4 Star Books · ARC Book Reviews · Book Reviews · history · Medical · non fiction · science · Uncategorized

ARC Book Review | The Atlas of Disease by Sandra Hempel

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The Atlas of Disease: Mapping Deadly Epidemics and Contagion from the Plague to the Zika Virus by Sandra Hempel

Published: October 30, 2018

Publisher: White Lion Publishing 

Pages: 224

Genres: non fiction, medical, health, science, history 

Rating: 4 stars

Recommend to fans of: learning about health and wellness, medicine, science in general but especially human health

Foodie Vibes: healthy well balanced meals that are prepared with the ultimate food safety in mind 

 

Synopsis:

Behind every disease is a story, a complex narrative woven of multiple threads, from the natural history of the disease, to the tale of its discovery and its place in history.
 
But what is vital in all of this is how the disease spreads and develops. In The Atlas of Disease, Sandra Hemple reveals how maps have uncovered insightful information about the history of disease, from the seventeenth century plague maps that revealed the radical idea that diseases might be carried and spread by humans, to cholera maps in the 1800s showing the disease was carried by water, right up to the AIDs epidemic in the 1980s and the recent Ebola outbreak.
 
Crucially, The Atlas of Disease will also explore how cartographic techniques have been used to combat epidemics by revealing previously hidden patterns. These discoveries have changed the course of history, affected human evolution, stimulated advances in medicine and shaped the course of countless lives.

 

Review:

Thank you to NetGalley, White Lion Publishing, and Sandra Hempel for an ARC ebook copy to review. As always, an honest review from me.

The Atlas of Disease is perfectly summarized in the title. The book features diseases that have caused epidemics, outbreaks and overall ill health in humans throughout history. The author uses maps to help illustrate the spread of, infection rate, and other useful information relating to each disease. 

Each disease featured starts with the basics about it, so even if you’re not an expert in the field you can learn about the disease enough to have a good understanding to read the rest of the section. The next few pages describe the history, transmission, and much other information related to that specific disease. I found it fascinating and learned some new information, even beyond what I had learned in my college courses. 

I found it very interesting to see how people’s actions affect the spread of disease including individual people’s choices, the political climate, war, poverty, and famine. Also the book is a great example of why vaccinations are so important. Yes, anti vaxxers I’m talking to you. Vaccinate your children!

However, some of the maps didn’t interest me that much. Partly because I was reading it on my iPhone so I had to constantly zoom in and move the page of the book around the see the whole map, so it was more bothersome than worth it. Also I already understood most of the information through reading the text, so the map didn’t give me too much additional information. But if you’re a big visual learner or very next to the subjects then the maps would be very helpful. 

All in all, I really enjoyed reading The Atlas of Disease. I highly recommend it, especially if you’re a nerd like me. 

 

Do you think learning about diseases is interesting or scary? 

Book Reviews · non fiction · What You Missed Wednesdays

What You Missed Wednesdays – Non Fiction Edition

adult beautiful blue eyes book
Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

 

What You Missed Wednesdays is exactly as it sounds!

Book reviews of each week’s genre of choice that you might have missed, and I think you should really hear about.

3 Books a Week with 3 Words/Phrases to Describe Them 

Click on the title of each book to be taken to my full review.

I hope you find new books that you’re excited to add to your TBR!

 

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The Molecule of More: How a Single Chemical in the Brain Drives Love, Sex and Creativity — and Will Determine the Human Race by Daniel Z. Lieberman and Michael E. Long

4/5 stars

enlightening, fascinating, interesting look at brain chemistry

 

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Cannibalism: A Perfectly Natural History by Bill Schutt

4/5 stars

intriguing, informative, weird science and history

 

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I’ll Be Gone in the Dark: One Woman’s Obsessive Search for the Golden State Killer by Michelle McNamara 

5/5 stars

fantastic true crime, the ultimate book of the genre, can’t get enough 

 

Well there you have it!

Another edition of What You Missed Wednesdays.

Keep coming back each Wednesday for more Can’t Miss Books!

Which book(s) are you now adding to your TBR?

4 Star Books · biology · Book Reviews · non fiction · psychology

The Molecule of More: How a Single Chemical in the Brain Drives Love, Sex and Creativity – – and Will Determine the Fate of the Human Race by Daniel Z. Lieberman, Michael E. Long

 

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The Molecule of More: How a Single Chemical in the Brain Drives Love, Sex and Creativity – – and Will Determine the Fate of the Human Race by Daniel Z. Lieberman, Michael E. Long

Published: August 14, 2018

Publisher: BenBella Books

Pages: 240

Genres: non fiction, biology, psychology

Rating: 4 stars

Recommend to fans of: learning about psychology and biology, figuring out how things work, human behavior

Foodie Vibes: chocolate to light up those dopamine centers in your brain

 

Synopsis: 

Why are we obsessed with the things we want only to be bored when we get them?

