Annotated Wellness Bibliography (N = 38)

Suggested Citation: Jung, B.C. (1999 - 2023). Annotated Wellness Bibliography.
Web document:

Abramson, J. (2005). Overdo$ed America. The Broken Promise of American Medicine NY: Harper Collins. A family practice physician takes a year off from practicing medicine to write this book about where he thinks U.S. healthcare is heading. And, you should listen to what he has to say. Here is an insightful commentary of the disturbing trends in health care today, from the commercialization of health information to the loss of research objectivity by peer-reviewed journals. Sad to say, I agree with him all the way. A true eye-opener of how the pharmaceutical industry has slowly insinuated itself into the fabric of medical care, manipulating medical knowledge, and brainwashing the American public into believing that whatever ails us (and, that's everything) can be taken care with a drug. Abramson's muckracking takes him to where he must re-evaluate the medical knowledge he was taught to hold sacred, and re-analyze the results of biomedical research. He shows how the highest selling drugs today became that way, and how we, health consumers, are duped continuously into believing that the latest drugs and technology are the best, even though they are way too expensive and not that much better than older, less expensive drugs.

Of course, it's not a surprise that of the 569 new drugs approved between 1995 and 2000, only 13% are actually new active ingredients that offer a significant improvement over what is currently available (p. 48), and that increased specialization of medicine hasn't really improved the quality of care provided. Then again, I do find the quote, "You can have the experts involved, or you could have people who are purists and impartial judges, but you don't have the expertise" to be somewhat telling of those involved with developing practice guidelines (p. 147). Finally, I do agree with the author, we definitely need more primary care doctors to take care of the whole person that we all are. Read and understand why healthcare reform is a must if we are to survive the 21st century.

Cahalan, Susannah. (2012). Brain on Fire: My Month of Madness. NY: Simon and Schuster. An autobiography written by a New York Post journalistic who suffered from a rare form of an autoimmune brain infection known as anti-NMDA-Receptor Autoimmune Encephalitis. This infection left her with residual memory loss of what happened during one month her illness. Interesting reading. This book will help you understand how complex the brain is and how misdiagnosis could have left the author permanently hospitalized in a mental institution.

Carr, Nicholas (2011). The Shallows. What the Internet is Doing to Our Brains NY: WW Norton & Company. I bought the softcover edition of this book when it came out in 2011. As I write this, it is January 2, 2017, although I did finish reading this in 2016. It took me 5 1/2 months to read this not because I am a slow reader, but because everything that Carr says about the Internet is sadly true. As much as I wanted to read this book I just didn't find the time to read it for years though I was totally engaged and enmeshed when I did read it, yet, it took me this long because the Internet is the reason why we give into distraction so easily. It is just so simple to find things to stimulate us online.

Carr makes an excellent case for how the Internet is really ruining what is most precious to our well-being, and that's the need to reflect and meditate about our lives. To make sense of what is most important to us. And, this requires focus and hard work on our brain's part. It was hard enough to do this pre-Internet, and it is nearly impossible to do that now. It is just so easy to power up our devices and let those infernal machines take us where they will.

Perhaps, the damage that the Internet is doing to our minds and our lives may not be apparent until we are old and trying to make sense of it all to then only find we no longer know how to do that anymore. Everything is meaningless as are all those thousands of selfies we have on our phones when we won't even remember the time, place or circumstances surrounding when they were taken. Thousands of jpegs representing memories we never really had. If this is frightening to you, then it will be worth your time to see what Carr has to say and show you what research is showing as well. The book may be 6 years old, but it is somewhat prescient, in retrospect, and a harbinger of what we can prevent by recapturing the gift of focus. And, that the fact that I have taken the time to write this means all is not lost, we can if we really want to.

Chen, Pauline W. (2007). Final Exam. A Surgeon's Reflections on Mortality NY: Vintage House. A compassionate female surgeon shares the trials and tribulations of being a doctor, along with an inside look at medical school. While explaining why doctors practice in the most scientific of ways, she injects the Art of Medicine into her narrative of a physician's life. It does explain why the arduous medical school regimen breaks the most timid of souls who would seek to heal, and hardens the hearts of many who survive the rigors so they can deal with the most common experience of Life, and the most difficult for many - Death. It explains why some doctors use algorithms to manage the uncertainties of disease processes, and how such rituals save practitioners from the tenuous hold they think they have with exquisite knowledge and skills. No, doctors are not gods, but then, none of us are.

