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All Book Reviews by Genre: Science/Mathematics

Nikola Tesla: A Spark of Genius
Dommermuth-Costa, Carol
5 stars = Bohemian Rhapsody Awesome!
Review:

A Spark Of Genius is all about Nikola Tesla, and It explains the hardships of his life, along with his accomplishments. This book is non-fiction, but it feels like a action thrilled fiction fantasy, because this man did the impossible for his time. He was extremely passionate about his work, and loved it more than anything. I recommend this to everyone who needs to read a Non-fiction book! It is so good!

Reviewer's Name: Lucas L.
A Field Guide to Lies: Critical Thinking in the Information Age
Levitin, Daniel J.
5 stars = Bohemian Rhapsody Awesome!
Review:

Most adults and teens would greatly benefit from reading this book, especially now that we live in a world where "fake news" is a dire problem. Don't take what you read or hear at face value - really think about it, and decide if what you are reading makes sense. Daniel J. Levitin spells out exactly how (and why) to do that.

For me, some of this was very basic, some of it was review, and some of it was completely new. All of it was useful. It had the added advantage of being easy to read and easy to understand. Almost every segment would start with Levitin presenting a claim and then evaluating the claim for its truthiness. He takes many facets of information dissemination to task - from the various types of information found on the internet to respected news organizations to doctors to scientific journals. It really is something of a field guide as well; I consider myself to be a decent critical thinker, but there were several tips and tricks that I plan to use in the future that I never would've considered had I not read this book. Levitin does a really great job of being non-partisan - he goes out of his way not to come down on one side or another on any issue, he merely evaluates the truth of different assertions (and if he points out the lies on one side of the political aisle, he quickly follows with a lie from the opposing side).

As someone who works at a library, I think information literacy is crucially important. It's even more important today as more and more specious information becomes available through the internet. This book will show you how to sift through the lies and find the truth, an essential skill for everyone. 5 stars.

Reviewer's Name: Britt
Awards:
When Breath Becomes Air
Kalanithi, Paul
5 stars = Bohemian Rhapsody Awesome!
Review:

This memoir by a brilliant neurosurgeon who contracts lung cancer movingly describes the anguish of terminal illness from the doctor and patient perspectives simultaneously. An accomplished writer with an astonishing grasp of literature, he side steps all the easy answers and leaves the reader in love with life and astonished by living, not intimidated by disease.

Reviewer's Name: David R.
Navy Seal Dogs
Ritland, Mike
4 stars = Really Good
Review:

This was a great book. I would strongly recommend it to anyone who is interested in how k9s are used in the military or who is just interested in how special operations forces work in general. The author shares his story of why he joined the military and became a navy seal. He then started his own company that trains dogs for use in the military. You get to read some of his stories from in the military and how amazed he was at what dogs are capable of doing and how many lives they have saved. You will also pick up some dog training tips that you could use to train your own dog. Overall, this was a great book and I really enjoyed it and I think that you will too.
Reviewer Grade: 7

Reviewer's Name: Kai K.
Skyfaring
Vanhoenacker, Mark
5 stars = Bohemian Rhapsody Awesome!
Review:

This book was one of the best books I have read this year. I
would strongly recommend this book to anyone who would be interested in working in the travel or airline industry. This book really does make you see how it is like to fly a plane through the eyes of a pilot. The author explains it almost poetically and nicely splits the book into nine chapters that all compare flying to the name of the chapter. These chapters are: Lift, Place, Wayfinding, Machine, Air, Water, Encounters, Night, and Return. You will really realize that flying is an almost completely different experience for the pilot than it is for the passenger. For example, he points out that as a passenger, you spend the entire flight looking out a small window in the side of the plane but as the pilots, you get a different experience as you are looking out the front and have a better view of the earth. All in all, I thought that this was one of the best books I have read this year and I am sure you would enjoy it too.
Reviewer Grade: 7

Reviewer's Name: Kai K.
Awards:
Grunt
Roach, Mary
4 stars = Really Good
Review:

Mary Roach covers military science in a way that seemingly only she can: by covering the weird, little known aspects like genitalia injuries, shark repellent, military fashion, and, of course, diarrhea. The result is an interesting, engaging and very accessible non-fiction read.

I listened to this book, and I think that was probably a mistake. Mary Roach tends to jump around from topic to topic even within a larger topic (in a chapter about shark repellent you may jump from sharks to polar bears pretty abruptly), which can be fun to read, but was hard to listen to. Zone out for a minute, and you'll find yourself completely lost. My listening enjoyment was also hampered by the insane amount of acronyms used by the military. I had a lot of "wait, what does that stand for again?" moments, and in an audiobook, there's not really a way to go back and check, and its not like I'm going to google whilst driving. Oh yeah, and the narrator was not to my taste. Her voice just didn't do it for me.

