A fresh, funny, sex-positive book that effectively destigmatizes sexual disease.

STRANGE BEDFELLOWS

ADVENTURES IN THE SCIENCE, HISTORY, AND SURPRISING SECRETS OF STDS

A guided tour through the science of sexually transmitted infections.

Park, a physician who specializes in STIs, begins with an explanation of terminology. “The subtitle…uses STD, as I felt that term would be most recognizable….But I use STI as much as I can throughout the book, because that is where I think we are headed eventually.” Within this alternatingly fascinating, perplexing, and stomach-turning report, the author nonjudgmentally illustrates how STIs are one of the unfortunate forms of “interplay between sex and society as far back as the 1500s.” She begins with genital herpes, a “sneaky” virus that hides in nerve cells and reemerges as a recurrent “unwelcome guest.” A research conference in Brazil is the perfect setting for Park’s meditation on the pros and cons of “pubic landscaping” while a scientific glance at vaginal microbiomes reveals the vulnerability of women to undesirable bacterial compositions. The author never glosses over a topic; each chapter is a thoughtful combination of scientific study and informative anecdote. Park’s exuberance is obvious throughout, whether she is discussing how orgasmic meditation can mitigate the risks of STI contraction from sexual activity with multiple partners or the University of Washington’s “two-week-long boot camp on STIs and HIV.” Via lively, creative efforts to diffuse the lingering stigma surrounding genital warts, gonorrhea, syphilis, and other maladies, Park generously shares her knowledge and clinical experience, some of which is quite sobering—e.g., the possible connection between HPV and anal cancer and the more recent proliferation of terrifying antibiotic-resistant “superbug” STIs. The author also demystifies a variety of relevant issues, including HIV prevention and “female condoms,” weaving in knowledgeable input from public health experts, vaccine researchers, focus groups, and even a network of contact-tracing “sex detectives.” Fans of witty, meticulously researched chronicles of intriguing popular science topics—think Mary Roach—will devour this fluid mixture of scholarship and levity.

A fresh, funny, sex-positive book that effectively destigmatizes sexual disease.

Pub Date: Feb. 2, 2021

ISBN: 978-1-25020-662-6

Page Count: 320

Publisher: Flatiron Books

Review Posted Online: Oct. 5, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 1, 2020

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Skloot's meticulous, riveting account strikes a humanistic balance between sociological history, venerable portraiture and...

THE IMMORTAL LIFE OF HENRIETTA LACKS

A dense, absorbing investigation into the medical community's exploitation of a dying woman and her family's struggle to salvage truth and dignity decades later.

In a well-paced, vibrant narrative, Popular Science contributor and Culture Dish blogger Skloot (Creative Writing/Univ. of Memphis) demonstrates that for every human cell put under a microscope, a complex life story is inexorably attached, to which doctors, researchers and laboratories have often been woefully insensitive and unaccountable. In 1951, Henrietta Lacks, an African-American mother of five, was diagnosed with what proved to be a fatal form of cervical cancer. At Johns Hopkins, the doctors harvested cells from her cervix without her permission and distributed them to labs around the globe, where they were multiplied and used for a diverse array of treatments. Known as HeLa cells, they became one of the world's most ubiquitous sources for medical research of everything from hormones, steroids and vitamins to gene mapping, in vitro fertilization, even the polio vaccine—all without the knowledge, must less consent, of the Lacks family. Skloot spent a decade interviewing every relative of Lacks she could find, excavating difficult memories and long-simmering outrage that had lay dormant since their loved one's sorrowful demise. Equal parts intimate biography and brutal clinical reportage, Skloot's graceful narrative adeptly navigates the wrenching Lack family recollections and the sobering, overarching realities of poverty and pre–civil-rights racism. The author's style is matched by a methodical scientific rigor and manifest expertise in the field.

Skloot's meticulous, riveting account strikes a humanistic balance between sociological history, venerable portraiture and Petri dish politics.

Pub Date: Feb. 9, 2010

ISBN: 978-1-4000-5217-2

Page Count: 320

Publisher: Crown

Review Posted Online: Dec. 22, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 2010

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A welcome reference, entertaining and information-packed, for any outdoors-inclined reader.

THE MEATEATER GUIDE TO WILDERNESS SKILLS AND SURVIVAL

The bad news: On any given outdoor expedition, you are your own worst enemy. The good news: If you are prepared, which this book helps you achieve, you might just live through it.

As MeatEater host and experienced outdoorsman Rinella notes, there are countless dangers attendant in going into mountains, woods, or deserts; he quotes journalist Wes Siler: “People have always managed to find stupid ways to die.” Avoiding stupid mistakes is the overarching point of Rinella’s latest book, full of provocative and helpful advice. One stupid way to die is not to have the proper equipment. There’s a complication built into the question, given that when humping gear into the outdoors, weight is always an issue. The author’s answer? “Build your gear list by prioritizing safety.” That entails having some means of communication, water, food, and shelter foremost and then adding on “extra shit.” As to that, he notes gravely, “a National Park Service geologist recently estimated that as much as 215,000 pounds of feces has been tossed haphazardly into crevasses along the climbing route on Denali National Park’s Kahiltna Glacier, where climbers melt snow for drinking water.” Ingesting fecal matter is a quick route to sickness, and Rinella adds, there are plenty of outdoorspeople who have no idea of how to keep their bodily wastes from ruining the scenery or poisoning the water supply. Throughout, the author provides precise information about wilderness first aid, ranging from irrigating wounds to applying arterial pressure to keeping someone experiencing a heart attack (a common event outdoors, given that so many people overexert without previous conditioning) alive. Some takeaways: Keep your crotch dry, don’t pitch a tent under a dead tree limb, walk side-hill across mountains, and “do not enter a marsh or swamp in flip-flops, and think twice before entering in strap-on sandals such as Tevas or Chacos.”

A welcome reference, entertaining and information-packed, for any outdoors-inclined reader.

Pub Date: Dec. 1, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-593-12969-2

Page Count: 464

Publisher: Random House

Review Posted Online: Oct. 7, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 1, 2020

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