Perhaps, the most beautiful thought to come out of Chen's book is a new perspective of how we should thank Medicine - not for the miracles of prolonging life indefinitely, but just enough so we can get things in order before the evitable - the chance to say good-bye gracefully to Life. What a wonderful book about Medicine and those who strive hard to heal and help us all to face the frailties of the human body!

I found Chen's depiction of what medical students must go through in gross anatomy an eye-opener, and how decades of medical education has managed to dehumanize the study of the human body to spare students of the reality of dealing with what were living human beings. However, Chen does provide updates about the changes made to the medical education curriculum that hopefully will prepare future doctors to become more aware of their role in the lives of their patients and families - it's not just healing, but guiding those in their care through a good death.

There are notes at the end of the book which include many references to how medical students are socialized, for better or worse, into the culture of the medical profession. A must-read.

Condon, G. & Condon, J. (1996). Beyond the Grave: The Right Way and the Wrong Way of Leaving Money to Your Children. Though a newer edition has been published since I read this book, this edition provides all the basic information needed for financial wellness. The authors are a father and son team of lawyers who provide very helpful strategies for leaving behind what you cannot take with you when you die. Of course, to get to this point, people need to realize and accept the fact that they cannot live forever, and at the same time when making decisions about inheritance it is important to think of the consequences of decisions made on the interpersonal dynamics that will result from such decisions. A must-read and the most useful book I have read in years.

Csikszentmihalyi, M. (1996). Creativity. Flow and the Psychology of Discovery and Invention. A great follow-up to his ground breaking, Flow (read that first), which discusses his almost common-sense concept of "Flow" - what you experience when you are at your very best - a loss of time. Of course, he's not talking about the mind numbing and altering existence of bad habits and health-destroying addictions. Rather "how time flies when you're having fun" experience. In this book he tries to find this in a group of people he defines as creative individuals. Not always a "perfect fit" between theory and reality, but nevertheless a fine read. It was interesting how he did manage to find some common threads in terms of traits shared by a bunch, I think, of overachievers (what they would be called by some other theorist). I read this book slowly because I didn't want it to end, okay?

Dettmer, Philipp (2021). Immune: A Journey into the Mysterious System that Keeps You Alive. NY: Random House. If you ever wondered how the immune system works in our body, this is the book to read. Written so that anyone who finished high school should be able to understand, Dettmer systematically describes and explains all the different components of this multi-faceted system that protects and keeps us alive. But, when it doesn't, that is when we die.

Using military analogies Dettmer shows how essential each type of cell and protein work in collaboration with one another to protect the human body against bacterial and viral assaults, as well as cancer cells (to a point), with a basic explanation about COVID-19, until vaccines introduced to battle the virus. This is not a technical book but quite interesting to read. After you are done you will have a very good understanding of how the immune system works and why we should be grateful that it works so hard to keep us alive. Worth reading.

Didion, Joan (2005). The Year of Magical Thinking. NY: Alfred A. Knopf. A renown author bares her heart and soul in this heart-wrenching account of what it's like to lose your spouse suddenly from a heart attack. Didion will make you think about the brevity of life, and how everything changes when you least expect it, and then be forced to deal with the aftermath almost in a zombie-like existence because there is no other way to deal with it.

How do you make sense of a reality of life that we, as a society, never talk about, as if not talking about it will make it go away? I suppose it makes "perfect sense" that we would continue to deal with death the same way, after the fact, by wishing away the void left by those we love, through rituals to numb the emptiness and sadness we don't want to deal with. Perhaps, what is most sad is that here is a woman in her late 60s, forced to deal with the death of a husband with whom she has worked so closely with in their lives as writers. We think it is so tragic to lose loved ones who are young and in their prime, but it is no less tragic to lose a loved one after a lifetime shared, and at a later age when death becomes inevitable and the meaning of such an inevitability is meaningless on many levels.

Duhigg, Charles (2012). The Power of Habit. Why We Do What We Do in Life and Business. NY: Random House. This is a wonderful book for everyone who is struggling with making a positive change in their lives. As everyone knows, it is really hard to make changes, although many of the bad habits we have were developed without much effort at all. Perhaps, that is the main problem with bad habits, it is so easy to fall into a routine that is built around them. Duhigg goes through great lengths to explain how people develop habits, which can be good if they become ingrained behaviors that are good for our health. Definitely worth reading so we can understand why we do the things we do.

