Tuesday, March 31, 2015

Tuesday Intro: On Immunity

The first story I ever heard about immunity was told to me by my father, a doctor, when I was very young. It was the myth of Achilles, whose mother tried to make him immortal. She burned away his mortality with fire, in one telling of the story, and Achilles was left impervious to injury everywhere except his heal, where a poisoned arrow would eventually wound and kill him. In another telling, the infant Achilles was immersed in the River Styx, the river that divides the world from the underworld. His mother held her baby by the heel to dip him in the water, leaving, again, one fatal vulnerability.
On Immunity: An Innoculation
by Eula Biss
narrated by Tamara Marston

The subject of immunization is certainly timely and, as a pharmacist and a mother, I find it to be quite interesting, too. On Immunity  caught my attention during Nonfiction November and I grabbed the audio version a few weeks ago when it was an audible daily deal. I listened to the beginning yesterday and it sounds promising.

Here's the publisher's summary:
Upon becoming a new mother, Eula Biss addresses a chronic condition of fear - fear of the government, the medical establishment, and what is in your child's air, food, mattress, medicine, and vaccines. She finds that you cannot immunize your child, or yourself, from the world. 
In this bold, fascinating book, Biss investigates the metaphors and myths surrounding our conception of immunity and its implications for the individual and the social body. As she hears more and more fears about vaccines, Biss researches what they mean for her own child, her immediate community, America, and the world, both historically and in the present moment. She extends a conversation with other mothers to meditations on Voltaire's Candide, Bram Stoker's Dracula, Rachel Carson's Silent Spring, Susan Sontag's AIDS and Its Metaphors, and beyond. On Immunity is a moving account of how we are all interconnected - our bodies and our fates.
What do you think? Would you read (or listen to) more?


Every Tuesday, Diane at Bibliophile by the Sea posts the opening paragraph (sometime two) of a book she decided to read based on the opening. Feel free to grab the banner and play along.

30 comments:

  1. I've been curious about this book since I first heard about it. I will be curious to know your final thoughts on it, given your background.

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    1. Literary Feline - There are strong opinions on both sides of this issue, so I will be curious hear what Biss has to say.

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  2. I'm not familiar with this book but am glad to learn of it because it sounds fascinating. I'd keep reading/listening!

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    1. Monica - The opening certainly got my attention... I like the way she is framing this book.

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  3. I am curious about this one and, of course, have my own opinions about the subject. That being said, I'll also be watching for what you think. The historical aspects are intriguing.

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    1. Kay - I have high hopes for this... such an interesting subject.

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  4. This sounds like a fascinating read, I can see why you chose it. Thanks for visiting my Tuesday post https://cleopatralovesbooks.wordpress.com/2015/03/31/first-chapter-first-paragraph-march-31/

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    1. Cleo - I hope the rest of the book is as good as her opening chapter.

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  5. This sounds interesting. I'd probably keep reading based off the beginning. I'll have to look up more about it.

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    1. Katherine - I think this will hold my attention throughout.

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  6. We recently had an outbreak of Red Measles in our schools because parents refused immunizations for their children. I'm not sure what happened to the "required" immunizations before a child was allowed to enroll. This book looks to be so parallel with what is actually happening in my on community. It sounds interesting. It might be worth continuing to see where it takes you.

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    1. Kathy - That is scary! I'm interested in seeing how the author will develop the background information and farm her opinion.

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  7. I think this would make a fascinating listen. Thanks for sharing it and for visiting my blog.

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    1. Catherine - It's very interesting so far. Hope that continues to be the case.

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  8. This certainly is a timely topic. With our almost-two-year-old grandson right next door, we have heard a lot of the discussion about the pros and (surprising-to-me) cons. I couldn't believe how many young parents think its a bad idea. Thankfully our kids are not of that mind-set, but nearly half their friends with young children are. This sounds like a book I'd like to read, just to be abreast of the issue.

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    1. Margot - I've been surprised by some of the cons, too! Look forward to hearing more about it all from Biss.

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  9. This one sounds fascinating! Thanks for sharing...and for visiting my blog.

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    1. Laurel-Rain Snow - This is so interesting and timely. Not sure when she started working on her book, but it was certainly released at an advantageous time.

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  10. I like a good nf now and then. I would read more.

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    1. Diane - I like to break things up with nonfiction, too. I'm trying to read one every month.

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  11. Yours is the second post I've seen today on this book, and I'm definitely intrigued! I have no children, but I do have strong opinions on the topic.

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    1. Lisa - I think almost everyone has strong views... no real middle ground here.

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  12. I've heard great things about this book...and I like the intro!

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    1. Sarah - Hope it lives up to the buzz... fingers crossed!

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  13. Books like this...that treat an unusual subject in a deep way...always call to me. I'll be interested to hear more about it!

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    1. Audrey - I haven't made much reading or listening progress this week (still in Barchester hangover mode, I think!)... but tomorrow is another day. This seems like such an interesting book so far.

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  14. I'm a little worried that this book will make me more paranoid than I already am, but I am super fascinated by the intro and the premise and want to read this one. I should give it a try.

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    1. Athira - I haven't read enough to know whether to recommend this book or not, but you'll be facing this decision before you know it!

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  15. A subject close to my heart, with 70+ girls at the school I support in Tamil Nadu India, Immunisation is an important subject for the whole community. I love the idea that Biss connects to other important mothers conversations like Carsons Silent Spring. We are interconnected, and the decisions each one of us makes affects the others.

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    1. Tamara - "We are interconnected, and the decisions each one of us makes affects the others." This is so true! Especially when it comes to immunization. I'm enjoying her perspective.

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Thank you for taking the time to comment. These conversations are my favorite part of blogging. Please check back, I almost always respond to comments!

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