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Patient H.M.
Patient H.M.: A Story of Memory, Madness, and Family Secrets | Luke Dittrich
116 posts | 64 read | 3 reading | 282 to read
For readers of The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks and The Hare with Amber Eyes comes a propulsive, haunting journey into the secret history of brain science by Luke Dittrich, whose grandfather performed the surgery that created the most studied human research subject of all time: the amnesic known as Patient H.M. In the late 1930s, in asylums and hospitals across America, a group of renowned neurosurgeons embarked on a campaign to develop and refine a new class of brain operationthe lobotomythat they hoped would eradicate everything from schizophrenia to homosexuality. These psychosurgeons, as they called themselves, occupied a gray zone between medical research and medical practice, and ended up subjecting untold numbers of people to the types of surgical experiments once limited to chimpanzees. The most important test subject to emerge from this largely untold chapter in American history was a twenty-seven-year-old factory worker named Henry Molaison. In 1953, Henrywho suffered from severe epilepsyreceived a radical new version of the lobotomy, one that targeted the most mysterious structures in the brain. The operation failed to eliminate Henrys seizures, but it did have another, unintended effect: Henry left the operating room profoundly amnesic, unable to create new long-term memories. Over the following sixty years, Patient H.M., as Henry was known, became the most studied individual in the history of neuroscience, a human guinea pig who would teach us much of what we know about memory today. Journalist Luke Dittrich uses the case of Patient H.M. as a starting point for a kaleidoscopic journey, one that moves from the first recorded brain surgeries in ancient Egypt to the cutting-edge laboratories of MIT. He takes readers inside the old asylums and operating theaters where the psychosurgeons conducted their human experiments, and behind the scenes of a bitter custody battle over the ownership of the most important brain in the world. Throughout, Dittrich delves into the enduring mysteries of the mind, while exposing troubling stories of just how far weve gone in our pursuit of knowledge. It is also, at times, a deeply personal journey. Dittrichs grandfather was the brilliant, morally complex surgeon who operated on Molaisonand thousands of other patients. The authors investigation into the dark roots of modern memory science ultimately forces him to confront unsettling secrets in his own family history, and to reveal the tragedy that fueled his grandfathers relentless experimentationexperimentation that would revolutionize our understanding of ourselves. Patient H.M. combines the best of biography, memoir, and science journalism to create a haunting, endlessly fascinating story, one that reveals the wondrous and devastating things that can happen when hubris, ambition, and human imperfection collide.
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kaysworld1
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My books I have on reserved at the library are Wilde flower by drew Barrymore
IKIGAI by Hector Garcia
In extremists by Lindsey Hilsum

#currentlyreading: Patient H. M by Luke Dittrich
Finished: Live green by Jen Chillingsworth
#Readingthelibrary #librarybooks

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kaysworld1
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It's is bang on midnight here in the UK.
I am so tired but all I want to do is read, read and then read some more.
I also want to sleep, sleep and then sleep some more!
I think sleep wins... 😴💤💤💤💤💤

#librarybook #readingthelibrary #readingaddict

43 likes2 stack adds
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ValerieAndBooks
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It‘s getting real — youngest moves into university dorms in 17 days 😱 ! We went to Dollar Tree to pick up some dorm essentials and I got this book for myself. I remember when I was in college myself, poor H.M. ‘s case being discussed in a psychobiology class.

Reggie Are you getting a little fidgety? Is it like a little panicky or more like can‘t wait? 1mo
ValerieAndBooks @Reggie definitely a little (actually a lot) panicky! I‘ll miss him, plus I‘ve been a SAHM for most of my kids‘ lives and it‘s like, “now what?” But I‘m sure I‘ll figure it out 🤞 1mo
Suet624 I started seeing a therapist when my last two children (twins) were in their sophomore year. 😪 😪 I spent two years talking about it. I knew it was going to be very hard for me because of how I'd dealt with my other two children leaving for college 7 and 14 years before. I can't say it helped with the separation, but somehow the therapy changed my relationship with my mother. :) (edited) 1mo
ValerieAndBooks @Suet624 I‘m glad the therapy benefitted you 💖. I feel like this whole situation is like starting a new chapter in a book, with an idea of what might happen but not totally sure it will be as imagined! 1mo
Suet624 @ValerieAndBooks That's a great way of looking at it. My best wishes to you. 1mo
70 likes1 stack add5 comments
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Stephuhhnieee
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I posted about Patient H.M. a while back when he was mentioned in Brain on Fire. His study is one of my favorites in the Neuropsychology world. It is beyond amazing to me how the brain works to try to compensate for what it‘s lost.

