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Showing posts from February, 2011

“Thirteen Reasons Why,” by Jay Asher

I put off reading this YA title for a long time. It was on every must-read list last year and every time I read a review of it, I thought, I have to read that book. And, yet, I didn’t want to.

The premise: A girl, Hannah, sends off audio tapes of why she will kill herself to the 13 people who most affected her decision. The tapes are mailed (on the day she kills herself) to the first person first and then he/she must pass them on to the next. An acquaintance of Hannah has another set of tapes with the instructions to make all the tapes public -- to humiliate? to shame? -- them if the tapes are not listened to in their entirety by all 13.

We hear (read) the tapes at the same time Clay Jensen does. And he, just as much as Hannah, becomes the protagonist in the story. Clay is a good guy and though Hannah says she doesn’t blame him for her rotten high school experience, it’s clear that by including him in the set that he was part of the problem (because he wasn’t enough of a solution).

I …

“Spook” by Mary Roach

Years ago, maybe 20 (though I hate to admit that), there was a wonderful medicine magazine written for laypeople--Hippocrates. It later became Health magazine and just another woman’s magazine with a purported focus on health (like Self was at the beginning and Woman’s Health is today). Hippocrates, though, was different. It explained health and medical issues (affecting men and women) in a way that was easy to understand but not at all dumbed down. I can remember reading every issue from cover to cover.

One reason Hippocrates was so good was due to the reporting, writing, and wry humor of Mary Roach. Ms. Roach has written lots of magazine articles since then and four books: Stiff: The Curious Life of Human Cadavers; Spook: Science Tackles the Afterlife; Bonk: The Coupling of Science and Sex; and Packing for Mars: The Curious Science of Life in the Void.

Stiff was quite good and I bought a copy for my cousin, who is working on his master’s and PhD in oncology research (he liked it too)…