Natural Causes: Life, Death and the Illusion of Control

Natural Causes: Life, Death and the Illusion of Control provides an interesting account of how cancer can affect a human being by underlining this reality that a person can end up with an uncertain future because of a health issue, in spite of having led a healthy life. This is owing to ‘macrophages’ – white blood cells which hold the possibility to create blood vessels that sustain or push around tumors; macrophages basically increase cancer cells in a person’s body. In my outlook, the message regarding cancer which the book sends out is quite morbid and disheartening – that advances in medicine, such as examinations to catch a disease and stop it at its tracks, are not always successful in doing so. And not just that, the book also tries to compel you to miserably accept that death is a natural course of life which can happen too soon to a person that no health ritual, such as eating right, could have turned around.

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A Piglet Called Truffle

The book is about a piglet called Truffle and it holds a very emotional story. Truffle was saved by a girl called Jasmine, whose parents work as a vet and a farmer. But after Truffle is rescued and looked after by Jasmine, uncertainty brews over whether or not the piglet can remain with Jasmine – this is where the story turns plain barbaric; what would have been better is if Truffle could somehow remain with the girl who saved the little pig from almost dying. Also, because the story is so emotional in nature, it is quite surprising that the book is meant to be one for children – the tale is quite mature for that.

 

Love Story

Erich Segal’s Love Story (1970) is perhaps the most emotional story of love ever written. And yet, the story is still really very hard to sympathize with, simply because of how tragically it all ends. I loved that, in the book, the heroine – Jennifer Cavilleri was a really strong female character; Cavilleri was both mean and satirical, even though she was only from a working-class background. The fact that Cavilleri begins a forbidden relationship with a rich boy called Oliver Barrett IV, who is perfect in every possible way and that their romance never really fully materializes because the young woman eventually succumbs to cancer and dies, makes the love story hard to digest.

The heroine of the story deserved to win – Cavilleri had all the characteristics going really strongly for her but then her fate sort of just gives in and her life ends so soon. There is also the fact that the relationship was a forbidden one – Oliver’s father could not take it upon himself to accept the romance, and in the end he gets his son back in a broken state and without Jennifer in Oliver’s life – I don’t think it’s possible for the story to get anymore tragic. Indeed, it’s the very sadness of the tale which makes it a really complicated and challenging story because a heroine as strong, and largely without faults, as Jennifer Cavilleri deserved a happier ending than the one that Erich had carved out for her – it would have made for a much better romantic story.

When Engineering Becomes Practical

Great books on the impact of engineering

Engineering is about the future. It is about the invention of products, which can aid humans in their daily lives. Three books brilliantly portray this practicality associated with engineering and how it always helps humanity to move from primitive ways.

Rise of the Robots: Technology and the Threat of a Jobless Future

Technology could in the future put added pressure on both the middle class and the working class, as robots emerge as workers of a superior quality than humans. Professions, such as journalism, could also be affected and all this is supposed to happen as consumer culture takes center stage. The book presents alternating realities: one where technology will not harm and one where it could. It’s an interesting take on the grim realities that sometimes must be contemplated because of human inventions.

The Design Of Everyday Things

The book intelligently suggests that the aim of product design should be to simplify the design of an object. And whilst it does so, the object should provide great practicality in use. The book also explores the relationship that human psychology has with the design of products, which we make use of in our daily lives – great product design should most definitely be appreciated for simplifying lives and helping out with saving lots of time.

Longitude

The man behind the marine chronometer – John Harrison, had spent forty long years to build the timekeeping device. Previous to that invention, measuring longitude had always proven a very difficult experience for sailors – they couldn’t find any appropriate way to navigate seas and as such, had gotten lost pretty soon. John had managed to save the day, in the end, when he, rather fearlessly, went against the tide and thought of creating a mechanical device to determine longitude, when big names in science, such as Issac Newton had instead opted to work with astronomical concepts.

The Lincoln Lawyer

Capsule Review

In The Lincoln Lawyer, the leading character is a lawyer called Michael Heller, who trades his principles with legal representation of prostitutes, drug dealers, con artists and likes, and practices from his Lincoln Town Car. Michael’s perspective on the law is that it aims to manipulate and result in a settlement – trouble strikes when Michael chooses to defend a rich playboy who claims he is innocent but has still been arrested for physically attacking a woman from a bar (that he had picked up). The book is a thrilling take on the contemporary law medium in the United States but what really makes it compelling is the protagonist, who is such a perplexing man, with very unique shades of character – Heller isn’t easy to connect with but it is still somehow tough to resist rooting for him because Heller has a humane side to him, which appeals and manages to soften the otherwise largely practical environment in Michael Connelly’s book.

The Break

Capsule Review

Marian Keyes’ latest novel is a wonderful story about two people, who have been together for a very long time, but then suddenly take a break from the relationship. The two protagonists in the story, Amy and Hugh, lead perfectly normal lives until the brief separation, because after it everything just goes topsy-turvy: Hugh, suffering from a midlife crisis, jets off to Southeast Asia, and so amidst ideas of women in bikinis there is also the possibility Hugh will end up sleeping with women, whilst Amy falls into a romantic trapping, with another man she’s known for quite some time now. The book provides a mature look into a relationship falling apart but the circumstances which threaten the marriage feel surprisingly close to you – it’s really hard to not sympathize with Amy here over how nerve-wracking that experience of having Hugh deal with a midlife crisis in that way exactly, must be like. What I liked about the book was that when the mistakes are dusted away with, the comfort of the long relationship between Hugh and Amy still hooks the possibility that the relationship will return to its old ways once the troubles are truly over – very heartwarming.