But overall, it managed to be both informative and funny which is not an oft found combination. I really enjoyed it, and I'll be booktalking this one in the fall.

Reviewer's Name: Britt
Awards:
The Spirit Catches You and You Fall Down: a Hmong child, her American doctors, and the collision of two cultures
Fadiman, Anne
4 stars = Really Good
Review:

An insightful look at intercultural conflicts in the medical field. This book follows the case of a young Hmong girl named Lia Lee, the daughter of refugees, who presented with epilepsy in her infancy. The author, Anne Fadiman, follows both the parents and the doctors involved in the case, interviewing the key parties and untangling the miscommunication that led to Lia’s eventual brain death. The author is respectful to both sides and manages to explore the conflict that arises over the medical care without placing blame, instead asking what both sides viewed as good medicine, what they hoped to accomplish, and why they were unable to communicate their ideas to one another and agree on how to handle Lia’s treatment. The edition I read also had a helpful afterword in which the author updated readers on where the people she interviewed are now, some 20 years later, and how the hospital in Merced (and other hospitals throughout the country) are starting to change how they train their staff to interact with a multicultural community that might have very different ideas about what good medical care looks like. This book always makes top non-fiction lists, and now that I’ve finally gotten around to reading it I can say that for me it lived up to the hype.

Reviewer's Name: Lauren
Chew on This: Everything You Don't Want to Know About Fast Food
Schlosser, Eric
4 stars = Really Good
Review:

Everyone knows what McDonald’s or Burger King is, but how many people know how they got here, how are they getting their food, and why do they target kids as a key consumer audience. In Chew on This, Eric Schlosser and Charles Wilson explain who founded the fast food industries, how animals are mistreated in slaughterhouses,
and the horrible effects fast food has on our bodies. I personally loved this book because I am super interested in food and health and it’s shocking to learn that: high school dropouts started the biggest industries in the world, each can of soda contains 10 teaspoons of sugar, and that chicken slaughterhouses feed chickens leftover chickens. The authors profile stories of teens who have taken action to stop the fast food industry such as: A girl launching a campaign to remove soda machines from her school. I recommend this book to those interested in learning about the fast food industry and what they are actually doing. Chew on This is meant to show people, especially kids and teens, they can change the world by changing what they eat.
Reviewer Grade: 10

Reviewer's Name: Joe T.
The Omnivore's Dilemma: The Secrets Behind What You Eat
Pollan, Michael
4 stars = Really Good
Review:

Do you ever wonder where your food comes from? How the potatoes in your french fries were grown? Or even what's in your burger. This book answers those questions and many more and it also lets you in on the food industry’s biggest secrets. It’s super interesting and educational. I mean did you know that corn is in about
everything from batteries to fireworks and that in cattle feed people put in M&M’s, hooves, corn, and cardboard?! I recommend this book to people interested in food and health since it teaches you the brutal truths behind industrial food production. It taught me what “real” food is and why I should stay away from processed foods. I loved this book because it actually taught me a lot about food that isn’t taught in school and I would recommend it to basically everyone because this is stuff you really need to know before you go grocery shopping.
Reviewer Grade: 10

Reviewer's Name: Joe T.
Book Review: Being Mortal
Gawande, Atul
4 stars = Really Good
Review:

This book was a very hard read for me. Not because of the writing, but because of the subject matter. I had just placed my father and his wife into a continuing care community when my book club chose this book. The stories of lost independence and the price of safety on quality of life hit me hard. After they moved in my dad went straight to Memory Care. His freedom is gone and he feels it keenly. It's true that he's safe, but I feel like I had a hand in ending his freedom. Of course in my head I know this isn't true, the circumstances were - and still are - way beyond my control, but still.

The takeaway from this book is to communicate clearly with your loved ones what you want as an end-of-life plan. Also, it's important to take an active role in choosing help and help communities. Finally, hospice is a far more humane way to treat the end-of-life experience than heroic measures and ICU. Quality of life is the most important thing and this is defined on a individual basis.

