The case against the war on drugs

Loren RossonChasing the Scream is an indictment of the drug war, a plea for legalizing all drugs, and a sober reassessment of what causes drug addiction.

And a page-turner besides. I read it in two days.

Whether or not it changes how you feel about drug policies in America, it will make you think hard about them.

Chasing the Scream

“Chasing the Scream” by Johann Hari is available at the library in hardcover.

For years, opponents of the drug war have been making a case similar to Hari’s: That we ruin the lives of nonviolent drug users (especially nonwhites in poverty) by imprisoning them, and make room for them in prison by paroling dangerous offenders like murderers and rapists. That we make crime worse by empowering gangs and drug monopolies. That the solution to addiction isn’t incarceration but education and rehabilitative support networks.

Hari appeals to the example of Portugal, whose population of addicts went down by half after ending its own drug war through legalization. Most fascinating are his findings about what causes addiction.

One theory says it is caused by moral failure (hedonism and partying too hard), while another insists the brain is hijacked by drug chemicals.

But research shows that traditional theories are flawed. Hari points to evidence that suggests it’s neither our morality nor our brain, but our “cage”–a life full of isolation, stress, and/or misery–that makes drugs attractive to addicts. Which is why, for instance, people who take diamorphine (heroin) for long periods of time for medical reasons, like pain relief after a hip replacement, usually don’t become addicts. And it’s why addicts isolated from society in prisons or rehab facilities usually continue using.

Read the critical praise for Hari’s book at amazon, and also watch Bill Maher’s interview with Hari below.

About Loren Rosson

Loren Rosson heads up the circulation department at the Nashua Public Library. He's worked at the library since graduating from Lewis and Clark College, with the exception of the two years he spent in Lesotho with the Peace Corps, teaching high school.

What did the dog dig up this time?

Jen McCormackTruffle-sniffing dogs are like metal detectors for food: They use their superior olfactory talents to find these delicacies under the soil, hidden from the humans who cook and eat them.

"Not in the Flesh" is available from the library in hardcover

“Not in the Flesh” is available from the library in hardcover.

In Ruth Rendell’s novel Not in the Flesh, Jim Belbury brings his dog, Honey, to poach truffles from “Old Grimble’s Field.”

The truffles are plentiful, and the way Jim sees it, the property has been abandoned for so long no one will ever know that’s where he has been finding them.

Unfortunately for Jim, as the story opens, Honey finishes a hunt by finding a human hand wrapped in purple fabric, and the probing eye of Chief Inspector Wexford turns its attention to Old Grimble’s Field.

Shortly after this grisly discovery, another body is found in the Grimble house, and Jim’s quiet neighborhood becomes the focus of a major murder investigation.

Inspector Wexford finds himself especially interested in local author Owen Tredown and uncovers all sorts of unsavory and unusual family secrets as he probes Tredown’s past.

Rendell is a master at creating quirky and hilarious characters. In Not in the Flesh, my favorites are Tredown’s wives, Maeve and Claudia: Only one of them is currently married to Owen, but they share his home and his company, and perhaps plan to do the same with his estate when he dies.

Want more Rendell?
Wexford is consistently my favorite literary detective. If you don’t already know him from the Masterpiece Mystery series on PBS, I encourage you to introduce yourself! Rendell has been writing Wexford novels for decades, so there are plenty to choose from, and you don’t need to start with the first.

If Not in the Flesh isn’t available I’d recommend Babes in the Wood or End in Tears. Both are great introductions to Rendell’s writing and Wexford’s style of investigation.

Already a Wexford fan? I’d be thrilled to recommend other similar authors. Leave me a note in the comments below or send me an email at jennifer.mccormack@nashualibrary.org.

 

 

 

About Jen McCormack

Jen McCormack is the director of the Nashua Public Library. Previously she was director of the Tewksbury (Mass.) Public Library and assistant director and reference librarian at the Amesbury (Mass.) Public Library. She studied history at UNH and earned her master's in library and information science from Simmons College.

An 11-year-old with a superiority complex

Carol Luers EymanOnce a week, usually on Wednesday, Loren Rosson adds the latest Next Great Reads book to our staff picks shelf.

Flora by Gail Godwin

“Flora” by Gail Godwin is available at the library in hardcover.

Apparently this is one of your favorite book displays in the library, because he has to refill it daily. He often even has to display additional books by “Next Great Read” authors, lest the shelf appear empty and neglected.

