2011-11-10 / Happenings

‘The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks’ next HLPL Page-Turners book

Page-Turners, a book discussion club for adult readers, will celebrate its 12th anniversary of reading and discussing great books together at the Houghton Lake Public Library Dec. 7 at 7 p.m.

Anyone who would like to join the reading group or has been a “Page-Turner” in the past, may attend the event, which will include book-related prizes and refreshments. Membership is easy: Read a common book and gather for discussion. There are no real rules and no cost.

HLPL Director Donna Alward said the book selected for the anniversary discussion, “The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks,” by Rebecca Skloot, is “the perfect example of why people participate in Page-Turners – it is a terrific read!”

“This award-winning book is a curious combination of biography coupled with an in depth medical investigation that results in a great read even if you tend to avoid any reading with scientific content,” she said.

“The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks” is the story of how one woman unknowingly provided human cells for scientific research back in 1951. A physician biopsied the tumor on her cervix and, when a lab assistant placed specimens in a Petri dish, the cancer cells began reproducing and continued to thrive and divide.

The cells were shared with fellow researchers and then with research facilities worldwide under the code name, HeLa (common lab practice was to use the first two letters of the patient’s first and last names for identification).

Now, some 60 years later, HeLa cells have been used in the study of viruses, genetics and AIDs. They have also been used in the development of the polio vaccine, in vitro fertilization techniques and cancer treatments. One journalist noted quite succinctly, “No dead woman has done more for the living…”

The National Academies of Science bestowed its 2011 Best Book Award to “The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks,” calling it, “A compelling and graceful use of narrative that illuminates the human and ethical issues of scientific research and medical advances.”

To see more about the book visit the library’s web site, www.hlpl.org, and search the title, “The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks,” in the library catalog. Select the title and click on the “more information” button, which will provide reviews, the first chapter and awards that the book has garnered.

Check out a copy of the book (in print or in audio book format) and begin reading or listening now in anticipation of the Dec. 7 event. Open to the public and free of charge, Page-Turners, offers an evening for those who love to read and discuss good books. Stop by or call the library at 366-9230 for information.

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