SUPER BRAIN

UNLEASHING THE EXPLOSIVE POWER OF YOUR MIND TO MAXIMIZE HEALTH, HAPPINESS, AND SPIRITUAL WELL-BEING

For Chopra fans only—as such, likely to become a best-seller.

A mixture of recent research in the neurosciences and spiritual wisdom passed down through generations.

With his dozens of best-selling books, Chopra (co-author: War of the Worldviews: Science vs. Spirituality, 2011, etc.) has arguably done more than anyone to bring Eastern spirituality and healing practices to the West. His oeuvre brings to mind an inebriated dart player in a tavern—many attempts go wild, but when he connects, you're convinced he's a natural. This book, co-authored with Alzheimer’s Genome Project head Tanzi (Neurology/Harvard Medical School; co-author: Decoding Darkness: The Search for the Genetic Causes of Alzheimer's Disease, 2001, etc.), continues the trend of laying Eastern thought over Western science. This "tag team" author approach lends credibility to the less scientifically rigorous ideas Chopra has to offer, but with varying degrees of success. The plasticity of the young brain and the rate at which new synapse connections are made in children; the importance of regular physical activity and exercise; the idea that instincts and emotions are integral and necessary to social relations—these scientific propositions, as they're laid out, won’t strike readers as either controversial or revolutionary. The authors theorize about connections between neuroscience and long-held beliefs about the mind, and many of these connections don’t require a leap of faith to accept as valid hypotheses. The lion's share of the text, however, consists of platitudes and value judgments about happiness and success that can't really be held forth as a prescription for the "next leap in the human brain's evolution." Examples include such statements as, "Mind, not the brain, is the origin of consciousness," and the suggestions that an abused wife should “stop exposing herself to stresses that occur over and over.”

For Chopra fans only—as such, likely to become a best-seller.

Pub Date: Nov. 6, 2012

ISBN: 978-0-307-95682-8

Page Count: 320

Publisher: Harmony

Review Posted Online: Sept. 9, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 1, 2012

THE IMMORTAL LIFE OF HENRIETTA LACKS

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

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

WHY WE SWIM

An absorbing, wide-ranging story of humans’ relationship with the water.

A study of swimming as sport, survival method, basis for community, and route to physical and mental well-being.

For Bay Area writer Tsui (American Chinatown: A People's History of Five Neighborhoods, 2009), swimming is in her blood. As she recounts, her parents met in a Hong Kong swimming pool, and she often visited the beach as a child and competed on a swim team in high school. Midway through the engaging narrative, the author explains how she rejoined the team at age 40, just as her 6-year-old was signing up for the first time. Chronicling her interviews with scientists and swimmers alike, Tsui notes the many health benefits of swimming, some of which are mental. Swimmers often achieve the “flow” state and get their best ideas while in the water. Her travels took her from the California coast, where she dove for abalone and swam from Alcatraz back to San Francisco, to Tokyo, where she heard about the “samurai swimming” martial arts tradition. In Iceland, she met Guðlaugur Friðþórsson, a local celebrity who, in 1984, survived six hours in a winter sea after his fishing vessel capsized, earning him the nickname “the human seal.” Although humans are generally adapted to life on land, the author discovered that some have extra advantages in the water. The Bajau people of Indonesia, for instance, can do 10-minute free dives while hunting because their spleens are 50% larger than average. For most, though, it’s simply a matter of practice. Tsui discussed swimming with Dara Torres, who became the oldest Olympic swimmer at age 41, and swam with Kim Chambers, one of the few people to complete the daunting Oceans Seven marathon swim challenge. Drawing on personal experience, history, biology, and social science, the author conveys the appeal of “an unflinching giving-over to an element” and makes a convincing case for broader access to swimming education (372,000 people still drown annually).

An absorbing, wide-ranging story of humans’ relationship with the water.

Pub Date: April 14, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-61620-786-1

Page Count: 288

Publisher: Algonquin

Review Posted Online: Jan. 4, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 2020

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