An exigent, affecting summons to rediscover the night.

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WAKING UP TO THE DARK

ANCIENT WISDOM FOR A SLEEPLESS AGE

A celebration of the life-enriching—indeed, indispensable—properties of the night.

Strand (Waking the Buddha: How the Most Dynamic and Empowering Buddhist Movement in History Is Changing Our Concept of Religion, 2014, etc.) delivers a significant amount of experiential melding to existential thoughtfulness in this book about the sublime and elemental powers of the dark. Not the dark of cellars and closets but rather night, with “its monochrome wonders, its velvety silences and distant muffled sounds.” The author expresses his distress over how we often ignore the splendor of the night, and he looks at his personal experiences with the dark, from early youth to today—especially the two hours of sleepy wakefulness between three or four hours of sleep on either side. For many, these can be fretful hours. The author, however, cherishes the vulnerability as a letting go, a transcendence to the divine, however one chooses to understand that state. Strand is passionate about the subject, displaying a blunt, fervent honesty. The advent of electricity damaged our relationship with the dark (allowing for an overflow of consciousness), writes the author, though various religious teachings had already made a significant dent—e.g., encouraging the elevation of humans above all else, inevitably leading to the abuse of the planet. The author pushes for a re-enchantment with the night, which for him means getting up, going for a walk where it is dark—as Strand suggests the ancients did—and seeing if the dark can open a numinous space in both head and heart. Throughout, the author gives a stark voice to fundamentals: “Simplicity is always the answer”; “The problem we face today is a crisis of values.” In working with those fundamentals, he finds an embracing comfort. “In the dark we recover our simplicity, our happiness, and our relatedness,” he writes, “because in the dark we remember our souls.”

An exigent, affecting summons to rediscover the night.

Pub Date: April 28, 2015

ISBN: 978-0-8129-9772-9

Page Count: 156

Publisher: Spiegel & Grau

Review Posted Online: Jan. 15, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 2015

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Doyle offers another lucid, inspiring chronicle of female empowerment and the rewards of self-awareness and renewal.

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UNTAMED

More life reflections from the bestselling author on themes of societal captivity and the catharsis of personal freedom.

In her third book, Doyle (Love Warrior, 2016, etc.) begins with a life-changing event. “Four years ago,” she writes, “married to the father of my three children, I fell in love with a woman.” That woman, Abby Wambach, would become her wife. Emblematically arranged into three sections—“Caged,” “Keys,” “Freedom”—the narrative offers, among other elements, vignettes about the soulful author’s girlhood, when she was bulimic and felt like a zoo animal, a “caged girl made for wide-open skies.” She followed the path that seemed right and appropriate based on her Catholic upbringing and adolescent conditioning. After a downward spiral into “drinking, drugging, and purging,” Doyle found sobriety and the authentic self she’d been suppressing. Still, there was trouble: Straining an already troubled marriage was her husband’s infidelity, which eventually led to life-altering choices and the discovery of a love she’d never experienced before. Throughout the book, Doyle remains open and candid, whether she’s admitting to rigging a high school homecoming court election or denouncing the doting perfectionism of “cream cheese parenting,” which is about “giving your children the best of everything.” The author’s fears and concerns are often mirrored by real-world issues: gender roles and bias, white privilege, racism, and religion-fueled homophobia and hypocrisy. Some stories merely skim the surface of larger issues, but Doyle revisits them in later sections and digs deeper, using friends and familial references to personify their impact on her life, both past and present. Shorter pieces, some only a page in length, manage to effectively translate an emotional gut punch, as when Doyle’s therapist called her blooming extramarital lesbian love a “dangerous distraction.” Ultimately, the narrative is an in-depth look at a courageous woman eager to share the wealth of her experiences by embracing vulnerability and reclaiming her inner strength and resiliency.

Doyle offers another lucid, inspiring chronicle of female empowerment and the rewards of self-awareness and renewal.

Pub Date: March 10, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-9848-0125-8

Page Count: 352

Publisher: Dial Books

Review Posted Online: Dec. 22, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2020

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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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