Listening to this is making me miss sitting in my psychology courses... 😭

28 likes1 stack add
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mlzbthc

“Henry‘s almost complete lack of episodic memories is difficult to relate to. We are a storytelling species, and we spend a great deal of our time stringing the facts of our pasts into narratives in the present. A mind unable to do so can seem like a fundamentally alien mind.”

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tricours
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Mehso-so

Definitely an interesting book (that makes me want to read more about highly questionable medical experiments in the past), but I do wonder how truthful the portrait of Suzanne Corkin is. She comes across as impossibly unsympathetic, and together with the calm voice of the narrator, that gave the book a quite passive-aggressive flavour....

Samplergal Yeah. I thought it was soso as well. I had hoped it would be more compelling 12mo
RedbagReadbooks I encourage you to do more research into the techniques that they used to lobotomize patients. I am a NP psychiatric student right now and this is a devastating time for patients suffering from mental disorders. This movement ties in with the eugenics movement pre WW2. It is an interesting time in history. 12mo
32 likes1 stack add2 comments
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Zelma
Bailedbailed

Sigh. I should listened to other Littens who didn‘t like this one; their complaints echo my reasons for doing the same. Way too long and jumps around too much; this book needed tighter editing to be more successful. But mainly, the author kept inserting himself and his stories into the text, and it made no sense. I wanted to read about Patient H.M. and the history of lobotomies, not a memoir about the author and his grandfather (the doctor).

Samplergal It needed lots of editing. Truth. 1y
JPeterson Yes, exactly this! Really is a shame, since this could have been super interesting. 1y
Zelma @Samplergal @JPeterson I almost skimmed through it just to read the interesting parts, then figured there has to be a better book on the subject. (edited) 1y
tricours This is true for SO many non-fiction books these days where the author seemingly wants to write about a topic but really just wants an excuse for writing about themselves... 12mo
43 likes4 comments
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Zelma
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I‘ve got 99 problems but a book-stack ain‘t one. #libraryhaul the other day and I‘m already liking Patient H.M.

ErickaS_Flyleafunfurled I seeee Lonesome Dove in theeeere! I just finished it - absolutely wonderful 1y
Zelma @ErickaS_Flyleafunfurled awesome! I know everyone keeps saying it‘s great and I plan on getting to it one of these days. 1y
57 likes2 comments
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JPeterson
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Panpan

The topic of this seemed interesting; mental health history & lobotomies.
The writing style, however, was severely lacking.
Do you have that one friend that manages to find an interesting topic, but then proceeds to mangle the delivery? That friend could have wrote this.
There were asides that didn't add anything new, repetitive information, very little about Henry Molaison, and drawn out paragraphs about what Dittrich assumed what had happened.

Bry Good to know. I‘m interested in the topic and want to give it a try but maybe it will be a borrow, rather than a buy. 2y
JPeterson @Bry It is definitely interesting to try! 2y
57 likes1 stack add2 comments
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TheDoubleLetterThief
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I haven‘t been able to focus on reading too much lately, but now that summer hols are over, (back to school tomorrow) my goal is to read one book a week. Hmmm, not sure I‘ll get there, but how else does one tackle Mount TBR?! 🧐🧐🧐🤓🤓🤓
This is one of two that were selected for Staff Book 📚 Club. I‘ve already bailed on the other one, so better finish this one!

Anyone read it? And?

