Monday, August 20, 2012

Ah-choo! by Jennifer Ackerman

book cover
The Uncommon Life of Your Common Cold
by Jennifer Ackerman

ISBN-13: 9780446541152
Hardcover: 245 pages
Publisher: Twelve
Released: September 2, 2010

Source: Bought through

Book Description from Back Cover:
On average, we spend five years of our lives suffering from Colds. Isn't it time you learned something about them? Ah-Choo! explains why...

  • A quarter of the people infected with a cold virus don't get sick. What's so different about these folks?
  • When it comes to colds, being young is no advantage: Teenagers catch twice as many as people over fifty. 
  • It's strange but true: If you want to tamp down cold symptoms, "boosting" your immune system may actually be the last thing you want to do!
  • The ways colds spread may surprise you. You're probably less likely to get a cold from kissing or getting sneezed on, than you are from a simple handshake.
  • People with big, diverse social networks actually get fewer colds than those with limited social circles.  
  • When you have a cold, TLC may be the best medicine. Studies show simple empathy may be as effective as potent drugs in treating colds, cutting short their duration by a whole day. That's more than over-the-counter medications can claim!

My Review:
Ah-Choo! is a book about the common cold: how you pick them up, what cold symptoms are and why, who is most likely to get a cold, how cold viruses work, how your body reacts, historical views on colds and how to treat them, modern treatments and how well they work, the expert's advice on how to treat colds and prevent getting them, and trivia.

This book was generally engaging and easy to follow, but the author included a lot of scientific studies in some chapters. I liked those, but she wasn't always clear about what was being studied (viruses and bacteria in general, presence of cold viruses, presence of viable cold viruses, etc.), so I didn't always know what to make of the study results. Some of the studies came to conflicting conclusions, and sometimes the author didn't comment on the conflict so I wondered if I understood correctly what was concluded.

The most useful part of the book was actually the appendix which neatly summarized the important information about colds, how to prevent them, and what actually worked if you had one. I plan on using that information, though I already do a lot of it (like frequently washing your hands--thoroughly--and not touching your eyes and nose when you hands may be contaminated). I was surprised by some of the results about what works and what doesn't, and I certainly intend to follow the experts' advice.

If you've read this book, what do you think about it? I'd be honored if you wrote your own opinion of the book in the comments.

Excerpt: Read an excerpt using Google Preview.

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

Lark Rise to Candleford by Flora Thompson

book cover
Lark Rise to Candleford
by Flora Thompson

ISBN-13: 9781567923636
Paperback: 556 pages
Publisher: Nonpareil Books
Released: 1945, 2010

Source: Borrowed from my local library.

Book Description, Modified from Back Cover:
Flora Thompson (1876-1947) wrote about English country life at the turn of the twentieth century. This trilogy of novels--Lark Rise (1939), Over to Candleford (1941), and Candleford Green (1943)--are published together in this omnibus version and tell what life was like in a hamlet, a village, and a town as she grew up and lived in these various places.

Through the semi-autobiographical character of young Laura, Flora Thompson chronicles how people's lives changed from living off the land and practicing the "old ways" to a more urban existence. From May Day celebrations, harvest times, traditional sons and games, to descriptions of the types of people who lived there, Thompson builds a personal and vivid portrait of a cherished place and a vanished time.

My Review:
Lark Rise to Candleford is an autobiography about a woman who grew up in a small, very poor hamlet in England from 1876 to 1892. (She refers to herself as "Laura" instead of writing as "I.") As a teenager, she often spent her summers in a nearby town where her better-off cousins lived. At age 16, she went to work in a post office at the edge of that town. She described life--education, games, holidays, etc.--at that time, but she also tells stories about things she did relating to these subjects. The book reminded me of the Laura Wilder books, but this was less a narrative about Flora's life and more a telling about how people lived with some related stories (not in any order) relating to the current topic.

It was interesting and engaging. I'd recommend this book to anyone who enjoys learning more about how people lived at other places and times.

If you've read this book, what do you think about it? I'd be honored if you wrote your own opinion of the book in the comments.

Excerpt: Read an excerpt using Google Preview.