A quiet, sane, nonconfrontational call for people to take control of enjoying their lives—an important lesson in this...

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I WANT TO CHANGE MY LIFE

HOW TO OVERCOME ANXIETY, DEPRESSION & ADDICTION

A medical doctor, and cancer survivor, proposes steps for better living.

While Melemis’ book covers a lot of ground, including depression (clinical and otherwise), panic attacks, job performance and addiction, his principal focus stays the same—tension. He identifies tension as the most powerful and insidious damaging agent in modern life and the bulk of his low-key, accessible book (reading it feels like sitting in the audience at a seminar, giving the impression that Melemis is a rather engaging speaker) is concerned with developing strategies to combat stress. Not surprisingly, his main strategy is to calm down and relax. Melemis is an advocate of an informal and largely self-administered form of cognitive therapy in which participants keep a “thought journal” detailing negative experiences, with the goal of uncluttering the mind’s responses to those experiences. His simple assertion that “[t]here is magic in writing” manages, like the rest of the book, to come off as genuinely thoughtful rather than simplistic. There is throughout the book an air of hard-won certainty that is most noticeable in the later chapters on addiction, recovery and relapse-avoidance. Here, his stance is that of a positive, supportive coach rather than a medical practitioner. For example, while counseling addicts who might be thinking of using again, he sounds like a friend: “Remind yourself of how much better you feel now that you’ve stopped using. Think of how nice it is that you don’t have to lie. Your mind is clearer. You have more energy. Your mood is improving. Do you really want to blow all that?” It’s difficult to imagine a person in the grip of addiction for whom this advice would not be helpful. And Melemis’ underlying point—that perhaps more people are addicted to stressful behavior than are willing to admit it—is well-taken.

A quiet, sane, nonconfrontational call for people to take control of enjoying their lives—an important lesson in this frantic 21st century.

Pub Date: March 1, 2010

ISBN: 978-1897572238

Page Count: 276

Publisher: Modern Therapies

Review Posted Online: June 11, 2010

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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 timely, vividly realized reminder to slow down and harness the restorative wonders of serenity.

STILLNESS IS THE KEY

An exploration of the importance of clarity through calmness in an increasingly fast-paced world.

Austin-based speaker and strategist Holiday (Conspiracy: Peter Thiel, Hulk Hogan, Gawker, and the Anatomy of Intrigue, 2018, etc.) believes in downshifting one’s life and activities in order to fully grasp the wonder of stillness. He bolsters this theory with a wide array of perspectives—some based on ancient wisdom (one of the author’s specialties), others more modern—all with the intent to direct readers toward the essential importance of stillness and its “attainable path to enlightenment and excellence, greatness and happiness, performance as well as presence.” Readers will be encouraged by Holiday’s insistence that his methods are within anyone’s grasp. He acknowledges that this rare and coveted calm is already inside each of us, but it’s been worn down by the hustle of busy lives and distractions. Recognizing that this goal requires immense personal discipline, the author draws on the representational histories of John F. Kennedy, Buddha, Tiger Woods, Fred Rogers, Leonardo da Vinci, and many other creative thinkers and scholarly, scientific texts. These examples demonstrate how others have evolved past the noise of modern life and into the solitude of productive thought and cleansing tranquility. Holiday splits his accessible, empowering, and sporadically meandering narrative into a three-part “timeless trinity of mind, body, soul—the head, the heart, the human body.” He juxtaposes Stoic philosopher Seneca’s internal reflection and wisdom against Donald Trump’s egocentric existence, with much of his time spent “in his bathrobe, ranting about the news.” Holiday stresses that while contemporary life is filled with a dizzying variety of “competing priorities and beliefs,” the frenzy can be quelled and serenity maintained through a deliberative calming of the mind and body. The author shows how “stillness is what aims the arrow,” fostering focus, internal harmony, and the kind of holistic self-examination necessary for optimal contentment and mind-body centeredness. Throughout the narrative, he promotes that concept mindfully and convincingly.

A timely, vividly realized reminder to slow down and harness the restorative wonders of serenity.

Pub Date: Oct. 1, 2019

ISBN: 978-0-525-53858-5

Page Count: 288

Publisher: Portfolio

Review Posted Online: July 21, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 2019

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