Review: Bowie on Bowie

Book Title: Bowie on Bowie

Book Author: Sean Egan (Editor)

Book Rating: ☆☆☆ (3 out of 5 stars)

Published: May 1, 2015

Synopsis: “Bowie on Bowie presents some of the best interviews Bowie has granted in his near five-decade career. Each interview traces a new step in his unique journey, successively freezing him in time as young novelty hit-maker, hairy hippie, Ziggy Stardust, Aladdin Sane, the Thin White Duke, plastic soul man, fragile Germanic exile, godfather of the New Romantics, eighties sellout, Tin Machinist, and, finally, permanently, artistically reborn beloved elder statesman of challenging popular music. In all of these iterations he is remarkably articulate. He is also preternaturally polite—almost every interviewer remarks upon his charm.”

I originally received this book from the publisher via Netgalley well over a year ago, and unfortunately put off reading it for far too long.  It wasn’t until David Bowie passed away at the beginning of the year that I picked it up, and I’ve been reading these interviews off and on ever since.

Each interview provides readers with a look into who David Bowie was as both an artist and a person, and the articles span several decades–from 1969 to 2003 to be exact.  Most of Bowie’s most famous interviews are included, in particular the interview he conducted with Melody Maker in 1972 where he stated that he was gay.  It was quite fascinating to read about him over such a vast about of time and through all of his musical personas.  Overall, as a huge David Bowie fan, I found this collection pretty enjoyable.  But do I think you should purchase this book?  Well, maybe.

There aren’t any new or never before read interviews, and I don’t think it would be difficult to find most (if not all) of these articles on-line.  I think that my biggest complaint is that the book has no photographs.  I feel that a least a few photos throughout would have been a nice touch and broken up some of the text well. The editor does include some background and insights as to preface to each interview to help put them into context, which some readers may appreciate. Mostly I think this would be a nice addition to a fan’s memorabilia collection, and my 3-star rating has more to do with the originality of the book rather than a lack of interest as a fan and/or reader.

Disclosure: I received a free copy of this book through Netgalley.

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Review: AIDS Between Science and Politics

Book Title: AIDS Between Science and Politics

Book Author: Peter Piot

Book Rating: ☆☆☆ (3 out of 5 stars)

Synopsis: “Peter Piot, founding executive director of the Joint United Nations Programme on HIV/AIDS (UNAIDS), recounts his experience as a clinician, scientist, and activist fighting the disease from its earliest manifestation to today. The AIDS pandemic was not only disruptive to the health of millions worldwide but also fractured international relations, global access to new technologies, and public health policies in nations across the globe. As he struggled to get ahead of the disease, Piot found science does little good when it operates independently of politics and economics, and politics is worthless if it rejects scientific evidence and respect for human rights.

Piot describes how the epidemic altered global attitudes toward sexuality, the character of the doctor-patient relationship, the influence of civil society in international relations, and traditional partisan divides. AIDS thrust health into national and international politics where, he argues, it rightly belongs. The global reaction to AIDS over the past decade is the positive result of this partnership, showing what can be achieved when science, politics, and policy converge on the ground. Yet it remains a fragile achievement, and Piot warns against complacency and the consequences of reduced investments. He refuses to accept a world in which high levels of HIV infection are the norm. Instead, he explains how to continue to reduce the incidence of the disease to minute levels through both prevention and treatment, until a vaccine is discovered.”

AIDS is a disease that never fails to both fascinate me and (mostly due to the poor initial response to the infection) terrify me.  Since its emergence in the human population, it has continued to elude researchers due to its rapid mutations, and there is still no preventive vaccine or cure.  Anyone who is under the impression that HIV/AIDS is no longer an issue is quite simply living in denial; especially when there are about 7,000 new infections and 5,000 deaths every single day. I don’t think that you can talk about the science of AIDS without going into the politics of AIDS.  There are still countries in the world that try to hide their increasing number of new infections, and there are still areas in developing countries where it is nearly impossible to be tested for HIV infection, let alone receive proper treatment.

