Books to Read

I pretty much don’t read fiction.  These are books that you might not normally run across. All are worth a look.

Being Mortal by Atul Gawande
If you have an elderly parent or know someone with a serious disease, you should read this.  It’s a blueprint on how to handle treatment options.  Don’t wait until its too late.  (And any book by Gawande is good.)

Showdown: Thurgood Marshall and the Supreme Court by Will Haygood.
If you ever wondered why African Americans are leery of the police, this book will make it abundantly clear.  In one instance, Marshall is in the South to try a case for the NAACP.  After the police say they are going to arrest him and head for jail, his friends find him on his knees in the woods, waiting to be assassinated.  After that he is moved each night so he never sleeps in the same house twice.

Innumeracy:  Mathematical Illiteracy and Its Consequences by John Allen Paulos
This book will help you relate to news and information in general that has large numbers in them.  Many people just tune out when numbers get up into the millions.  Learn how to make these numbers understandable.

Traffic: Why We Drive the Way We Do (and What It Says About Us) by Tom Vanderbilt
According to the author, there are no accidents – unless your vehicle has a mechanical malfunction.  Everything else is preventable.  Fascinating look at driving and how we perceive it. 

Five Days at Memorial by Sheri Fink
This is the first book I have not been able to read. I wanted to read it – it is very well written, but I just couldn’t take the story.
I remember, as you probably do, the news stories about New Orleans during hurricane Katrina. This book reinforced many of the conflicting stories I heard on the news. The hospital was evacuated and then it’s not. The Coast Guard was going to help and then it was asked not to. The state said FEMA was organizing, but they don’t own helicopters and were asking the Coast Guard to supply them. It was so infuriating to see the lack of a plan, a leader, any assistance from the government.
The hospital survived the hurricane well. They had generators and were surprised about news reports they heard that the city was flooding when the streets around them were drying up. Then the levees were breached and it all went down hill from there. People were dying in the hospital as water, and air conditioning were lost. Eventually the generators died and they had no power.  Then the Doctor’s choices were let these critically ill patients die slow, painful deaths, or give them something to end their lives humanely.
At this point I just couldn’t take it any more. I cannot imagine what it must have been like for the people who actually experienced this. I did skim the last chapter about the trial of one doctor and two nurses who were charged with murder. They did eventually have the charges dropped, but it just made me want to scream.