Down the TBR Hole (Week 3)

Week 3! This is a popular tag, so I thought I’d give it a shot! If you’re like me, your TBR list is so long that you’ll never get through them all. Here are 5 books on my TBR list. Have you read any of them? Are any of my keeps worth bumping to the top of my TBR list? Let me know

img_24831. Until Tuesday by Luis Carlos Montalvan
Publish Date: May 3, 2011
# of Pages: 252
Goodreads Rating: 4.17

Description (from Goodreads): A highly decorated captain in the U.S. Army, Luis Montalván never backed down from a challenge during his two tours of duty in Iraq. After returning home from combat, however, his physical wounds and crippling post-traumatic stress disorder began to take their toll. He wondered if he would ever recover.

Then Luis met Tuesday, a sensitive golden retriever trained to assist the disabled. Tuesday had lived among prisoners and at a home for troubled boys, and he found it difficult to trust in or connect with a human being–until Luis.

Until Tuesday is the story of how two wounded warriors, who had given so much and suffered the consequences, found salvation in each other. It is a story about war and peace, injury and recovery, psychological wounds and spiritual restoration. But more than that, it is a story about the love between a man and dog, and how, together, they healed each other’s souls.

Why is this book on my TBR list?: I love animals and feel-good stories. I know I just got rid of another book that’s similar, but this one has to stay. I’m a sucker.

Verdict: Keep


img_24822. Shattered Silence by Melissa Moore
Publish Date: September 8, 2009
# of Pages: 256
Goodreads Rating: 3.46

Description (from Goodreads): Throughout her life, Melissa Jesperson Moore had to hide her true identity. She had pretended that life was perfect after her parents divorced and she was suddenly uprooted from everything familiar and loving. She had to be silent and pretend not to be disturbed or upset by her father’s actions. Those experiences prepared Moore to hide the deepest, darkest secret of all. As she began making different choices, building a successful and loving life on her own, her heart began to fill with rays of hope, though she could never quite rid herself of the dark shadow of secrecy and shame.

Shattered Silence is an astonishing, true narrative of personal and spiritual transformation. From her secret life as “the daughter of The Happy Face Serial Murderer” to a woman who bared her soul and inspired millions, Moore leads the reader on the vulnerable, compelling, and sometimes very raw journey of what it took to shatter the silence and claim her own life.

Why is this book on my TBR list?: The premise sounds absolutely fascinating, which is why I added this book to my TBR list; however, I’m going to have to go with the reviews on this one and toss it.

Verdict: Gone


img_24843. Descartes’ Bones by Russell Shorto
Publish Date: October 14, 2008
# of Pages: 319
Goodreads Rating: 3.69

Description (from Goodreads): On a brutal winter’s day in 1650 in Stockholm, Frenchman René Descartes, the most influential & controversial thinker of his time, was buried after a lonely death far from home. 16 years later, the French Ambassador Hugues de Terlon secretly unearthed Descartes’ bones & transported them to France. Why would this devoutly Catholic official care so much about the remains of a philosopher who was hounded from country to country on charges of atheism? Why would Descartes’ bones take such a strange, serpentine path over the next 350 years—a path intersecting some of the grandest events imaginable: the birth of science, the rise of democracy, the mind-body problem, the conflict between faith & reason? Their story involves people from all walks of life—Louis XIV, a Swedish casino operator, poets & playwrights, philosophers & physicists, as these people used the bones in scientific studies, stole them, sold them, revered them as relics, fought over them, passed them surreptitiously from hand to hand. The answer lies in Descartes’ famous phrase: Cogito ergo sum—”I think, therefore I am.” In his deceptively simple 78-page essay, Discourse on the Method, this small, vain, vindictive, peripatetic, ambitious Frenchman destroyed 2000 years of received wisdom & laid the foundations of the modern world.

At the root of Descartes’ method was skepticism: “What can I know for certain?” Like-minded thinkers around Europe passionately embraced the book–the method was applied to medicine, nature, politics & society. The notion that one could find truth in facts that could be proved, & not in reliance on tradition & the Church’s teachings, would become a turning point in human history. In an age of faith, what Descartes was proposing seemed like heresy. Yet Descartes himself was a good Catholic, who was spurred to write his incendiary book for the most personal of reasons: He’d devoted himself to medicine & the study of nature, but when his beloved daughter died aged 5, he took his ideas deeper. To understand the natural world one needed to question everything. Thus the scientific method was created & religion overthrown. If the natural world could be understood, knowledge could be advanced, & others might not suffer as his child did. The great controversy Descartes ignited continues to our era: where Islamic terrorists spurn the modern world & pine for a culture based on unquestioning faith; where scientists write bestsellers that passionately make the case for atheism; where others struggle to find a balance between faith & reason. Descartes’ Bonesis a historical detective story about the creation of the modern mind, with twists & turns leading up to the present day—to the science museum in Paris where the philosopher’s skull now resides & to the church a few kilometers away where, not long ago, a philosopher-priest said a mass for his bones.

