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 Post subject: Re: What are you reading? (Non-Fiction Edition)
PostPosted: Sun Jan 19, 2014 11:01 am 
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I'm teaching (and thus reading again) "The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks" by Rebecca Skloot. I really like the book - a successful creative nonfiction book that combines science, history and biography.


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 Post subject: Re: What are you reading? (Non-Fiction Edition)
PostPosted: Sun Jan 19, 2014 11:06 am 
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I'm reading The Man Who Sold the World : David Bowie and the 1970s. I thought it was going to be a straight bio but it gives the story behind each song between 1969-1980. I thought it would be boring and except for the parts that deal with musical notation it's interesting so far.

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 Post subject: Re: What are you reading? (Non-Fiction Edition)
PostPosted: Sun Jan 19, 2014 11:24 am 
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pickledtreats wrote:
I'm teaching (and thus reading again) "The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks" by Rebecca Skloot. I really like the book - a successful creative nonfiction book that combines science, history and biography.


I haven't read this yet, but it's on my list. I wanted to vet it for my GED students. Reading abilities all over the map, but assume the students I would give it to would be 7-10th grade level. Vocabulary and reading speed are usually the weakest skills. Comprehension is generally good.

Since the tests are changing so that they will need to write short responses on the science and social studies, I think it will be more critical that they read (they never do!).

Do you think this one would be a good option?

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 Post subject: Re: What are you reading? (Non-Fiction Edition)
PostPosted: Sun Jan 19, 2014 1:41 pm 
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lavawitch wrote:
pickledtreats wrote:
I'm teaching (and thus reading again) "The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks" by Rebecca Skloot. I really like the book - a successful creative nonfiction book that combines science, history and biography.


I haven't read this yet, but it's on my list. I wanted to vet it for my GED students. Reading abilities all over the map, but assume the students I would give it to would be 7-10th grade level. Vocabulary and reading speed are usually the weakest skills. Comprehension is generally good.

Since the tests are changing so that they will need to write short responses on the science and social studies, I think it will be more critical that they read (they never do!).

Do you think this one would be a good option?


I think this is a great book with connections to historical events (Jim Crow, segregation, Johns Hopkins advances, ethics, etc.) and Rebecca Skloot is a great writer with an ability to use metaphor to explain difficult scientific subjects. I think it would be helpful if the students have a really basic understandings of cells (that they reproduce, that cancer is an issue where cells go out of control, etc.). I have a few English language learners who are in 10th grade, but who are reading an English book for the first time with this book. Some have more trouble than others, but you can deal with that in class discussions, organizers, and visuals of the timeline which can get a little confusing.

You can supplement this with some audio and video pieces. There is a medical ethics/HeLa piece on the PBS website somewhere and there are Radiolab and This American Life pieces about Henrietta Lacks and interviews with Rebecca Skloot.


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 Post subject: Re: What are you reading? (Non-Fiction Edition)
PostPosted: Sun Jan 19, 2014 2:30 pm 
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I am interested in reading Henrietta Lacks too.
I started "Here's Looking At Euclid", about math, obvs. So far I really like it. But I def bought it because of the title!

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 Post subject: Re: What are you reading? (Non-Fiction Edition)
PostPosted: Sun Jan 19, 2014 2:44 pm 
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That looks great. My wish list is getting long again. I'm not reading any nonfiction right now, but could use a fluffy, fun one.

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 Post subject: Re: What are you reading? (Non-Fiction Edition)
PostPosted: Sun Jan 19, 2014 6:16 pm 
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RandiJM wrote:
I am interested in reading Henrietta Lacks too.
I started "Here's Looking At Euclid", about math, obvs. So far I really like it. But I def bought it because of the title!

The Henrietta Lacks book is the best science-y non-fiction book I've ever read. I liked it so much I actually bought it for my Secret Santa 2 years ago. I almost never buy books for people who aren't in my family, but I knew she would like it but would never remember to pick it up. But yeah, I recommend it to anyone who might be even remotely interested.

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 Post subject: Re: What are you reading? (Non-Fiction Edition)
PostPosted: Mon Jan 20, 2014 11:01 am 
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rachell37 wrote:
RandiJM wrote:
I am interested in reading Henrietta Lacks too.
I started "Here's Looking At Euclid", about math, obvs. So far I really like it. But I def bought it because of the title!

The Henrietta Lacks book is the best science-y non-fiction book I've ever read. I liked it so much I actually bought it for my Secret Santa 2 years ago. I almost never buy books for people who aren't in my family, but I knew she would like it but would never remember to pick it up. But yeah, I recommend it to anyone who might be even remotely interested.


