Monday, February 18, 2008

Books Read

Thought to Exist in the Wild: Awakening from the Nightmare of Zoos by Derrick Jensen
After I expressed my fragmented feelings over visiting a small zoo on my vacation this fall, a co-worker recommended this book. Apparently I am not alone in this feeling: concerned about the happiness of the animals, yet still imbibing in the entertainment because I would never otherwise get so close to such animals. For example, this most primitive deer, the muntijac:


Interspersed with photos by Karen Tweedy-Holmes of animals in captivity, the author outlines why zoos are inhumane, even those we think are enlightened. Often we are told that zoos help us preserve endangered animals. Jensen follows the animal trade, and gives us the alternate information that often many animals in the wild are killed just to bring the zoo an animal for captivity. Also, animals need replacing, because they don't thrive in captivity.

Over and over, he fulfills the gadfly role, pricking the reader with further abuses by "civilized humans." At first I rolled my eyes at his consistent use of "[sic]" in his quotes from zoo supporters, then I realized he meant me to squirm. He meant me to notice that we humans always treat animals as things, as a "what" rather than a "who," and his pedantically grammatical "[sic]" was there to keep reminding me.

Kiki Strike: The Empress's Tomb by Kirsten Miller
In this second book about the Irregulars, there is more attention to Ananka and Oona, less on Kiki. Kiki has some stuff to deal with that keep her largely absent from the main thread of the story. Intrigue, secret underground city, smart girls saving the day, what's not to like? I've been watching Cities of the Underworld, and it put me in the mood for more intrigue from the Shadow City. I'd like to see the girls travel to other cities and other underworlds.

A Certain Slant of Light by Laura Whitcomb
A female ghost named Helen haunts people. She doesn't remember her life, but she knows she did something bad. Rather than go to the icy cold hell she knows is waiting for her, she clings to a living person. She whispers in their ears, becomes their Muse. There were four people she's haunted; she calls them her Saint, her Knight, her Playwright, and her Poet. She has never seen other ghosts, until now. This other ghost occupies a living person whose soul left when the boy almost died. He is convinced he kept an evil force from occupying the body, and he's sure he can help Helen enter another unoccupied body. Are these two the evil ones, or can they find reprieve for themselves and their living people? It's worth the read.

Allergy and Asthma Relief by William Berger
I often wonder if people who complain of constant colds are actually experiencing allergies and undiagnosed asthma. This book gives a thorough method of investigation for someone who may know nothing, a little, or a bit more. Years back I did some research when I realized I had exercise-induced asthma. Allergies have since become a greater trigger for me, so I decided to revisit the issue.

Two things not in the book: if you have asthma, always wear a scarf if it's colder than 55 degrees; stimulate the thymus gland by ending your shower with a cold blast to the chest. The first keeps the air warm as it enters the lungs and helps to prevent asthma; the second stimulates your immune system. While I deal almost constantly with allergies, the cold I got the other week was my first in years, and I didn't get all that sick. That said, even if you think you don't have asthma, check out this book if you have some these symptoms crop up every once in a while:

As you can see, not all of them are so obvious as wheezing or shortness of breath.

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