Ehrenreich, Barbara (2005). Bait and Switch. NY: Metropolitan Books. A free-lance female writer tries to find a job in corporate America, and finds that it is virtually impossible, while getting fleeced along the way by a new group of charlatans. This tragicomedic look at what happens to professional people who lose their jobs these days, only to discover they have more than enough time to meditate on just how slippery the slope is for those who chase the ever-elusive American Dream. Even getting a college education is no guarantee for lifetime employment, nor is networking what it's cracked up to be. Ehrenreich's cynical eye makes for the perfect spy into the ever-growing mass of the unemployed, people who never thought they ever needed to beg for an opportunity to work. Great read.

Gladwell, Malcolm (2005). Blink. The Power of Thinking without Thinking. NY: Little, Brown and Company. Gladwell does it again! This time he takes on "gut reactions." Gladwell peels apart what we seem to do so instinctively when we size up situations at a moment's notice. However, he does offer some caveats on becoming too dependent on relying totally on first impressions, by encouraging us to think about why we come to those immediate conclusions. I really like the way he writes. It's almost like packing a picnic basket - all the ingredients just seem too disparate by themselves, but somehow they all make sense in the context of the picnic. He'll drop an anecdote here and vignette there, but along the way he does remember to pick them back up, then offers up a bouquet too fragrant to dismiss. Worth your time.

Gladwell, Malcolm (2000). The Tipping Point. NY: Little, Brown and Company. A great book that looks at the social phenomenon of cultural change using the analogy of disease epidemics. Connectors, salesmen and mavens are people who spread, by word-of-mouth, societal change. And, the next time someone brags that s/he knows over 150 people you will be able to call that person a liar. Gladwell's tipping point is the proverbial straw that breaks the camel's back. Perhaps, public health practitioners may benefit from the author's contention that you can bring about behavioral change by using the right people to spread your message. A must-read.

Gladwell, Malcolm (2009). What the Dog Saw. NY: Little, Brown and Company. This is Gladwell's 4th book, which I read after "David and Goliath." I have to say that I liked this one better than his latest offering. This one is a collection of his essays in which he looked at a variety of issues and offers his unique take on things, so this was a pleasure to read. For sure, plagiarism is not his cup of tea, and he makes it known how he annoyed he was about an author doing that to him. A must-read.

Goleman, Daniel (2006). Social Intelligence. The New Science of Human Relationships NY: Bantam Books. Goleman applies his "emotional intelligence" (you should read that one, too) to social relationships, and expounds on the concept of social neuroscience. Basically, the relationships we have with others have a biological impact that can reconfigure our brains for future interactions. If this is true, then I think the whole controversy over "nature vs. nurture" can be readily resolved. It also does bring up the need for us to take responsibility for our part in relationships - being cognizant of the impact we can make on someone else's psyche, thus, cultivating kindness is something we can do to improve our lives than perpetuate meanness in our interactions. Of course, a middle ground needs to be paved, and we really shouldn't give in to those who emotionally abuse others out of insecurity, nor should we tolerate those who emotionally bully for the same reason. Goleman does a wonderful job in weaving the latest findings from the research in these new areas into a can't-put-down narrative that will be worth all the time you spend reading this great book.

Gore, Al (2006). An Inconvenient Truth. The Planetary Emergency of Global Warming and What We Can Do About It. PA: Rodale Press. This is probably the only book I have ever read AFTER seeing the film. Full of pictures, graphs and charts, Gore makes an excellent case for the need of people today, in the early part of the 21st century, to think about what is happening to our environment. I should mention, as I write this, July 2006 has turned out to be the most sweltering month, with record heat waves across the nation (like California with a 20+ day heat wave of triple digit temperatures and close to 200 dead from the heat). While his passion for the environment began early in life, this baby boomer is well aware that we can't just have an annual "Earth Day" anymore, but that it must become a part of our daily consciousness, from watching what we buy to what we eat and becoming an activist for Mother Nature, in doing our part to address global warming. Though Gore has probably spread his message more broadly through other media (like film and writing) than through politics, it does seem he misses the political arena, even though he repeatedly says that he can perform public service in many ways. Actually, he probably would make a good president, from a public health standpoint, because his heart and head are really in the same place.

