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Thursday, July 31, 2014

Elizabeth is Missing

     Fiction with a shot of mystery, this is author Emma Healey’s first book and it features an unlikely protagonist, Maud, who is an eighty-something British woman diagnosed with dementia. Still living on her own at home, with much supervision by her daughter Helen and a series of caretakers, Maud manages to get around and into things, relying on notes to herself and her increasingly faulty memory. 
   Currently, Maud is fixated on the idea that her friend Elizabeth is missing. She constantly tells Helen about this, she makes several visits to the police station to report on it, forgetting each time her previous visits, and she suspects that Elizabeth’s son Peter has in some way mistreated her and caused her disappearance. But this is not the first time someone has vanished from Maud’s life. Shortly after the end of World War II, her married sister Sukey disappeared and was never found, despite the family’s efforts.
   The reader follows the two different stories, one current-day and one in 1946, seeing how Maud’s memories and actions combine to solve these two mysteries. The relationship between Maud and Helen is sensitively drawn and all of the characters are three-dimensional. While there are no happy endings, the reader roots for Maude and her determination.

Thursday, July 24, 2014

Dog Days: Books about Canines

            Here are some recently published books about “man’s best friend”. Learn what makes them tick and how to ensure their health and safety.

How Dogs Love Us: a Neuroscientist and his Adopted Dog Decode the Canine Brain, written by Gregory Berns. He is a medical doctor who has used MRI imaging technology to research how the human brain works; in this book he describes his experiments using MRI to study the canine brain.
Medicine Dog: the Miraculous Cure that Healed My Best Friend and Saved My Life is written by Julia Szabo, a journalist who writes on pet topics. When her dog Sam suffered from severe osteoarthritis, Julia researched and found a medical technique called Vet-Stem that uses the dog’s own stem cells to regenerate the joints. Since Szabo was a lifelong sufferer of chronic inflammatory bowel disease, she decided to see if the same technique could help her own medical condition. She found a physician who cured her perirectal fistula with stem cells.

The Dog Lover’s Guide to Travel: Best Destinations, Hotels, Events, and Advice to Please Your Pet – and You is written by Kelly E. Carter and published by National Geographic. Divided into chapters covering the different regions of the U.S. and Canada, each consists of listings that include descriptions of hotels, services and activities designed for dogs. Attractive color photos add to the reading experience.

Canine Cuisine
Raw and Natural Nutrition for Dog: the Definitive Guide to Homemade Meals is written by Lew Olson, a raiser of dogs and American Kennel Club judge. From covering canine nutritional needs, to feeding your dog through all stages of life, to remedial diets made simple, this book covers it all.
The book Dog-Gone Good Cuisine: More Healthy, Fast, and Easy Recipes for You and Your Pooch is written by Gayle Pruitt, who also has written The Dog-Gone Good Cookbook. The recipes are designed for both canines and humans and cover breakfasts through dinners as well as desserts and juices. Recipes are accompanied by color photos of rescue dogs.

Paleo Dog: Give Your Best Friend a Long Life, Healthy Weight, and Freedom from Illness by Nurturing His Inner Wolf is written by Jean Hofve, DVM. She explains what the healthy canine diet should be and presents some recipes exemplifying this. Other canine health topics are discussed too.




Friday, July 18, 2014

Destiny of the Republic: a Tale of Madness, Medicine, and the Murder of a President

     Today’s society doesn’t know much about James A. Garfield, the 20th President of the United States. He was in office for only a few months before dying as a result of an assassination attempt. But this well-written, factually dense book, written by Candice Miller, introduces us to a noble individual, one who is erudite yet a man of the people. Born into poverty, Garfield managed to obtain a college education and then went on to become a major general during the Civil War and later a member of the House of Representatives and a senator. Drafted as the Republican Party compromise nominee for president in 1880, Garfield won handily. Some of the goals of his administration were civil rights for African Americans, civil service and post office reform, and universal education.

     However, a successful term for Garfield was not to be. He was stalked by and eventually shot by Charles J. Guiteau, a psychologically unbalanced rejected Federal Office seeker who had delusions that Garfield was causing harm to the country and had to be removed. 

     After Garfield was shot, Dr. Bliss took ascendancy over other physicians in the care of the President. Unfortunately, even though the wound wasn’t as serious as originally thought, not all American physicians used sterile practices, including Dr. Bliss. Garfield eventually succumbed to blood poisoning and a fatal heart attack. Tragically, even although his vice-president and successor, Chester A. Arthur, managed to push through some of Garfield’s planned reforms, a promising presidency was cut short.

Monday, July 7, 2014

Overwhelmed: Work, Love and Play When No One Has the Time

  Brigid Schulte, a journalist for the Washington Post and a wife and mother, has undertaken a comprehensive investigation of modern-day life and its dearth of leisure time. Primarily focusing on working parents, especially mothers, Schulte relies on a large quantity of studies and interviews with sociologists, neuroscientists and working parents to interpret how American society has arrived at this non-stop way of life. She also compares our work, nurturance and play habits with those from other cultures so that we can observe some of their more sensible ways to manage time.

  Schulte offers advice on how spouses can equally share responsibility for children and home through paid maternal and paternal child care leave, staggered work schedules, working from home, and more.

  Schulte finds that the American “ideal worker” myth and multitasking as a life ideal is keeping us from reaching our true potential. Only with meaningful “play” experiences can we expand our creative potential and make life worth living.