Tuesday, February 27, 2018

Book review: "Get Well Soon: Histories Worst Plagues and the Heroes Who Fought Them" by Jennifer Wright

I feel like my 2018 is off to just an amazing start reading wise.



So the book we talked about last week about Churchill and Orwell was fo' sho' my favorite book of the year so far until I glanced my peepers with the beauty and Winnie and George have a run for their money. I love me nonfiction, and then I love weird medical nonfiction, especially the really just gross gory stuff. Remember how I talk about that book I read that was all about Rabies like 5 years ago.(So good, so informative, so gross) this book is going to be like that. Except it's a bunch of bad things instead of just one. What puts this book over the top is that while it is informative and interesting it's also FUNNY AS HELL. I lol'd SO many times reading this book. (Usually in the lunch room with coworkers and then I have to explain what the book was about and what was funny and usually that would be weird but they are all scientists and weird is what they do.

So this book talks about (among other things) lobotomies, cholera, typhoid, polio, THE plague, and leprosy. And I know I just did this with the last book but I'm going to just tell you about a bunch of neat shit I learned.

First I'm just going to give you a sample of the hilarious writing style: "Commodus changed his  name because his brain was full of dumb ideas and positive reinforcement. He spent the rest of his time poisoning perceived political enemies and killing extremely nonthreatening animals in gladiatorial games..he killed an ostrich and paraded it proudly before the senators, who had to restrain from laughter". 

-There's a whole section on dancing plagues and I'm obsessed (still). Send me all your book reccs on dancing plagues.Though there is a sad part in that chapter that talks about how mass hysteria can be connected to trauma. Like during the Khmer Rouge killing fields in the 70s so many people developed hysterical blindness because of the trauma they had witnessed.

-The whole section on smallpox will get you riled up about smallpox AND colonization. "Today it is estimated that smallpox killed around 90% of the native people of the Americas".

-My favorite chapter (such a weird thing to say, sorry, continue) was the chapter on syphilis. So many people had syphilis (Schubert, Guy de Maupassant) . Tertiary syphilis is one of the most terrifying things you can have I'm pretty sure. If you have REALLY bad, untreated syphilis your nose can just, sink into your face and rot off.

- Best line from the typhoid chapter: "The good news is that now we know that TB isn't a cool blessing. We don't look at a woman with consumption and think, Oh, man, she is withered like a ghost and spitting blood; I want her to be my Victorian bride!"

In (not so) short, this book is my jam. It is my jammiest jam and I loved it. I already have another of this author's books on hold and I can't wait to get my grubby hands on it. 4/5 would recommend to a weird, gross friend like me! 


Thursday, February 8, 2018

Book review: Churchill & Orwell - The Fight for Freedom" by Thomas E Ricks

I know that it is dangerously early in the year to be saying something like this, but I think that this is going to be one of my favorite reads of the year! When I would describe this book to people I think most of them thought I was reading it under threat of violence (it sounds a little intimidating, fair enough) but it was a really enjoyable and fast moving read.

Churchill and Orwell are not people that you would probably put together at first glance, politically they would disagree on some fundamental things, they came from very different stations in life, etc. But the things that formed them as men were pretty similar: absentee fathers, near death experiences as young men that changed the course of their lives, family tragedy and at the forefront for this book, the Second World War.(If you, like my husband, saw Darkest Hours and went on a binge of "I never gave a shit about Churchill but now I have to know everything about him!" this would be a good book for you as well). 

Im going to give you the 5 most interesting things that i learned form this book and I hope that it will encourage you to pick it up for yourselves:

1. George Orwell had no brothers, ironic considering he created Big Brother
2. George Orwell was obsessed with how things smelled. A lot, like borderline too many, of his descriptions of his books are about setting the scene with how things smelled
3. Churchill wore pink silk underwear
4. Churchill thought that the French government failed their people in a HUGE way during WWII (and England, with the French under the Nazi thumb it was just a hop, skip and a jump to England) and he was pissed about that for the rest of his life. Major French anger.
5. Right before the D-DAY invasion there were 1.6 million Americans in England

The amount of post it notes I had in this book was insane, it was chalked full of interesting bits and stories. Highly recommended, 4 out of 5 stars. 5/5 for the simple, elegant, regal cover.

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