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OFFICIAL POLL: April & May 2010 Non-Fiction Book

Help us pick our next NON-FICTION book for group discussion here. YOU MUST HAVE 5+ POSTS TO CONTRIBUTE IN THIS FORUM!
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Chris OConnor
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OFFICIAL POLL: April & May 2010 Non-Fiction Book

OFFICIAL POLL: April & May 2010 Non-Fiction Book

READ THESE RULES BEFORE VOTING PLEASE

Poll Starts: Wednesday, March 10, 2010
Poll Ends: The poll ends when we have a clear winner. You can count on the poll being up for at least 10 full days.

• You MUST have 25 or more total posts to vote

• You can cast 3 votes and distribute your 3 votes however you like. If you don't assign all 3 votes it will be assumed that you wished to assign all 3 of your votes to the one book you selected.

Example:

2 votes for Book #1
1 vote for Book #2


• You can try to convince other people to vote for your book choice by explaining why you're voting the way you're voting. You are doing BookTalk.org a huge service by explaining a little about why you picked whatever book you picked, although this extra step is not required. People do read comments and you do stand to influence them if you make a passionate plea for your book, and the whole goal of our book selection process is to find a book that will stimulate discussion. So don't be shy about attempting to sell us on your book choice.

• Vote today! Please don't wait till you see other people voting because they're waiting for YOU to vote.

Now, on to our book choices...
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Chris OConnor
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Re: OFFICIAL POLL: April & May 2010 Non-Fiction Book

BOOK 1
Overtreated: Why Too Much Medicine Is Making Us Sicker and Poorer
By Shannon Brownlee

Product Description
“My choice for the economics book of the year…it’s the best description I have yet read of a huge economic problem that we know how to solve—but is so often misunderstood.” - David Leonhardt, New York Times

Our health care is staggeringly expensive, yet one in six Americans has no health insurance. We have some of the most skilled physicians in the world, yet one hundred thousand patients die each year from medical errors. In this gripping, eye-opening book, award-winning journalist Shannon Brownlee takes readers inside the hospital to dismantle some of our most venerated myths about American medicine. Brownlee dissects what she calls “the medical-industrial complex” and lays bare the backward economic incentives embedded in our system, revealing a stunning portrait of the care we now receive.

Nevertheless, Overtreated ultimately conveys a message of hope by reframing the debate over health care reform. It offers a way to control costs and cover the uninsured while simultaneously improving the quality of American medicine. Shannon Brownlee’s humane, intelligent, and penetrating analysis empowers readers to avoid the perils of overtreatment, as well as pointing the way to better health care for everyone.

With a new afterword offering practical advice to patients on how to navigate the health care system.

About the Author
Shannon Brownlee’s stories and essays about medicine, health care, and biotechnology have appeared in such publications as the Atlantic Monthly, the New York Times Magazine, the New Republic, and Time. Born and raised in Honolulu, she holds a master’s degree in biology from the University of California. She is a senior fellow at the New America Foundation in Washington, D.C. Brownlee lives in Annapolis, Maryland, with her husband and son.
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Re: OFFICIAL POLL: April & May 2010 Non-Fiction Book

BOOK 2
Religion Explained
By Pascal Boyer

Book Description
Many of our questions about religion, says renowned anthropologist Pascal Boyer, are no longer mysteries. We are beginning to know how to answer questions such as "Why do people have religion?" Using findings from anthropology, cognitive science, linguistics, and evolutionary biology, Religion Explained shows how this aspect of human consciousness is increasingly admissible to coherent, naturalistic explanation. This brilliant and controversial book gives readers the first scientific explanation for what religious feeling is really about, what it consists of, and where it comes from.

About the Author
Pascal Boyer is Luce Professor of Collective and Individual Memory at Washington University, St. Louis, Missouri.

Review
"A penetrating scientific analysis of religion." -- Washington Post

"An excellent book in the spirit of the French Enlightenment, which I am eager to see revived." -- E. O. Wilson, author of Consilience

"The first classic of 21st-century anthropology." -- John Tooby and Leda Cosmides, University of California, Santa Barbara

"The most important treatment of the psychological bases of religious belief...since William James." -- Steven Pinker, author of Words and Rules and The Language Instinct

