What We Are Reading Today: Scurvy: The Disease of Discovery by Jonathan Lamb

Updated 18 November 2018
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What We Are Reading Today: Scurvy: The Disease of Discovery by Jonathan Lamb

  • Lamb traces the cultural impact of scurvy during the 18th-century age of geographical and scientific discovery

Scurvy, a disease often associated with long stretches of maritime travel, generated sensations exceeding the standard of what was normal. Eyes dazzled, skin was morbidly sensitive, emotions veered between disgust and delight. In this book, Jonathan Lamb presents an intellectual history of scurvy unlike any other, probing the speechless encounter with powerful sensations to tell the story of the disease that its victims couldn’t because they found their illness too terrible and, in some cases, too exciting.

Drawing on historical accounts from scientists and voyagers as well as major literary works, Lamb traces the cultural impact of scurvy during the 18th-century age of geographical and scientific discovery. He explains the medical knowledge surrounding scurvy and the debates about its cause, prevention, and attempted cures. He vividly describes the phenomenon and experience of “scorbutic nostalgia,” in which victims imagined mirages of food, water, or home, and then wept when such pleasures proved impossible to consume or reach. 

Lamb argues that a culture of scurvy arose in the colony of Australia, which was prey to the disease in its early years, and identifies a literature of scurvy in the works of such figures as Herman Melville, Samuel Taylor Coleridge, Francis Bacon, and Jonathan Swift.

Masterful and illuminating, Scurvy shows how the journeys of discovery in the eighteenth century not only ventured outward to the ends of the earth, but were also an inward voyage into the realms of sensation and passion.


What We Are Reading Today: Maybe You Should Talk to Someone by Lori Gottlieb

Updated 18 April 2019
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What We Are Reading Today: Maybe You Should Talk to Someone by Lori Gottlieb

Maybe You Should Talk to Someone is revolutionary in its candor, pulling back the curtain on the therapeutic process and offering the rarest of gifts: An entertaining, illuminating, and quite possibly life-changing account of our own mysterious lives and our power to transform them. 

Author Lori Gottlieb is a therapist who shares her insights not only about her professional experience but her own journey through therapy. 

The book “helps normalize therapy for everyone, and her ability to share the profound growth both she and her patients experienced was so honest and refreshing,” said a review in goodreads.com. 

“While Gottlieb includes many important psychological concepts, her writing is clear and conversational and easy for anyone to engage with. There was a perfect balance with the personal stories that will also help her readers become more aware of their own obstacles and moments of growth as they move through this book,” the review added. 

Gottlieb is a New York Times bestselling author who writes the weekly “Dear Therapist” advise column for the Atlantic. 

A contributing editor for the Atlantic, she also writes for the New York Times Magazine, and is a sought-after expert on relationships, parenting, and mental health topics in media such as The Today Show, Good Morning America, CBS This Morning, CNN and NPR.