IamIamIam This looks unbelievable! I stacked it so I'm interested to see your review! Good luck! 2y
RedbagReadbooks The book was wonderful. I read it last year. I am fascinated by the times of asylums and lobotomies. I even have a lobotomy kit in my reading room in a shadow box that I bought at an antique store. It is interesting to see how far psychiatry and mental illness has come as well as neurology. Enjoy 😊 2y
Kristy_K I found this book interesting, but slow. 2y
41 likes2 stack adds3 comments
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BookishMarginalia
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#DealAlert! This book about the infamous practice of lobotomy is written by the grandson of one of its most prolific practitioners. I was riveted. Grab it now for $1.99: https://www.amazon.com/gp/aw/d/B01208O00K/ref=pd_typ_k_rtpb_1_154606011_15

angengea Ooh! Sounds interesting. Thanks for the tip! 2y
MelanieMefford I have this one, but it‘s waiting on my ever growing stack! 2y
MicheleinPhilly Got it! Thanks for the heads up! 2y
118 likes2 stack adds3 comments
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Samplergal
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Mehso-so

This book was well researched and written. I became bored with the details, and had hoped it was going to read more as a novel. Meh.

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Samplergal
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This is going to be finished this weekend. I have several that I have in process. This needs to head back to the 'brary soon. Enjoy your weekend! Hope it's full of lovely words.

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TheDoubleLetterThief
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My work book club picks for Feb. One fiction, one non. Staff can read both or one or none, and then come along for drinkies together during what will no doubt be a busy start to a new school year by then. (Hols in 3 days!!! Woot!!!) Have never heard of either of these so happy to explore. #gottalovebookclub #nevertoobusyforbooks

Cinfhen Both are very good!!!! 2y
TheDoubleLetterThief @Cinfhen excellent to know! Patient HM sounds totally fascinating. 2y
Cinfhen Patient HM was really fascinating although the author, a relative gets a little sidetracked at times...I thought UA was really well done and sort of got unfairly overlooked because of the other alternative slavery story (URR)which was also very good 2y
39 likes1 stack add3 comments
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Lindy
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What are the chances of 6 random books in one year all making mention of something I had barely heard about before: trepanation. I wrote a blog post about my year of literary trepanations: https://lindypratch.blogspot.ca/2017/10/a-year-of-literary-trepanations.html?m=1

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Aseleener
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Pickpick

This was my #nonfiction pick for September. I love a good medical drama and this one did not disappoint. H.M. got a lobotomy in an attempt to cure epilepsy, but ended up unable to make new memories. Researched for over 50 years. The story of H.M. is interesting enough by itself, but then you have the added twist of the author's connection to the story. Really fascinating. Crazy how the whole thing is still wrapped up in controversy.

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SeeJulieRead
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Apparently it is blue books from the library month.

emilyhaldi Great stack!! I loved Sourdough 🍞 2y
L_auren I LOVED Sourdough too! And The Child was a good one too! 2y
79 likes2 comments
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Aseleener
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It's the hottest day of the year in my little corner of the world, on the first day of fall! 🍁 Quite unusual, so I thought I had better spend it reading at the beach. 🌞 #beachreads #lakemichigan

RanaElizabeth We're having a crazy day here in the Twin Cities with the heat as well, wish I was at the beach too! 2y
CocoReads Lake Michigan is the bomb! I haven't been able to make it to the lake these last few days but I'm off on Monday--I may have to try. 2y
Mamashep I wish I was at Lake Michigan! That would mean I was in Milwaukee seeing my kids! 2y
34 likes3 comments
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Lissa00
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Pickpick

The author‘s grandfather was a neurosurgeon whose most famous patient was Patient H.M., a man whose childhood injuries lead to epilepsy and eventually a lobotomy that affected his memory. Interspersed with his family history and the case of H.M. is a complex history of the field of neurosurgery. Even though I think that portions could have been culled, I did find the history of the lobotomy equally fascinating and horrifying.

102 likes2 stack adds
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Aseleener
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Happy Read an Ebook Day! That's every day for me, though. I use my tablet for indoor and nighttime reading, and my old, but trusty, Kindle Keyboard for outdoor reading. #ebooklove @OverDrive

Pamwurtzler That's pretty much every day for me too - I use the Kindle keyboard both indoors & out, and a Paperwhite indoors only! 2y
37 likes1 comment
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JennyM
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Pickpick

As a researcher, I found this book fascinating and horrifying. Thank goodness modern science is now strongly governed by research ethics.