That’s partly why I’m reviewing Flora by Gail Godwin this week.

While I definitely encourage you to read this small novel, I also want to get Gail Godwin’s other books in your face. She comes out with a new one every three years or so.

Literary and character-driven, Godwin’s novels are often set in the South. The protagonists are usually women, often teachers, artists, or clergy.

In Flora, it’s 1945 and 11-year-old Helen is grieving over the loss of her grandmother, who has raised Helen since her mother died when she was 3.

Helen’s father, a school principal, is leaving for the summer to work in Oak Ridge, Tennessee, on what turns out to be the Manhattan Project. So Flora, a naive 21-year-old, travels to North Carolina to look after her niece Helen for three months.

The precocious Helen fancies herself more worldly than Flora. “She was the first older person I felt superior to,” she recalls.

In fact I did wonder about Flora’s ability to maintain the household, especially after her frequent crying bouts. Helen’s grandmother used to say that Flora possessed “the gift of tears.” And Godwin gives this quirk of Flora’s a humorous bent, reminiscent of current late-night comedian riffs on teary-eyed Speaker of the House John Boehner.

In a novel centered around character more than action, Helen’s conceit fuels one of the few plot turns. After she entertains adolescent fantasies for weeks, her blind belief that the young man who delivers groceries A Southern FamilyA Mother and Two Daughterswill return her romantic advances leads to a confrontation among the main characters.

If you don’t see Flora on the staff picks display when you come in, look for two of my favorite Gail Godwin novels: A Mother and Two Daughters and A Southern Family.

About Carol Luers Eyman

Carol Luers Eyman is the outreach and community services coordinator at the Nashua Public Library. After graduating from Kirkland College, she earned a master’s of education and a certificate in technical communication from the University of Massachusetts.

Figures in Silk

Figures in Silk

“Figures in Silk” by Vanora Bennett is available from the library in hardcover.

Jen McCormackFigures in Silk by Valora Bennett is an absorbing historical novel set in London during the late 15th century.

Bennett tells the parallel stories of the Lambert sisters, Jane and Isabel, against the dramatic backdrop of the War of the Roses.

Jane and Isabel are married on the same day in 1471,  and King Edward IV himself attends their wedding feast. Their future and their father’s seem guaranteed to be prosperous and successful, but of course this wouldn’t be a novel without conflict! As married women the sisters defy their father’s wishes and choose their own paths.

Jane marries William Shore, a successful but older man destined for moderate success rather than greatness. She capitalizes on his family’s position by starting a poorly hidden affair with the king and becomes deeply involved in political intrigue at the palace. The king’s attachment to her is well known and gives Jane power and influence far beyond her station as the wife of Mr. Shore.

Isabel dreads her marriage to Thomas Claver, the young and buffoonish son of a powerful silk merchant in London. To her surprise Isabel soon finds herself happy and hopeful in spite of bearing the obvious dislike of her mother-in-law, Alice. Then tragedy strikes, and Isabel has to start over as an apprentice to Alice, learning the silk industry from scratch at the hands of a woman who despises her.

Figures in Silk is a long novel at 450 pages but thoroughly entertaining. The author has done a masterful job of depicting the intrigue and drama of the War of the Roses. Even a reader uninterested in the politics of royal succession will be thoroughly captivated by Isabel’s story and the remarkable history of the silk industry in England.

Interested in more novels set in Tudor England? Try The Lady Elizabeth by Alison Weir or Hillary Mantel’s Wolf Hall.

 

About Jen McCormack

Jen McCormack is the director of the Nashua Public Library. Previously she was director of the Tewksbury (Mass.) Public Library and assistant director and reference librarian at the Amesbury (Mass.) Public Library. She studied history at UNH and earned her master's in library and information science from Simmons College.

All’s Fair In Love and War

Inga Dellea-MessnerMin, an actuary, is brilliant, kind, ambitious, self-sufficient, overweight, and plain. Her friends call her “Stats.”

Bet Me

“Bet Me” by Jennifer Cruise is available in regular print, large print, and downloadable audiobook formats.

In a crowded bar, most men would pick her out as the least intriguing gal in the room.

So why would the drop-dead beautiful “hit-and-run-Cal Morrisey,” who already has every other set of mascaraed eyes in the place on him, be interested in her?

Well, Min knows why. And it’s not good. Yet she needs a date to her sister’s wedding . . . in three weeks! Can Minerva Dobbs play this famous playah for that long?

What will these two do to each other?