My 10th grade students really connect with the metaphors, which help explain some of the science stuff. She has a great bit about comparing cells to mini Manhattans and a bit about Henrietta's tumor looking like a glob of grape jelly. The images stick in your mind, which I love.


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 Post subject: Re: What are you reading? (Non-Fiction Edition)
PostPosted: Mon Jan 20, 2014 4:57 pm 
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I just read Hannah Arendt's "Eichmann in Jerusalem: A Report on the Banality of Evil" and it was very interesting. I can definitely see how it'd be controversive, though and I'm not sure if the way she portrays him is 100% accurate. (basically as dumb, not antisemitic, mob-mentality, etc). And I didn't like the parts where she was kind of racist, either. Or where she basically says that all German socialists communists just joined the nazi party, which is pretty insulting considering how many of them ended up killed.

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 Post subject: Re: What are you reading? (Non-Fiction Edition)
PostPosted: Mon Jan 20, 2014 7:52 pm 
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VeganinBerlin wrote:
I just read Hannah Arendt's "Eichmann in Jerusalem: A Report on the Banality of Evil" and it was very interesting. I can definitely see how it'd be controversive, though and I'm not sure if the way she portrays him is 100% accurate. (basically as dumb, not antisemitic, mob-mentality, etc). And I didn't like the parts where she was kind of racist, either. Or where she basically says that all German socialists communists just joined the nazi party, which is pretty insulting considering how many of them ended up killed.

Part of her point was to show that it was ordinary people who were capable of committing great acts of evil. He was "terribly" normal. Her book is more philosophy than history, in the end. However, I don't know that it's fair to say that she says he's dumb. I don't want to derail the thread but I can suggest two other books on Eichmann...

David Cesarani's Becoming Eichmann from 2006 is a more complete biography, if that is what you are looking for. Bettina Stangneth wrote Eichmann vor Jerusalem in 2011 which is not yet available in English. It's about Eichmann in Argentina.

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 Post subject: Re: What are you reading? (Non-Fiction Edition)
PostPosted: Tue Jan 21, 2014 8:43 am 
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Oh, I know that was her point (one of her points?), which I agreed with before I read the book because it's pretty clear to see once you spend any time really thinking about Nazi Germany at all. I don't think her book is more philosophy than history, though. It's more... observationary journalism, I felt.

I think I remember her actually specifically calls him too dumb to finish school.

Oh, thank you for the recommandations! It looks like " Eichmann vor Jerusalem" will be out as paperback in German in a few months, I work in a bookshop so I'll just pre-order it. Thanks!

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 Post subject: Re: What are you reading? (Non-Fiction Edition)
PostPosted: Sun Jan 26, 2014 1:15 am 
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I finished another Scientology book, Blown for Good, by Marc Headley. He doesn't spend time talking about Hubbard or what Scientology is, so you need to have some background before going in. This is just a full on parade of crazy sauce.

He talks quite a lot about David Miscavige. Since the author lived and worked at the Hemet, California Int Base (the one with the razor wire on the inside of the fences), he has a lot of jaw dropping inside information and some truly bizarre, and shocking, stories.

After reading this one, I still don't know why or how people stay. He describes people spending 16 hr days cleaning solid waste out of football field sized sewage ponds, with no protective gear at all, in punishment for some imaginary infraction conjured up by Miscavige. The next week, some of these same people would be stuffed into tuxedos and trotted out at events to speak about how awesome Scientology is. What makes people willing (or able) to live like this?

The amount of money and evil in this organization is still so amazing to me. How can all of these abuses keep going on? It's really mind blowing.

Freedom of religion is a really great thing, but there have to be some checks somewhere or we end up with FLDS, sexually abused children, and other horrors. I think that most people still feel that Scientology is just a goofy space alien religion (that's basically what I thought before reading Inside Scientology), but it seems to incorporate all the abuses of many religions without any of the good parts. Everything I've read is repeated accounts of child abuse, psychological torment of people, human trafficking (including holding passports and controlling visas), forced abortions, imprisonment, ripping families apart, and more.

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 Post subject: Re: What are you reading? (Non-Fiction Edition)
PostPosted: Sun Jan 26, 2014 6:19 am 
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Any other sciencey books folks can recommend? I loved immortal Life of HL. I also recently read Gulp and my book club is getting ready to start Parasite Rex.

On my list is the one about pi, one about zero, one about cancers, and a periodic table one. I can't remember any of the titles, despite owning the books. Geeze. I like ecology & environmental science books but the only one I've read is Silent Spring.