From Booklist
Boyer's argument that "religious concepts are parasitic upon other mental capacities" may offend some, but it is critical to this fascinating book, and it doesn't in any way demean religion. Boyer draws deeply on cognitive science and evolutionary biology to assume that religion is a natural outcome of the kinds of beings we are and especially of the kinds of brains we have. In his subsequent explorations, science and religion are mutually illuminating rather than antagonistic, and this amounts to a breath of fresh air in a context that often depicts them as mortal enemies. Boyer also implicitly links religion and poetry, both of which "give airy nothing a local habitation and a name." Many mystics and poets would smile at this anthropologist's assertion that investigating that capability will teach us about the "complex biological machines" we call human beings. "Nothing," Emily Dickinson wrote, "is the force that renovates the world." Here a scientist advocates preparing a local habitation for nothing as a making of common ground. How refreshing. Steven Schroeder
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Re: OFFICIAL POLL: April & May 2010 Non-Fiction Book

BOOK 3
The Value of Nothing: How to Reshape Market Society and Redefine Democracy
By Raj Patel

Book Description
"A deeply though-provoking book about the dramatic changes we must make to save the planet from financial madness."--Naomi Klein, author of The Shock Doctrine

Opening with Oscar Wilde's observation that "nowadays people know the price of everything and the value of nothing," Patel shows how our faith in prices as a way of valuing the world is misplaced. He reveals the hidden ecological and social costs of a hamburger (as much as $200), and asks how we came to have markets in the first place. Both the corporate capture of government and our current financial crisis, Patel argues, are a result of our democratically bankrupt political system.

If part one asks how we can rebalance society and limit markets, part two answers by showing how social organizations, in America and around the globe, are finding new ways to describe the world's worth. If we don't want the market to price every aspect of our lives, we need to learn how such organizations have discovered democratic ways in which people, and not simply governments, can play a crucial role in deciding how we might share our world and its resources in common.

This short, timely and inspiring book reveals that our current crisis is not simply the result of too much of the wrong kind of economics. While we need to rethink our economic model, Patel argues that the larger failure beneath the food, climate and economic crises is a political one. If economics is about choices, Patel writes, it isn't often said who gets to make them. The Value of Nothing offers a fresh and accessible way to think about economics and the choices we will all need to make in order to create a sustainable economy and society.

About the Author
Raj Patel, the author of Stuffed and Starved, is an activist and academic who has been hailed as "a visionary" for his prescience about the food crisis. Raj has worked for the World Bank and the World Trade Organization and has protested against them on four continents. He is currently a visiting scholar at UC Berkeley's Center for African Studies, an Honorary Research Fellow at the School of Development Studies at the University of KwaZulu-Natal and a fellow at the Institute for Food and Development Policy, also known as Food First.
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Re: OFFICIAL POLL: April & May 2010 Non-Fiction Book

Book 4
Musicophilia: Tales of Music and the Brain, Revised and Expanded Edition
By Oliver Sacks

Product Description
With the same trademark compassion and erudition he brought to The Man Who Mistook His Wife for a Hat, Oliver Sacks explores the place music occupies in the brain and how it affects the human condition. In Musicophilia, he shows us a variety of what he calls “musical misalignments.” Among them: a man struck by lightning who suddenly desires to become a pianist at the age of forty-two; an entire group of children with Williams syndrome, who are hypermusical from birth; people with “amusia,” to whom a symphony sounds like the clattering of pots and pans; and a man whose memory spans only seven seconds-for everything but music.

Illuminating, inspiring, and utterly unforgettable, Musicophilia is Oliver Sacks' latest masterpiece.

About the Author
Oliver Sacks is the author of Awakenings, The Man Who Mistook His Wife for a Hat, and many other books, for which he has received numerous awards, including the Hawthornden Prize, a Polk Award, and a Guggenheim Fellowship. He is a member of the American Academy of Arts and Letters and lives in New York City, where he is a practicing neurologist. He recently accepted a new position at Columbia University.

Reviews
“Powerful and compassionate. . . . A book that not only contributes to our understanding of the elusive magic of music but also illuminates the strange workings, and misfirings, of the human mind.”
—The New York Times

“Curious, cultured, caring. . . . Musicophilia allows readers to join Sacks where he is most alive, amid melodies and with his patients.” —The Washington Post Book World

“Sacks has an expert bedside manner: informed but humble, self-questioning, literary without being self-conscious.”
—Los Angeles Times

“Sacks spins one fascinating tale after another to show what happens when music and the brain mix it up.”
—Newsweek

“Sacks once again examines the many mysteries of a fascinating subject.”
—The Seattle Times
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Re: OFFICIAL POLL: April & May 2010 Non-Fiction Book

What great choices this go-a-around. I will happily read what ever book wins. With that said, how to cast my votes? I hate to not cast one vote for each -- since I only have three here goes:
1 vote for Religion Explained.
I think this book will make for a lot of discussion. It is a topic that already generates much chatter on BT.
1 vote for The Value of Nothing. I would hope this book would generate discussion. This is a topic every American should be talking about -- how to move toward a more function and effective economy that actually benefits the general populace, rather than a very small percentage of the population.
1 vote for Musicophilia -- I can't help voting for this one. I think this will be a fascinating read. Although, I think this may not have the same discussion generating power as the other three books up on the poll.
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Re: OFFICIAL POLL: April & May 2010 Non-Fiction Book

2 votes for Overtreated
- I have been doing a lot of research on this idea of over medicating and how it makes us sicker because our immune systems are not forced to do any work, I'd be really interested in reading it!