Throw in a few overprotective best friends; two meddlesome, disapproving families; and a couple of sexy, maniacal exes conniving to split Min and Cal apart, and you’ve got a rib-splitting whirlwind.

Bet Me by Jennifer Cruise was a perfect Valentine’s Day read. I could not put it down, or stop laughing, throughout.

Cruise has a talent for devising hilarious and absurd situations and a way with words that will have you falling out of your chair. The twists and turns of this novel take you from one screwed-up mess to the next, tangling these two characters’ fates into complete madness.

Whether your Valentine’s Day left you starry-eyed and ready for some more mush, or in need of a huge pick-me-up, you will fall in love with this wonderfully written romantic comedy.

 

About Inga Dellea-Messner

Library Assistant Inga Dellea-Messner grew up in Windham and Hudson. She worked at the Rodgers Memorial Library for seven years before becoming a library assistant at the Nashua Public Library. On her way to earning her bachelor’s degree from Keene State, she spent five months studying French in Bretagne (Brittany).

Loren’s Top 10 War Films

Loren RossonThere’s a lot of fuss being made over the movie American Sniper. Some call it the best American war movie of all time, others a propagandist piece, but frankly I don’t think it’s that good or bad either way. I wasn’t engaged by the characters; and what ground it covered, The Hurt Locker did so much better.

If you want some really good war films, these are my favorites. The library has all of them.

1. Shame. Unknown setting. Ingmar Bergman shot it off the small island of Farö, but it’s not clear that the setting is intended as Swedish. Whatever this nation is, it’s either at war with an invading country or engaged in a civil war–left deliberately hazy to suggest a war that symbolizes all war without any political axe-grinding. Its focus is on a simple married couple who are uprooted from home, falsely accused of bad allegiances, then freed on the condition that Eva performs sexual favors for a government official. Things escalate to the point of humiliation and Jan, a pacifist by nature, snaps and becomes a moral monster. We share Eva and Jan’s intimacies and hopelessness on a level not matched in any other war film. Shame speaks deeply about the human psyche and the will to survive. Like all Ingmar Bergman films it’s profound and timeless.

2. Paths of Glory. France, 1915-16; World War I. Stanley Kubrick’s classic is about a suicidal attack on an impregnable fortress captured by the Germans, inspired by the six-month bloodbath during the Battle of Verdun for Fort Douamont. It holds up well after so many decades (much as Spielberg tried, he didn’t surpass this brutal intensity in the opening sequence of Saving Private Ryan, a film I really don’t like), and the court marshal of the second part remains a convincing piece of courtroom drama. And then there’s the final scene: the poor ridiculed stage-singer who manages to shatter everyone’s soul, a moment’s epiphany in an uncaring world. Against the backdrop of the First World War, soldier grunts emerge as worthless pawns, to be thrown away for the sake of their superiors’ aggrandizement, and military tribunals stand as parodies of justice.

3. The Thin Red Line. Solomon Islands, 1942-43; World War II. This masterpiece was overshadowed by Saving Private Ryan (also released in 1998), when I think it should have been the other way around. It laments warfare through naturalist philosophy. I believe that antiwar films have difficulty doing right by the viewer. They must get their message across loud and clear but without preaching. What Bergman did at the level of personal intimacy (Shame) and Kubrick along the ladder of military hierarchy (Paths of Glory), Malick expands to the broadest level possible, examining life and death in cosmic terms. He finds beauty in each, yet an undeniable rage at the way the latter is reached. It’s a brilliant film, and the exotic setting of Melanesia somehow aligns perfectly with the tone of what Malick aims for.

4. Fury. Germany, 1945; World War II. Few war films capture soldier camaraderie with Fury’s plain authenticity that makes you alternate between hating and loving these guys by the minute. The story is set in the final days of World War II. An American tank crew of five plows across Germany, and while they know American victory is guaranteed by this point, they sure don’t feel it; the Nazis dig in to the end. The tank battles are nightmares; the Germans resist every step of the way. The best scene comes at the film’s midpoint, right after the tankers conquer a German town. Two of the tank crew barge into an apartment where two women are hiding; the unexpected tenderness on display is entirely real. Then the other three members barge in drunk, and a thoroughly unpleasant (and surreal) dinner ensues. The tank battles are spectacular and thoroughly realistic. Fury is defined by them.

