Sunday, August 18, 2013

Recent Reads

I wonder what a professional would say about my book read choices... I probably don't want to know...

Still Alice is a compelling debut novel about a 50-year-old woman's sudden descent into early onset Alzheimer's disease, written by first-time author Lisa Genova, who holds a Ph. D in neuroscience from Harvard University.
Alice Howland, happily married with three grown children and a house on the Cape, is a celebrated Harvard professor at the height of her career when she notices a forgetfulness creeping into her life. As confusion starts to cloud her thinking and her memory begins to fail her, she receives a devastating diagnosis: early onset Alzheimer's disease. Fiercely independent, Alice struggles to maintain her lifestyle and live in the moment, even as her sense of self is being stripped away. In turns heartbreaking, inspiring and terrifying, Still Alice captures in remarkable detail what's it's like to literally lose your mind...
Reminiscent of A Beautiful Mind, Ordinary People and The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time, Still Alice packs a powerful emotional punch and marks the arrival of a strong new voice in fiction.

Still Alice was very interesting considering my grandmother had Alzheimer's disease, and I definitely feel my passion for memory-keeping is produced by some kind of "fear of forgetting."  It was a book club pick and I read it in just one day on Adam's ipad (all copies were checked out of the library.)  The only surprise is that as emotional as I am, I did not tear up once?  I definitely felt a lack of "emotional connection" with the characters (although I liked them) but that may be because Alice is not the most "emotional" lady?  Or maybe the disease has something to do with that?

On the other hand... Until I Say Goodbye had me balling over and over!  A friend loaned it to me and it was very good.  I definitely am still thinking about it almost daily... almost everytime I use my iphone... as she wrote most all of it on her phone.

Susan Spencer-Wendel’s Until I Say Good-Bye: My Year of Living with Joyis a moving and inspirational memoir by a woman who makes the most of her final days after discovering she has amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS).
After Spencer-Wendel, a celebrated journalist at the Palm Beach Post,learns of her diagnosis of ALS, more commonly known as Lou Gehrig’s disease, she embarks on several adventures, traveling toseveral countries and sharing special experiences with loved ones. One trip takes Spencer-Wendel and her fourteen-year-old daughter, Marina, to New York City’s Kleinfeld’s Bridal to shop for Marina’s future wedding dress—an occasion that Susan knows she will never see.
Co-written with Bret Witter, Until I Say Good-Bye is Spencer-Wendel’s account of living a full life with humor, courage, and love, but also accepting death with grace and dignity. It’s a celebration of life, a look into the face of death, and the effort we must make to show the people that we love and care about how very much they mean to us.

A friend and I swapped books after chatting at the pool.  I can't even remember which one I gave her and she loaned me Switch.  I LOVE it!  While I have not finished it, I love the content and it is my kind of book.  I was a Political Science major in college but over the years have felt jaded by politics and government and "freakonomics."  This book just might give me the energy to find that passion again.  Very interesting read :)

Why is it so hard to make lasting changes in our companies, in our communities, and in our own lives?

The primary obstacle is a conflict that’s built into our brains, say Chip and Dan Heath, authors of the critically acclaimed bestseller Made to Stick. Psychologists have discovered that our minds are ruled by two different systems—the rational mind and the emotional mind—that compete for control. The rational mind wants a great beach body; the emotional mind wants that Oreo cookie. The rational mind wants to change something at work; the emotional mind loves the comfort of the existing routine. This tension can doom a change effort—but if it is overcome, change can come quickly.

In Switch, the Heaths show how everyday people—employees and managers, parents and nurses—have united both minds and, as a result, achieved dramatic results: 
●      The lowly medical interns who managed to defeat an entrenched, decades-old medical practice that was endangering patients.
●      The home-organizing guru who developed a simple technique for overcoming the dread of housekeeping.
●      The manager who transformed a lackadaisical customer-support team into service zealots by removing a standard tool of customer service
In a compelling, story-driven narrative, the Heaths bring together decades of counterintuitive research in psychology, sociology, and other fields to shed new light on how we can effect transformative change. Switch shows that successful changes follow a pattern, a pattern you can use to make the changes that matter to you, whether your interest is in changing the world or changing your waistline.

My mother in law loaned me this book and I love it!  I am going very slowly and underlining a TON.  I love how in the very beginning he explains what has always mystified me about "evolution."  (Hint: it depends on how you define it.)  I also love how so much of what he writes coincides with what I remember reading from Dr. Eben Alexander in Proof of Heaven!  I am such a dork that I would love to be back in college writing a paper comparing and contrasting the two books!

With the same extraordinary skill that he used to demystify scientific abstraction and the new physics, Gary Zukay, the award-winning author ofThe Dancing Wu Li Masters, here takes us on a brilliant and penetrating exploration of the new phase of evolution we have now entered.
With lucidity and elegance, Zukav explains that we are evolving from a species that pursues power based upon the perceptions of the five senses -- external power -- into a species that pursues authentic power -- power that is based upon the perceptions and values of the spirit. He shows how the pursuit of external power has produced our survival-of-the-fittest understanding of evolution, generated conflict between lovers, communities, and superpowers, and brought us to the edge of destruction.
Using his scientist's eye and philosopher's heart, Zukav shows how infusing the activities of life with reverence, compassion, and trust makes them come alive with meaning and purpose. He illustrates how the emerging values of the spirit are changing marriages into spiritual partnerships, psychology into spiritual psychology, and transforming our everyday lives.The Seat of the Soul describes the remarkable journey to the spirit that each of us is on.


  1. I loved reading "Still Alice" as I had helped care for a friend's mother who had Alzheimer's disease. It was very interesting in that it was written from the patient's perception, so you can see how life changes for them and how much they forget.

  2. I read Still Alice as well and found it to slip into didacticism. The author used it as a soapbox to educate, which isn't a bad thing, but it distracted me from the narrative. I thought the husband was a jerk, so really, I couldn't warm up to any of the characters. Still, it was fascinating to read about someone losing her memory, and quite sad.

  3. At least you are reading! I'm only reading blogs and us magazine.... But that's how I like it sadly!!

  4. Loved Still Alice & will check out the others! :)