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Friday, November 27, 2009

Book Reviews

I was going to wait to start this next year, but I think I'm going to do it now, because I just read two highly interesting books, which I want to share. So, the idea is that when I read a book, I'm going to post a brief review of it--fairly simple stuff, but it will be a way for me to track what I've read and share some of the things I've discovered.

Forever Today by Deborah Wearing

Genre: Non-fiction memoir

Very brief summary: A memoir from Deborah Wearing, the wife of Clive Wearing, a highly accomplished musician and conductor. His memory was destroyed in an illness caused by the herpes virus, leaving his intelligence intact, but unable to form new memories. He is said to be the most severe case of amnesia ever recorded, and he can only remember 7 to 30 seconds at a time. He can’t remember Deborah’s name, but he knows he loves her. His musical ability was left, because of the different ways in which we store knowledge—his procedural memory still works, so he can remember how to do things, but not much else. Because of the safety issues, he’s had to live at a hospital or in a home for brain injured people since his illness in 1985.

How I heard about it: We were studying neurons and memory in my science foundations class and we talked a bit about the case, including reading a few articles and watching a few videos. After hearing that his wife had written a memoir, I went to my library’s website to see if they had it.

Where I got the book: Library.

What I Found Most Gripping: This is really a story about love. Clive still loves Deborah and recognizes her. I felt her ability to handle the situation to be extraordinary. Clive basically wakes up every few seconds, realizes something is deeply wrong and feels like he’s just woken up and gained consciousness, and this is repeated over and over again and it’s no use explaining it to him, because he just forgets a few seconds later, yet Deborah’s compassion and patience and love in dealing with this is inspiring and touching.

Any negatives: It’s a bit choppy in the beginning.

Readability: I couldn’t put it down! I read it in one night, staying up far too late.


Boys Adrift by Leonard Sax

Genre: Non-fiction

Very brief summary: Dr. Sax talks about the way boys are becoming unmotivated in recent years and identifies five key factors on why this is happening. He also outlines a plan on how to fix it.

How I heard about it: From my child development class. As part of our lessons, we listened to a podcast with Dr. Sax talking about his book.

Where I got the book: Library.

What I Found Most Gripping: As the mom of three boys, it’s something I worry about all the time. I want my boys to feel supported and to have grounded values. I want them to be masculine, but as defined by our values, not the rootless, slacker dude or the macho homeboy. I’ve noticed this trend in my own life, and with three boys, I’m deeply invested in the subject. I think the thing I took away from it the most was the problem of making school masculine again. Not to leave out the girls, but to make it socially acceptable for boys to be smart and do well in school. Also, that we need to create opportunities for our boys to get out in the real world and not become addicted to the false achievement provided by video games.

Any negatives: I felt it was well-researched and the arguments were persuasive and well-supported. I did find a few of the scenes where he talks to parents to feel artificial—like he created them just for the book, but that’s a very small negative among a wealth of interesting, documented evidences.

Readability: I couldn’t put it down. I talked to everyone I could find about it—my sister, my mom, my husband. I was fascinated all the way through. Another one I read in less than 24 hours.


So, don't you think I deserve some extra credit for all that reading? Joking. In all honestly, I'm grateful to my instructors as the source for some very interesting and insightful reading.
I've started a new blog: Come follow my crafting adventures on my new blog. Find me at: creativeirony.com.