I Feel Better is admittedly a bizarre nonfiction addition to anyone’s reading list. It is compelling in both content and format. It is–as the title suggests–a compendium of past medical cures used from Ancient Times up through the 20th Century. The format of the book is the genius of its appeal: (1) it offers a short list of “History’s Strangest Cures for…”; (2) poses multiple choice question to the reader: which of these cures do you believe was effective? and (3) proceeds in the following pages to reveal which ones did and did not work and the rationale behind each one.
Does eating dirt help stomachaches? Can mummy powder and moldy bread heal wounds? Some of the answers may surprise you.
I read this book aloud with my family, seeing who could guess correctly which cures had ever actually worked. The book also appeals to the part of each of us that enjoys shrieking at the grossness factor in anything. Caterpillar fungus to cure a cough? Gross! My kids (ages 9 and 10) LOVED screeching over the “gross” details in some of the cures.
The book provides more than just facts. It can also be a great springboard into lessons or discussions on antibiotics, on scientific progress, cultural differences and the fact that some ancient cultures are still used thousands of years later. It sounds ludicrous to think about cutting a hole in someone’s head to relieve a headache. Yet doctors do occasionally have to drill a hole into a person’s skull to relieve pressure on the brain; the difference, of course, is the sterile conditions and the fact that doctors now know they must always put the piece of skull that was removed back where it was.
Bursting with historical medical facts I Feel Better is a fascinating read in a fun and innovative format. Together as a read-aloud or individually as an independent read this is a terrific nonfiction reading selection.