A detailed and ultimately touching memoir in the form of a hospital manual.

Jeremy's Hospital Survival Guide

A posthumous reconstruction offers a valiant young patient’s guide to dealing with hospital stays.

Jeremy Libon, the central figure and inspiration for this short debut book compiled by his family, was born with a congenital heart defect that led his doctors to warn that his odds of living even to the age of 2 were only 50-50. It turned out he lived until April 2010, dying at the age of 18, and in that time he demonstrated both an unquenchable spirit of optimism and a savvy, pragmatic knowledge of the hospital world through countless stays under doctors’ care. The segment of the book actually authored by Jeremy is blunt about the drawbacks of hospital stays, detailing annoyances like being woken up round the clock for vitals testing, IV changing, and the frequent taking of blood. He even addresses the dismal experience of being admitted to the hospital in the first place. His short segment also provides upbeat advice about reclaiming your life once you return from a hospital stay: showering the clinical smells off your skin and hair, and taking it easy (“There is nothing wrong with taking a nap during the day, no matter how old you are”). His section of the book is followed by remembrances of him by his brother, his father, and, in the most moving and practical-minded account, his mother. She continues the advice-giving theme of Jeremy’s section, talking to readers about tricks to stave off waiting-room boredom, and ways to navigate hospital regulations about visitors and family members sleeping in the building. Parents of severely ill children should find her advice valuable on subjects ranging from the power of distraction to the benefit of discussions with nurses (“They can help you figure out the day-to-day, nitty-gritty, quality-of-life issues that many doctors don’t concern themselves with”). The cumulative effect of all these different family voices makes Jeremy's death all the more crushing—and his courage all the more uplifting.

A detailed and ultimately touching memoir in the form of a hospital manual.

Pub Date: Oct. 4, 2016

ISBN: 978-1-5122-2376-7

Page Count: 120

Publisher: CreateSpace

Review Posted Online: Oct. 10, 2016

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Readers unfamiliar with the anecdotal material Greene presents may find interesting avenues to pursue, but they should...


Greene (The 33 Strategies of War, 2007, etc.) believes that genius can be learned if we pay attention and reject social conformity.

The author suggests that our emergence as a species with stereoscopic, frontal vision and sophisticated hand-eye coordination gave us an advantage over earlier humans and primates because it allowed us to contemplate a situation and ponder alternatives for action. This, along with the advantages conferred by mirror neurons, which allow us to intuit what others may be thinking, contributed to our ability to learn, pass on inventions to future generations and improve our problem-solving ability. Throughout most of human history, we were hunter-gatherers, and our brains are engineered accordingly. The author has a jaundiced view of our modern technological society, which, he writes, encourages quick, rash judgments. We fail to spend the time needed to develop thorough mastery of a subject. Greene writes that every human is “born unique,” with specific potential that we can develop if we listen to our inner voice. He offers many interesting but tendentious examples to illustrate his theory, including Einstein, Darwin, Mozart and Temple Grandin. In the case of Darwin, Greene ignores the formative intellectual influences that shaped his thought, including the discovery of geological evolution with which he was familiar before his famous voyage. The author uses Grandin's struggle to overcome autistic social handicaps as a model for the necessity for everyone to create a deceptive social mask.

Readers unfamiliar with the anecdotal material Greene presents may find interesting avenues to pursue, but they should beware of the author's quirky, sometimes misleading brush-stroke characterizations.

Pub Date: Nov. 13, 2012

ISBN: 978-0-670-02496-4

Page Count: 320

Publisher: Viking

Review Posted Online: Sept. 13, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 1, 2012

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Clever and accessibly conversational, Manson reminds us to chill out, not sweat the small stuff, and keep hope for a better...



The popular blogger and author delivers an entertaining and thought-provoking third book about the importance of being hopeful in terrible times.

“We are a culture and a people in need of hope,” writes Manson (The Subtle Art of Not Giving a F*ck: A Counterintuitive Approach to Living a Good Life, 2016, etc.). With an appealing combination of gritty humor and straightforward prose, the author floats the idea of drawing strength and hope from a myriad of sources in order to tolerate the “incomprehensibility of your existence.” He broadens and illuminates his concepts through a series of hypothetical scenarios based in contemporary reality. At the dark heart of Manson’s guide is the “Uncomfortable Truth,” which reiterates our cosmic insignificance and the inevitability of death, whether we blindly ignore or blissfully embrace it. The author establishes this harsh sentiment early on, creating a firm foundation for examining the current crisis of hope, how we got here, and what it means on a larger scale. Manson’s referential text probes the heroism of Auschwitz infiltrator Witold Pilecki and the work of Isaac Newton, Nietzsche, Einstein, and Immanuel Kant, as the author explores the mechanics of how hope is created and maintained through self-control and community. Though Manson takes many serpentine intellectual detours, his dark-humored wit and blunt prose are both informative and engaging. He is at his most convincing in his discussions about the fallibility of religious beliefs, the modern world’s numerous shortcomings, deliberations over the “Feeling Brain” versus the “Thinking Brain,” and the importance of striking a happy medium between overindulging in and repressing emotions. Although we live in a “couch-potato-pundit era of tweetstorms and outrage porn,” writes Manson, hope springs eternal through the magic salves of self-awareness, rational thinking, and even pain, which is “at the heart of all emotion.”

Clever and accessibly conversational, Manson reminds us to chill out, not sweat the small stuff, and keep hope for a better world alive.

Pub Date: May 14, 2019

ISBN: 978-0-06-288843-3

Page Count: 288

Publisher: Harper/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: April 1, 2019

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