Hallinan, Joseph T. (2009). Why We Make Mistakes. NY: Broadway Books. An excellent insightful look at all the different kinds of mistakes that are made, which according to Hallinan can be corrected if we would only look at them objectively. An excellent example is how surgical deaths were reduced simply when anesthesiologists became aware that manufacturing differences caused mistakes in how the anesthesia were administered, and that just by standardizing the knobs reduced deaths. The author finds many examples in our daily lives that cause one to wonder why errors are constantly made when they don't have to be. Excellent read about the human foibles that plague us all.

Harr, Jonathan. (1995). A Civil Action. A non-fiction can't-put-down courtroom thriller about the games lawyers play and how the legal system failed to fulfill its mission. Plaintiffs are more interested in seeing justice being done, and lawyers in seeing that it's not by translating it into money deals. A great look at how corporations have the money to never admit they've done anything wrong. By the way, this book does support the need for environmental vigilance in a world run by corporations only interested in pleasing stockholders without thinking about the health consequences of trying to save a few bucks.

Howard, P.K. (1994). The Death of Common Sense. How Law is Suffocating America. NY: Random House. A scathing insider's look at the corruption of Justice by man-made attempts to mold it in Man's own image. Or, how laws are doing injustice to the noble concept of Justice. It would take a lawyer to take the law into his own hands... For any public servant who has tried to work within the ever-convoluted limitations of constantly changing statutes and regulations, this book should come as no great revelation that the system does not work - and it's not their fault. Don't even think about health policy...

Klaidman, S. (2007). Coronary: A True Story of Medicine Gone Awry. NY: Scribner. Though it reads like a suspenseful murder-mystery, this is actually a true story, which makes it even more scarier. Klaidman does a wonderful job providing the history of a case of medical fraud in Redding, CA, where a cardiologist and a cardiothoracic surgeon performed hundreds of unnecessary cardiac procedures and open heart surgeries that put many in harm's way.

This book paints a scary picture of why for-profit HMOs are not necessarily the best deliverer of health services, and how such a system can result in unncessary care that pays for the bottom line. Incredibly, the author was able to present the federal raid of the Redding Medical Center, and the details of the eventual class action lawsuits in easy-to-understand language that made it easy to follow the events, while at the same time learning about the people who were involved. What is truly incredible is the fact that this went on as long as it did without setting off alarms during a time when quality improvement programs were supposedly in full swing (1990s - 2000s). Worth your time to read.

Latus, Janine. (2007). If I am Missing or Dead. A Sister' s Story of Love, Murder and Liberation. NY: Simon and Shuster. A true story about two women, both who were smart, but not when it came to relationships with men, and how one eventually loses her life. An emotionally raw honest portrayal of the tenuous relationship women have with their self-esteem and how far they should go to please the men in their lives and how much they conceal from themselves and others.

Liu, Eric. (1998). The Accidental Asian. NY: Vantage Books. An autobiography of all first generation Americans born on US soil. A presidential speechwriter, Liu extends his craft to the printed page in his eloquent attempt to capture the angst of those who are torn between 2 cultures. While he is ethnically Chinese, he would much prefer to be just an American than a Chinese - or Asian American. Not to be missed, especially his chapter, Fear of a Yellow Planet's section on Glory - absolutely brilliant.

Lubrano, A. (2004). Limbo. Blue-Collar Roots, White-Collar Dreams NJ: John Wiley and Sons. Here is a first-hand look at what happens to those who chase the American Dream and then reach a semblance of it, thanks to education. Though this phenomenon is not new, Lubrano does add a personal perspective about how class differences affected his relationship with his family, supported by vignettes from others, a fraternity of "straddlers," people who feel uncomfortable with those who molded their childhood and those who make them feel estranged from the middle-class culture in their adulthood. However, I don't really think the lives of straddlers are that much different from those who came as immigrants to establish a new life in the U.S., nor from those who are the children of immigrants who then go on to excel in education. Straddlers are not as isolated as they may feel, but should revel in the fact that what they have become they have worked hard to achieve, and that is something those who were born rich will never understand. Good read.

Mah, Adeline Yen. (1997). Falling Leaves. An autobiography of everyone who has ever felt unwanted and/or unloved, and how such emotional abuse does not have to ruin one's life. Truly a heartbreaking account of a Chinese woman who survived the worst of Chinese society and culture. In this case, fiction can hardly outdo fact. A must-read.

