Wednesday, July 17, 2013

Books: The Revised Fundaments of Caregiving, Mountains Beyond Mountains, Poser

The Revised Fundamentals of Caregiving by Jonathan Evison
Evison tells the story of Ben Benjamin the the life he crafts for himself after losing his family, his job and stability. He embarks on the career path of a caregiver after going to a 28 hour course titled, The Revised Fundamentals of Caregiving. He ends up working with Trev, a debilitated teenager, who lives in the same house with the same routines day in and day out. The journey they end up on together brings them in contact with characters, a runaway teen, a man violating parole and his pregnant girlfriend, than change their lives for the better. I love the story Evison told through these unusual characters. It's engaging and relational. The things Ben and Trev have gone through in their past and learn as the book unfolds are intense but told in a meaningful, and not horrifically sad way, which fit the book well. I give it 4/5 stars. 

My favorite quote from the book.

Mountains Beyond Mountains by Tracy Kidder
When I started this biography of Dr. Paul Farmer I had no idea who he was. It came highly recommended by a friend of mine and generally like books about medical people so I figured why not. To give you an idea of who he is:
"At the center of Mountains Beyond Mountains stands Paul Farmer. Doctor, Harvard professor, renowned infectious-disease specialist, anthropologist, the recipient of a MacArthur “genius” grant, world-class Robin Hood, Farmer was brought up in a bus and on a boat, and in medical school found his life’s calling: to diagnose and cure infectious diseases and to bring the lifesaving tools of modern medicine to those who need them most." - from Amazon
He's incredibly interesting, driven man who started working in Haiti and from there honestly changed the world. Much of his time in medical school was spent split between Haiti and time at Harvard. Kidder also tells about his journey founding Partners in Health and finding protocols to help cure multi-drug resistant TB in prisions in Moscow. To write the book Kidder spent years getting to know Farmer through interviews, emails and traveling with him. It took me a little while to really become invested in the book and man, but by the end I was totally inspired. 4/5 stars.

Poser: My Life in Twenty-three Yoga Poses by Clair Dederer

Dederer writes a memior about her life and study of yoga as each relates to a specific pose. She grew up in Seattle in the 1970s and begins yoga in her thirties after getting married and having her first child. Over the span of a few years her knowledge and ability in yoga grow and her life changes with it. I appreciated the references to the Seattle I have grown to love (gray walks around Greenlake, mothers wearing Dansko clogs). I also enjoyed her descriptions of yoga classes she goes to, from the too perfect young women with slicked back ponytails to the falling dramatically out of handstand. Reading the book took me much longer than a book like this usually does and I think it's because it's almost depressing at times. She's real about her life, stress in her marriage, her upbringing with separated parents, etc. but it was almost too much. I think I expected to see a little bit more joy and because of that wasn't as engaged with the book. 3/5 stars.

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