Explaining thermoregulation for a popular readership may seem a stretch, but the author succeeds admirably.

HEARTWARMING

HOW OUR INNER THERMOSTAT MADE US HUMAN

According to this insightful exploration of how humans relate to temperature, warmth is essential for biological survival as well as the advancement of civilization.

In a narrative that combines hard science and accessibility for general readers, social psychology professor Ijzerman, one of the world’s leading experts on “social thermoregulation in humans,” begins by describing studies in which subjects exposed to heat felt more sociable and kind than those exposed to cold. Later, however, he warns that when other scientists have repeated similar studies, the majority were unable to confirm the original findings. As a result, the author treads carefully, emphasizing large-scale research and acknowledging that “we psychologists are better at research than we are at giving practical advice and furnishing simple remedies.” Generating their own heat allows warmblooded animals to be incredibly active, but the process requires huge quantities of fuel; on the other hand, some snakes can go a year without food. Infants of all species seek warmth, and this quest persists throughout life. Although humans are intensely social, most of us do not understand the links among physical temperature and concepts of trust, friendship, and love. Even though many people believe in the universality of the connection between warmth and affection, “human cultures diverge with respect to affection-is-warmth.” Readers may be surprised by Ijzerman’s claim that “modern human relationships are organized around body-temperature regulation,” but he marshals impressive evidence in such chapters as “People Are Penguins, Too” and “Rat Mamas Are Hot.” It turns out that an infant’s search for warmth plays an essential role in attachment behavior later, and adults proactively seek it out, if not from physical proximity then through a romantic partner or social network. As the author shows, conventional wisdom about humans and warmth is often wrong. For example, studies do not confirm that weather influences our moods or that depression peaks in winter.

Explaining thermoregulation for a popular readership may seem a stretch, but the author succeeds admirably.

Pub Date: Feb. 2, 2021

ISBN: 978-1-324-00252-9

Page Count: 288

Publisher: Norton

Review Posted Online: Nov. 11, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1, 2020

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An oft-ignored but fully convincing argument that “we cannot prevent the next pandemic without creating a healthy world.”

THE CONTAGION NEXT TIME

The Covid-19 pandemic is not a one-off catastrophe. An epidemiologist presents a cogent argument for a fundamental refocusing of resources on “the foundational forces that shape health.”

In this passionate and instructive book, Galea, dean of the Boston University School of Public Health, writes that Covid emerged because we have long neglected basic preventative measures. “We invest vast amounts of money in healthcare,” he writes, “but comparatively little in health.” Readers looking to learn how governments (mainly the U.S.) mishandled the pandemic have a flood of books to choose from, but Galea has bigger issues to raise. Better medical care will not stop the next epidemic, he warns. We must structure a world “that is resilient to contagions.” He begins by describing the current state of world health, where progress has been spectacular. Global life expectancy has more than doubled since 1900. Malnutrition, poverty, and child mortality have dropped. However, as the author stresses repeatedly, medical progress contributed far less to the current situation than better food, clean water, hygiene, education, and prosperity. That’s the good news. More problematic is that money is a powerful determinant of health; those who have it live longer. Galea begins the bad news by pointing out the misleading statistic that Covid-19 kills less than 1% of those infected; that applies to young people in good health. For those over 60, it kills 6%, for diabetics, over 7%, and those with heart disease, over 10%. It also kills more Blacks than Whites, more poor than middle-class people, and more people without health insurance. The author is clearly not just interested in Covid. He attacks racism, sexism, and poverty in equal measure, making a plea for compassion toward stigmatized conditions such as obesity and addiction. He consistently urges the U.S. government, which has spared no expense and effort to defeat the pandemic, to do the same for social injustice.

An oft-ignored but fully convincing argument that “we cannot prevent the next pandemic without creating a healthy world.”

Pub Date: Nov. 1, 2021

ISBN: 978-0-19-757642-7

Page Count: 280

Publisher: Oxford Univ.

Review Posted Online: Aug. 28, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 15, 2021

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A refreshingly candid, fearless look into a model’s body of work and its impact on her identity and politics.

MY BODY

The international model embarks on a nuanced investigation of her body and identity.

Ratajkowski’s exploration of fame, self-identity, and what it means to be a “beautiful” woman is surprisingly engaging. Originally thrust into the spotlight in 2013 due to her scantily clad appearance in the music video for Robin Thicke’s “Blurred Lines,” the author eventually became known for her stances about beauty and sexuality and how they are commodified. Now that she is a wife and mother, she writes, “I feel a tenderness toward my younger self. My defensiveness and defiance are palpable to me now. What I wrote and preached then reflected what I believed at the time, but it missed a much more complicated picture. In many ways, I have been undeniably rewarded by capitalizing on my sexuality….But in other, less overt ways, I’ve felt objectified and limited by my position in the world as a so-called sex symbol.” This short book includes the juicy tidbits that avid celebrity-memoir readers seek, and the author shares how she really felt about the video shoot and how the aftermath affected her. Beyond that, the book is a reflective coming-of-age-in-the-industry tale, a story that is never maudlin but contains a few thick, murky sections. Ratajkowski attempts to break down the construction of her identity and sexuality in relation to the ever present male gaze as well as her relationships with the women in her life. The charm of this book lies in the author’s largely relatable writing, which shows the complex emotions and confusion of a young woman experiencing her sexual development and maturation into a capable adult. Admitting that the “purpose of the book is not to arrive at answers, but honestly to explore ideas I can’t help but return to,” Ratajkowski grapples directly with a host of thorny issues.

A refreshingly candid, fearless look into a model’s body of work and its impact on her identity and politics.

Pub Date: Nov. 9, 2021

ISBN: 978-1-250-81786-0

Page Count: 256

Publisher: Metropolitan/Henry Holt

Review Posted Online: Sept. 15, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 1, 2021

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