McCourt, Frank. (1997). Angela's Ashes. An autobiography of everyone who has lived an impoverished childhood and tried to make sense of it. It is possible to rise above the most adverse of life's circumstances, but it helps to have a little humor.

McGuire, M. & Beerman, K.A. (2007). Nutritional Sciences: From Fundamentals to Food CA: Thomson Wadsworth. The authority on everything that has to do with food. Though this textbook will be too scientific for some, the information is fascinating, covering everything you ever want to know, or should know about what we ingest from the day we were born. Older people have learned to appreciate the value of nutrition in their quality of life, and younger people can fend off the ravages of aging from eating healthy as much as possible. This textbook will help you do that.

Moalem, S. & Prince, J. (2007). Survival of the Sickest. A Medical Maverick Discovers Why We Need Disease. NY: HarperCollins. The author, a researcher and physician, takes the reader on an interesting journey into the brave new world of Genomics. While Genomics is a relatively new area of current scientific interest, the study of genetics has been around for a long time, once scientists were able to study life at the DNA level.

Moalem explores the scientific wonders of how humans adapt to the environment they find themselves in, and how disease has actually made us more adaptive to the life around us, at the same time serving the purposes of these pathogens' need to survive and reproduce. In the vein of symbiotic existence, the reader learns to appreciate that not only do the strong survive, but the most cleverest as well. This is a wonderful book to get you up to speed about all the basic science research that is going on these days and what they have learned about how we continue to evolve and change as we tango with whatever we share our existence with.

Moser-Wellman, A. (2001). The Five Faces of Genius. The Skills to Master Ideas at Work Viking Press. Here is a truly great book that brings together psychology and practical skills to the workplace. The author is definitely an alchemist - one of five creative skill sets of this personality model. Don't miss if you want to learn more about creativity and how to make the most of your strengths and ameliorate the weak areas of your creative thinking!

Mukherjee, Siddhartha. (2010). The Emperor of All Maladies NY: Scribner. The DEFINITIVE history of cancer! Mukherjee, a physician, is a gifted writer who made reading about the most dreaded disease to plague mankind for centuries a must-read. As he provides an historical narrative of how cancer has been around for so long, he also provides a companion narrative of the various treatments for various cancers over time. He offers the hope that we may someday conquer the dreaded disease in its many manifestations because of how our medical knowledge has changed Man's approach to conquering the disease. Reading this book will help you appreciate that cancer cells, like humans, will do anything to survive. We just have to survive longer than they do.

Rushkoff, D. (1999). Coercion. Why We Listen to What "They" Say. NY: Riverhead Books. A current updating of Vance Packard's (you may need to look this guy up and check out his other great book, "The Status Seekers") "Hidden Persuaders." It is somewhat frightening to see how parasitic marketers are in preying on the consumer, and how insidious the media has been in trying to influence our thinking. Rushkoff's object lesson can be aptly stated in what Pogo said a long time ago - "We Have Seen the Enemy, and He is Us". I suppose if we "wanted" fewer things, we would not be such ready targets for the pressure to buy, buy, buy. But, then again, who doesn't want to be wanted??? Good read.

Sales, Nancy Jo (2016). American Girls: Social Media and the Secret Lives of Teenagers. NY: Alfred A. Knopf. Journalist Sales interviewed over two hundred girls between thirteen and nineteen from various socioeconomic backgrounds and a variety of demographic locations across the U.S. about their use of social media. Regardless of their circumstances they are rabid and excessive users of social media. This use has affected their growth and development and their relationship with boys in social settings, both online and offline.

A terrifying picture emerges of teen girls developing their self-worth based on how they feel they are perceived on social media. Sadly, it's more about how they want to be perceived, and that is the unending pursuit to gather as many likes as they can from anonymous online users. Sadly, females are viewed as sexual objects because of the prevalent use of porn that portrays women in a hypersexualized way that demeans women on many levels.

The girls Sales interviewed are now attending college. So, (in 2019) I asked my students about some of things I read in the book to see how true the things I read in this book were, and sadly, Sales is right on mark with her description of Generation Z. Yes, getting likes on social media is important. Taking bathroom selfies does happen, etc., etc. Everyone should read this book, especially parents of girls, and girls themselves, For girls/women of all ages, this is a must-read.