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Lissa00
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Slower than normal afternoon provides plenty of reading time. Just started this.

85 likes1 stack add
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SeeJulieRead
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My next book Club book. The history of brain surgery including memory, madness, and family secrets? I'm in!

47 likes1 stack add
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WhatStaceyReads
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Preparing for #dbf2017 with a little light reading about brain surgery before bed.

3 likes1 stack add
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MallenNC
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I'm going to try to keep up with the #90sinJuly! I don't like to use the word insane for people, but these three books from my shelves are what came to mind for today's theme, because they are about people with brain injuries. Brain on Fire scared me to death and showed how important patient advocates are. Tell Me Everything You Don't Remember shows how strong our brains are. I haven't read Patient H.M. but hope to soon. #insaneinthebrain

Robothugs I understand not wanting to call people insane! Remember you can interpret the prompts however you like 😊 Good book choices! 2y
MallenNC @Robothugs Thanks! I'm looking forward to participating this month. 2y
Robothugs It's going to be a fun month! 2y
Cinfhen Excellent choices and I agree with your unease😌 2y
19 likes5 comments
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Kristy_K
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Mehso-so

I think I would have liked this more if I hadn't had previously read books similar to this. This non-fiction narrative intertwines the history of lobotomies with Dittrich's own neurosurgeon grandpa, his schizophrenic grandmother, and the post-lobotomized life of patient H.M. ⭐️⭐️⭐️

#neuroscience #science #psychology

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Booksbooksbooks
Pickpick

Amazing! A wonderful educational novel about the history of lobotomies and the terrifying inside story of scientific research and surgery. Great read for science lovers

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abbylibrarian
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Starting to see some leaves on the trees! #hammockreading #springreading

8 likes1 stack add
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Alisnazzy
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When your husband gets you a book off your Amazon wish list for surviving your first two weeks back at work. I'm a lucky Litten 💖

SG2014 Soooo need to read this book. 2y
RealBooks4ever What a sweetie! 💜 2y
EvieBee Awesome! 👌🏼 2y
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GypsyKat So sweet! 2y
asiriusreader Awww, true love! 💗 2y
Bklover Just read the book description. This sounds fascinating!!! 2y
lovemypups It's on my to read list, looks super interesting! 2y
149 likes2 stack adds7 comments
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Aluciddreamstate
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Pickpick

4/5 ⭐️. This book was on a topic that greatly interests me. I am from a town with a state run mental hospital and I have a lobotomy kit in a shadow box in my book reading room 😍😍😍. I enjoyed the mix of personal narratives mixed with the story of Henry Moliason. Would recommend to anyone interested in psychology, neurology, or just someone who is curious 😁

27 likes5 stack adds
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Aluciddreamstate
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As a hopeful future psychiatric nurse practitioner I love this quote 🔥🔥🔥

CouronneDhiver Psych?! You're brave. I'm working toward a career in palliative care nursing... 👩🏽‍⚕️ 3y
Aluciddreamstate @CouronneDhiver I currently am an occupational health/ home health nurse working on my masters. I think everyone is a little crazy, I just want to completely immerse myself in the craziness 🌝 3y
CouronneDhiver Best of luck! Very impressive 👍🏾 3y
Suet624 I think everyone is a little crazy too. 😁 3y
23 likes4 comments
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LaurenReads
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Pickpick

This was such an interesting book. There was the history of lobotomies which I enjoyed learning about, the story of patient HM, while he was living and then after death. The only parts that were weird were some of the author's personal stories which seemed out of place, even with his personal attachment to the history. Overall a really good book. #nonfiction #litsyatoz

JoeStalksBeck I listened to this a while back and found it fascinating 3y
susanw It's patiently sitting in my shelf waiting to be read. 3y
86 likes2 stack adds2 comments
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Booksbooksbooks

Just started this and can't put it down! Nonfiction about the life and lies of neurosurgery and the birth of lobotomies. Very interesting and eye opening

14 likes1 stack add
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LaurenReads
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Fiancé: what are you listening to while we run? Me: it's a history of the use of lobotomies and how one specific patient was affected..
Fiancé: ? (finished my 5k in 30 min and I'm loving this book!)

