Genre: History

Audio Review: Get Well Soon: History’s Worst Plagues and the Heroes Who Fought Them by Jennifer Wright

Posted January 5, 2018 by Hillary in Book Reviews / 2 Comments

ISBN: 9781627797467
Length: 7 hours and 43 minutes
Audio Review: Get Well Soon: History’s Worst Plagues and the Heroes Who Fought Them by Jennifer WrightGet Well Soon by Jennifer Wright
Published by Henry Holt and Company on February 7th 2017
Genres: History, Essays, Social History
Pages: 336
Format: audiobook
Source: bought

A witty, irreverent tour of history's worst plagues—from the Antonine Plague, to leprosy, to polio—and a celebration of the heroes who fought them

In 1518, in a small town in Alsace, Frau Troffea began dancing and didn’t stop. She danced until she was carried away six days later, and soon thirty-four more villagers joined her. Then more. In a month more than 400 people had been stricken by the mysterious dancing plague. In late-seventeenth-century England an eccentric gentleman founded the No Nose Club in his gracious townhome—a social club for those who had lost their noses, and other body parts, to the plague of syphilis for which there was then no cure. And in turn-of-the-century New York, an Irish cook caused two lethal outbreaks of typhoid fever, a case that transformed her into the notorious Typhoid Mary.

Throughout time, humans have been terrified and fascinated by the diseases history and circumstance have dropped on them. Some of their responses to those outbreaks are almost too strange to believe in hindsight. Get Well Soon delivers the gruesome, morbid details of some of the worst plagues we’ve suffered as a species, as well as stories of the heroic figures who selflessly fought to ease the suffering of their fellow man. With her signature mix of in-depth research and storytelling, and not a little dark humor, Jennifer Wright explores history’s most gripping and deadly outbreaks, and ultimately looks at the surprising ways they’ve shaped history and humanity for almost as long as anyone can remember.

I am really getting the hang of audiobooks. This makes my third one at the time of writing this. The third one I could understand that is. I saw a few bloggers that I love rave about the audiobook production so I took a gamble and got it with an Audible credit. I was not disappointed. I have often wondered how someone could put on a good audio show and now I know.

The subject matter has the potential to be boring. I mean what can you say about the plagues that won’t put people to sleep? A lot as it turns out. To be fair I had never really thought about any plague expect that the Middle Ages had one and it killed millions of people. I had no idea there was a whole history regarding plagues. That just goes to show how much I know.  Gabra Zackman manages to make this book seem  laugh out loud funny.  I listened to it while waiting for my Audiology appointment and even though I was horrified by some parts of it I could not help but laugh at the sarcasm dripping through my blue tooth headphones.

Funny story I I thought that the first plague that the book mentioned was called the eight or nine plague. I understood that the Roman army brought it back from the Germanic tribes but for the life of me, I couldn’t find any info on an ancient Roman eight or nine plague. I was googling and everything but nada I FINALLY figured out that it was the ANTONINE plague. Hmmph. I was perplexed when not even the almighty Google could tell me what the hell the eight or nine languages was LOL.

All kidding aside I was impressed at the author Jennifer Wright ability to tackle this subject matter and what we can learn from history without coming across as preachy. It would be far to easy to look down at the people who lived through the bubonic plague and how they dealt with it than it is to look at them as fellow human beings who had some tough choices to make. We can either judge them for leaving their children behind or empathize with them and learn what we can from them. I would choose empathy and so does Jennifer Wright.


love learning about the macabre and this book serves it in heaping dosages. This is NOT  a book to listen to while you are standing I line at Cracker Barrel. cough  The book goes into some detail about HOW the plague is spread and what the symptoms are and  I was listening to it while my parents and I were waiting in line at Cracker Barrel and… let’s just say I stuck to my diet that day with no issues.

Another point that I never thought about is the people who helped beat the plague into submission. I mean obviously, someone did as we are all here alive today but to think about what it actually took to keep the rat fleas away well… I never thought of it in such detail but yet this is precisely the amount of detail that makes up this book.

I really enjoyed the audio production. I felt that the narrator sounded exactly like it was supposed to sound. I even feel that the audio production even added more to the feel of the book.  From reading other bloggers feelings on audiobooks it can be a hit or miss but this one id definitely a hit.



My Age of Anxiety

Posted January 16, 2015 by Hillary in Book Reviews / 0 Comments

My Age of AnxietyMy Age of Anxiety by Scott Stossel
Published by Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group on 2014
Genres: Anxieties & Phobias, Biography & Autobiography, History, Neuropsychology, Personal Memoirs, Psychology, Psychopathology
Pages: 400

A riveting, revelatory, and moving account of the author's struggles with anxiety, and of the history of efforts by scientists, philosophers, and writers to understand the condition As recently as thirty-five years ago, anxiety did not exist as a diagnostic category. Today, it is the most common form of officially classified mental illness. Scott Stossel gracefully guides us across the terrain of an affliction that is pervasive yet too often misunderstood. Drawing on his own long-standing battle with anxiety, Stossel presents an astonishing history, at once intimate and authoritative, of the efforts to understand the condition from medical, cultural, philosophical, and experiential perspectives. He ranges from the earliest medical reports of Galen and Hippocrates, through later observations by Robert Burton and Søren Kierkegaard, to the investigations by great nineteenth-century scientists, such as Charles Darwin, William James, and Sigmund Freud, as they began to explore its sources and causes, to the latest research by neuroscientists and geneticists. Stossel reports on famous individuals who struggled with anxiety, as well as on the afflicted generations of his own family. His portrait of anxiety reveals not only the emotion's myriad manifestations and the anguish anxiety produces but also the countless psychotherapies, medications, and other (often outlandish) treatments that have been developed to counteract it. Stossel vividly depicts anxiety's human toll—its crippling impact, its devastating power to paralyze—while at the same time exploring how those who suffer from it find ways to manage and control it. My Age of Anxiety is learned and empathetic, humorous and inspirational, offering the reader great insight into the biological, cultural, and environmental factors that contribute to the affliction.

