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Natural Causes
Natural Causes: An Epidemic of Wellness, the Certainty of Dying, and Our Illusion of Control | Barbara Ehrenreich
26 posts | 20 read | 29 to read
Bestselling author of Nickel and Dimed, Barbara Ehrenreich explores how we are killing ourselves to live longer, not better. A razor-sharp polemic which offers an entirely new understanding of our bodies, ourselves, and our place in the universe, NATURAL CAUSES describes how we over-prepare and worry way too much about what is inevitable. One by one, Ehrenreich topples the shibboleths that guide our attempts to live a long, healthy life -- from the importance of preventive medical screenings to the concepts of wellness and mindfulness, from dietary fads to fitness culture. But NATURAL CAUSES goes deeper -- into the fundamental unreliability of our bodies and even our "mind-bodies," to use the fashionable term. Starting with the mysterious and seldom-acknowledged tendency of our own immune cells to promote deadly cancers, Ehrenreich looks into the cellular basis of aging, and shows how little control we actually have over it. We tend to believe we have agency over our bodies, our minds, and even over the manner of our deaths. But the latest science shows that the microscopic subunits of our bodies make their own "decisions," and not always in our favor. We may buy expensive anti-aging products or cosmetic surgery, get preventive screenings and eat more kale, or throw ourselves into meditation and spirituality. But all these things offer only the illusion of control. How to live well, even joyously, while accepting our mortality -- that is the vitally important philosophical challenge of this book. Drawing on varied sources, from personal experience and sociological trends to pop culture and current scientific literature, NATURAL CAUSES examines the ways in which we obsess over death, our bodies, and our health. Both funny and caustic, Ehrenreich then tackles the seemingly unsolvable problem of how we might better prepare ourselves for the end -- while still reveling in the lives that remain to us.
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RamsFan1963
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Mehso-so

Interesting at times, tedious at others. The book is a look into how humans are questing for longer healthier lives, even sometimes at the detriment of the very health they seek. 3 💥💥💥 out of 5

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LibraryCin
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Mehso-so

This was interesting, though a few chapters that went a little bit deeper into the biology (chapters that talked more about cells) kind of “lost” me just a little bit. I still got the gist of those chapters, though. There was also a couple of chapters that were a little heavier on philosophy that wasn‘t quite as interesting for me (the cells were of more interest). Cont in comments...

LibraryCin But, most of the other chapters (including on exercise, meditation, medical industry) were good. Thinking back, I probably will remember some of the information on cells when it comes to cancer (do those cells help fight disease, or are they helping the cancer spread!?). 4mo
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charl08
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I know it's unlikely in such a serious book, but still...

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rabbitprincess
Mehso-so

I liked the medicine and biology bits more than the "philosophy of the self" bits. The choppiness made me think this should have been packaged as a collection of related essays rather than as a straight-up non-fiction book; with regular non-fiction I expect *some* sort of narrative flow.

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alvingregorio
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Mehso-so

Live long, die fast. Yes that‘s another book, but same message. When I first started reading this book, it felt defeatist. As I read it more it became more realistic. When I finished the book, I came out of it feeling more balanced in the way I see aging, death, and dying.

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LindseysLibrary
Pickpick

I appreciated the message of this book, even if it got a little nihilistic by the end. Certainly, as a younger woman than Ehrenreich, I still believe that what I do during these younger years will matter in my older age, but it‘s still a great reminder that the death rate for our species is still 100%—we WILL all die eventually, and this frantic scrabbling against that inevitability through “perfect, clean living” will still not save us.

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Leftcoastzen
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Pickpick

I didn‘t know one of my favorite journalists had a PhD in cellular immunology.Don‘t let that scare you away from this timely book.Ehrenreich looks at our culture obsessed with pushing away death.Hey,we want to live longer & feel better but she questions at what cost.Tests that are too invasive?what if the treatment is worse than the disease?But ,with the info.that my own cells can turn on me at any time , I‘ll have that piece of cake.

