Thursday, July 19, 2018

Randi Hutter Epstein

Randi Hutter Epstein is a medical writer, lecturer at Yale University, Writer in Residence at Yale Medical School, and an adjunct professor at Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism. She is the author of Get Me Out: A History of Childbirth from the Garden of Eden to the Sperm Bank (2010) and the new book, Aroused: The History of Hormones and How They Control Just About Everything.

Recently I asked the author about what she was reading. Epstein's reply:
I have a stack of books on my night table that balloon until my husband complains when I flail my arm and they go flying off in a noisy avalanche in the middle of the night. Then I have to prune—weeding out the ones I’m not really reading at the moment and putting them back on the bookshelf. I read a mix of non-fiction and fiction, saving the novels for bedtime reading. That’s so I can drift off to sleep mulling over the lives of the imaginary characters rather than worry about the minutiae of my own forthcoming schedule.

I recently pulled out a weathered copy of Dostoyevsky’s The Brothers Karamazov [image, left] that I bought and read in 1981. Dostoyevsky is the perfect antidote whenever I feel that I overthink about overthinking. (Am I thinking too much? Worrying too much?) No, his characters overthink. But this time around, I had the pleasure of immersing myself in 19th century Russia and also reading my pseudo-intellectual notes in the margins along with the lines I underlined when I read the book as a sophomore in college.

I also just finished Allegra Huston’s Say My Name, which is called “erotic fiction,” but it’s just a grand love story with a self-assured female protagonist. Huston knows how to plant a mystery and then seduce you to keep turning those pages. Rather than doze off, I stayed up late reading this one.

Just the other day, I came across a Roald Dahl book that I’ve never seen before on a table of used books sold by a New York City neighbor. I was grabbed by the title, Esio Trot. That’s “tortoise” backwards. When my family purchased our Russian tortoise about 20 years ago, my son (then in kindergarten) told me that he remembers how to spell “tortoise” because, as he said: “it’s esiotrot backwards.” I’m not sure the logic, but apparently Dahl was on the same wavelength. The book is a delightful tale of a lonely old man and his love for his downstairs neighbor. And yes, there’s a tortoise in it too. No spoiler alerts here. You’ll have to find your own copy. And our tortoise is still doing well.

My recent non-fiction is Anthony Donoghue’s Statistics and the Media which is one of the few statistics books to explain the basics without all the hifalutin jargon. This should be used in college courses and kept by the side of all science writers. I’m glad I have my copy. Yes it’s statistics and yes it’s a fun read. He weaves in examples from the media.
Visit Randi Hutter Epstein's website.

Coffee with a Canine: Randi Hutter Epstein, Ellie and Dexter.

The Page 99 Test: Aroused.

--Marshal Zeringue