5. The Hurt Locker. Baghdad, 2004; Iraq War. Neither anti- nor promilitary, but respectful and a sobering lesson in what bomb-deactivation squads go through. This is the film American Sniper tried to repeat: special-skilled soldiers, battle addiction, and the toll taken on wives back home. The title refers to shell shock, or the physical trauma of being continually close to the blast of an explosion: the horrible noise and prelude of compressed silence encasing you in a locker of pain. Kathryn Bigelow got best picture for it, and it was richly deserved. The film is not only an adrenaline rush, it’s a professional depiction of the Iraq War that refuses to plant a flag on either side of the conflict. It’s a thoughtful film about what it means to have skills that set soldiers above their peers, without glamorizing the role.

6. Flowers of War. Nanking, 1937; Sino-Japanese War. Set during the Rape of Nanking (the Chinese holocaust of World War II), this is loosely inspired by the diary of an American missionary who worked to protect Chinese civilians in the Nanking Safety Zone. A Catholic cathedral is used as a hideaway for young schoolgirls, who are soon joined by a group of prostitutes also seeking safety. The key character is the American mortician, who eventually must use his skills to disguise the older prostitutes as the 12-year-olds when the Japanese demand the schoolgirls be handed over for rape. The acting on display is as good as acting gets, and the drama pulls no punches showing the horrors of the Sino-Japanese War. The ending is left ambiguous–the disguised prostitutes are taken away from the cathedral–but safe to infer: these flowers have chosen to martyr themselves for the students’ freedom.

7. Full Metal Jacket. Vietnam, late 1960s; Vietnam War. There are zillions of films about the Vietnam War, many of them by Oliver Stone, most of them not very good. This one is legendary for Gunnery Sergeant Hartman–surely one of the most entertaining film characters of all time. As a 19-year-old, I remember thinking he went over the top for sake of theater, but quickly learned that actor R. Lee Ermey had been a real-life drill instructor, and that Kubrick allowed him to edit his own dialogue and improvise as he saw fit. I also remember my father saying he experienced some of these degradations heaped on the privates (and he was only in the Air Force, not the Marines). The film’s middle part is its weakest (where it feels like Europe more than Vietnam), but the sniper sequence at the end pulls it back on its feet.

field in england8. A Field in England. England, 1646; English Civil War. This one is a weird psychological horror piece. A pious man flees from battle. He’s caught by another fugitive, who is holding two other hostages. They wander and happen on an Irishman, who seems to have a connection with the pious man. He convinces them to help him search for some lost magical treasure. They move across a field which goes on forever. They find a crop of hallucinogenic mushrooms and consume them. Witchcraft comes into play, one of the men enslaves the other, and uses him as a kind of divining rod to locate the treasure. It’s a subtly terrifying scene (see here)–one of the most memorable from any film. A Field in England is a surrealist experiment, as if someone’s dream was captured on celluloid.

9. Black Hawk Down. Mogadishu, 1993; Somalian intervention. Never has the chaos of battle been depicted so effectively as in Black Hawk Down. What should have been a simple seizing of Somalian lieutenants turned into a nightmare of 18 soldier deaths across an overnight standoff, with another soldier being captured as well. All things considered, it’s amazing the rangers and special forces were able to fight off an entire city as they did. I was actually in Africa the year of this event, and remember hearing of warlord Aidid. His weapon was hunger: capturing all the food coming into Mogadishu. The American intervention was long delayed and frustrating, and when finally put into effect was blown to smithereens by unforeseen blunders. Small mistakes and cruel acts of fate–these more than anything else are what left the soldiers stranded in the city teeming with Aidid’s thugs around every corner, well into the next day.

10. Lone Survivor. Hindu Kush Mountains, 2005; Afghanistan War. If you want a true story set in the Middle East, I’d recommend this one over American Sniper. (What’s fact and fiction is explained here.) It tells of four Navy Seals on a covert operation, spying on a Taliban hideout. When they’re spotted by a random group of goat herders, the Seals make the kind decision to let them go, and from that point they fend off an unrelenting assault, as Taliban soldiers chase them through the mountains, surround them, appear suddenly from behind trees, entirely at ease in native territory. The film honors the Seals who died in this operation but also the Afghan villagers who sheltered the lone survivor of the four, when it was basically suicide for them to oppose the Taliban in this way.

About Loren Rosson

Loren Rosson heads up the circulation department at the Nashua Public Library. He's worked at the library since graduating from Lewis and Clark College, with the exception of the two years he spent in Lesotho with the Peace Corps, teaching high school.