Seckel, A. (2003). Incredible Visual Illusions. London:Arcturus Publishing Limited. Here is something completely different. You do get to read a little, but you will spend most of your time trying to figure out how your eyes are playing tricks on the way you perceive things. Is that really movement in 2D? How can there be so much depth on a flat piece of paper? You will thoroughly enjoy this book, trust me.

Sheff. D (2008). Beautiful Boy. NY: Houghton Mifflin Company. A harrowing true account of how a father dealt with a son who became a methamphetamine addict in his mid-teens. While one may question the maturity of a father who would share a joint with a son who has a drug problem, it does paint a realistic of picture of parents who think being their child's buddies is the role they should play. The book is really more about the father who had to grow up himself to deal with his son's problems than it was about the son who got lost in the divorce wars and could not live up to the expectations of others, least of all himself. Sheff does provide some guidance for others who have a family member with a drug problem. His insight into the destructive life of being a codependent is invaluable, as are his experiences with support groups.

Skloot, Rebecca (2010). The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks NY: Crown Publishers. This is the fascinating story of an African American woman who died from an extremely rare aggressive form of cervical cancer, but her cancer cells continue to live on even today, some 50+ years later. These cells have been used for medical research all these years and have tremendously enhanced Science's understanding of many diseases and phenomena that would not have been possible without the availability of living human cells that can be grown outside the human body.

Skloot has done a wonderful job in raising the reader's awareness of who this woman was and the contributions her cells have made to Science and Medicine. You will also get to learn about her life, her family and what happened to her children and grandchildren. And, you will really want to know all about Henrietta, and how wonderful she was to people who knew her, and how great the loss was when she died, at the age of 30.

You will also develop an appreciation of the lives of African-Americans growing up in the South and the kinds of family relationships they grew up in. And, you will understand why it is so important to communicate clearly what it is you want to say to avoid any misunderstanding. Perhaps, the saddest lesson to come out of this book is how no one in the medical establishment ever bothered to explain to Henrietta's family what happened to her. It took this writer to right the wrong experienced by this family for so many years. If I could request an author to write my biography, I would request Skloot. Great book, not to be missed!

Stossel, J. (2006). Myths, Lies, and Downright Stupidity: Get Out the Shovel -- Why Everything You Know is Wrong NY: Hyperion. John Stossel, Consumer Reporter for 20/20 tries to debunk everything he possibly can get his hands on in this book. He does admit that he has changed his stance on some of the issues he grapples with, but it is clear that he believes in "Live and Let Live". Some of the more interesting tidbits gleaned from reading his book is why the press deserves bad press. Stossel minces no words, and is as confrontational as Michael Moore, which makes for interesting reading, though you will probably feel sorry for those he targets. He does put to rest all the bogus beliefs currently circulating, and does try to help the consumer save money by not getting ripped off. Worth reading if you can handle his confrontational style.

Surowiecki, James. (2005). The Wisdom of Crowds. NY:Anchor Books. Groups can be smarter than the smartest people who are part of them, so Surowiecki asserts, in his sociological approach to human behavior. That is why juries work, and why the more diverse the group is, the more powerful they are at addressing problems. The key is diversity, because there is the danger of "groupthink" within small homogenous groups. The author introduces us to "confirmation bias" that causes decision makers to look for the bits of information that confirm their underlying intuitions (p. 178), and the idea that reaching consensus is not necessarily going to result in the best solution, only the least offending one. Thus, the wisdom from crowds is coming up with a better answer than any particular individual, on average, without necessarily guaranteeing the right answer (p. 235). This textbook is useful in helping us to become less reliant on what experts supposedly can provide us - answers we can find ourselves, with a little help from the people around us.

Tenner, Edward (1996). Why Things Bite Back. Technology and the Revenge of Unintended Consequences. NY: Vintage Books. Is a futurist only as good as his predictions realized? A decade after its publication, Tenner's book is still as relevant as ever. Though I didn't mean to "test" his hypotheses, it just took me this long to get to this book, in 2005, and it was worth all the time I could spend with it (among everything else I had to do and read along the way). All the "ghosts in the machines" we nonchalantly refer to when things don't work right may be "spirits" we need to appease, after all!

Tenner posits that while Man has made the most of Technology to improve our lives, our creations have come back to haunt our peace of mind. Unlike God's creations, which are basically self-perpetuating and ecologically appropriate, what Man creates, however, through Technology cannot sustain themselves, but must be nurtured with vigilance. When all we were looking for were time-saving devices to make our lives easier (i.e., washing machines), the broader outcome turns out to be the need to use the time we have saved in doing tedious tasks of daily living to maintaining the systems we thought would take care of themselves (self-correcting, right!).