Why is this book on my TBR list?: I had a philosophy minor in college, so I’m a big fan of philosophy. This is another book that doesn’t have strong reviews though, so I’m going to cut it loose.

Verdict: Gone


img_24804. Prophet’s Prey by Sam Brower
Publish Date: September 13, 2011
# of Pages: 336
Goodreads Rating: 3.92

Description (from Goodreads):
From the private investigator who cracked open the case that led to the arrest of Warren Jeffs, the maniacal prophet of the polygamous Fundamentalist Church of Latter Day Saints (FLDS), comes the page-turning, horrifying story of how a rogue sect used sex, money, and power disguised under a facade of religion to further criminal activities and a madman’s vision.

Despite considerable press coverage and a lengthy trial, the full story has remained largely untold. Only one man can reveal the whole, astounding truth: Sam Brower, the private investigator who devoted years of his life to breaking open the secret practices of the FLDS and bringing Warren Jeffs and his inner circle to justice. In Prophet’s Prey, Brower implicates Jeffs in his own words, bringing to light the contents of Jeffs’s personal priesthood journal, discovered in a hidden underground vault, and revealing to readers the shocking inside world of FLDS members, whose trust he earned and who showed him the staggering truth of their lives.

Prophet’s Prey offers the gripping, behind-the-scenes account of a bizarre world from the only man who knows the full story.

Why is this book on my TBR list?: I added this book shortly after the Warren Jeffs’ controversy.

Verdict: Keep


img_24815. An Anatomy of Addition by Howard Markel
Publish Date: July 19, 2011
# of Pages: 352
Goodreads Rating: 3.88
Date Added to TBR: October 9, 2011

Description (from Goodreads): From acclaimed medical historian Howard Markel, author of When Germs Travel, the astonishing account of the years-long cocaine use of Sigmund Freud, young, ambitious neurologist, and William Halsted, the equally young, pathfinding surgeon. Markel writes of the physical and emotional damage caused by the then-heralded wonder drug, and how each man ultimately changed the world in spite of it—or because of it. One became the father of psychoanalysis; the other, of modern surgery.

Both men were practicing medicine at the same time in the 1880s: Freud at the Vienna General Hospital, Halsted at New York’s Bellevue Hospital. Markel writes that Freud began to experiment with cocaine as a way of studying its therapeutic uses—as an antidote for the overprescribed morphine, which had made addicts of so many, and as a treatment for depression.

Halsted, an acclaimed surgeon even then, was curious about cocaine’s effectiveness as an anesthetic and injected the drug into his arm to prove his theory. Neither Freud nor Halsted, nor their colleagues, had any idea of the drug’s potential to dominate and endanger their lives. Addiction as a bona fide medical diagnosis didn’t even exist in the elite medical circles they inhabited.

In An Anatomy of Addiction, Markel writes about the life and work of each man, showing how each came to know about cocaine; how Freud found that the drug cured his indigestion, dulled his aches, and relieved his depression. The author writes that Freud, after a few months of taking the magical drug, published a treatise on it, Über Coca, in which he described his “most gorgeous excitement.” The paper marked a major shift in Freud’s work: he turned from studying the anatomy of the brain to exploring the human psyche.

Halsted, one of the most revered of American surgeons, became the head of surgery at the newly built Johns Hopkins Hospital and then professor of surgery, the hospital’s most exalted position, committing himself repeatedly to Butler Hospital, an insane asylum, to withdraw from his out-of control cocaine use.

Halsted invented modern surgery as we know it today: devising new ways to safely invade the body in search of cures and pioneering modern surgical techniques that controlled bleeding and promoted healing. He insisted on thorough hand washing, on scrub-downs and whites for doctors and nurses, on sterility in the operating room—even inventing the surgical glove, which he designed and had the Goodyear Rubber Company make for him—accomplishing all of this as he struggled to conquer his unyielding desire for cocaine.

An Anatomy of Addiction tells the tragic and heroic story of each man, accidentally struck down in his prime by an insidious malady: tragic because of the time, relationships, and health cocaine forced each to squander; heroic in the intense battle each man waged to overcome his affliction as he conquered his own world with his visionary healing gifts. Here is the full story, long overlooked, told in its rich historical context.

Why is this book on my TBR list?: I think addiction is an interesting subject, but this book doesn’t sound as appealing to me as it once did.

Verdict: Gone


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