Non-Fiction

Case in Point

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Summary:

Cosentino demystifies the consulting case interview. He takes you inside a typical interview by exploring the various types of case questions and he shares with you a system that will help you answer today's most sophisticated case questions. (Summary and cover courtesy of goodreads.com)

Review:

For being one of the most popular case books, I found this book less useful than expected.  The one thing that I will say it does have going for it is that it’s a quick read.  If you are completely unfamiliar with what a case interview is, it may be a good introduction and overview to general approaches that can be taken to address cases.  That being said, if you’re looking for true case preparation, I’d recommend “Case Interview Secrets” by Victor Cheng as I think it gives a structure that is easier to apply to multiple scenarios (rather than trying to memorize 12 different frameworks).

The reason this book still got 3-stars is because I found it a decent point of reference and something that I used to prompt my memory through the preparation process.  I’d still recommend the book, but only if you’re going to also read other books.  If you’re only going to take the time to read one case book – give this one a skip.

Rating: 3 stars!

Who should read it? Folks completely unfamiliar with case interviews and are looking for an introduction to the concept.

When Breath Becomes Air

When Breath Becomes Air.jpg

Summary:

For readers of Atul Gawande, Andrew Solomon, and Anne Lamott, a profoundly moving, exquisitely observed memoir by a young neurosurgeon faced with a terminal cancer diagnosis who attempts to answer the question What makes a life worth living?

At the age of thirty-six, on the verge of completing a decade's worth of training as a neurosurgeon, Paul Kalanithi was diagnosed with stage IV lung cancer. One day he was a doctor treating the dying, and the next he was a patient struggling to live. And just like that, the future he and his wife had imagined evaporated. When Breath Becomes Air chronicles Kalanithi's transformation from a naïve medical student "possessed," as he wrote, "by the question of what, given that all organisms die, makes a virtuous and meaningful life" into a neurosurgeon at Stanford working in the brain, the most critical place for human identity, and finally into a patient and new father confronting his own mortality. 

What makes life worth living in the face of death? What do you do when the future, no longer a ladder toward your goals in life, flattens out into a perpetual present? What does it mean to have a child, to nurture a new life as another fades away? These are some of the questions Kalanithi wrestles with in this profoundly moving, exquisitely observed memoir. 

Paul Kalanithi died in March 2015, while working on this book, yet his words live on as a guide and a gift to us all. "I began to realize that coming face to face with my own mortality, in a sense, had changed nothing and everything," he wrote. "Seven words from Samuel Beckett began to repeat in my head: 'I can't go on. I'll go on.'" “When Breath Becomes Air” is an unforgettable, life-affirming reflection on the challenge of facing death and on the relationship between doctor and patient, from a brilliant writer who became both.  (Summary and cover courtesy of goodreads.com)

Review:

This was a book that reminded me a lot of “The Opposite of Loneliness” where I was overly-aware that my perception of the book was influenced the knowledge that the author was going to die by the end.  That being said, I found this book incredibly poignant and a fantastic reminder of what are the most important things in life.  Thought you can’t live every day like it’s your last (contrary to the saying), the book is a good grounding in what is most important in life.

This was a book that I finished in three sit downs because despite my best intentions, it was one I couldn’t put down and I was desperate to know what happened.  While unsettling, it’s also fascinating to hear what other people do when they know that their time is soon to run out.  Though it left me in tears, it’s a book that I wouldn’t hesitate to recommend to anyone looking for a reminder of what’s important in life.

Rating: 4 stars!

Who should read it? Anyone looking for a reminder of what’s important in life!

Into Thin Air

Into Thin Air

Summary:

A bank of clouds was assembling on the not-so-distant horizon, but journalist-mountaineer Jon Krakauer, standing on the summit of Mt. Everest, saw nothing that "suggested that a murderous storm was bearing down." He was wrong. The storm, which claimed five lives and left countless more--including Krakauer's--in guilt-ridden disarray, would also provide the impetus for “Into Thin Air”, Krakauer's epic account of the May 1996 disaster.  (Summary and cover courtesy of goodreads.com)

Review:

This is a book that I had postponed reading because I have heard a lot of opinions from family and friends around me who are passionate fans of mountaineering.  If you look at the historical accounts, Krakauer is a little more contentious and I’m planning on reading Boukreev’s counterpart to the story soon.  (Note: I have heard his book is not quite as accessible to the casual reader.)  But this is all a side note, onto the review!

The things that is undeniable about Krakauer’s account is that it’s extremely compelling.  It’s fascinating storytelling and he does an amazing job introducing the topic of Everest with history, why people are drawn to the mountain and he himself ended up with the ill-fated climbers.  I was fascinated with the build up of the book just as much as the events that followed.  The tension portrayed through the final three days had me pausing to stop and take a walk around the room before going back to it.

One thing I found extremely annoying, however was the tendency to alternate between calling people by the last name and their first name.  It made it confusing when switching back and forth and meant that I made ample use of the first few pages that described each respective climbing party.  I would highly recommend reading this book, but if you enjoy it, also encourage you to check out some other accounts as well.

Warning: Contains repeated violence of people’s own choices as a side effect of dangerous climbing.

Rating: 4 stars!

Who should read it? Anyone with interest and enthusiasm into the type of climbing that happens on the top of the world.

Thin Ice

Thin Ice

Summary:

The world's premier climatologist, Lonnie Thompson has been risking his career and life on the highest and most remote ice caps along the equator, in search of clues to the history of climate change. His most innovative work has taken place on these mountain glaciers, where he collects ice cores that provide detailed information about climate history, reaching back 750,000 years. To gather significant data Thompson has spent more time in the death zone—the environment above eighteen thousand feet—than any man who has ever lived.

Scientist and expert climber Mark Bowen joined Thompson's crew on several expeditions; his exciting and brilliantly detailed narrative takes the reader deep inside retreating glaciers from China, across South America, and to Africa to unravel the mysteries of climate. Most important, we learn what Thompson's hard-won data reveals about global warming, the past, and the earth's probable future.  (Summary and cover courtesy of goodreads.com)

Review:

Full disclosure I did NOT finish this book.  I really wanted to enjoy it, but just couldn’t quite get myself into it.  I kept picking it up, putting it down, picking it back up and trying again and then getting disinterested.  I found the climbing, the hurdles required when obtaining the cores and the overall techniques fascinating, but Bowen kept swapping gears.  We went from South America to the poles and then jumped into some general background.  I found the abrupt changes distracting whereas if the history had been woven into the story a bit more it may have been easier.

Despite those frustrations, the third of the book I did read was highly fascinating and taught me a lot on the techniques and approaches of the scientists in such extreme locations.  What’s particularly interesting is the combined athleticism with the scientific achievements the were able to achieve at high altitudes.

I readily admit that had I had less going on in life I might be more willing to sit down and focus, but at least for now, this is a book I’m abandoning that perhaps I will come back to it one day.

Rating: 2 stars!

Who should read it? Folks passionate about climate change and would like to know a little more about how historical accounts were/are studied.