1 vote for Musiciophilia
- Sounds like a wonderful read. :D
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Re: OFFICIAL POLL: April & May 2010 Non-Fiction Book

2 votes for Religion Explained
1 vote for Musicophilia

Hard decision this time around, Chris....so many books, so little time . . . .!
Gods and spirits are parasitic--Pascal Boyer

Religion is the only force in the world that lets a person have his prejudice or hatred and feel good about it --S C Hitchcock

Believe those who are seeking the truth. Doubt those who find it. --André Gide

Reading is a majority skill but a minority art. --Julian Barnes
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Re: OFFICIAL POLL: April & May 2010 Non-Fiction Book

3 votes for Musicophilia.

As a child of a musician/music teacher and a musician myself, I would love to see more about how music works with the chemistry of the brain, because it is a powerful thing for everyone, regardless of what music they are fond of. Music can be used to invoke emotion and has been proven to do so, and as someone who has been in the field all of my life and feels a deep connection to music, I want to see just how this works and what others on this site have to say about it. I know we have a small following of musical fans (or a larger silent majority), and many people who have "a song in their heart." I think it would bring both fiction readers and non-fiction readers into the same discussion together moreso than the other two. Up until now it seems there is a divide between the fiction and non-fiction crowds, and I'd like to discuss this topic with both sets of readers. :)
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Re: OFFICIAL POLL: April & May 2010 Non-Fiction Book

I guess a point here is what sort of book is going to generate dialogue. All four choices here could be interesting reads, but I suspect some of them contain points which are fairly non-controversial, and which most would agree on.

From my quick look at Value of Nothing, I would say that Patel has come up with some unconventional ideas on which there is almost certainly going to be differing viewpoints.

Overtreated is certainly a timely topic, but despite the hyperbole coming from politicians and a few in the media, I would say that most have no difficulty in understanding how they want the medical system to go, and would put in on that track if they had the power to do so.

The religion/atheism debate seems to be the one that initiates the greatest production of adrenalin on this site. So Religion Explained will probably draw some action. Just my personal opinion, but I think this is a topic that has been well covered up to this point, and thoroughly thrashed out.

I’m sliding all my chips onto Value of Nothing.
Last edited by etudiant on Thu Mar 11, 2010 5:02 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: OFFICIAL POLL: April & May 2010 Non-Fiction Book

I'll cast 3 votes for Overtreated.

It's a fascinating and well-written book with a novel perspective about an important topic. My real-life book club had an excellent discussion about it last month.

Also, as a practical matter, I don't see myself reading any of the other suggestions. Other books on my to-read shelf sound more interesting.
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Re: OFFICIAL POLL: April & May 2010 Non-Fiction Book

Current Tally

Overtreated: Why Too Much Medicine Is Making Us Sicker and Poorer - 5
Religion Explained - 3
The Value of Nothing: How to Reshape Market Society and Redefine Democracy - 7
Musicophilia: Tales of Music and the Brain, Revised and Expanded Edition - 12
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Re: OFFICIAL POLL: April & May 2010 Non-Fiction Book

I cast three votes for No, 4, Musicophillia by Oliver Sacks.

Dr. Sacks books are informative and very well written. He assumes no prior knowledge of neuroscience and does not use jargon. I enjoyed both The Man who Mistook His Wife for a Hat and Awakenings.

I saw this book at the bookstore a few days ago and almost bought it. I will go back and buy it now.
--Gary

"Freedom is feeling easy in your harness" --Robert Frost
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Re: OFFICIAL POLL: April & May 2010 Non-Fiction Book

I'll give my 3 votes to the book I suggested, The Value of Nothing. I'm also up for a short book :)
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Re: OFFICIAL POLL: April & May 2010 Non-Fiction Book

3 votes for Musicophilia. I've really enjoyed Sacks' previous books. He has a way of connecting with his patients and explaining what they've gone though that goes above and beyond typical accounts of medical cases. He presents the people in his books, not primarily as freakish, interesting cases, but as people who experience the world in a fundamentally different way. It would be great to discuss his book, and the people he describes, in detail here.

Plus, I already have the book :D
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