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

FIRST BITE

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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A quirky wonder of a book.

WHY FISH DON'T EXIST

A STORY OF LOSS, LOVE, AND THE HIDDEN ORDER OF LIFE

A Peabody Award–winning NPR science reporter chronicles the life of a turn-of-the-century scientist and how her quest led to significant revelations about the meaning of order, chaos, and her own existence.

Miller began doing research on David Starr Jordan (1851-1931) to understand how he had managed to carry on after the 1906 San Francisco earthquake destroyed his work. A taxonomist who is credited with discovering “a full fifth of fish known to man in his day,” Jordan had amassed an unparalleled collection of ichthyological specimens. Gathering up all the fish he could save, Jordan sewed the nameplates that had been on the destroyed jars directly onto the fish. His perseverance intrigued the author, who also discusses the struggles she underwent after her affair with a woman ended a heterosexual relationship. Born into an upstate New York farm family, Jordan attended Cornell and then became an itinerant scholar and field researcher until he landed at Indiana University, where his first ichthyological collection was destroyed by lightning. In between this catastrophe and others involving family members’ deaths, he reconstructed his collection. Later, he was appointed as the founding president of Stanford, where he evolved into a Machiavellian figure who trampled on colleagues and sang the praises of eugenics. Miller concludes that Jordan displayed the characteristics of someone who relied on “positive illusions” to rebound from disaster and that his stand on eugenics came from a belief in “a divine hierarchy from bacteria to humans that point[ed]…toward better.” Considering recent research that negates biological hierarchies, the author then suggests that Jordan’s beloved taxonomic category—fish—does not exist. Part biography, part science report, and part meditation on how the chaos that caused Miller’s existential misery could also bring self-acceptance and a loving wife, this unique book is an ingenious celebration of diversity and the mysterious order that underlies all existence.

A quirky wonder of a book.

Pub Date: April 14, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-5011-6027-1

Page Count: 224

Publisher: Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: Jan. 2, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 2020

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