Why is addiction perfectly logical to an addict?

Why does love change so quickly from passion to indifference?

Why are some people die-hard liberals and others hardcore conservatives?

Why are we always hopeful for solutions even in the darkest times—and so good at figuring them out?

The answer is found in a single chemical in your brain: dopamine. Dopamine ensured the survival of early man. Thousands of years later, it is the source of our most basic behaviors and cultural ideas—and progress itself.

Dopamine is the chemical of desire that always asks for more—more stuff, more stimulation, and more surprises. In pursuit of these things, it is undeterred by emotion, fear, or morality. Dopamine is the source of our every urge, that little bit of biology that makes an ambitious business professional sacrifice everything in pursuit of success, or that drives a satisfied spouse to risk it all for the thrill of someone new. Simply put, it is why we seek and succeed; it is why we discover and prosper. Yet, at the same time, it’s why we gamble and squander.

From dopamine’s point of view, it’s not the having that matters. It’s getting something—anything—that’s new. From this understanding—the difference between possessing something versus anticipating it—we can understand in a revolutionary new way why we behave as we do in love, business, addiction, politics, religion—and we can even predict those behaviors in ourselves and others.

In The Molecule of More: How a Single Chemical in Your Brain Drives Love, Sex, and Creativity—and will Determine the Fate of the Human Race, George Washington University professor and psychiatrist Daniel Z. Lieberman, MD, and Georgetown University lecturer Michael E. Long present a potentially life-changing proposal: Much of human life has an unconsidered component that explains an array of behaviors previously thought to be unrelated, including why winners cheat, why geniuses often suffer with mental illness, why nearly all diets fail, and why the brains of liberals and conservatives really are different.

 

Review:

Thank you to NetGalley, BenBella Books, Daniel Z. Lieberman and Michael E. Long for an ebook copy for review. As always, an honest review from me.

I learned so much from this book. It was absolutely fascinating!

We’ve all heard about dopamine. It interacts with the reward centers in the brain and explains why we keep seeking more and more. Even when we’re already happy. I learned even more about dopamine and the role it plays in so many more experience than I realized. From solving problems and dreaming, struggles in relationships, political affiliations, and even from an evolutionary standpoint.

The beginning was more an explanation of how dopamine functions and the role in the brain. It was a necessary foundation, but not particularly fascinating. The rest of the chapters were much more interesting. However I didn’t completely agree with everything. Neurotransmitters definitely play a role in human behavior. The studies even prove it. But there is some element of human choice that the book doesn’t discuss. We’re human beings and not just a bunch of chemicals and electrical activity.

Overall, a fascinating look at the role dopamine has on human behavior. Learned a lot and even found myself stopping to read aloud interesting passages to the people around me. 

 

Who else likes to read about psychology?

What are your fav

4 Star Books · Book Reviews · non fiction

Book Review: Cannibalism: A Perfectly Natural History by Bill Schutt

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Cannibalism: A Perfectly Natural History by Bill Schutt

Published by Algonquin Books on February 14, 2017

Pages: 332

Genres: non fiction, science, history, anthropology, biology, nature, psychology

Rating: 4 stars

Recommend to fans of: books that include a comprehensive mix of multiple sciences to uncover the facts, science nerds

Read with food: 100% vegan salad

 

Synopsis: 

For centuries scientists have written off cannibalism as a bizarre phenomenon with little biological significance. Its presence in nature was dismissed as a desperate response to starvation or other life-threatening circumstances, and few spent time studying it. A taboo subject in our culture, the behavior was portrayed mostly through horror movies or tabloids sensationalizing the crimes of real-life flesh-eaters. But the true nature of cannibalism–the role it plays in evolution as well as human history–is even more intriguing (and more normal) than the misconceptions we’ve come to accept as fact.

In Cannibalism: A Perfectly Natural History, zoologist Bill Schutt sets the record straight, debunking common myths and investigating our new understanding of cannibalism’s role in biology, anthropology, and history in the most fascinating account yet written on this complex topic. Schutt takes readers from Arizona’s Chiricahua Mountains, where he wades through ponds full of tadpoles devouring their siblings, to the Sierra Nevadas, where he joins researchers who are shedding new light on what happened to the Donner Party–the most infamous episode of cannibalism in American history. He even meets with an expert on the preparation and consumption of human placenta (and, yes, it goes well with Chianti).

