128. The Medicine Cabinet of Curiosities (Nicholas Bakalar)

Monday, December 19, 2011
I first came across this book on Barb’s blog when she reviewed it last year. Since my Christmas knitting is finished, my baking complete, and all my presents bough and wrapped, and I have little else to do in my free time, I figured it’s about time I started reading with a vengeance again. So, I finally got around to picking up a copy from the library.

The cover claims the book is “an unconventional compendium of health facts and oddities, from asthmatic mice to plants that can kill”. In my mind, that just screams READ ME! Coming in at a mere 195 pages (not including the footnotes), with sections ranging in length from a few sentences to a few pages, this seemed like the perfect pick up/put down book; easy reading whenever you have a few minutes to spare. Barbara said that it was the perfect book for, someone who “can generally only stay awake for a few paragraphs”. For me, it was the perfect book for where most of my reading happens – the bathroom. Whether its enjoying a nice hot soak in a bubble bath or contemplating the meaning of life as a furry feline weaves his way in and out of my feet, the bathroom is the perfect place to read: a locked door to avoid interruptions, quiet, solitude … Ahhhhh … Oops, I’ve digressed.

I too enjoyed reading about the rare, deadly infectious diseases I hope I never have the misfortune to contract but also about why body odor can be so … odiferous. Not to mention all the horrible things that can happen to the human body both at high altitudes and deep below the ocean’s surface. The only part that bothered me was learning about how companies that supply lab mice breed them for specific medical conditions or deformities. That’s right, not to eliminate those sorts of genetic predispositions but breeding them to ensure they have them (including: asthma, epilepsy, rashes, etc). Now that’s truly horrific.

Other than the plight of mus musculus, the book was a great, fun, easy read. Perfect for taking away any holiday stress and letting my mind wander into the odder side of medicine. Pick up a copy (or give a copy as a present this holiday season) and get reading!!!


Barbara Bruederlin said...

I'm glad to hear you enjoyed this book. It really was a fascinating read and it seems to have started me on the path of a series of science books lately.

It is hard to learn about research animals who are selectively bred to exhibit certain medical conditions, but until we find methods that can do not require entire beings to test for cures (you cannot replicate a stroke with tissue cultures, for example), then that's the only way to make those medical advances.

nbrsspot.blogspot.com said...

Merry x-mas and happy new year.. i have been missing lately and just havent had time to stop. going to school and working full time.. yeeps..

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