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 Post subject: Re: What are you reading? (Non-Fiction Edition)
PostPosted: Sun Jan 26, 2014 6:24 am 
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lavawitch wrote:
I finished another Scientology book, Blown for Good, by Marc Headley. He doesn't spend time talking about Hubbard or what Scientology is, so you need to have some background before going in. This is just a full on parade of crazy sauce.

He talks quite a lot about David Miscavige. Since the author lived and worked at the Hemet, California Int Base (the one with the razor wire on the inside of the fences), he has a lot of jaw dropping inside information and some truly bizarre, and shocking, stories.

After reading this one, I still don't know why or how people stay. He describes people spending 16 hr days cleaning solid waste out of football field sized sewage ponds, with no protective gear at all, in punishment for some imaginary infraction conjured up by Miscavige. The next week, some of these same people would be stuffed into tuxedos and trotted out at events to speak about how awesome Scientology is. What makes people willing (or able) to live like this?

The amount of money and evil in this organization is still so amazing to me. How can all of these abuses keep going on? It's really mind blowing.

Freedom of religion is a really great thing, but there have to be some checks somewhere or we end up with FLDS, sexually abused children, and other horrors. I think that most people still feel that Scientology is just a goofy space alien religion (that's basically what I thought before reading Inside Scientology), but it seems to incorporate all the abuses of many religions without any of the good parts. Everything I've read is repeated accounts of child abuse, psychological torment of people, human trafficking (including holding passports and controlling visas), forced abortions, imprisonment, ripping families apart, and more.

Count me among those who don't know anything about it.

is there any insight into why high profile celebrities get sucked in? Or is it just that they have the greatest platform so it only seems like there is a high concentration among the membership? Seems like an odd group to appeal to.

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 Post subject: Re: What are you reading? (Non-Fiction Edition)
PostPosted: Sun Jan 26, 2014 7:33 am 
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lavawitch wrote:
I finished another Scientology book, Blown for Good, by Marc Headley. He doesn't spend time talking about Hubbard or what Scientology is, so you need to have some background before going in. This is just a full on parade of crazy sauce.


This is on my list along with A Queer and Pleasnt Danger by Kate Bernstein, another Scientology book from an ex-Scientologist.

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 Post subject: Re: What are you reading? (Non-Fiction Edition)
PostPosted: Sun Jan 26, 2014 8:18 am 
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couroupita wrote:
lavawitch wrote:
I finished another Scientology book, Blown for Good, by Marc Headley. He doesn't spend time talking about Hubbard or what Scientology is, so you need to have some background before going in. This is just a full on parade of crazy sauce.

He talks quite a lot about David Miscavige. Since the author lived and worked at the Hemet, California Int Base (the one with the razor wire on the inside of the fences), he has a lot of jaw dropping inside information and some truly bizarre, and shocking, stories.

After reading this one, I still don't know why or how people stay. He describes people spending 16 hr days cleaning solid waste out of football field sized sewage ponds, with no protective gear at all, in punishment for some imaginary infraction conjured up by Miscavige. The next week, some of these same people would be stuffed into tuxedos and trotted out at events to speak about how awesome Scientology is. What makes people willing (or able) to live like this?

The amount of money and evil in this organization is still so amazing to me. How can all of these abuses keep going on? It's really mind blowing.

Freedom of religion is a really great thing, but there have to be some checks somewhere or we end up with FLDS, sexually abused children, and other horrors. I think that most people still feel that Scientology is just a goofy space alien religion (that's basically what I thought before reading Inside Scientology), but it seems to incorporate all the abuses of many religions without any of the good parts. Everything I've read is repeated accounts of child abuse, psychological torment of people, human trafficking (including holding passports and controlling visas), forced abortions, imprisonment, ripping families apart, and more.

Count me among those who don't know anything about it.

is there any insight into why high profile celebrities get sucked in? Or is it just that they have the greatest platform so it only seems like there is a high concentration among the membership? Seems like an odd group to appeal to.


If you read Inside Scientology and then Going Clear, you will have a better idea. Those two books were endorsed by some long-time exScientologists I know including some who served with Hubbard. I live relatively close to the Flag land base of Scientology (their spiritual Mecca) hence the exScientologist pals. There are some classic Scientology books they recommend - A Piece of Blue Sky by John Atak, Bare Faced Messiah by Russel Miller,L Ron Hubbard: Messiah or Madman by Bent Corydon, and The Scandal of Scientology by Paulette Cooper. BBC Journalist John Sweeney wrote a book about his experience reporting on the church. It's called The Church of Fear.
If you like wonky academic tales of how we decide what is or is not a religion, Hugh Urban wrote a great book called The Church of Scientology: A History of a New Religion. The local libraries here carry it and you might be able to ILL it if you don't want to buy it.

