A fascinating and candid analysis of the process of dying.

OPENING HEAVEN'S DOOR

INVESTIGATING STORIES OF LIFE, DEATH, AND WHAT COMES AFTER

Insights into what people experience as they die.

"The paranormal or spiritual experience comes unbidden," writes Pearson (A Brief History of Anxiety…Yours and Mine, 2009, etc.), and yet many people are skeptical when they hear someone talking about a psychic event, a clairvoyant moment or a near-death experience. Mystified by her own encounters with the paranormal initiated by the deaths of her sister and father, Pearson set out to unravel some of the marvels surrounding death. With straightforward prose, the author examines these phenomena, particularly those moments when loved ones were close to dying and suddenly seemed at peace and happy as they acknowledged their progression from this state of being to another. Using interviews with hospice nurses, medical professionals and ordinary people from all walks of life, Pearson carefully lays out the details of each encounter. The sense of peace and unconditional love is a universal theme, as well as the healing and comforting white light associated with visions of God or other deities. Some people discuss how they knew through dreams that a loved one had just died or was on the verge of death. Others talk of seeing their bodies on operating tables or in perilous situations and yet feeling calm and in control. The author explores the unknown with genuine sincerity, providing a perspective that is informative and yet a bit awed at the prospect that there is something beyond what we experience in this realm. "Whatever the phenomenon is,” she writes, “it is extraordinary and transformative, and propels human beings far beyond what endorphin rushes or tricks of the optic nerve could ever achieve." Readers will be humbled and filled with a sense of hope rather than fear as they realize that the deaths of loved ones, or even their own deaths, are not losses, but simply transitions.

A fascinating and candid analysis of the process of dying.

Pub Date: May 13, 2014

ISBN: 978-1-4767-5706-3

Page Count: 272

Publisher: Atria

Review Posted Online: April 16, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 1, 2014

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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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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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