Jun. 4th, 2009

lizabelle: (Book and sea)
***** (out of *****)

Bad Science is Ben Goldacre's passionate, poignant and entertaining look at science reporting in the media and how people at large are suffering from this. He also has an (occasionally very sharp) axe to grind with the people and industries that have benefited from the same phenomenon, but that is not the focus of the book. The chapter on Patrick Holford descends into a rant, but hey, it's a hugely enjoyable, articulate rant, so who cares? There's also a moving chapter on a nutritionist named Matthias Rath who peddles vitamins to HIV sufferers in South Africa and encourages them to give up their antiretroviral drugs (ugh).

Apart from the few cases mentioned above, Goldacre's problem is not with individuals, but with the media's role in science today. He tries very hard to show the reader how to look for signs of problems in research and reports, as well as exposing "big pharma"'s role in medical research. The result is a book that is accessible to people like me, and I enjoyed it a lot.

Goldacre's blog (largely a mirror of his Guardian articles) is here.
lizabelle: (Old coat new book)
I had a gorgeous weekend away from my life last weekend; it involved lots of walking (in the pouring rain), watching tennis, exploring gift shops and lots and lots of reading. Here are the results:

Jazz - Toni Morrison: ****

I was never going to love this as much as Beloved, but it bears many Morrison hallmarks: prose that often reads more like poetry, multiple points of view, and a narrative that starts with a situation and then explores its history. I also found the setting (1920s Harlem) fascinating - who doesn't enjoy reading about a place they know nothing about, particularly if it's in Morrison's evocative prose?

The Whole Day Through - Patrick Gale: ***

I love the way Patrick Gale writes, but I felt rather ranty at the end of this book. Two characters who have allowed life to defeat them somewhat are reunited unexpectedly when they both move to Winchester to care for relatives. As usual with Gale, The Whole Day Through is not a linear story; instead, layers are exposed and re-examined one by one, and I found this process absorbing.

Gay characters are a common feature of Gale's novels; in this case the gay man was my favourite character, Ben's brother Bobby, who has Mosaic Down's Syndrome. It was great to see him portrayed as such a well-rounded character who is not defined by his medical condition, despite it being a big part of him.

Because this is Gale, nothing about the characters' relationships is straightforward, including the ending. I can't discuss that without spoilers, so please proceed at your own risk - don't click this cut tag if you don't want to know the ending. )

Ahem. Anyway. Beautiful writing; frustrating characters.


lizabelle: (Default)

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