28/30 Book Review: Bonk: The Curious Coupling of Sex and Science


Bonk: The Curious Coupling of Sex and Science
Mary Roach
Nonfiction/Journalism/Science

Summary

In Bonk, the best-selling author of Stiff turns her outrageous curiosity and insight on the most alluring scientific subject of all: sex. Can a person think herself to orgasm? Why doesn’t Viagra help women-or, for that matter, pandas? Can a dead man get an erection? Is vaginal orgasm a myth? Mary Roach shows us how and why sexual arousal and orgasm-two of the most complex, delightful, and amazing scientific phenomena on earth-can be so hard to achieve and what science is doing to make the bedroom a more satisfying place.

Less taboo than you might think

Let’s just get this out of the way–it’s a book how sex works and what science knows about sex. It’s not erotica. Yes, it talks about erections and orgasm and arousal and all kinds of body parts. But it’s quite tasteful, for the most part. Any adult could read this book and not feel guilty. Continue reading

27/30 Book Review: When Nobody Was Watching


When Nobody Was Watching
Carli Lloyd with Wayne Coffey
Nonfiction/Memoir

Summary

In 2015, the U.S. Women’s National Soccer Team won its first FIFA championship in sixteen years, culminating in an epic final game that electrified soccer fans around the world. It featured a gutsy, brilliant performance by team captain and midfielder Carli Lloyd, who made history that day, scoring a hat trick—three goals in one game—during the first sixteen minutes.

But there was a time when Carli Continue reading

26/30 Book Review: Eat and Run


Eat and Run: My Unlikely Journey to Ultramarathon Greatness
Scott Jurek with Steve Friedman
Nonfiction/Running

Summary

For nearly two decades, Scott Jurek has been a dominant force—and darling—in the grueling and growing sport of ultrarunning. Until recently he held the American 24-hour record and he was one of the elite runners profiled in the runaway bestseller Born to Run.

In Eat and Run, Jurek opens up about his life and career as a champion athlete with a plant-based diet and inspires runners at every level. From his Midwestern childhood hunting, fishing, and cooking for his meat-and-potatoes family to his slow transition to ultrarunning and veganism, Scott’s story shows the power of an iron will and blows apart the stereotypes of what athletes should eat to fuel optimal performance. Full of stories of competition as well as science and practical advice—including his own recipes—Eat and Run will motivate readers and expand their food horizons.

Continue reading

24/30 Book Review: Upstairs at the White House


Upstairs at the White House: My Life with the First Ladies
J.B. West with Mary Lynn Kotz
Nonfiction/memoir

Summary

J. B. West, chief usher of the White House, directed the operations and maintenance of 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue—and coordinated its daily life—at the request of the president and his family. He directed state functions; planned parties, weddings and funerals, gardens and playgrounds, and extensive renovations; and, with a large staff, supervised every activity in the presidential home. For twenty-eight years, first as assistant to the chief usher, then as chief usher, he witnessed national crises and triumphs, and interacted daily with six consecutive presidents and first ladies, as well as their parents, children and grandchildren, and houseguests—including friends, relatives, and heads of state.

J. B. West, whom Jackie Kennedy called “one of the most extraordinary men I have ever met,” provides an absorbing, one-of-a-kind history of life among the first ladies. Alive with anecdotes ranging from Eleanor Roosevelt’s fascinating political strategies to Jackie Kennedy’s tragic loss and the personal struggles of Pat Nixon, Upstairs at the White House is a rich account of a slice of American history that usually remains behind closed doors.

Old and Relevant

Upstairs at the White House was first published in 1973, but it’s still a fascinating read. It’s surprising readable even if you don’t know/care much about history and politics. You’ll learn a lot about how the White House functions and you’ll probably laugh at surprising antics of the staff and executive families.

West is a consummate professional throughout the book, careful not show favoritism or reveal any serious indiscretions. He is an archetypal butler, clever, competent, and occasionally inscrutable. The breadth of his responsibilities at the White House is breath-taking and it seems a wonder that such a huge organization continues to function with such grace.

A highly recommended read for nearly anyone.

19/30 Book Review: Working Stiff


Working Stiff: Two Years, 262 Bodies, and the Making of a Medical Examiner
Judy Melinek & TJ Mitchell
Nonfiction/memoir

Summary

Just two months before the September 11 terrorist attacks, Dr. Judy Melinek began her training as a New York City forensic pathologist. While her husband and their toddler held down the home front, Judy threw herself into the fascinating world of death investigation—performing autopsies, investigating death scenes, counseling grieving relatives. Working Stiff chronicles Judy’s two years of training, taking readers behind the police tape of some of the most harrowing deaths in the Big Apple, including a firsthand account of the events of September 11, the subsequent anthrax bio-terrorism attack, and the disastrous crash of American Airlines Flight 587.

Fascinating Field

I knew very little about forensic pathology or the work of a medical examiner before reading this book. I wouldn’t say I know a lot now, but Continue reading