Saturday, January 10, 2015

What I've Been Reading - Book Reviews



     I decided to spend my vacation relaxing and doing some reading. I managed 4 books so far, which is more than I read in the last 3 months of 2014.

     First off was Seeing Ghosts by James Garcia Jr. .  It's a paranormal thriller, and anyone who has lost someone close to them will be able to relate to the main character Paul Herrera, who is mourning the loss of his wife and unborn son and seems unable to move on with his life.  He and his brother inherit a farmhouse from a mysterious aunt, and upon taking a look at the property discover some very strange people - or are they ghosts? Just a little creepy, which suited me since I'm not a fan of real horror but do enjoy stories which interlace reality and the supernatural. Well-paced, with several twists and turns.

     Next was Tesla: Man Out Of Time by Margaret Cheney.  This is an old book (1981) and so some of the references to "current" technology are dated, but overall it's an excellent resource for detailed information on Tesla's life, including not only his groundbreaking discoveries but his rivalry with contemporaries like Edison and his personal struggles.

     Since I enjoy both history and medicine, the next two books were fascinating. The Remedy: Robert Koch, Arthur Conan Doyle and the Quest To Cure Tuberculosis by Thomas Goetz brings together two famous men in the search for a "remedy" to cure one of mankind's worst scourges.  Koch was the founder of modern bacteriology and celebrated for discovering the causative agents of cholera, anthrax and tuberculosis. But his "cure" for TB proved to be his undoing, mainly due to his abandonment of his own scrupulous laboratory rigor.  Arthur Conan Doyle, then a small-town English doctor and aspiring writer, attended a conference in Berlin held to announce Koch's "remedy". Already utilizing the powers of observation which would later define his books' main character, Doyle determined that Koch's science was either sloppy or skewed, and published a paper saying so.  From there we follow the lives of the two men and the surprising twists and turns which cemented both as brilliant but often flawed men.

     The Tale Of the Dueling Neurosurgeons by Sam Kean is a history of human brain studies, beginning with Henry II's eventually fatal jousting injury (the title is derived from this unfortunate event). Each chapter is devoted to a specific part of the brain, introduced via a case study and/or anecdotes detailing some sort of trauma, the effects it caused, and treatment at the time. It's written with humor and wit and very readable, although one or two passages are not for the easily nauseated.

    Still waiting to be read:  The Poisoner: the Life and Times of Victorian England's Most Notorious Doctor by Stephen Bates, and Enigma: the Race to Break the German U-Boat Codes by David Kahn. (I just saw the movie The Imitation Game, and I loved it.)

     What have you been reading?


  1. Hey, I know James!
    I'm on the final two chapters of Woven by David Powers King.

  2. The book I read over the Christmas holidays was Dickens's The Haunted Man, now I'm actually reading my own novella Mind Noise, as it's almost a year since it was published and funny enough I'm quite enjoying it! ^_^

  3. I've just finished reading The Body Snatchers by Jack Finney. I really loved it, although it did give me strange dreams and made me reluctant to go to sleep!

  4. I'm reading The Three by Sarah Lotz at the moment. It is fictional but written in the style of interviews and newspaper reports about the events. It's quite good.

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