Wednesday, January 17, 2007

Two Book Reviews

Change Your Brain, Change Your Life by Daniel Amen: I read a lot of professional journals and books in order to educate myself, and be of help to my clients. Most of them I get from the University libraries in order to get the information without having to buy the book. Every once in a while, I get one that must have a spot on my office bookshelf. This is such a book.

This is not necessarily written for the professional. Dr. Amen educates the reader about different parts of the brain (deep limbic system, basal ganglia, etc.) and which parts are associated with which disorders. There are chapters on depression, anxiety and fear, inattention and impulsivity, worry and obsessiveness, and more. Dr. Amen gives very specific actions to take in each case, and also explains the medications and how receiving a medication that affects the deep limbic system might not work for you if, say, your problem is in the basal ganglia. He uses the SPECT scan to take pictures of a brain in action and educates about how you can specifically diagnose using this technique.

If you have - or know someone who has - a mental issue like depression that hasn't seemed to respond appropriately to medication, this might be a book to read. Me, I just found it utterly fascinating.

An Unfinished Season by Ward Just: I first heard of the author Ward Just reading Nancy Pearl's Book Lust book. I had never ever heard of him. Since that first time, it seems like I see his name everywhere. He has much newer books and ones that are more acclaimed. I can't remember why I chose this one to put on my 'to be read' list above any other. But I know I wanted to read one before I decided whether to put more of his books on the list.

I really liked this book. It was hard to read after just finishing Shantaram, which is action-packed from cover to cover. This is not action-packed. This is a character study. You know, one of those books where nothing much actually happens, but you get inside a character's head for a period of time and really get to know him.

In this case, you get inside the head of a 19-year old socialite boy in suburban Chicago in the Eisenhower era. You follow him around for a summer, getting a picture of Chicago, falling in love, working for a newspaper, and so forth. The writing is great, and I'll definitely read Ward Just again. He's a master of one-liners. Here are a couple of my favorites:

"I was astonished his shadow had followed me all this way."

"I thought it was hard in this world to know what it was you didn't know, and now there was one less unknown unknown."


LK said...

Wow, Lisa, that is some recommendation on the Amen book. I've had bouts with the Big D over the years, so I may just have to take a look at this one.

Literary Feline said...

Great reviews, Lisa! I read Forgetfulness late last year and really enjoyed it. Your description of An Unfinished Season sounds similar to the style he used in the more recent novel. I definitely plan to read more by Ward Just and maybe An Unfinished Season is the place to go next. Thanks again for the reviews!

jay are said...

great! thanks.

Joy said...

BOTH sound really good to me. I would be fascinated by the AMEN book, too. Thank you.