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Back You are here: Home Reviews Books Recommended Reading: June 2010

Recommended Reading: June 2010

BookgenericBe inspired, motivated, challenged and intrigued by this month's selection of books.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Who Said That First
Max Cryer
Exisle Publishing 

Who_said_that_firstBelieve it or not, this is probably the first book to attempt to identify the original sources of some of the English language's most common expressions. We might think we know who first said famous for fifteen minutes, annus horribilis, the cold war and let them eat cake. It's a no brainer, you might say, but Max Cryer has a surprise or two in store for you.

I kid you not. In this very readable book, he explores the origins of hundreds of expressions we use and hear every day – and comes up with some surprising findings. Never economical with the truth, he might just have the last laugh.

We learn what they didn’t say...We are not amused; Elementary my dear Watson; Let them eat cake; First catch your hare.

We learn that the Bible doesn’t mention Salome - or seven veils….

We learn about the origins of the infamous Mile High Club.

Written in Max Cryer’s delightfully witty style, Who Said That First? is a wonderful book to dip into or settle a friendly dispute. Remember, good books are few and far between, and you get what you pay for. So buy this book, go ahead, make my day.

 

No Rain in the Amazon: How South America’s Climate Change Affects the Entire Planet
Nikolas Kozloff
Palgrave Macmillan 

No_Rain_AmazonSouth of the equator lies the key to the planet's health – the Amazon rainforest.

Acting as the planet’s air conditioner, the rainforest sucks up millions of tons of greenhouse gases and stores them safely out of the atmosphere. South America's deforestation threatens to unleash a kind of “carbon bomb” that will add to our already deteriorating climate difficulties. As he travels across Peru and Brazil, recognized South America expert Nikolas Kozloff talks to locals, scientists and activists about the rainforest and what should be done to avert its collapse. 

Drawing on unique access to South American leaders, Kozloff argues that cooperation between the world's countries is vital in turning the tide of climate change and the planet's fate depends on our response to environmental issues of the southern hemisphere.

 



 



Manufacturing Depression
Gary Greenberg
Allen and Unwin 

Manufacturing_DepressionAccording to 2007 figures released by the Australian Bureau of Statistics, depression affects 4% of the Australian population aged 16-85 years. But what constitutes depression? And what role have the pharmaceutical companies played in creating an idea of depression that turns human beings into neurochemical machines?

Where does that leave the human spirit? Do we ask and expect too much of science, rather than accepting that there are important matters about which we may always be unsure? Could this lack of certainty be at the heart of what it means to be human?

In his fascinating account of the close relationship between psychiatric diagnosis and the pharmaceutical industries, Gary Greenberg uses his personal experience over a two-year exposure to drug testing and different therapies for depression, backed up by twenty years of professional practice as a psychotherapist, to answer these questions and unravel the 'Secret History of a Modern Disease'.

 




Plenitude
Juliet Schor
Scribe 

PlenitudeAt a moment of ecological decline and continuing ?nancial uncertainty, best-selling author and economist Juliet Schor offers a revolutionary strategy for changing how we think about consumer goods, intrinsic value, and ways to live.

Earth, we have a problem: humans are degrading the planet far faster than they are regenerating it. This is leading to increasingly expensive food, energy, transport, and consumer goods. As well, the economic downturn that has accompanied the ecological crisis has led to another type of scarcity: incomes, jobs, and credit are also in short supply. But our usual way back to growth — a debt-financed consumer boom — is no longer an option that our households or our planet can afford.

Plenitude deals with these challenges by putting the need for sustainability at the core of its response. But this is not a paradigm of sacrifice being offered — instead, it’s an argument that, through a major shift to new sources of wealth, green technologies, and different ways of living, we can become better off and more economically secure.

Around the world, small groups of people are already busy creating lifestyles that offer a way out of the work-and-spend cycle. These pioneers’ lives are scarce in conventional consumer goods, but rich in the newly abundant resources of time, information, creativity, and community. This trend represents a movement away from the conventional market, and offers a way toward an efficient, rewarding life.

Plenitude is a road map for the next two decades. In encouraging us to value our gifts — nature, community, intelligence, and time — Schor offers all of us the opportunity to participate in creating a world of enduring wealth and well-being.

 

The Madame Curie Complex
Julie Des Jardins
Feminist Press. Distributed in Australia by Footprint 

Madame_Curie_ComplexWhy are the fields of science and technology still considered to be predominantly male professions? The Madame Curie Complex moves beyond the most common explanations—limited access to professional training, lack of resources, exclusion from social networks of men—to give historical context and unexpected revelations about women's contributions to the sciences.

Exploring the lives of Jane Goodall, Rosalind Franklin, Rosalyn Yalow, Barbara McClintock, Rachel Carson, and the women of the Manhattan Project, Julie Des Jardins considers their personal and professional stories in relation to their male counterparts—Albert Einstein, Robert Oppenheimer, Enrico Fermi—to demonstrate how the gendered culture of science molds the methods, structure, and experience of the work.

With lively anecdotes and vivid detail, The Madame Curie Complex reveals how women scientists have often asked different questions, used different methods, come up with different explanations for phenomena in the natural world, and how they have forever transformed a scientist's role.




 

The Last Goodnights: Assisting My Parents With Their Suicides
John West
Counterpoint. Distributed in Australia by the Scribo Group 

Last_GoodnightsA husband and wife, both medical professionals, are gravely ill. Rather than living in pain, they choose to end their lives, and they turn to their son for help. Despite the legal risks and certain emotional turmoil, he agrees—and ultimately performs an act of love more difficult than any other.

The Last Goodnights provides a unique, powerful, and unflinching look inside the reality of one of the most galvanizing issues of our time: assisted suicide.

Told with intensity and bare honesty, John West’s account of the deaths of two brave people is gritty and loving, frightening and illuminating, nerve-wracking and even, at times, darkly humorous.

As West’s story places him in one of the most difficult experiences anyone can endure, it also offers a powerful testament to the act of death by choice, and reveals the reasons why end-of-life issues are far too personal for government intrusion.
 
Intimately told, The Last Goodnights points out the unnecessary pain and suffering that is often forced upon dying people and their families, and honors the choice to die with purpose and dignity. In the end, this story is not just about death—it is also about love, courage, and autonomy.

 

 

Books selected by Katrina Fox, Editor-in Chief.

For details of where to send review copies, click on the Contact menu.

 

 

 



 

 

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