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Tangent Time!: Nonfiction #2

It’s time for another Tangent Time! I had four nonfiction that I wanted to write about and that seemed like too many for one post, so here is nonfiction post #2 :-)

The first book, Pricing Life by Peter A. Ubel, MD was given to me as part of a ethics themed book club over spring break and I met with a group of 25 or so other students to discuss the concepts afterwards. I am very glad I participated in this book club because I feel like I learned a lot about the current healthcare situation and some problems that will need to be dealt with in the near future.

The second book is I’m Feeling Lucky: Confessions of Google Employee Number 59 by Douglas Edwards. It was pretty hyped in the press a while ago when it came out, but I’m one to wait for the hype to die down before deciding if a book seems worthwhile. It was only have a second recommendation from a friend that I put it on my birthday wishlist and I’m glad I did!

Title: Pricing Life
Author: Peter A. Ubel, MD
Pages: 183 paperback
Summary: I will start off saying this book is bound to be super contentious given the current political atmosphere around health care and what our country should do about it. This book focuses on the US health care system and talks about something that apparently a lot of people hate: health care rationing. He starts by defining a working definition for health care rationing, since it is not something agreed upon at all. He continues by making the argument that we are getting to the point in health care progress that we really will have to ration health care services if we want to afford reasonable health care for everyone as a nation. The idea is that every year more and more expensive new therapies come out for the big scary diseases and most of the time they are highly unlikely to actually help that much, so where should the line be drawn of what is covered by health care providers and what isn’t?

I found the book quite approachable for a non-premed college graduate and interesting. It obviously is a very difficult issue, but Ubel explains his thoughts and suggestions very well and it’s something I’m glad health care professionals might start thinking about, since as a patient I had no idea how unnecessarily expensive normal procedures were and how unhelpful a lot of screenings are to do annually. If you are interested in this sort of thing, I definitely recommend it as an interesting and engaging read.

 Title: I’m Feeling Lucky: The Confessions of Google Employee Number 59
Author: Douglas Edwards
Pages: 390 (hardcover)
Summary: Google had a crazy path from start-up to technology giant and I’m a sucker for tech start-ups, so this book was very appealing to my inner nerd. It is told, however, from a marketing department employee who joined Google early in its development, but always seemed to be just sort of along for the ride. While Edwards certainly contributed to Google brand significantly, he approaches the story of Google’s development while he was there with an approach more similar to a fly on the wall and only sometimes talks about his own adventures.

As someone who hadn’t followed Google’s rise to power very closely and simply adored the search capability when I found it (and Gmail when I was introduced to that) it was very interesting to read about the very eccentric personalities of the original idea makers. While reading this book I was constantly intimidated by the brilliance of the people working at Google, and as someone who has seen multiple recent grads get rejected from Google’s hiring crusade, it was almost reassuring.

This book tells the tale of Google from a small 60 person start-up to a giant tech company that just went public, but I sometimes found myself lost in a see of short stories. Edwards approaches this 6 year story as a collection of short episodes and often jumps to events years before or after the current story to explain some dynamic of the current telling. This meant that I rarely knew where exactly I was in the timeline of the book, but it didn’t really worry me that much. What I enjoyed about this book was the fascinating insight into what a successful start-up model is, the very entertaining stories about some now very important people, and a better understanding of what Google’s goals really were throughout this whole development.

If you like tech at all, especially if you think the quirky but brilliant techies that are currently taking over the world are people you’d like to hang with, I’d recommend picking up this book. I found it getting a little long in the middle, but once I got past 2/3 I rushed to the end because I had finally figured out the style and was content floating along the quantum jumping timeline.

Anyone else read either of these?


© 2012, Anya. All rights reserved.

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