As if us parents of children with diabetes have the extra time or the energy to actually read a book, I’m giving it my best shot to read (or “read”) 50 books in 2011.
I’m running a bit behind. I should probably be at 17 books by the end of April. Maybe what this is teaching me is that I need to take some more time for myself, perhaps heading to the quiet library or a coffee shop on a Friday or Saturday evening…alone!
Visit my 2:00 AM Book Club page to see all of the books I’ve read in 2011 and those that are on my list.
8. The Devil in the White City: Murder, Magic, and Madness at the Fair That Changed America by Erik Larson (audiobook)
(Synopsis of the book:) “Two men, each handsome and unusually adept at his chosen work, embodied an element of the great dynamic that characterized America’s rush toward the twentieth century. The architect was Daniel Hudson Burnham, the fair’s brilliant director of works and the builder of many of the country’s most important structures, including the Flatiron Building in New York and Union Station in Washington, D.C. The murderer was Henry H. Holmes, a young doctor who, in a malign parody of the White City, built his “World’s Fair Hotel” just west of the fairgrounds—a torture palace complete with dissection table, gas chamber, and 3,000-degree crematorium. Burnham overcame tremendous obstacles and tragedies as he organized the talents of Frederick Law Olmsted, Charles McKim, Louis Sullivan, and others to transform swampy Jackson Park into the White City, while Holmes used the attraction of the great fair and his own satanic charms to lure scores of young women to their deaths. What makes the story all the more chilling is that Holmes really lived, walking the grounds of that dream city by the lake.”
A coworker told me she was reading this book and couldn’t put it down. The juxtaposition of the real life murderous plot of Holmes against the scene of the Chicago World’s Fair was nothing short of enthralling.
As someone who has spent some time in Chicago, I found the story of the conception and implementation of the fair to be quite interesting. Hearing the background has brought life to the many names and places that I see on my trips into the city. What’s more amazing is that they actually pulled it off!
The innovation is astounding, that they could construct so many buildings and create a landscape in what was basically swamp in so short a time. Having honeymooned at Shelburne Farms, I have an appreciation of vision of Frederick Law Olmsted and his attention to the principles of landscape architecture including his idea of changing vistas.
Throughout the story, I was left asking “why?” Why would Holmes kill the people he did? Why did he have to kill those people? What did they ever do to deserve it? But I guess the nature of a serial killer can never be explained.
As a side note, Burham died of complications of diabetes at a ripe, old age after a long, full life. Though I haven’t found out for sure, I assume he had type 2 diabetes because his life and death occurred before the discovery of insulin. (See the next book on my list!)
9. Breakthrough: Elizabeth Hughes, the Discovery of Insulin, and the Making of a Medical Miracle* by Thea Cooper and Arthur Ainsberg (diabetes)
(Synopsis of the book:) “It is 1919 and Elizabeth Hughes, the eleven-year-old daughter of America’s most-distinguished jurist and politician, Charles Evans Hughes, has been diagnosed with juvenile diabetes. It is essentially a death sentence. The only accepted form of treatment – starvation – whittles her down to forty-five pounds skin and bones. Miles away, Canadian researchers Frederick Banting and Charles Best manage to identify and purify insulin from animal pancreases – a miracle soon marred by scientific jealousy, intense business competition and fistfights. In a race against time and a ravaging disease, Elizabeth becomes one of the first diabetics to receive insulin injections – all while its discoverers and a little known pharmaceutical company struggle to make it available to the rest of the world.”
Read my thorough review of the book Breakthrough.
10. The Memory Keeper’s Daughter by Kim Edwards (audiobook)
I picked up this title as I was browsing the audiobooks at my local library. The story sounded familiar and I couldn’t quite place if I had read it or not. Turns out it was a Lifetime movie. But I decided to listen to it anyway.
During a snowstorm in 1964, Norah Henry, wife of doctor David Henry goes into labor. Not able to make it to the hospital, David takes her to the clinic where he sees patients at no charge each week. The doctor who is to deliver the baby gets stuck in the snow and David and the nurse Caroline deliver the baby, a healthy boy.
In this time before ultrasounds, little did the couple know that they were having twins. A second child, a girl, is delivered and Henry sees right away that the baby has the tell-tale signs of Down Syndrome. At that time, many children with this medical condition lived short lives, sometimes due to heart conditions. To protect his wife (and we will learn himself) from heartache, he makes a split second decision asking Caroline to take the baby to an institution.
Caroline cannot hand over the baby and instead takes her away, raising her as her own.
Henry’s decision and the lies that followed had implications that would shape each of their futures changing who they are or would be.
The audiobook is performed by Martha Plimpton. I have to say that she is hilarious in the relatively new TV series Raising Hope, so it’s hard at times not to picture her as that character. But I found her performance to be spectacular!
Book descriptions are from Barnes & Noble. Links to bookstores are affiliate links and are provided so that you can find the books easily. I personally utilize the public library quite a bit, especially for audiobooks and fiction. I received titles marked with an asterisk (*) free of charge for review consideration. Please read the disclosure statement regarding affiliate links.