I've got Slavery by Another Name: The Reenslavement of African Americans from the Civil War to World War II lined up to read. I've suggested it to people who wanted to read more after seeing Twelve Years a Slave.

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 Post subject: Re: What are you reading? (Non-Fiction Edition)
PostPosted: Sun Jan 26, 2014 9:49 am 
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Many of the high profile celebs are also 2nd, or even 3rd, generation. Leah Remini, Juliette Lewis, Giovanni Ribisi, Elizabeth Moss, and others all come from Scientology families. If they leave, they risk losing all of their families and friends. Lisa Marie Presely has apparently left, but is being very quiet because her mother is still in.

Scientology had lists of celebs to target. They didn't usually get the people they wanted, but in Going Clear and Inside S, you see how the "church" works with this. Tom Cruise actually left for almost a decade before they worked out a plan to drag him back. Celebs are also insulated from the abuses and part of church doctrine is never reading about the church and never associating with "suppressive persons" who might be critical. This is the heart of the disconnection policy.

Numbers are dwindling now, but the internet has laid bare many of their secrets. Many members nwt know about Xenu and related craziness because that "research" is considered "dangerous" to learn before properly prepared (ie you've paid enough money and gotten far enough in). I read one story where Tom Cruise initially said "what the fork is this?!" when he got to that level, and walked out, prompting his lengthy absence. But, they are still out there. They even bought Super Bowl ad space.

Vantine: I think the Urban book is next on my list. Bare Faced Messiah is apparently,going back into,print next month.

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 Post subject: Re: What are you reading? (Non-Fiction Edition)
PostPosted: Mon Jan 27, 2014 7:07 pm 
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I just finished Nothing to Envy. It was so good - good isn't really the best word for it because some of it was really heartbreaking and awful. But it was so fascinating. I really wish she had an update!

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 Post subject: Re: What are you reading? (Non-Fiction Edition)
PostPosted: Sat Feb 01, 2014 5:02 pm 
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I've just started Gulp: adventures on the alimentary canal by Mary Roach. Seems entertaining so far, although judging by the table of contents it looks like I might not want to be eating while I read for some of the later chapters!

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 Post subject: Re: What are you reading? (Non-Fiction Edition)
PostPosted: Sat Feb 01, 2014 5:03 pm 
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dropscone wrote:
I've just started Gulp: adventures on the alimentary canal by Mary Roach. Seems entertaining so far, although judging by the table of contents it looks like I might not want to be eating while I read for some of the later chapters!

Yes, there are some gross parts!

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 Post subject: Re: What are you reading? (Non-Fiction Edition)
PostPosted: Sat Feb 01, 2014 8:26 pm 
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couroupita wrote:
dropscone wrote:
I've just started Gulp: adventures on the alimentary canal by Mary Roach. Seems entertaining so far, although judging by the table of contents it looks like I might not want to be eating while I read for some of the later chapters!

Yes, there are some gross parts!


It was entertaining but I did not need to know some of the things I learned in that book.

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 Post subject: Re: What are you reading? (Non-Fiction Edition)
PostPosted: Sat Feb 01, 2014 9:57 pm 
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Like what? Inquiring minds need to be grossed out.

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 Post subject: Re: What are you reading? (Non-Fiction Edition)
PostPosted: Sat Feb 01, 2014 10:34 pm 
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People being hired to taste test pet food comes to mind.

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 Post subject: Re: What are you reading? (Non-Fiction Edition)
PostPosted: Sat Feb 01, 2014 10:37 pm 
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Would a Gulp be a light distraction? I'm bogged down in my current non-fiction books.

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 Post subject: Re: What are you reading? (Non-Fiction Edition)
PostPosted: Sun Feb 02, 2014 10:58 am 
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I just finished Hillenbrand's Unbroken. Its the true story of Louie Zamperini, an Olympic hopeful who gets drafted into the Pacific theatre of WWII. Really good, as it covers his life from stealing cigarettes at age 5 to picking up skateboarding at 84. It is amazing what this man (and many others) went through and that any of them lived to tell the tale... Like drifting on a raft near the equator for 47 days with no shelter, food, or water and literally taking turns beating away sharks trying to drag them off. And that's just the start. Away, I wasn't sure about Hillenbrand's writing style at first, as I've never read Seabiscuit and found her style a little staccato or something, but I ended up sucked in. I also learned a bit more about WWII; it seems in school we learned Nazi Germany, Nazi Germany, Pearl Harbor, Nazi Germany - not a ton on the Pacific theatre.

(Probably not a light-hearted read though, lavawitch.)


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