With generous measures of grounded wisdom and solid research findings, the book should attract and possibly inspire broad...

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HOW WE LEARN TO EAT

An exploration of the notion that we can change our early food habits.

Following her lively and strikingly original history of culinary tools and techniques, Consider the Fork (2012), Wilson enters the increasingly crowded category of diet and nutrition with a well-informed, albeit overly earnest guide to healthy eating and a well-balanced diet. She demonstrates the ways our tastes and eating habits, formed at our earliest stages of development and influenced by friends, siblings, and overwhelmingly aggressive marketing campaigns, can often lead to a variety of eating disorders. “My premise…is that the question of how we learn to eat—both individually and collectively—is the key to how food, for so many people, has gone so badly wrong,” writes the author. “The greatest public health problem of modern times is how to persuade people to make better food choices.” Wilson maintains a strong belief in change and sets out to prove how it is possible. In such chapters as “Likes and Dislikes,” “Feeding,” “Hunger,” “Disorder,” and “Change,” the author shares numerous anecdotes from her personal life—she had to overcome challenges as an overweight teenager and later as a mother of picky eaters—to underscore wide-ranging case-study results, often with encouraging outcomes. A profound example is the huge cultural shift in eating that has taken place in Japan over the past 50 years; prior to that, the current diet of fresh fish and rice was not customary. In a sublimely entertaining early chapter, flashes of M.F.K. Fisher or Diane Ackerman may come to mind as Wilson describes how the subtle influences of scent and taste can trigger memory, “the single most powerful driving force in how we learn to eat; it shapes all of our yearnings.”

With generous measures of grounded wisdom and solid research findings, the book should attract and possibly inspire broad groups of readers struggling with eating-related issues; for others, it may be of less interest.

Pub Date: Dec. 1, 2015

ISBN: 978-0-465-06498-4

Page Count: 352

Publisher: Basic

Review Posted Online: Sept. 2, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 15, 2015

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Skloot's meticulous, riveting account strikes a humanistic balance between sociological history, venerable portraiture and...

THE IMMORTAL LIFE OF HENRIETTA LACKS

A dense, absorbing investigation into the medical community's exploitation of a dying woman and her family's struggle to salvage truth and dignity decades later.

In a well-paced, vibrant narrative, Popular Science contributor and Culture Dish blogger Skloot (Creative Writing/Univ. of Memphis) demonstrates that for every human cell put under a microscope, a complex life story is inexorably attached, to which doctors, researchers and laboratories have often been woefully insensitive and unaccountable. In 1951, Henrietta Lacks, an African-American mother of five, was diagnosed with what proved to be a fatal form of cervical cancer. At Johns Hopkins, the doctors harvested cells from her cervix without her permission and distributed them to labs around the globe, where they were multiplied and used for a diverse array of treatments. Known as HeLa cells, they became one of the world's most ubiquitous sources for medical research of everything from hormones, steroids and vitamins to gene mapping, in vitro fertilization, even the polio vaccine—all without the knowledge, must less consent, of the Lacks family. Skloot spent a decade interviewing every relative of Lacks she could find, excavating difficult memories and long-simmering outrage that had lay dormant since their loved one's sorrowful demise. Equal parts intimate biography and brutal clinical reportage, Skloot's graceful narrative adeptly navigates the wrenching Lack family recollections and the sobering, overarching realities of poverty and pre–civil-rights racism. The author's style is matched by a methodical scientific rigor and manifest expertise in the field.

Skloot's meticulous, riveting account strikes a humanistic balance between sociological history, venerable portraiture and Petri dish politics.

Pub Date: Feb. 9, 2010

ISBN: 978-1-4000-5217-2

Page Count: 320

Publisher: Crown

Review Posted Online: Dec. 22, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 2010

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Loads of good explaining, with reminders, time and again, of how much remains unknown, neatly putting the death of science...

A SHORT HISTORY OF NEARLY EVERYTHING

Bryson (I'm a Stranger Here Myself, 1999, etc.), a man who knows how to track down an explanation and make it confess, asks the hard questions of science—e.g., how did things get to be the way they are?—and, when possible, provides answers.

As he once went about making English intelligible, Bryson now attempts the same with the great moments of science, both the ideas themselves and their genesis, to resounding success. Piqued by his own ignorance on these matters, he’s egged on even more so by the people who’ve figured out—or think they’ve figured out—such things as what is in the center of the Earth. So he goes exploring, in the library and in company with scientists at work today, to get a grip on a range of topics from subatomic particles to cosmology. The aim is to deliver reports on these subjects in terms anyone can understand, and for the most part, it works. The most difficult is the nonintuitive material—time as part of space, say, or proteins inventing themselves spontaneously, without direction—and the quantum leaps unusual minds have made: as J.B.S. Haldane once put it, “The universe is not only queerer than we suppose; it is queerer than we can suppose.” Mostly, though, Bryson renders clear the evolution of continental drift, atomic structure, singularity, the extinction of the dinosaur, and a mighty host of other subjects in self-contained chapters that can be taken at a bite, rather than read wholesale. He delivers the human-interest angle on the scientists, and he keeps the reader laughing and willing to forge ahead, even over their heads: the human body, for instance, harboring enough energy “to explode with the force of thirty very large hydrogen bombs, assuming you knew how to liberate it and really wished to make a point.”

Loads of good explaining, with reminders, time and again, of how much remains unknown, neatly putting the death of science into perspective.

Pub Date: May 6, 2003

ISBN: 0-7679-0817-1

Page Count: 304

Publisher: Broadway

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1, 2003

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