Librarian review: Andy Warhol was a hoarder : inside the minds of history’s great personalities

From Andrea Kalinowski

Author: Claudia Kalb

Title:   Andy Warhol was a hoarder : inside the minds of history’s great personalities

Andy Warhol was a hoarder: inside the minds of history’s great personalities by Claudia Kalb was a book which, as the title implies, focused on the possible mental defects of some of the world’s top personalities. Marilyn Monroe, Frank Lloyd Wright, Andy Warhol, Christine Jorgensen, and Albert Einstein were among the celebrities being discussed in view of possessing some mental illness or defect. It is too late to know for sure but Claudia Kalb examines some of the celebrities’ actions through the lens of mental illness.

Christine Jorgensen was one of the first individuals to undergo sex reassignment surgery. In the course of the Christine Jorgensen chapter, Claudia mentions that homosexuality was once viewed as a mental illness or defect. It has since been removed from the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders. However, one must remember that, as our understanding of both the mental and physical components of human beings is honed, definitions and diagnoses are often retooled and refined.

Albert Einstein, according to Claudia, was on the autism spectrum continuum. Autism affects proportionately more men and boys than women and girls. It is, she suggests, closely aligned with a gift for mathematics and/or science since the individuals thus blessed/cursed seem to be able to focus their mind. This book was an enjoyable, mind-opening read and a sometimes entertaining glimpse into the personalities of great people.


Librarian review: A mother’s reckoning : living in the aftermath of tragedy

From Andrea Kalinowski
Author: Sue Klebold
Title:   A mother’s reckoning : living in the aftermath of tragedy

“I am tired of being strong. I can’t be strong anymore. I can’t face or do anything. I’m lost in a deep chasm of sorrow. I have 17 phone messages and don’t have the energy to listen to them. Dylan’s room is just as the law enforcement people left it, and I can’t face putting it in order,” this was Sue Klebold’s journal entry of May 1999. In A mother’s reckoning: living in the aftermath of tragedy by Sue Klebold, the mother of Dylan discusses the issues which brought Dylan to the point of committing the Columbine shooting.

Sue Klebold is boldly honest in this thought-provoking book which is partly memoir and partly exhortation to view our loved ones, most especially our pre-teens and teens, as vulnerable to brain health issues. Sue would further like to change the terminology “mental health” to “brain health” as she sees this as a way of removing the stigmatization associated with individuals suffering mental disease. Sue hopes that with this change, people would view the brain as just another organ and, therefore, follow a regular health routine of continuous wellness checks. In hindsight, she recognizes signs which she attributed to normal teen behavior as being indicative of depression such as excessive sleep, irritability, etc. She does not use this as an excuse for Dylan’s behavior. Sue maintains throughout her memoir that Dylan, even though he should have been in treatment, had choices and that he made disastrous ones. Once I started this memoir, I could not tear myself away from its pages.

Because of sex : one law, ten cases, and fifty years that changed American women’s lives at work

Librarian Review

From Andrea Kalinowski

Author: Gillian Thomas

Title:   Because of sex : one law, ten cases, and fifty years that changed American women’s lives at work 

Because of sex: one law, ten cases, and fifty years that changed American women’s lives at work by Gillian Thomas was an informative, engaging, eye-opener of a book. The author discusses Title VII and its many reincarnations and its many reinterpretations by the Supreme Court. The cases discussed focused on issues of sex discrimination in its varied forms. The cases explored in the book ranged from barring a woman from applying for a position because of preschool age children to forcing women to choose between pregnancy and sterilization to keep a higher-paying job. The legal system is glacially slow in crediting women with the desire to work, viewing women’s primary function as caregivers. Sexual harassment was a term coined fairly recently and the people who brought it into popular vernacular debated between many terms before deciding this was the correct term. The book also discussed the double standard being applied when rating a woman’s job performance; if she is aggressive and committed to her position it is viewed as unwomanly and if she is feminine and caring, she is too weak to be promoted — a double-edged sword in that you are damned if you do and damned if you don’t. I found it to be a stellar read on a thorny legal issue – clear, concise, and thought-provoking.