why I read this book


I suffer from anxiety and I wanted to see how another person copes with it.

my review


I was never anxious as a child. Well I was afraid of the dark but that’s about all. Then in 2007 I was diagnosed with shizoeffective disorder and all the anxiety that I didn’t have come on all at once. I became so anxious that I became house bound and convinced that all of creation was plotting my demise.

I have tried to tell friends but their advice of just suck it up and get over it never did much good. So lately I have turned to books that have been written by people with anxiety in the hopes that they have found a way to thrive because of it.

I could relate to My Age of Anxiety in so many ways. Reading the authors account of anxiety attacks was like a peek into my own personal hell. He described it so well that I had an attack while reading. Alas like me the author has tried all the therapy and all the meds available but none seem to work really well. What we both have found works is when you feel an attack come on, cram all different sorts of meds in your mouth to hopefully pass out and when you wake your nervous system will be reset. Well, I feel less alone now that I know that at least one other person has popped Klopioion, vodka and other stuff to do this.

Also, like me, the author has tried less orthodox means. This mostly includes smoking pot. I have found that this is the holy grail of anxiety treatment. The author did not seem to have my  success with it. Just goes to show that everyone is different.

I also liked the history that The Age of Anxiety delivers. I never much thought about how people in ancient Greece handle anxiety and I really never thought about how anxiety seems to afflict people in artistic endeavors more than any other field. It was all very interesting to read. It could have been boring but the author has the skill to make even the mundane come to life.





Review:The Immortal Life Of Henrietta Lacks

Posted January 18, 2012 by Hillary in Book Reviews / 0 Comments

Review:The Immortal Life Of Henrietta LacksThe Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks by Rebecca Skloot
Published by Broadway Paperbacks on 2011
Genres: Biography & Autobiography, Cancer, Cultural Heritage, Diseases, Health & Fitness, History, Medical, Research, Science
Pages: 381

Her name was Henrietta Lacks, but scientists know her as HeLa. She was a poor Southern tobacco farmer who worked the same land as her slave ancestors, yet her cells—taken without her knowledge—became one of the most important tools in medicine. The first “immortal” human cells grown in culture, they are still alive today, though she has been dead for more than sixty years. If you could pile all HeLa cells ever grown onto a scale, they’d weigh more than 50 million metric tons—as much as a hundred Empire State Buildings. HeLa cells were vital for developing the polio vaccine; uncovered secrets of cancer, viruses, and the atom bomb’s effects; helped lead to important advances like in vitro fertilization, cloning, and gene mapping; and have been bought and sold by the billions. Yet Henrietta Lacks remains virtually unknown, buried in an unmarked grave. Now Rebecca Skloot takes us on an extraordinary journey, from the “colored” ward of Johns Hopkins Hospital in the 1950s to stark white laboratories with freezers full of HeLa cells; from Henrietta’s small, dying hometown of Clover, Virginia—a land of wooden slave quarters, faith healings, and voodoo—to East Baltimore today, where her children and grandchildren live and struggle with the legacy of her cells. Henrietta’s family did not learn of her “immortality” until more than twenty years after her death, when scientists investigating HeLa began using her husband and children in research without informed consent. And though the cells had launched a multimillion-dollar industry that sells human biological materials, her family never saw any of the profits. As Rebecca Skloot so brilliantly shows, the story of the Lacks family—past and present—is inextricably connected to the dark history of experimentation on African Americans, the birth of bioethics, and the legal battles over whether we control the stuff we are made of. Over the decade it took to uncover this story, Rebecca became enmeshed in the lives of the Lacks family—especially Henrietta’s daughter Deborah, who was devastated to learn about her mother’s cells. She was consumed with questions: Had scientists cloned her mother? Did it hurt her when researchers infected her cells with viruses and shot them into space? What happened to her sister, Elsie, who died in a mental institution at the age of fifteen? And if her mother was so important to medicine, why couldn’t her children afford health insurance?             Intimate in feeling, astonishing in scope, and impossible to put down, The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks captures the beauty and drama of scientific discovery, as well as its human consequences.

A book Review of the immortal life of Henrietta Lacks
Henrietta Lacks is the woman behind the famous hela cells. The hela cell line has helped with everything from the polio vaccine to research for cancer. Yet her family did not get answers that they wanted about their mother.
This books uncovers what it was like to be poor and black in the 50’s.  Lacks had cervical cancer. Her cancer spread like wildfire and she died shortly after. Without her or her family knowing the DR. took a sample of her cancer cells and they became the first immortal cell line. Her family had questions but no one would talk to them or answer them until the author came along. In the decade that she spent researching this book, she became friends with Lacks daughter Deborah. Together they embarked to find out all they could on Lacks.
I felt that this book was well written. What could have descended into technical jargon instead remains assessable for the lay person and it superb storytelling. This book is a fascinating look into who Henrietta Lacks was. The author does not hold anything back. She tells the good with the bad. So we get a balanced picture of the Lacks family.
I would recommend this to anyone who likes science. Even if you do not like science the writing itself is so well written it makes this book worth reading.