From disasters to sex: Cool stuff from the selectors

Cover of The year it all fell down2011 was a big year for Christchurch, and we can be forgiven for being unaware of what was happening in the rest of the word.  Thankfully Bob Ellis in The Year it All Fell Down can help our collective memories.

From the Arab Spring to the London riots and Occupy Wall Street; from the Christchurch earthquake and the Fukushima meltdown to the possible discovery of the Higgs-Boson ‘God’ particle; from the shooting of US Senator Gabby Giffords to her vote on the bill that saved America’s economy; from Assange fighting extradition to the Murdoch empire on trial; from the last hours of Kim Jong-il and Vaclav Havel to the Breivik massacre in Norway and the executions of Gaddafi and bin Laden – the year 2011 was portentously charged. The shockwaves from these events – and more – continue to reverberate through the corridors of power and even the foundations of the planet.

If you are wondering about the origin of your surname David McKie’s What’s in a Surname?: From Abercrombie to Zwicker is full of quirky but useful information.  I always thought surnames were connected to occupation, but according to the author I could well be wrong.

Occupational names are full of hazards: ” … Farmer? That sounds easy enough. A man who owns or runs a farm. But farmer used also to mean tax collector”.

Cover of Kawaii!Kawaii! Japan’s Culture of Cute by Manami Okazaki is a colourful examination of how Kawaii culture began, and how it is now inside homes, on lunchboxes, airplanes, in haute-couture, street fashion, and in cafes, museums, and hotels.

Cover of Five days at MemorialFive Days At Memorial: Life and Death in a Storm-ravaged Hospital by Sheri Fink has created quite a stir in the United States. The five days after Hurricane Katrina hit created total chaos. The hospital was plunged into darkness, became cut off from the outside world and most of the machines keeping seriously ill people alive failed.

Post disaster, one doctor and two nurses were charged with second degree murder for administering lethal doses of morphine to patients after completing triage  (the allocation of scarce medical resources) and making life and death decisions about whether to evacuate the able-bodied, who had a better chance of survival, or the more severely ill. How these decisions were made during utter chaos and the unfolding legal case makes for riveting reading

The Art of Sleeping Alone: Why One French Woman Suddenly Gave up Sex.  French women have perfect children, don’t get fat, have no need for facelifts, and apparently one of them (at least) has given up on sex.

Complaining that she has had enough of being “taken and shaken” the well-known writer, stylish, sexy and 49, is no longer ashamed to say she wants to get off the sexual merry-go-round.

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