Ms. Marvel: No Normal

blog-ms marvel

“Ms. Marvel: No Normal” by G. Willow Wilson.

Sophie Smith Unlike many kids, I didn’t read a lot of comic books when I was growing up. I read long historical fiction novels, usually about the Holocaust or pioneers.

Only in graduate school did I delve into graphic novels and comics, and it’s taken a while for me to learn how to read them, and ultimately, love them.

Reading a graphic novel or comic takes time and attention to the artwork. The story is not only communicated in words, but also, and sometimes exclusively, with images.

Since I’ve always been a text heavy reader, I’ve had to redefine my understanding of narrative. And, I’ll admit, one of the reasons I picked up Ms. Marvel was that the author, G. Willow Wilson, wrote a book I really enjoyed. I trust her storytelling and will follow her through different formats.

Kamala Khan, the protagonist of the recent Ms. Marvel comic books, has also had to redefine her understanding.

In her case, she’s an avid comic book fan. She’s also a Pakistani-American Muslim teenager growing up in New Jersey. She’s used to superheroes looming larger than life and not looking particularly like her. However, after a gaseous mist takes over her town one evening, she discovers superpowers of her own.

At first she sees herself turn into the tall, blond, scantily dressed Ms. Marvel from her preconceived comic book knowledge. Over the course of her story, she learns that she can define her own being as a superhero however she sees fit.  As she harnesses her powers, her projection begins to represent her, rather than someone else.

Fictional Kamala Khan and her superhero status have been in the real news recently. Her character has been used to combat some advertisements with hateful anti-Muslim messages in San Francisco. Many see the character as a powerful voice for the peace and acceptance of a diverse world.

This comic is well worth a read. The first volume, No Normal, collects issues 1-6, and a second volume is coming out in March 2015. If you’re new to superheroes or comics, I hope you take a chance and try this out.

If you’re interested in graphic novels but superheroes aren’t your thing, here are a few other suggestions:

About Sophie Smith

Sophie Smith is the supervisor of teen services at the Nashua Public Library and can also frequently be found at the reference desk. As a history and Spanish major at Kenyon College she spent a year in Salamanca, Spain. She earned her master's in library and information science from Simmons College.

State of Wonder

State of Wonder

“State of Wonder” by Ann Patchett is available from the library in hardcover, audiobook, and downloadable ebook.

Inga Dellea-MessnerMedical researcher Annick Swenson, a protagonist in Ann Patchett’s State of Wonder, is not one for trivial tasks, like progress reports.

Mr. Fox, CEO of the pharmaceutical company funding her research, is not one to be ignored.

However, with a project this important, Fox cannot afford to pull the plug: Annick is studying an Amazonian tribe where the women are sustaining pregnancies well into their 60s and even 70s. (Imagine the implications!)

So Fox sends Dr. Anders Eckman to track her down. But when a cryptic letter from Swenson announcing the death of this father of four makes its way to Fox’s company, too many questions arise.

Why is this Swenson woman so resistant to cooperation?

Why would a doctor give no more information than “fever” in regards to the poor man’s death?

What in the world is Annick Swenson hiding?

And who better than Anders’ lab partner and Swenson’s former student, Dr. Marina Singh, to find out?

Under both emotional and professional pressure from Anders’ wife and Mr. Fox (who we quickly discover is more than just her boss), Marina will embark on a series of adventures both terrifying and poignant. Indulge in this book, and you’ll find yourself breathless.

I’m a busy woman; I’ll tell you that. Yet despite hosting gatherings, tutoring, and battling two head colds in the past few weeks, I read State of Wonder in only two sittings. The plot just absorbed me that much. Both her story and her characters are among the most provocative and complex I’ve ever read.

If you’re going to embark on this Amazonian journey, I will leave you with a few suggestions. Firstly, always focus on the issue at hand. Though they may be riveting, do not let Patchett’s bewitching side stories distract you. Also, whatever you do, do not seek a denouement. This book is meant to leave you in a truly confused, infuriatingly bewildered state of wonder.

Enjoy the boat ride!

(You might like this podcast of Ann Patchett’s appearance at Writers on a New England Stage. She reads an unforgettable passage about a battle with an anaconda.)

 

 

 

About Inga Dellea-Messner

Library Assistant Inga Dellea-Messner grew up in Windham and Hudson. She worked at the Rodgers Memorial Library for seven years before becoming a library assistant at the Nashua Public Library. On her way to earning her bachelor’s degree from Keene State, she spent five months studying French in Bretagne (Brittany).

