On my nightstand: On Immunity by Eula Biss

If you don’t have young kids or grandkids you probably haven’t become too embroiled in the current debate over immunization (lucky you!), but if you do have little ones around or even if you don’t I highly recommend On Immunity: An Innoculation by Eula Biss.

Eula Biss is a writer of nonfiction and I was impressed by the scope of her research, but also by the way she weaves her family’s decisions into a wider discussion of the history and ethical implications of immunization.  She also incorporates some literary criticism throughout, which I thought was a neat approach.  She uses Dracula and vampires in general as a lens for looking at our fears about our bodies and others’ bodies.  “Our vampires, whatever else they are, remain a reminder that our bodies are penetrable.  A reminder that we feed off of each other, that we need each other to live.  Our vampires reflect both our terrible appetites and our agonized restraint.  When our vampires struggle with their need for blood, they give us a way of thinking about what we ask of each other in order to live.”  (Biss, On Immunity, 82)  Biss points out that although we like to think of our own bodies and our children’s bodies as private, we, like all natural systems, are totally interconnected and dependent on one another.  In that way Biss could be talking about any number of issues – environmental responsibility, parenting philosophies, religious beliefs… – for me On Immunity was a reminder to love my neighbor as myself.

Regardless of where you stand on the issue of immunization, I think this one is worth a read.

What are you reading these days?  Have you read On Immunity?  Thoughts?  I am still on track with my one book a month plan (down from my pre-kid one book a week plan, but an improvement on my a handful of books a year plan of the past couple of years).  Do you make reading resolutions?  What should I read next?



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