I’ve started reading again. And not just my daily dose of 5 or more BBC articles about anything. I’ve started reading novels again.
The last time I got on a bike, it was the first time I’d ridden in more than a decade. It was either a wake or an Old Year’s lime in Couva; I forget which. But I remember getting on the bike and thinking, “everyone says you can never forget how to ride a bike, but I’m pretty sure I’m making this up as I go along.” I just wasn’t at ease as I used to be on it. If you’ve had a non-literary tertiary education, the only reading you ever did was textbooks. Since then, I’ve only read a handful of novels and many of those were Nicholas Sparks’. Reading a book is nothing like struggling for lost dexterity and wondering where the enjoyment had gone. It’s always been smooth and seamless.
Thank goodness for my Amazon Kindle app and my phone. I decided that buying digital books would be cheaper, and simpler. The first book I came across (literally, the very first book Amazon suggested) was The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks by Rebecca Skloot. It was just the sort of book I loved: a period drama, biographical and as a bonus it was also quite scientific. Mrs. Lacks was a black woman born in Segregated 1940s, USA. She had an unfortunately aggressive case of cervical cancer that killed her in her prime. What she is best known as is “HeLa”. Without knowledge or consent, a sample of her tumor was taken during a medical exam and cultivated for research purposes. Today, HeLa cells are the bedrock of biomedical research and have been used to test all manner or substances and conditions against the human genome.
Henrietta and David Lacks
Less known is what sort of person Lacks was, and what was the story of her life. Rebecca Skloot shared her experiences while researching this extraordinary woman perfectly, and showed us how far down the rabbit hole goes for those connected to her.
I just finished Water for Elephants by Sara Gruen. I’d always wanted to see the movie (a bit of a fan of RPattz’ acting, not so much Team Edward though). This was a wonderful read. I kept forgetting the writer was female because the protagonist is male. This made me wonder a lot more about what men think about and how they perceive things. Mrs. Gruen is also happily married with 3 sons, so I suppose she’s pretty much an expert. Most of all, I’ve found myself haunted by the main character’s struggle with his advanced age and issues of loneliness. Only a great book could do that… And so begins my journey back into a familiar place where my imagination paints outside the lines of the author’s story, and I muse upon the lives of the characters long after the last page.