I was thrilled to have the opportunity to read this new book from Dr. Piot, as he is someone who has been instrumental in research for AIDS prevention and treatment for decades.  In addition, he was also part of the team that helped to discover the Ebola virus, so as someone who is currently majoring in clinical research, he is someone that I admire greatly.  It is important to note that this text is incredibly detailed and is heavy with statistics and medical jargon.  Therefore, this is not a book that I can recommend to anyone who does not have a background in the basic sciences, or is not used to reading medical research in peer-reviewed journals.  I really viewed this book as sort of an “update” on the progress that AIDS researchers have made towards treatments and a vaccine, as well as a thorough examination on areas where improvement is still greatly needed.  And while we have made excellent strides in the fight against AIDS, as Piot points out, we must not let ourselves become complacent

Disclosure: I received a free copy of this book through Netgalley.

Review: Rewire Your Anxious Brain

Book Title: Rewire Your Anxious Brain: How to Use the Neuroscience of Fear to End Anxiety, Panic and Worry

Book Author: Catherine M. Pittman & Elizabeth M. Karle

Book Rating: ☆☆☆☆ (4 out of 5 stars)

Synopsis: “Do you ever wonder what is happening inside your brain when you feel anxious, panicked, and worried? In Rewire Your Anxious Brain, psychologist Catherine Pittman and author Elizabeth Karle offer a unique, evidence-based solution to overcoming anxiety based in cutting-edge neuroscience and research.

If you are looking for a book that is just going to provide strategies for how to overcome anxiety, this is probably not the book for you.  However, if you are interested in both the neuroscience behind stress and anxiety and learning techniques to cope with those responses, then this is an excellent volume to read.  Personally, I agree with the authors that it is often easier to overcome stress when you actually know and understand what is happening to your brain, and how it can manifest itself in physical ways.  And while this book is very detailed, I think the authors did a good job of keeping everything easy to understand.

Numerous types of stress are discussed in this book, including the reasons that these types of stress occur and what parts of the brain are responsible for your response.  If you’re anything like me, you are constantly trying to make logical sense out of your worry, but I learned from this book that there may not always be a logical reason behind your anxiety.  In fact, you may not ever really know why you certain situations, thoughts, sounds, smells, etc., can trigger an episode of panic. The good news is that you don’t have to know.  The authors go into great detail to describe techniques that you can use to essentially “rewire” your brain to avoid having stress responses.  The book mainly discusses the two different parts of the brain that deal with fear and stress, the amygdala and the cortex.  The amygdala is basically your body’s natural fear response system.  Your amygdala often works without your ever knowing it, such as when you are driving and instinctively swerve out of the way to avoid hitting another car.  The cortex, on the other hand, deals with worry and obsessive thoughts.  For example, your cortex is to blame when you are constantly worrying about a possible outcome that will likely not occur.  You may have one or both of these types of stress, and the authors provide useful “exercises” that can be used to deal with both of these types of stress.

If you’re reading this review, I’m guessing that you probably don’t care about all of these details though,  right?  What you really want to know is if the methods in this book really work.  I think they could certainly help many individuals who suffer from stress and anxiety.  These authors give insightful strategies to help with different types of stress responses, all of which are based on years of research.  Your stress isn’t going to go away overnight having read this book, but it certainly may help you learn to cope with your anxiety when it does occur.

Disclosure: I received a free copy of this book through Netgalley.

Review: The Reason I Jump

Book Title: The Reason I Jump: The Inner Voice of a Thirteen Year-Old Boy with Autism

Book Author: Naoki Higashida

Book Rating: ☆☆☆☆ (4 out of 5 stars)

Synopsis: “Written by Naoki Higashida, a very smart, very self-aware, and very charming thirteen-year-old boy with autism, it is a one-of-a-kind memoir that demonstrates how an autistic mind thinks, feels, perceives, and responds in ways few of us can imagine. Parents and family members who never thought they could get inside the head of their autistic loved one at last have a way to break through to the curious, subtle, and complex life within.”

Like most people who are interested in this book, I was drawn to the topic because I have an autistic family member and wanted to know more about what he’s actually thinking/feeling. This was an amazing book that really did shed light on what really goes on in the minds of autistic individuals. Obviously, I know that every person is unique, but I felt that most of what the author wrote about could apply to many autistic individuals. I was so impressed with the author’s insightfulness and honesty, especially at such a young age. I enjoyed the question and answer format of the book, and the short stories by the young author sprinkled throughout were beautiful and fascinating as well.

There are so many books about autism, but few written by people who are actually autistic, and this book provided a perspective unlike any other I have ever encountered. I am so thankful that I had the chance to read this book, and would recommend it to anyone who is interested in learning more about autism from the perspective of someone who actually experiences it firsthand.

Disclosure: I received this book for free through Goodreads First Reads.