Reviewer's Name: vfranklyn
Next of Kin
Fouts, Roger
5 stars = Bohemian Rhapsody Awesome!
Review:

This is one of the best books I have ever read. In an account of Fouts’ experiences teaching chimpanzees to communicate through sign language, he exposes many heartbreaking injustices of animal research that escapes public attention. Even more importantly, to me, he reveals the striking intelligence and “humanity” of great apes and their tremendous capacity to feel emotions and think critically. It is important to note that the book is written through the bias of a man who has befriended chimpanzees for life; however, much of what he describes is backed up by convincing evidence, leading me to truly believe this book. The accounts of chimpanzees, their ability to withstand horrifying situations, and to remember with gratitude those who once helped them, is truly touching. I also enjoyed the scientific discussions interspersed within the narrative elements of the book. For anyone looking to reaffirm their convictions of animals’ feelings or for anyone looking to challenge their current opinion, I would highly recommend this book.

Reviewer Grade: 12

Reviewer's Name: Selena Z.
Cain, Susan
4 stars = Really Good
Review:

As an introvert, reading this book felt like coming home. There were many times when I so identified with the feelings and behaviors Susan describes it was like looking into a mirror. Cain examines different facets of personality and why we as a society value certain traits over others. She also looks at what introverts can offer to businesses and in leadership positions. Great read for introverts and extroverts alike!

Reviewer's Name: Becca
MacDonald, Matthew
5 stars = Bohemian Rhapsody Awesome!
Review:

Your Brain: The Missing Manual is the book for "the rest of us" who don't want to or can't take in all the medical jargon that usually infests books about how the "little grey cells" work.

Matthew MacDonald takes the information about how the brain functions and breaks it down into usable chunks. He gives a brief but thorough explanation of several functions the brain performs in simple English, then explains how the brain's owner can make the best use of how the brain works. An analogy would be that instead of someone trying to explain what's under the hood of that great car, he shows you the control panel and HOW TO USE the car. Chances are, you don't need to know how many cylinders there are, what kind of oil it uses etc. because all you plan to do is USE the car and maybe do a bit of maintenance. Matthew MacDonald's approach is that of someone explaining just enough of how the brain functions so that it can be used more efficiently and to the owner's benefit. I heartily recommend the book, especially to staff and teens who could use the problem solving techniques the author includes in the book for learning, school problem solving, etc.

Reviewer's Name: Pauline
Frankl, Viktor
4 stars = Really Good
Review:

That something so important could come out of the holocaust is amazing. I can imagine Dr. Frankl studying and analyzing the psychology of survival in his head while a prisoner, and then finally writing and publishing his greatest achievement. Logotherapy is a sound explanation on the meaning of life. Great book.

Reviewer's Name: Virginia
Gonzales, Laurence
2 stars = Meh
Review:

I only read half of this book. The writing style was too jumpy/jumbled for me. I felt that Laurence Gonzales was repeating the same things over and over. I did like the survival (or in some cases non-survival stories) and wished there had been more of those with the follow-up to the incident instead of so much description of the brain functions of survival. This was just an okay book for me.

Reviewer's Name: Melissa
Millard, Candice
5 stars = Bohemian Rhapsody Awesome!
Review:

Great for the reader interested in history, science, and adventure. A wonderful insight into Theodore Roosevelt's lifelong love for nature.

Reviewer's Name: Abby
Dawkins, Richard
5 stars = Bohemian Rhapsody Awesome!
Review:

Great book. Dr. Dawkins takes everyday questions and answers them both via myth and via science in a manner that is accessible to the average layperson. The height of the book for me was the discussion of "Sod's Law" and the understanding that reacting as if there is a threat when the possibility arises assures survival. Also, I thought it was interesting that we are living the good life (at least I am), and natural selection favors a struggle. The illustrations were also great. A big thumbs up!

Reviewer's Name: vfranklyn
Millard, Candice
5 stars = Bohemian Rhapsody Awesome!
Review:

Explore an uncharted tributary of the Amazon River with President Theodore Roosevelt in The River of Doubt by Candice Millard. The adventure encompasses United States history, South American politics, native populations along the Amazon, and the relationship that President Roosevelt had with his son. Learn about the animals and plants along the dangerous Amazon and the near death of the President.

Reviewer's Name: Janie
Cahalan, Susannah
5 stars = Bohemian Rhapsody Awesome!
Review:

I started out giving this book 4 stars - it is a fascinating inside look at this author's hospitalization for a rare autoimmune disorder which caused her complete memory loss of the time she was ill and could have eventually led to her death had her doctor given up on her.

The more I think about this book, however, the more I liked it - I've found myself talking about it with friends and family over the past few days and marveling at this author's tenacity on recreating her "month of madness" through interviews and tapes. I feel this is a wonderful and well-written book, not only of one woman's experiences with an illness that displayed itself so quickly and violently, but a fascinating look into our brains and how they work (or don't work).

Reviewer's Name: Krista