Categories
Non-Fiction

Crosswords: A Love Letter

The summer of 1972 was a sizzler. It was 100 degrees the July day I got married. It was also the summer that an interest was sparked that has only grown hotter and brighter over the years. That summer, I discovered crossword puzzles.  A paperback of crossword puzzles had somehow come into my possession. Margaret […]

Categories
Memoir Non-Fiction

What Women Want

When I started medical school in 1976, my class was 15% women. St. Louis University was quite proud of being so broad-minded. Yet, two years later, when the chief of surgery at St. Louis City Hospital found out that he had two medical students with the same first name in the operating room, he called […]

Categories
Non-Fiction

23 and Thomas Jefferson

What? Sally Hemings, Thomas Jefferson’s enslaved concubine, in the parlance of the day, was half-sister to his deceased wife Martha? What? Sally and Thomas’s children, legally slaves, were 1/8 African and 7/8 white? WHAT? At his death, all but five of Thomas Jefferson’s slaves – some of them, Sally’s great nephews and nieces – were sold […]

Categories
Non-Fiction

High Expectations — And Then There’s Real Life

Remember when you had homework? I do. I brought home a pile of books: my intentions were so lofty. In those days before backpacks, I bundled them in my arms. The books often slid out of my grip. It was annoying. Come Friday night, I wanted to relax. On Saturday, pangs of guilt nibbled at […]

Categories
Memoir Non-Fiction Picture Books

Iran: What We Don’t Know

General Suleimani Who? Is it legal to kill another country’s official when we are not at war? Does this mean Guatemala can assassinate Mike Pence for the two dozen deaths of Central Americans in ICE custody? And what’s the deal in Iran? They’ve been chanting “Death to America” for forty years now. I was full […]

Categories
Memoir Non-Fiction

Thanks, Mom!

Who? Trevor Noah? That was my reaction when Jon Stewart tapped Noah to replace him as host of The Daily Show in 2015. The Daily Show and The Colbert Report were practically my only sources of news during the George W. Bush era. The regular news shows were so depressing: I couldn’t imagine an administration […]

Categories
Non-Fiction Self-Help

The Body Keeps Score

I flagged so many pages of Bessel van der Kolk’s The Body Keeps Score that it became kind of ridiculous. But it is that important. Van der Kolk is a psychiatrist who has spent over thirty years working with trauma survivors. He has worked with patients with PTSD, victims of natural and man-made disasters, and people […]

Categories
Non-Fiction

The Troubles

I decided to read Say Nothing: A True Story of Murder and Mystery in Northern Ireland, by New Yorker staff writer Patrick Radden Keefe, because a recently solved forty-year murder mystery sounded intriguing. Also, I wanted to learn something about Northern Ireland. Much of the discussion around Brexit brings up the Ireland/Northern Ireland border as […]

Categories
Memoir Non-Fiction

H is for Heartbreak

So, you are a middle-aged woman, single, no children. You are English. Your job as a researcher  and teacher at Cambridge University may not be renewed. If you lose your job, you lose your apartment on campus. Then your beloved father dies suddenly. You are disconsolate. What do you do? Well, if you are Helen […]

Categories
Non-Fiction

A Good Presidency Spoiled

I have reviewed over thirty books since I started the Dr. Bookworm blog last year. I have discussed all sorts of books: Roxane Gay’s Hunger, Lesley Stahl’s Becoming Grandma, Eckhart Tolle’s A New Earth, The Little Prince, War and Peace, Donna Leon’s The Temptation of Forgiveness and Richard Power’s The Overstory, to name a few. […]

Categories
Being Chinese Memoir Non-Fiction

West Meets East: Chinese Americans Visit Mother China

I had quite a few knowing chuckles reading Scott Tong’s account of his experiences in China in his book A Village with My Name. Like me, journalist Tong is Chinese American. Even though we grew up in Chinese homes in America, we both experienced major culture shock when we visited China as adults. Early on, […]

Categories
Being Chinese Memoir Non-Fiction

East Meets West: A Century of Connections between Chinese and Foreigners in China

As the last hundred years of Chinese history has had more than its share of upheavals, every Chinese family has stories of separation, betrayal, imprisonment, exile and death. In A Village With My Name: A Family History of China’s Opening to the World, Scott Tong writes about his search for his own family’s story.  Scott […]

Categories
Non-Fiction

George and Martha Washington’s Runaway Slave

Ona Judge slipped out of her master’s house as the family ate Saturday dinner and escaped bondage. She was 22 years old. That night, she boarded a ship bound for Portsmouth, New Hampshire, 400 miles to the north. It was 1796. Her master was George Washington. He was in his second term as president of […]

Categories
Non-Fiction

This Too Solid Flesh

I have a lot of second thoughts about commenting on Roxane Gay’s Hunger: A Memoir of (My) Body. Here’s why. Roxane Gay is black, 6’3” tall and fat, weighing 577 pounds at one point. These are not incidental details. This is exactly what her book is about. Do I dare to comment on such emotional […]

Categories
Non-Fiction

The Caribbean: Not At All What I Expected

“How phallic!”                                  I blurted this out on my first Caribbean cruise when Bill and I came upon this huge column rising out of a fountained plaza in Old San Juan, Puerto Rico. It was called the Totem Telurico, and […]

Categories
Non-Fiction

Taxonomic Justice for Puerto Rican Todies

There are only five species of todies in the world. Two live in Hispaniola, the island shared by the Dominican Republic and Haiti, and one each in Cuba, Jamaica and Puerto Rico. I have seen THREE of them. What a kick! And now, I have met the man whose life mission is to make the […]

Categories
Being Chinese Non-Fiction

The Small Are Eating the Old

“The small are eating the old.” My cousin, Yu, whose name means Jade in Chinese, said these words to me when I was in China in 2016. Yu’s point is that the older generations are sacrificing too much for the youth. (In English, I call him “cousin.” In Chinese, he is the grandson of my […]

Categories
Non-Fiction

First, Do No Harm

“We need you to pronounce someone,” said the voice over the phone. I was a third-year medical student on call overnight at St. Louis City Hospital. It was 1978 and I was 31 years old. I had only been out of the classroom for a few months and had never been asked to certify someone […]