A fun trivia book with some well-cites short articles on why things we’ve sort of always known about (weddings, farming, folklore) are the way they are. Good for close reading as well as just idle paging through, Olmert takes us through some of the details behind a lot of older-than-we-think cultural traditions.
I did not always agree with this book but I very much liked reading it. Dreger discusses the idea of “What is normal?” by looking at the history of conjoined twins with an eye to how society determines what is normal and how these determinations, rightly or wrongly, affect how people’s bodies can become medicalized when there may not be anything wrong with them. Dreger looks at this topic via sort of a continuum, examining not only the stories of many conjoined twins, but also other things that have historically been thought of as “deformities” including cleft palates and people born with intersex characteristics. She strongly supports the idea that people should get to choose whether they want to “fix” whatever non-traditional configuration their bodies are in but also looks at the difficult question of people who want to make these decisions for children. I found that my own opinions on the subject were challenged in a thoughtful way that made me explore them more deeply. Dreger’s own opinions are fairly strongly presented in a way that was sometimes a little off-putting but overall this book was a terrific read and fills a badly needed niche in examining a thing that many of us consider a medical issue from a more sociological perspective.
Hey this didn’t turn into some huge war book like it hinted that it might! I was expecting either a lackluster petering out of some of the topics (like Hunger Games) or some sort of over the top religious allegory that I didn’t understand (Narnia) but this was understandable and interesting and it wrapped up just fine. Perfect summer reading series.