Bringing together the latest cutting-edge science, Schutt answers questions such as why some amphibians consume their mother’s skin; why certain insects bite the heads off their partners after sex; why, up until the end of the twentieth century, Europeans regularly ate human body parts as medical curatives; and how cannibalism might be linked to the extinction of the Neanderthals. He takes us into the future as well, investigating whether, as climate change causes famine, disease, and overcrowding, we may see more outbreaks of cannibalism in many more species–including our own.

Cannibalism places a perfectly natural occurrence into a vital new context and invites us to explore why it both enthralls and repels us.

Review: 

A book about cannibalism seems like it would be weird and horrific, but it was actually quite intriguing. That is not to say I want to engage in cannibalism … actually quite the opposite.

The book discusses the history of cannibalism in animals and humans, and the mainly evolutionary and survival purposes for the practices. Young animals, especially amphibians, would engage in cannibalism by eating other smaller animals of the same species to increase their chance of survival. I found this fact intriguing and informative, as my preconceived notions were that cannibalism was only creep psychotic serial killers.

In humans, the practice of medical cannibalism throughout history occurred in some cultures. Mainly as an attempt to cure health conditions or periods of extreme famine.

Overall, I found this book to be incredibly interesting. The author is truly trying to understand the practice of cannibalism, not sensationalize it. A bit of an odd book choice for some, but if the topic intrigues you, then I definitely recommend this book.

 

So . . . I want to know, what’s the weirdest book you’ve read?

Book Reviews

The Soul of an Octopus: A Surprising Exploration into the Wonder of Consciousness by Sy Montgomery

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The Soul of an Octopus: A Surprising Exploration into the Wonder of Consciousness by Sy Montgomery

Published by: Atria Books on May 12, 2015

Pages: 261

Genres: non fiction, science, memoir

Rating: 4.5 stars

 

Synopsis: 

In this astonishing book from the author of the bestselling memoir The Good Good Pig, Sy Montgomery explores the emotional and physical world of the octopus’ surprisingly complex, intelligent, and spirited creature: and the remarkable connections it makes with humans.

Sy Montgomery’s popular 2011 Orion magazine piece, “Deep Intellect”; about her friendship with a sensitive, sweet-natured octopus named Athena and the grief she felt at her death, went viral, indicating the widespread fascination with these mysterious, almost alien-like creatures. Since then Sy has practiced true immersion journalism, from New England aquarium tanks to the reefs of French Polynesia and the Gulf of Mexico, pursuing these wild, solitary shape-shifters. Octopuses have varied personalities and intelligence they show in myriad ways: endless trickery to escape enclosures and get food; jetting water playfully to bounce objects like balls; and evading caretakers by using a scoop net as a trampoline and running around the floor on eight arms. But with a beak like a parrot, venom like a snake, and a tongue covered with teeth, how can such a being know anything? And what sort of thoughts could it think?

The intelligence of dogs, birds, and chimpanzees was only recently accepted by scientists, who now are establishing the intelligence of the octopus, watching them solve problems and deciphering the meaning of their color-changing camouflage techniques. Montgomery chronicles this growing appreciation of the octopus, but also tells a love story. By turns funny, entertaining, touching, and profound, The Soul of an Octopus reveals what octopuses can teach us about consciousness and the meeting of two very different minds.

Review: 

The Soul of an Octopus is incredibly fascinating! The author takes us along on her journey as she gets to know several of the octopuses who live at the New England Aquarium. I learned so much about these magnificent, intelligent, and mysterious creatures. Of course the book covers the basics such as the octopus life cycle, habitats, and behaviors.

What sets the book apart from others of the same genre is the passion for these magnificent creatures of the deep. The love for each octopus as an individual is evident as the reader gets to know, appreciate, and care about each octopus. They have individual personalities, not unlike humans and other animals. Through Athena, Octavia, Kali, and Karma the reader is able to experience a world often unknown. I felt extremely privileged to learn about each unique octopus.

The only sections of the book that I didn’t enjoy as much were the pages about scuba diving. These experiences were frustrating for the author, which I definitely picked up on. I’m also more of an animal lover, than a swimmer so that probably affected it too.

Overall, my sentiment for this book is best represented by my initial reaction . . . I found myself stopping within the first 30 pages to keep telling people around me, the new facts I had learned about octopuses.

 

Recommend to fans of: animals, the ocean, science, heartwarming stories, books that remind us of our humanity

Read with food: vegetarian sushi and a hot mug of green tea

Vegetarian sushi is a nice tribute to the sea life without eating our friends.

A hot mug of green tea pairs nicely with the sushi and will warm you up after reading about the cold sea water.