The Illusion of Free Will

Free Will

“Free Will” by Sam Harris is available from the library in hardcover.

Loren RossonAre we responsible for our actions? In Free Will, neuroscientist Sam Harris argues no, that our experience of free will is an illusion.

Free will implies two things:

(1) That we were free to think and act differently than we did. We did something but could have done otherwise. I raised my right hand but could have raised my left; I went to see a movie, but could have visited a friend; I thought about cooking dinner, but could have considered ordering pizza.

(2) That we are the conscious source of our thoughts and actions. Our consciousness is the author of our inner lives—the thinker of our thoughts, the intender of our intentions. I feel that I want to rise from a chair, and so I rise. I experience the desire to marry my girlfriend, so I propose to her.

Harris says the problem with the first assumption is that we live in a determinist universe (a world of cause and effect) and everything that could possibly constitute our will is the product of a chain of prior causes–genes, environment, social networks, patterns of electrochemical activity in the brain, atomic states at this or that precise moment. We’re not responsible for any of this, and to say “I could have done otherwise” is to say, essentially, that I could have been a different person or I could have been in a different universe.

The problem with the second is that the conscious desires and intentions that precede our actions are not their true origin. Everything we are consciously aware of at any moment is the result of a stream of neurophysiological events in the unconscious. We’re not aware of this stream and have no control over it. Our unconscious activity produces thoughts and emotions, and we are mere witnesses to the choices we think we are consciously making.

In other words, according to this wisdom, we aren’t responsible for our actions. Any of them. Literally. A psychopath isn’t responsible for psychopathic behavior any more than a good person can take credit for good deeds.

If that sounds alarming and nihilistic, Harris has things to say about what all of this means for us politically and morally. Read his stimulating book and find out. Also check out his short video clip below.

About Loren Rosson

Loren Rosson heads up the circulation department at the Nashua Public Library. He's worked at the library since graduating from Lewis and Clark College, with the exception of the two years he spent in Lesotho with the Peace Corps, teaching high school.

Being Mortal: Medicine and What Matters in the End

Carol Luers EymanI hesitate to review this book, because I noticed that of the 12 reviews I’ve posted here, four have been of books or films about aging and dying.

Being Mortal

“Being Mortal” by Atul Gawande is available from the library as a hardcover, e-book, downloadable audiobook, and audiobook on CD.

Of course that’s the ending of every human story. Still, I swear this is my last post on that theme for now. Being Mortal: Medicine and What Matters in the End by surgeon and public health researcher Atul Gawande is too compelling to pass up.

You would expect a book titled Being Mortal to exhort you to sign a living will and talk to your family about your wishes for end of life care.

While Gawande certainly encourages taking those steps, his stories more importantly force you to think through just what those wishes will be.

Gawande’s stories come from patients and health care providers he has known or interviewed. They read as smoothly as fiction as they span the stages of growing old, from independence in one’s own home to the point where things fall apart (often because a person literally falls) and dependency ensues.

Of course, that sequence frequently leads to a nursing home–for most of us, our worst nightmare. Yet Gawande’s chapters on nursing homes are the most informative and hopeful parts of the book.

Nursing homes: the back story
Chapter 3 gives a history of how nursing homes came about. In the 1950s, the government funded custodial units in hospitals for patients whose acute conditions had waned but whose chronic illness, weakness, or disability prevented their release, especially if they had no family to help.

“That was the beginning of the modern nursing home. They were never created to help people facing dependency in old age. They were created to clear out hospital beds–which is why they were called ‘nursing’ homes.”

The second chapter that has stuck with me is “A Better Life, ” in which the author profiles people who have built alternatives to traditional assisted-living and nursing homes. You have to admire Dr. Bill Thomas, who dispelled the pall of imminent death from an upstate-New York nursing home and imported life into the building: He adopted a greyhound, a lapdog, four cats, and a hundred parakeets and immersed the residents in their care.

Read more . . .
If you want to give this author a dry run, look for his occasional New Yorker articles. Two other author/physicians I recommend who write nonfiction for general audiences about the practice of medicine are Pauline Chen (Final Exam) and Jerome Groopman (try How Doctors Think).

 

About Carol Luers Eyman

Carol Luers Eyman is the outreach and community services coordinator at the Nashua Public Library. After graduating from Kirkland College, she earned a master’s of education and a certificate in technical communication from the University of Massachusetts.