January is always a bleak sort of month–weather wise–in Canada, so reading is always a good pass time.
I love to read. Lately I’ve been reading a lot of articles and manuals, but I did manage to squeeze in five books.
Two of the books I read were non-fiction. This is unusual for me as I normally gravitate toward thrillers, suspense, and fast-paced contemporary fiction.
The first book I polished off in January was:
Empire of Pain-The Secret History of the Sackler Dynasty by Patrick Radden Keefe
Published by Random House 2021
I listened to this book on AudioBook. It’s a huge undertaking of 18+ hours of listening.
Just to put that in perspective, an average fiction novel audio book is about 10-12 hours of listening.
So this was a big book (535 pages).
The author of this book is affiliated with the New Yorker Magazine, so the narrative of the book is one of reporting and informing.
With that reporting, he opened the eyes of a nation, (I hope), and the powerful twisted world of the United States pharmaceutical industry and the money it generates. It really is quite sickening.
I had never heard of the Sackler family and I’m sure I’m not alone. This book explores the lives of the three Sackler brothers, who were all doctors. Their personal struggles and experiences of anti-Semitism and poverty drove them all to find a way to make a name for themselves.
For them, the way out was the development and marketing of drugs. They developed Valium, which was a huge break-through for mental health, but it was the marketing strategies employed, and later perfected, by the family that brought them untold wealth.
The lies and misleading information about addictive qualities led to more and more prescriptions for Valium. The public was duped by language used in marketing and the drug became a huge issue in the 1960’s as many became addicted. This proved to be a preview of what was to come.
The Sacklers’ became some of the wealthiest people in the world and no one really paid much attention to the fortunes’ underlying industry. The Family were philanthropists and donated millions of dollars to museums, hospitals, and universities.
They hid behind this curtain of decency as they developed and pursued another pain management medication called OxyContin. With more lies and manipulation they family business precipitated the opioid crisis around the world.
The actions taken by the marketing and sales of such a dangerous drug are deplorable.
Some have actually listed this book as one of horror, not just simple non-fiction.
The family knew of the their false claims of the drugs having highly addictive qualities and ignored them. They got wealthier, more manipulative of the patents, and ignored the fall-out.
Their money influenced laws, doctors, government agencies, courts and so many more, as they continued to produce and market a product they knew was killing people, hurting families, and creating an addiction crisis like never before.
It’s fascinating. It’s sickening. It’s a true story.
I would definitely recommend this book. Be prepared…it’s long.
The Chrysalids by John Wyndham
Originally published in 1955; Published on Audio in 2021
This is a fantasy/sci-fi novel set in a dystopian world filled with mistrust and a fear of anything, or anyone, different.
When I first started listening to the audiobook, I really had no idea what it was about, but was soon drawn into the story of a young boy who meets a girl who he discovers has six toes.
That small physical difference meant she was a mutant and needed to be banished out of the community.
The characters and the writing are extraordinary in this short novel. The main character, David, lives in fear of his own difference. The constant fear of discovery drives him, and others like him, to drastic measures.
The way in which the story was told reminded me of The Giver by Lois Lowry. Both are written from the prospect of younger people who question the community status and laws of the land.
This book would be suitable for younger readers.
I really enjoyed this book and would definitely give it a nod.
The Last Resort by Marissa Stapley
Published by Simon and Schuster 2019
This is a thriller set in the Mayan Riviera of Mexico. The story revolves around couples who have travelled to the resort for intensive marriage counseling and therapy in a a last ditch effort to fix their relationships.
As I’m sure you can imagine, those who attend are pretty screwed up and it all gets played out on the page.
The retreat is led by married power-couple Miles and Grace who are practiced professionals and a famous in the industry.
While they appear to be great leaders who can fix almost anything, there’s a few skeltons in the closet that get more than rattled.
I received this book as a free Editor’s Choice book on my Audiobook selections so didn’t pay for it. I wanted to read this because the author is Canadian and her other book, Lucky, was chosen by Reece Witherspoon as part of her bookclub. You can read my review HERE.
This was a fast paced contemporary work of fiction and I enjoyed it.
Tell Me Lies by J.P. Pomare
Published by Audible Originals 2020
Margot is a psychologist. The story revolves around her personal life, her patients, and unexplained events around her home. The problem is that she’s not sure anymore what is a lie and what isn’t.
This was a relatively fast paced thriller that felt predictable at times and yet, was still able to illicit that reader cringe of omg…what the hell is she doing? Get the hell out of there…
While the tactics and lack of professionalism of Margot was teeth gritting, I was able to see past that and let myself be pulled into the story.
The thing is, I’m usually very good at predicting a twist, and I didn’t see the end coming.
Full props to the author for that.
This is an easy and fast read. I enjoyed it.
This was the Shocker Book… I consider this a must read.
The Obesity Code: Unlocking the Secrets of Weight Loss by Jason Fung, M.D.
Published by Greystone Books Ltd. 2016
Yes, another non-fiction read this month. What shocked me was not only how much I learned, but also that I read the entire book and will probably do so again.
I’ve had this book kicking around my house for a couple of years. It wasn’t until this January that I actually chose to read it, and I’m glad I did.
When I was a kid I was called a “big girl”–which was ridiculous because I was pretty normal, but those words stuck with me my whole life.
Like many, I’ve tried all the different fad diets, weight watchers, and calorie counting, but nothing ever really worked. I’ve always been heathy and active and have completed several half marathons. But the number on the scale doesn’t budge–or if it does, it doesn’t stay where it supposed to. Sigh…
The big changes in our diets began in the 1970s and are still wreaking havoc today in obesity rates coupled with diabetes and heart disease. (Jung p:135) The refined carbohydrates are driving obesity everywhere.
This book by Jason Fung, put it all into perspective.
They say candy doesn’t make you fat. Calories make you fat. They say that 100 calories of cola is just as likely as 100 calories of broccoli to make you fat. They say that a calorie is a calorie. Don’t you know? But show me a single person that grew fat by eating too much steamed broccoli. I know it. You know it.”Jason Fung, The Obesity Code page 129
Did you hear the ping of the light bulb going on? For me, this quote was huge because it’s coupled with the idea of insulin resistance and what Fung called “Diabesity”… this is the name quoted for the huge societal increase in Type II diabetes and obesity.
As I read this book, the puzzle came together. The idea that those 100 calories react differently within your body and affect different organs made so sense to me.
When our grandparents were on the farm, they worked from sun-up to sun-down. They had their meals and if there was no food, they didn’t eat. Simple as that. Even in the hunter-gatherer days, humans went much longer than six hours without eating.
The healthy snack is one of the greatest weight-loss deceptions. The myth that ‘grazing is healthy’ has attained legendary status. If we were meant to ‘graze’, we would be cows. Grazing is the direct opposite of virtually all food traditions. Even as recently as the 1960’s, most people still ate just three meals per day. Constant stimulation of insulin eventually leads to insulin resistance.”Jason Fong The Obesity Code Page 222
Much of the information provided by Jung is common sense. Stay away from sugar and refined carbs… anyone who’s been on a diet knows that… But the difference after reading this book, is I now understand WHY.
This will be a book I’ll read again and again. The message is clear and it makes complete sense. I highly recommend this book. Great read. Powerful message. And since reading this book I’ve stopped the grazing and snacking.
Which book intrigues you the most? Leave me a message and let me know which one you’re going to read first and why.
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