Black man in a white coat : a doctor’s reflections on race and medicine

From Andrea Kalinowski

Author: Damon Tweedy

Title: Black man in a white coat : a doctor’s reflections on race and medicine

Black man in a white coat: a doctor’s reflections on race and medicine by Damon Tweedy is an eye-opener of a book. The author is both a physician and a patient. He is an African American man and with that racial status come some medical conditions which are more prevalent among African Americans. Damon,the author,suffers from high blood pressure as do many of his African American brothers and sisters. He began to dread hearing “It’s more common in blacks than in whites” in the medical lectures. In his memoir,Dr. Tweedy also discusses affirmative action and how it can be viewed both negatively and positively depending on the lens you are using. Dr.Tweedy,in addition, ponders his own medical commitment. Is he treating all his patients with equal dedication or because of empathy does he favor and/or persist more with certain individuals?

This book is a continuation of the medical kick I am currently on. The kick started a while ago with Call the nurse: true stories of a country nurse on a Scottish isle by Mary J. MacLeod, foreword by Lady Claire Macdonald of Macdonald, Do no harm: stories of life, death, and brain surgery by Henry Marsh, Dr. Mütter’s marvels: a true tale of intrigue and inno-vation at the dawn of modern medicine by Cristin O’Keefe Aptowicz, Extreme medicine: how exploration transformed medicine in the twentieth century by Kevin Fong, God’s hotel: a doctor, a hospital, and a pilgrimage to the heart of medicine by Victoria Sweet, The shift: one nurse, twelve hours, four patients’ lives by Theresa Brown.


Louisiana saves the library

From Andrea Kalinowski

Author: Emily Cogburn

Title: Louisiana saves the library

Louisiana saves the library by Emily Beck Cogburn was a funny,lighthearted read in the middle of the heavy seas of nonfiction in which I am currently immersed, one nonfiction thread leading to another until this title crossed my path. The protagonist, Louisiana Richardson, a newly single mother with two children, was a library professor until the University reassessed its fiscal responsibilities. Dear readers, Louisiana got axed from her position, and found herself in Alligator Bayou Parish trying to reinvigorate a dying library as well as balance her personal life. Louisiana faces an uphill battle against the library director and one of the board members, Mrs.Gunderson. Both are opposed to the continuation and/or expansion of the library for entirely different reasons. Pick up this lively novel and find out how Louisiana manages to save both the library and her personal life.


Listening to killers : lessons learned from my twenty years as a psychological expert witness in murder cases

From Andrea Kalinowski

Author: James Garbarino

Title: Listening to killers : lessons learned from my twenty years as a psychological expert witness in murder cases

Listening to killers: lessons learned from my 20 years as a psychological expert witness in murder cases by James Garbarino was vastly different from what I had anticipated when I placed the book on reserve. I was expecting a book with numerous case studies as well as a description of the author’s involvement as an expert witness. The book primarily focused on the trauma that the killers profiled suffered at the hands of their family and their community. James Garbarino examines the “war zone” mentality that some of the killers suffer under as a result of the community they live in, a community where violence and gang associations are generally a way of life. James Garbarino, in addition, discusses the fact that teenagers are quite often tried as adults and what disastrous results this decision has on the defendants. The author quite often succeeds in opening jurors’ eyes to what the defendant suffered as a young man, and I use young man because the majority of prison inmates are men. Through his advocacy, many defendants are given sentences of life instead of death. The author argues eloquently for a review of the sentencing procedures. He also urges prisons to offer counseling services and educational services so that young offenders might be successfully rehabilitated. This book was a little bit dry for the ordinary citizen but quite eye-opening for anyone interested in the Criminal Justice system.

Staff Review: Do no harm : stories of life, death, and brain surgery

From Andrea Kalinowski

Author:  Henry Marsh

Title:  Do no harm : stories of life, death, and brain surgery

Do no harm: stories of life, death, and brain surgery by Henry Marsh was an engrossing read. One point which I found especially intriguing is that the author admits his fallibility. Henry Marsh is a British neurosurgeon. He has worked in private practice and in the NHS (National Health Service). In addition, Henry has been on both sides of the operating table at various times in his life. His own son, a mere infant at the time of the diagnosis, needed a tumor removed and Henry himself underwent surgery for retinal detachment. Henry also broke his leg. Being on both sides of the operating table has given him an understanding of the levels of patience some of his patients require as they wait for and then undergo various examinations and surgeries. Dr. Marsh admits that he has performed surgeries against his better judgment. These surgeries were mainly an appeasement to the patient and/or the patient’s families who had difficulty accepting that nothing more could be done for their loved one(s). In reading Dr. Marsh’s memoir, I got the impression that he does not feel that life should be torturous, that sometimes the best thing to do is to let go. To my way of thinking, we treat, in general, our pets with more compassion than we treat our fellow human beings. We are allowed to euthanize our pets but our fellow human beings are sometimes subjected to heroic medical efforts without consideration being given to the quality and not quantity of life. What does it matter if a person gains six months of life if those six months are spent in a vegetative state? I have always found medicine fascinating and this book furthered my knowledge base. It strengthened my enthrallment though I recognize I am not physically capable of pursuing this field, much to my dismay.

