Though readers seeking dream interpretation will be disappointed, Walker provides a well-organized, highly accessible,...

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WHY WE SLEEP

UNLOCKING THE POWER OF SLEEP AND DREAMS

Revelations about sleep that illustrate its vital importance to our brains, our bodies, and our lives.

The director of the Sleep and Neuroimaging Lab at the University of California, Walker has spent decades researching sleep and has served as a consultant to sports teams, financial institutions, and TV producers. In other words, he is an expert, but more importantly, he knows how to explain it all clearly to general readers. He begins by showing what sleep is and what it isn’t, how other creatures sleep, and how it changes across a lifetime. In Part 2, he examines the numerous benefits of sleep and how it affects mental and physical health, such as the ability to learn and the fitness of the gut and the cardiovascular and immune systems. So important is sleep to our well-being that Walker counsels that the shorter one’s sleep, the shorter one’s life span. In Part 3, which peers into the brains of people dreaming, Walker provides examples of the sometimes-astonishing creativity and problem-solving power of dreams. This section also tackles the phenomenon of lucid dreams—i.e., dreams controlled by the dreamer. In Part 4, the author takes up sleep disorders and the harmful effects of sleep deprivation, not just to the individual, but to society. Walker counsels against sleeping pills and offers nondrug therapies that he has found to be effective. In the concluding chapter, “A New Vision for Sleep in the 21st Century,” the author outlines his proposals for enhancing sleep quantity and quality: individual use of new technology, sleep education in schools, sleep reform in the workplace, public campaigns to heighten awareness of the hazards of drowsy driving, and, more elusive, societal change in sleep awareness. Readers, he cordially advises, may read the parts in any order they prefer and close their eyes and take a nap if they feel like it.

Though readers seeking dream interpretation will be disappointed, Walker provides a well-organized, highly accessible, up-to-date report on sleep and its crucial role in a healthy life.

Pub Date: Oct. 3, 2017

ISBN: 978-1-5011-4431-8

Page Count: 352

Publisher: Scribner

Review Posted Online: Aug. 22, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 2017

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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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A quirky wonder of a book.

WHY FISH DON'T EXIST

A STORY OF LOSS, LOVE, AND THE HIDDEN ORDER OF LIFE

A Peabody Award–winning NPR science reporter chronicles the life of a turn-of-the-century scientist and how her quest led to significant revelations about the meaning of order, chaos, and her own existence.

Miller began doing research on David Starr Jordan (1851-1931) to understand how he had managed to carry on after the 1906 San Francisco earthquake destroyed his work. A taxonomist who is credited with discovering “a full fifth of fish known to man in his day,” Jordan had amassed an unparalleled collection of ichthyological specimens. Gathering up all the fish he could save, Jordan sewed the nameplates that had been on the destroyed jars directly onto the fish. His perseverance intrigued the author, who also discusses the struggles she underwent after her affair with a woman ended a heterosexual relationship. Born into an upstate New York farm family, Jordan attended Cornell and then became an itinerant scholar and field researcher until he landed at Indiana University, where his first ichthyological collection was destroyed by lightning. In between this catastrophe and others involving family members’ deaths, he reconstructed his collection. Later, he was appointed as the founding president of Stanford, where he evolved into a Machiavellian figure who trampled on colleagues and sang the praises of eugenics. Miller concludes that Jordan displayed the characteristics of someone who relied on “positive illusions” to rebound from disaster and that his stand on eugenics came from a belief in “a divine hierarchy from bacteria to humans that point[ed]…toward better.” Considering recent research that negates biological hierarchies, the author then suggests that Jordan’s beloved taxonomic category—fish—does not exist. Part biography, part science report, and part meditation on how the chaos that caused Miller’s existential misery could also bring self-acceptance and a loving wife, this unique book is an ingenious celebration of diversity and the mysterious order that underlies all existence.

A quirky wonder of a book.

Pub Date: April 14, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-5011-6027-1

Page Count: 224

Publisher: Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: Jan. 2, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 2020

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