Joe P.

Book Review: Cringeworthy: A Theory of Awkwardness

Cringeworthy: A Theory of Awkwardness
Author: 
Dahl, Melissa
Rating: 
4 stars = Really Good
Review: 

Raise your hand if you’ve ever done something awkward. Now, raise your hand if you enjoyed that moment.

I’m willing to bet there’s not a single person in the world who would raise their hand in response to the second question. All of us hate awkward moments because they’re… well… awkward.

But in her hilarious book Cringeworthy: A Theory of Awkwardness, Melissa Dahl proposes that we learn to laugh at our awkward moments. In doing so, we can feel less alone.

Sounds pretty interesting, right? But Dahl goes one step further. She says that by actively seeking out awkward activities, we can diminish the power they have over us.

Some examples of these deliberately awkward activities include singing “Mary had a Little Lamb” in public, going to a crowded restaurant and asking a group of complete strangers to listen to your maid of honor / best man speech, and reading an embarrassing entry from your diary out loud to a live audience.

If the idea of doing any one of these activities sounds terrifying to you, you’re not alone. Indeed, the book opens with Dahl feeling like she’s in a waking nightmare as she reads an entry from her middle school diary out loud to a live audience.

But as Dahl later explains, these deliberately awkward activities are a form of exposure therapy prescribed by cognitive behavior therapists to help their patients navigate the realm of social anxiety. And it’s in anecdotes like these that the book’s strengths really shine through, as Dahl does an excellent job of balancing her own experiences of awkwardness with the more scientific aspects of social anxiety. The result is a book that’s both refreshingly honest and unusually grounded for a topic as seemingly trivial as awkwardness. Highly recommended for anyone who’s ever experienced the
discomfort of awkwardness (which is everyone… right?)

Reviewer's Name: 
Lisa

Book Review: Deep: Freediving, Renegade Science, and What the Ocean Tells Us about Ourselves

Deep: Freediving, Renegade Science, and What the Ocean Tells Us about Ourselves
Author: 
Nestor, James
Rating: 
5 stars = Bohemian Rhapsody Awesome!
Review: 

James Nestor’s book Deep: Freediving, Renegade Science, and What the Ocean Tells Us about Ourselves is both literally and figuratively the most breathtaking book I’ve ever read. It’s literally breathtaking because it’s about freediving, AKA diving sans scuba equipment, an activity as awe-inspiring as it is dangerous. (Side effects may include death, blood squirting out of your nose, mouth, and eyeballs, and paralysis.) Herbert Nitsch, the world’s self-proclaimed “deepest man” dove more than 800 feet on a single breath without using a scuba tank. And he lived to tell the tale.

Deep is also figuratively breathtaking because it reveals some of the most awe-inspiring facts about our ocean that you’ll ever read. Freediving is the only way to see sperm whales up close and personal. These behemoths' brains are shockingly similar to our own and allow them to communicate using a click-based language. Resulting studies have even shown that sperm whales have their own culture and distinct accents.

But freediving with sperm whales is, naturally, not without risks. Sperm whales’ clicks are so loud, their pulsations can literally kill us. One intrepid freediver found his hand temporarily paralyzed when a sperm whale greeted him with a click.

Deep is the rare sort of nonfiction book that reads like a thriller novel. Every page is chock-full of awe-inspiring revelations that will make you look at the sea with a sense of wonder typically reserved for children. Scientific journalism has never been this entertaining.

Reviewer's Name: 
Lisa

Book Review: Eats, Shoots and Leaves

Eats, Shoots and Leaves
Author: 
Truss, Lynne
Rating: 
5 stars = Bohemian Rhapsody Awesome!
Review: 

Lynne Truss writes and teaches proper punctuation and it’s importance, however, she does so with awesome humor. It is helpful but also hilarious. I read it for fun, often. Anytime I pick it up, I am able to lighten up and laugh for a bit.

Reviewer's Name: 
Tasha
Genres: 

Book Review: The Power of Eight

The Power of Eight
Author: 
McTaggart, Lynne
Rating: 
5 stars = Bohemian Rhapsody Awesome!
Review: 

McTaggert takes the reader on a science studies journey around the world with the power of intention. From small groups of only 8 people in virtual groups meeting weekly, to worldwide groups meeting over a specific set of days convention style, the fascinating studies of human consciousness and verifiable, measureable results are sure to intrigue and stretch the reader's imagination. The book is a few years old, but the impact and information are relevant for this minute, today. Many weekly clubs or groups have started up in person, online and around the world virtual that meet at a specific time and day every week to explore and record results of the power of beneficial intention.

Reviewer's Name: 
Janet

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