Tenner sees the development of systems (which is the basic idea behind quality assurance and quality management) as not the blessings we thought they would be, but a way to complicate our need to sustain them by spending more time keeping them running smoothly, or heaven help us all if something should break down. Because Technology is so good at standardizing things, personalization has lost its edge to the point that we no longer own things, but they own us. He is probably right we may never see the paperless office we envisioned when computers and fax machines replaced typewriters, and we will always need the car mechanic (who must now be computer savvy) when the dream machines being developed are electronic systems that cannot be tinkered with by the weekend mechanic. Can "I, Robot" be far behind?

Tenner actually spends several chapters on how Technology has affected Medicine and Public Health (this book covers everything, believe me), and actually provides a very insightful explanation as to why medical errors have become the par for course, when we think that an MRI will reveal everything we will ever need to know about our health. To some extent, this is true, but we will need someone now who knows how to read those MRIs.... As Health Care becomes more reliant on machines to diagnose and treat, we can only suffer from the revenge effects of complicating the whole process of diagnosis and treatment.

Perhaps, Tenner's perspective explains why the fracturing of health services we are seeing today is really a result of our growing and unrealistic expectations of what Medicine should be doing for us - that Technology can surely cure everything that ails us, regardless of how we treat our bodies and minds. And, what about Public Health? The ability to build high smokestacks allowed industries to comply with local clean air standards only to spread their pollution over a broader geographic area...

Tenner is the 21st Century Renaissance Man who will hopefully not meet the fate of Cassandra. His book is a must-read for developing a mindset that will be needed to understand the sometimes self-defeating approaches Civilization takes towards Life. Technology must be understood in order to be harnessed. While Technology's children has brought much joy into our lives, they must be disciplined so they will grow up to be productive adults that will contribute than be a weight on society.

Truss, Lynne (2005). Talk to the Hand #?*! The Utter Bloody Rudeness of the World Today, or Six Good Reasons to Stay Home and Bolt the Door. NY: Gotham Books. If you get annoyed at the pervasive rudeness all around you, then this is the book for you. Truss, more confident from her success in championing the bane of high school English teachers around the world, takes on our present society's growing attitude of ignoring the existence of others in public, which is basically reflected in rude behavior. Obviously, rudeness is not just an American malady, but can be found anywhere that you find people too self-absorbed to treat others with any sense of dignity. Just think of all the times on the highway in which you are followed by some idiot, whether in a car or tractor trailer, who simply cannot keep his fingers off the headlights. What is the point, praytell, to furiously flashing your headlights on the person in front of you? Like the road belongs to only you?? Leave your house 5 minutes earlier, buddy. See? You will find many reasons to agree with Truss in her ranting over the insensitive actions of others who don't know the meaning of manners or social graces. You will chuckle at her put-downs, ever so gentle, and you will laugh at her solutions to correcting the problem of the growing population of bores who can improve everyone's day by just staying home. Good read.

Winchester, S. (2005). A Crack in the Edge of the World. America and the Great California Earthquake of 1906 NY: HarperCollins Publishers. A truly fascinating read about an event that happened 100 years ago. It is easy how fast we can forget the catastrophic events that happened to those who lived through it long enough to give eyewitness accounts of such happenings. Winchester is a wonderful writer who manages to make an historical event interesting and suspenseful. He spends the first half of the book providing the various perspectives that will serve as a firm foundation for the reader to appreciate the final description of the actual event.

You get learn about geology (if Geology was taught this way in the schools, maybe there would be more geologists), the cultural temperature of the 1800s, a mini history lesson of the wild West (if History was taught.....), and a wonderful history of the city of San Francisco itself, and its place in California history and politics. Those interested in Public Health may find this book useful in studying the aftermath of natural disasters, and all the problems that affect the Public Health in such instances.

However, the spirit of this book is a travelogue of a passionate geologist who travels the wonders of the Western U.S., taking in the wondrous sites of places that will eventually succumb to the eventual catastrophic outpouring of the tectonic plates that move under us, most notably the infamous San Andreas Fault. Don't say that you have not been warned.... Excellent read.

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Published on the Web: June 23, 2007
Updated: 12/27/2022 R171

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