Readers looking for help on sleep problems should consult one of the books Gregory recommends. Those who are merely curious...

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NODDING OFF

THE SCIENCE OF SLEEP FROM CRADLE TO GRAVE

A British sleep expert provides an overview of what we know about sleep, which turns out to be quite a lot and also not enough.

Gregory begins by pointing out that animals deprived of sleep will die. Humans who are kept awake become sleepy, confused, and delirious. Everyone agrees that sleep is essential to life, and many explanations exist, which means that no one knows why. “Although we sleep each night,” writes the author, “defining it is tricky. What exactly is it?” The popular (i.e., unproven) belief about why sleep is necessary is that the body must rest to eliminate toxins and regenerate energy. There is better evidence that the brain itself uses sleep to solidify and consolidate the day’s input: learning and memories. Proceeding chronologically, the author describes how we sleep during the various periods of life, with special attention to what happens when things go wrong. She does not neglect neuroscience but emphasizes her specialty, focusing on psychological studies, surveys, educational research, and interviews. Gregory is a researcher, not a physician, but readers will have no doubt that her editors made it clear that the audience for a book on sleep science is minuscule compared with the apparently bottomless market for medical advice. A first-time writer, she takes the hint enthusiastically but mostly pours out generalities—e.g., “big and stressful events in our lives can trigger insomnia.” As a good scientist, she warns that individual responses vary widely, and research backing many treatments and advice is thin or absent entirely.

Readers looking for help on sleep problems should consult one of the books Gregory recommends. Those who are merely curious will learn fascinating details of what scientists know about sleep, including its familiar and bizarre disorders, and how they are learning more.

Pub Date: Aug. 14, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-4729-4618-8

Page Count: 288

Publisher: Bloomsbury Sigma

Review Posted Online: May 15, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 1, 2018

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A tiny book, not much bigger than a pamphlet, with huge potential impact.

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NO ONE IS TOO SMALL TO MAKE A DIFFERENCE

A collection of articulate, forceful speeches made from September 2018 to September 2019 by the Swedish climate activist who was nominated for a Nobel Peace Prize.

Speaking in such venues as the European and British Parliaments, the French National Assembly, the Austrian World Summit, and the U.N. General Assembly, Thunberg has always been refreshingly—and necessarily—blunt in her demands for action from world leaders who refuse to address climate change. With clarity and unbridled passion, she presents her message that climate change is an emergency that must be addressed immediately, and she fills her speeches with punchy sound bites delivered in her characteristic pull-no-punches style: “I don’t want you to be hopeful. I want you to panic. I want you to feel the fear I feel every day. And then I want you to act.” In speech after speech, to persuade her listeners, she cites uncomfortable, even alarming statistics about global temperature rise and carbon dioxide emissions. Although this inevitably makes the text rather repetitive, the repetition itself has an impact, driving home her point so that no one can fail to understand its importance. Thunberg varies her style for different audiences. Sometimes it is the rousing “our house is on fire” approach; other times she speaks more quietly about herself and her hopes and her dreams. When addressing the U.S. Congress, she knowingly calls to mind the words and deeds of Martin Luther King Jr. and John F. Kennedy. The last speech in the book ends on a note that is both challenging and upbeat: “We are the change and change is coming.” The edition published in Britain earlier this year contained 11 speeches; this updated edition has 16, all worth reading.

A tiny book, not much bigger than a pamphlet, with huge potential impact.

Pub Date: Nov. 26, 2019

ISBN: 978-0-14-313356-8

Page Count: 112

Publisher: Penguin

Review Posted Online: Nov. 3, 2019

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Skloot's meticulous, riveting account strikes a humanistic balance between sociological history, venerable portraiture and...

THE IMMORTAL LIFE OF HENRIETTA LACKS

A dense, absorbing investigation into the medical community's exploitation of a dying woman and her family's struggle to salvage truth and dignity decades later.

In a well-paced, vibrant narrative, Popular Science contributor and Culture Dish blogger Skloot (Creative Writing/Univ. of Memphis) demonstrates that for every human cell put under a microscope, a complex life story is inexorably attached, to which doctors, researchers and laboratories have often been woefully insensitive and unaccountable. In 1951, Henrietta Lacks, an African-American mother of five, was diagnosed with what proved to be a fatal form of cervical cancer. At Johns Hopkins, the doctors harvested cells from her cervix without her permission and distributed them to labs around the globe, where they were multiplied and used for a diverse array of treatments. Known as HeLa cells, they became one of the world's most ubiquitous sources for medical research of everything from hormones, steroids and vitamins to gene mapping, in vitro fertilization, even the polio vaccine—all without the knowledge, must less consent, of the Lacks family. Skloot spent a decade interviewing every relative of Lacks she could find, excavating difficult memories and long-simmering outrage that had lay dormant since their loved one's sorrowful demise. Equal parts intimate biography and brutal clinical reportage, Skloot's graceful narrative adeptly navigates the wrenching Lack family recollections and the sobering, overarching realities of poverty and pre–civil-rights racism. The author's style is matched by a methodical scientific rigor and manifest expertise in the field.

Skloot's meticulous, riveting account strikes a humanistic balance between sociological history, venerable portraiture and Petri dish politics.

Pub Date: Feb. 9, 2010

ISBN: 978-1-4000-5217-2

Page Count: 320

Publisher: Crown

Review Posted Online: Dec. 22, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 2010

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