Kaye I‘ll EAT to that. 🎂👍🏼 9mo
Leftcoastzen @Kaye 😂🍰 9mo
BarbaraTheBibliophage Thanks for the tag! This one is def on my list, and I‘m glad for your review. 9mo
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Lindy
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Pickpick

Ehrenreich is a radical thinker, a contrarian with a sharp intellect & a sense of wonder. She takes aim at the idea that through fad diets & a healthy lifestyle we are in control of our fate & are to blame for our own illnesses. “Every death can now be understood as suicide.” Aspects of modern medicine akin to shamanic rituals; gynaecology exams akin to criminal strip searches; condemns anti-aging. “Aging is not a sin.” Thought-provoking.

jmofo I commend you on your sticker and text usage! 10mo
Lindy @jmofo 😘 10mo
RaimeyGallant Bumping this higher up my tbr. Thanks! 10mo
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alvingregorio
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Being old enough to die is an achievement,not a defeat

batsy This picture makes me feel so content 💚 10mo
alvingregorio @batsy it was from a day trip to Santa Cruz. Magical place in the redwoods. It was so peaceful. 🌲🌲🌲 10mo
28 likes2 comments
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Lindy
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“I present the emerging scientific case for a dystopian view of the body, not as a well ordered machine, but as a site of ongoing conflict at the cellular level, which ends, at least in all the cases we know of, in death.”

Just started the audiobook this morning. Ehrenreich‘s writing is always thought-provoking and I‘m already enjoying this.

celtichik She does have an interesting point of view 10mo
MelissaSue81 Ooh! This sounds interesting! 10mo
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keithmalek
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Lcsmcat 😲 Scary! 11mo
CouronneDhiver Oh geez 😕 11mo
Gina Wellllll, that explains a lot! 11mo
17 likes3 comments
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keithmalek
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keithmalek
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keithmalek
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hermyknee 😊☺️😂 11mo
Gina Hehehehe👍 11mo
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catiewithac
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Pickpick

I enjoyed this book. There are themes that make it somewhat cohesive but it‘s more a confederation of essays. And it‘s not too sciency. It was fun to read!

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keithmalek
Mehso-so

This book was mostly about science, which I would normally enjoy, but I was looking for more of a polemic than a science book. Unfortunately, the ratio between those two things was the opposite of what I wanted here.

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EKonrad
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Panpan

I thought the subject of this book was really fascinating, however, it turned out to be a very different spin on the topic than I was expecting. Although I don't necessarily agree with Ehrenreich's views regarding the medical world, I was intrigued by the first half. But after her initial views on why some medical treatments can actually harm our health, I became bored. There's a lot more scientific jargon than I was expecting. ⭐️⭐️ #NetGalley

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annalibris
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Pickpick

Interesting , informative, well researched, and occasionally quite grumpy. Overall, I liked it, but it wasn‘t always enough to keep me awake on a hot day in traffic.

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Jen2
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Pickpick

Really enjoyed this book!

rabbitprincess Yay! I have a hold on this one at the library 😊 13mo
Billypar I love the cover art. 13mo
93 likes5 stack adds2 comments
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SW-T
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Pickpick

An interesting look at the lengths we go to to hopefully live longer. Should you exercise because you‘re supposed to, or because you feel good being active? Will being vegan give you more time? What do you sacrifice to have a good life versus a long life? Very thoughtful and thought-provoking.

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jillrhudy
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Mehso-so

I enjoyed this for the thought-provoking arguments and research but Ehrenreich never pulled the book together into a cohesive whole and covered too much subject matter. I am into microbiology but it might be slow going for others. My breakfast is muesli with extra nuts & flaxseed. And I agree that it might not prolong my life. High point: health inequality by social class. Low point: the Self. #breakfastandabook #sociology #health #wellness

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jillrhudy
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I‘m ready for Ehrenreich to rock and roll over my thinking on health & wellness. Let‘s do this. #expose #health #wellness #healthcare #exercise

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Lola
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I misread my daughter‘s schedule and arrived at pickup an hour early. In a college town with a midnight Starbucks so I‘m doing the only logical thing there is to do to wait it out. #bookandcoffee Side note: Isn‘t that an awesome cover??!!

Cathythoughts I just got the kindle Oasis recently 👍🏻. I absolutely love it 😍 1y
Lola @Cathythoughts I was perfectly happy with my Voyage so skipped the first gen Oasis (partly because it looked weird in pictures to me) but then the waterproof feature happened and I checked it out in store and LOVED the form factor and the rest is history ❤️❤️❤️😍 1y
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Lissa00
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Hmmm...a bit drastic😂😂

Settings How does he have room to eat anything else? 1y
Lissa00 @anoplph0ra Or have time to do anything else? 1y
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Well-ReadNeck
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Mehso-so

Like in Ehrenreich‘s earlier book, Nickeled and Dimed, this book throws a lot of information at the reader for a thought-provoking read. The early chapters were the ones I found the most value in reading. She takes on a lot of topics, from the American medical establishment, to evolutionary biologists to fitness gurus. And, I felt, to mixed success. But worth a read for fans of non-fiction #netgalley

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