Book Review- When Breath Becomes Air

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When Breath Becomes Air by Paul Kalanithi
Published by Random House on January 19, 2016
Genres: Nonfiction, Memoir, Medical
Pages: 208
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At the age of thirty-six, on the verge of completing a decade’s worth of training as a neurosurgeon, Paul Kalanithi was diagnosed with stage IV lung cancer. One day he was a doctor making a living treating the dying, and the next he was a patient struggling to live. Just like that, the future he and his wife had imagined evaporated. When Breath Becomes Air, which features a Foreword by Dr. Abraham Verghese and an Epilogue by Kalanithi’s wife, Lucy, chronicles Kalanithi’s transformation from a naïve medical student “possessed,” as he wrote, “by the question of what, given that all organisms die, makes a virtuous and meaningful life” into a young neurosurgeon at Stanford, guiding patients toward a deeper understanding of death and illness, and finally into a patient and a new father to a baby girl, confronting his own mortality.

What makes life worth living in the face of death? What do you do when the future, no longer a ladder toward your goals in life, flattens out into a perpetual present? What does it mean to have a child, to nurture a new life as another fades away? These are some of the questions Kalanithi wrestles with in this profoundly moving, exquisitely observed memoir.

Paul Kalanithi died in March 2015, while working on this book, yet his words live on as a guide and a gift to us all. “I began to realize that coming face to face with my own mortality, in a sense, had changed nothing and everything,” he wrote. “Seven words from Samuel Beckett began to repeat in my head: ‘I can’t go on. I’ll go on.’” When Breath Becomes Air is an unforgettable, life-affirming reflection on the challenge of facing mortality and on the relationship between doctor and patient, from a gifted writer who became both.

When Breath Becomes Air was a very deep and thought provoking book. I was drawn into the narrative from the first page. The language Kalanithi used was absolutely beautiful, and the book was easy and enjoyable to read (which is not something you can say about many books about cancer).

The book was divided into two parts; the first part was about Kalanithi’s life before his cancer diagnosis, and the second part was about his life afterwards. Both were equally as compelling, and both very interesting and emotional.

I would definitely recommend this book to everyone, just because of how moving of a book it is.

I am going to give When Breath Becomes Air four out of five hearts.

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Book Review- How May We Hate You?: Notes From The Concierge Desk

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How May We Hate You?: Notes From The Concierge Desk by Anna Drezen and Todd Dakotah Briscoe
Published by Potter Style on May 17, 2016
Genres: Non-fiction, Humor, Contemporary
Pages: 144
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Amazon

Most people think hotel employees are effortlessly cheerful, naturally helpful, and genuinely like their work.

Most people are wrong.

Find out what really goes on in the world of hospitality with this hilarious book full of funny and absurd stories, anecdotes told in dialogue, factoids, and hoax pop quizzes by two veteran concierges who paid their way while working at a combined 50 hotels in and around Times Square. They are very pleased to help you learn the following:
·         The Truth About Bed Bugs
·         The Mythology of “Loyalty Programs”
·         The 411 on Hotel Residents
·         And so much more

Filled with photographs and infographics, How May We Hate You? is both romp and commentary on the hospitality industry and life behind the nametag.

How May We Hate You was funny. Very, very funny. The fact that the stories in the book actually happened make it all the better.

Anna and Todd use short stories, comics, sample conversations, and illustrations to show what goes on in the everyday life of a New York City hotel concierge. From the guests who think they know everything (and are actually completely clueless) to the ones from Toronto (you gotta read the book to understand that one), every page is filled with laugh-out-loud true encounters that seem almost too crazy to be true.

If I had to pick one thing about How May We Hate You that I liked most, it would be the honesty. Anna and Todd don’t make themselves out to be angel-like concierges that have to deal with terrible people all day. Instead, they seem like real people who make mistakes and judgements and are just trying to do the best they can.

Some parts of the book were a little slow, and some jokes I didn’t quite get, but over all I really enjoyed reading it. I would recommend this book to anyone who enjoys non-fiction humor, or anyone who just wants to learn more about what it means to be a concierge.

I am going to give How May We Hate You four out of five hearts.

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*This book was given to me by Blogging for Books in exchange for an honest review. This has not in any way influenced my thoughts and opinions of the book

Book Review- What If?: Serious Scientific Answers to Absurd Hypothetical Questions

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What If?: Serious Scientific Answers to Absurd Hypothetical Questions by Randall Munroe
Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt on September 2, 2014
Genres: Science,Non-fiction, Humor
Pages: 303
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Amazon

Randall Munroe left NASA in 2005 to start up his hugely popular site XKCD ‘a web comic of romance, sarcasm, math and language’ which offers a witty take on the world of science and geeks. It now has 600,000 to a million page hits daily. Every now and then, Munroe would get emails asking him to arbitrate a science debate. ‘My friend and I were arguing about what would happen if a bullet got struck by lightning, and we agreed that you should resolve it . . . ‘ He liked these questions so much that he started up What If.

If your cells suddenly lost the power to divide, how long would you survive?

How dangerous is it, really, to be in a swimming pool in a thunderstorm?

If we hooked turbines to people exercising in gyms, how much power could we produce?

What if everyone only had one soulmate?

When (if ever) did the sun go down on the British empire?

How fast can you hit a speed bump while driving and live?

What would happen if the moon went away?

In pursuit of answers, Munroe runs computer simulations, pores over stacks of declassified military research memos, solves differential equations, and consults with nuclear reactor operators. His responses are masterpieces of clarity and hilarity, studded with memorable cartoons and infographics. They often predict the complete annihilation of humankind, or at least a really big explosion. Far more than a book for geeks, WHAT IF: Serious Scientific Answers to Absurd Hypothetical Questions explains the laws of science in operation in a way that every intelligent reader will enjoy and feel much the smarter for having read.

What If? was great. Every question was answered through words, comics, and diagrams. The questions in the book truly were absurd, and the answers equally hilarious.

One of my favorite parts of the book were the “Weird (and Worrying) Questions” section. Every few pages there would be a page with two or three Weird/Worrying questions. Those questions were by far my favorite to read (even if some of them weren’t answered). I also love the comics in the book. Munroe does a great job illustrating the answers and bringing humor to his work.

The answers in the book are very easy to understand, even though some of them have very complicated ideas in them. Munroe does an excellent job of making everything understandable and enjoyable to read. There also is a great deal of humor in the writing, which makes the answers of these crazy questions even more fun to read.

Although some of the answers were amazing, there were some questions that just didn’t interest me, but I guess not every single Absurd Hypothetical Question can interest every single person out there. The book is most definitely worth reading, and it is something that I love showing to other people! Talk about a great conversation starter!

I am going to give this book four out of five hearts!

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