A dog’s gift : the inspirational story of veterans and children healed by man’s best friend

From Andrea Kalinowski

Author:  Bob Drury

Title:   A dog’s gift : the inspirational story of veterans and children healed by man’s best friend

A Dog’s Gift: the inspirational story of veterans and children healed by man’s best friend by Bob Drury was an emotional reporting of the human-canine bond. Canines have provided humans with all sorts of assistance for many years and the organization upon which this book focuses, Paws4people, believes that “dogs are like people. They don’t all want to do the same job. They don’t all want to work with a disabled child or a marine with a psychological syndrome. We acknowledge that. So you flunk chemistry at Paws4people, we’ll enroll you in English lit … believe me, we’ll find something you’re good at.” Just as every person is not suited for every job, not every dog will suit every situation. Paws4people was founded by a father-daughter duo and they match various types of assistance dogs with the right situation, both physical and emotional, and it all begins with a Bump. A Bump is a controlled situation in which several dogs are introduced one at a time, to a prospective client. The canine, in essence, selects their own human. Kyria, one of the founders of Paws4people, began her own service career early when she persuaded her father to allow her to bring her first Golden to a nursing home. This work is filled with the trials and tribulations of those seeking to help our disabled service people. It briefly touches upon the fact that some of our service personnel are being abused by the very institution sworn to protect our liberties and us from harm. This book was an enlightening and inspirational glimpse into what one can achieve if the desire is there

The Ripper’s Wife

From  Andrea Kalinowski
Author:  Brandy Purdy
Title:  The Ripper’s Wife

Brandy Purdy’s newest release is The Ripper’s Wife. It offered a new perspective, fictional though it was, of how Jack the Ripper came to be. James Maybrick and Florence Chandler meet upon the ocean-liner The Baltic and it is a whirlwind romance of a week’s duration. They both have concealed aspects of their true nature from each other and this concealment leads to their ultimate downfall, both individually and as a married couple. Florence, or Florie as she is affectionately known, is a flirt and a coquette. She needs to be first in everyone’s affections. James Maybrick is the middle son and forever in competition with his eldest brother, Michael. James’ first passions are arsenic and strychnine. His second passion is visiting physicians’ offices to diagnose his many ailments, mainly imagined. He is a hypochondriac of the first order. The downfall begins when James’ “wife” comes to the door and speaks with Florie beseeching her to ask James to resume his payments for her and their five children.

The silent sister

From  Andrea  Kalinowski

Author:  Diane  Chamberlain

Title:  The silent sister

“I know that the lies in our family hurt all of us, especially Danny and myself. Growing up in a household where something is terribly wrong, you feel the weight of that mysterious something even though it’s unspoken. It eats at you. Confuses you. It leaves you wondering if your view of the world will ever make sense.” The Silent Sister by Diane Chamberlain was an unexpected surprise hit with me. It was recommended to me by my sister-in-law. She could not stop reading the book and neither could I.

A young woman returns to her father’s house to clean out his home and to settle his estate. She thinks her only relative is her brother, who is perceived, by her and others, as being mentally ill. In the cleaning process, secrets of her sister’s suicide are unearthed and shed new light on the family dynamics. Lisa was seventeen when she committed “suicide” and it was this “suicide” which changed the family’s dynamic from a cohesive functioning family unit to a dysfunctional mishmash. Danny harbors his own resentments about Lisa’s familial role and the transformation that is wrought by her “suicide.” The discovery of newspaper articles detailing the real story behind the “suicide” set Riley off in search of the real story. The full scope of the deception forces Riley and Danny into a new and uncertain familial future. Our choices today really do have a ripple effect even though we may not perceive them clearly at the moment of decision. The Silent Sister was an excellent, suspenseful read. I give it four stars.