BookishMarginalia I found it engrossing 3y
CouronneDhiver I have these kinds of chats with my hubby all the time. Lol 3y
92 likes3 stack adds2 comments
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mdhughes72
Mehso-so

Fascinating tale, frustratingly told. Jigsaw puzzle with too many pieces, eponymous Patient becomes a supporting character in his own story. One thing I couldn't miss was the fact that he was the most studied scientific subject in history, a fact repeated so many times I lost count. Too often the author seemed to want to hog the spotlight himself; I learned far more about his own unrelated exploits than necessary. Definitely not another Henrietta.

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Bookwm85forever
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Bob the neighborhood stray wants to be petted. It's 65 plus degrees in Chicago today!!

Coleen ❤️ your shirt! ⚾️ 3y
Bookwm85forever Thank you @Coleen!! I'm a lifelong Cubs fan. 😊 3y
10 likes1 stack add2 comments
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mdhughes72
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Brain surgeon interviewing patient during surgery: 'What is going through your mind right now?' Patient: 'A knife.' 😂

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Bookwm85forever
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My friends told me I needed to see this episode from the Twilight Zone. Poor Henry Bemis.

Alfoster 😂😂😂📚📚📚👏👏👏! 3y
Bookwm85forever I saw a lot of me in Henry. I hide from my coworker's at lunchtime so I can read. 😬 3y
7 likes2 comments
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Bookwm85forever
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I'm reading this for my Wine and Book Club. The treatment of mentally ill patients in the past was horrific.

BookishMarginalia Yes. Isn't this such an interesting book, though? So many different issues to discuss! 3y
Bookwm85forever @BookishMarginalia I totally agree. I wasn't sure I wanted to read this selection but am happy I pick it up. The description of the asylums after WWII is haunting. 3y
saguarosally My mother told me many stories of the mental health institutions of the early 70s. I hope it was better than this but fear it wasn't much better. 3y
5 likes3 comments
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MrBook
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#BookNDinner! #SunBasket edition! Accompaniment this calm evening: Kyoto chicken and soba noodle salad made with buckwheat noodles, kale, scallion, lime, and a miso sauce; and crisp sparkling mineral water. MMMMmmm 😋!!! This has been another presentation of: #MrBookBookBabeKitchen. Happy reads & happy eats! 😎👌🏻

AudreyMorris That looks yummy! I love soba noodles! 3y
Hooked_on_books Looks healthy--nice job! 3y
BookBabe @Hooked_on_books Thank you! 😊👍🏻 3y
MrBook @AudreyMorris It was gooood 😊👍🏻! @Hooked_on_books I still wanted tater tots 😔. 😜 3y
113 likes4 comments
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MrBook
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#BookNDinner! #SunBasket edition! Accompaniment this milder evening: South Asian coconut-poached salmon in a lemongrass coconut milk broth with red chard and sparkling mineral water. MMMmmm 😋! This has been another presentation of: #MrBookBookBabeKitchen. Happy reads & happy eats! 😎👌🏻

hyacinth Ever think of compiling these into a recipe book? 😜 3y
Emory Such a pretty color! 3y
Chachic Looks delicious! 3y
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Cinfhen Wow! Didn't think you would even try it🙊🙈you surprised me @MrBook 3y
rustoryhuf What! No Tots? 3y
MrBook @hyacinth Hah! That'd be a healthy-unhealthy cookbook 😆👏🏻🙌🏻! @Emory I thought so too 😁! @Chachic It was delectable 😊👍🏻! @Cinfhen 😂👏🏻😎👌🏻🙌🏻!!! @rustoryhuf Not this time *sighs* 😕. 3y
122 likes6 comments
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MrBook
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#BookNDinner! Accompaniment this snowy evening includes: ricotta stuffed shells in a chunky puttanesca sauce and sparkling mineral water. MMMMmmm 😋! This has been another presentation of: #MrBookBookBabeKitchen. Happy reads & happy eats. 😎👌🏻

Leelee.reads I want that. 3y
Emiller Looks delicious! 3y
Reviewsbylola Yum!! 3y
MrBook @Leelee.reads @Emiller @Reviewsbylola 😁👏🏻👏🏻😋! It was awesome 😎👍🏻! 3y
118 likes4 comments
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MrBook
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Reading this book next for #TheOminvoroudBookClub. This meeting's theme will be "New Beginnings". The main character constantly has new beginnings due to his severe memory loss, so I think this qualifies. Yes? I won't be able to make the meeting as I have another meeting in another state at the same time, but I'm still partaking anyway ???.

Reecaspieces Love your JD! 3y
See All 7 Comments
Aseleener I've been waiting for this one at the library for a while. Can't wait. 3y
E-book Jim Beam honey! ❤ 3y
MrBook @Reecaspieces Thank you 😁👏🏻! We always attempt to keep at least 3 or 4 varieties in the house 😊👍🏻. @LauraJ I've seen that one in the bookstore! Which did you prefer? @spicyvictorian Thank you 😁👏🏻👏🏻! Added! @Aseleener Hopefully it comes soon 😊! @e-book 😁👏🏻👏🏻👏🏻! 3y
BookBabe Great photo! 😍 3y
140 likes4 stack adds7 comments
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MrBook
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So this is my and @BookBabe 's bookclub TBR list for January 😁👏🏻👏🏻👏🏻!!! Already read one of these. On to number two! 2017 will be a bookishly productive year for her and I. We have a few projects in the pipeline that we'll be announcing down the road 😊👍🏻. So, any of these titles stick out to you as wonderful reads or well-positioned TBRs for yourself?

Zelma Good Omens is so much fun! 3y
readinginthedark Nice handwriting! There are a couple of these I've been meaning to read as well... 3y
TNbooklover66 Blindness and Patient H.M. are both in my tbr hope you enjoy them. 3y
See All 10 Comments
MidnightBookGirl Love that ya'll do this! 3y
Mdargusch I love your idea of posting a list on the wall. That would keep me motivated. 📚 3y
BookishMarginalia Patient HM! (I don't think I could get through any of Ben Carson's books any more, given his election-cycle behavior...) 3y
Sue Good Omens is among my all time faves. 3y
mcipher I love The School of Essential Ingredients! All her books are killer. Good Omens is super fun too, in a totally different way. Do you guys both read the same list? 3y
Ellsbeth There is a fun collection of Ben Franklin's writing called 3y
130 likes10 comments
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SpookyBoogie
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Finished my year challenge to read 275 books last week. Now I'm up to 281 books for this year. Yay books!

Suzze An amazing number! Well done! 3y
Reecaspieces Awesome! 3y
ReadingOver50 That is a lot of reading 😮 3y
SpookyBoogie I love to read. More than I love sleeping, eating, socializing. 3y
4 likes4 comments
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Bandrea
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Pickpick

This is one of my first nonfiction non-personal development books. It was so interesting, jaw dropping in places, and kept my attention the whole time. Definitely want to read more books like this now.

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BooksAndBrews04
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Pickpick

What better way to start a lazy Saturday than with coffee and a good book? Giving a glimpse into the life of Patient H. M. and the atrocities of both insane asylums and medical research of the early to mid twentieth century, this book was horrifyingly fascinating. 😱📚

8 likes2 stack adds
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SpookyBoogie

At times I find this book to be highly distressing. It delves deeply into what can only be rightly described as medical atrocities that have taken place over the course of human history. I find myself often thinking as I read that had I been born two decades earlier I might have been the victim of a forced lobotomy. But those who don't know history after all.

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LectricSheep
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This is the label for the science section at Regulators-- a truly awesome bookstore in Durham. They had so many books I'd never heard of, including a great local fiction section. @Graciouswarriorprincess is this the one you've been meaning to visit? If so, you have great taste in bookstores! 😁 two more local bookstores to hit today!

Graciouswarriorprincess @LectricSheep yes! Which others are you visiting? Will you be in the area tomorrow? 3y
LectricSheep @Graciouswarriorprincess unfortunately no! We leave tomorrow morning-- this was just a quick trip. But I give 🎉🎉alllll the recommendations for Regulators. 🎉🎉 3y
Graciouswarriorprincess @LectricSheep safe travels and maybe next time! Happy reading!📚 3y
49 likes3 comments