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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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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The lessons to draw are obvious: Smoke more dope, eat less meat. Like-minded readers will dig it.

F*CK IT, I'LL START TOMORROW

The chef, rapper, and TV host serves up a blustery memoir with lashings of self-help.

“I’ve always had a sick confidence,” writes Bronson, ne Ariyan Arslani. The confidence, he adds, comes from numerous sources: being a New Yorker, and more specifically a New Yorker from Queens; being “short and fucking husky” and still game for a standoff on the basketball court; having strength, stamina, and seemingly no fear. All these things serve him well in the rough-and-tumble youth he describes, all stickball and steroids. Yet another confidence-builder: In the big city, you’ve got to sink or swim. “No one is just accepted—you have to fucking show that you’re able to roll,” he writes. In a narrative steeped in language that would make Lenny Bruce blush, Bronson recounts his sentimental education, schooled by immigrant Italian and Albanian family members and the mean streets, building habits good and bad. The virtue of those habits will depend on your take on modern mores. Bronson writes, for example, of “getting my dick pierced” down in the West Village, then grabbing a pizza and smoking weed. “I always smoke weed freely, always have and always will,” he writes. “I’ll just light a blunt anywhere.” Though he’s gone through the classic experiences of the latter-day stoner, flunking out and getting arrested numerous times, Bronson is a hard charger who’s not afraid to face nearly any challenge—especially, given his physique and genes, the necessity of losing weight: “If you’re husky, you’re always dieting in your mind,” he writes. Though vulgar and boastful, Bronson serves up a model that has plenty of good points, including his growing interest in nature, creativity, and the desire to “leave a legacy for everybody.”

The lessons to draw are obvious: Smoke more dope, eat less meat. Like-minded readers will dig it.

Pub Date: April 20, 2021

ISBN: 978-1-4197-4478-5

Page Count: 184

Publisher: Abrams

Review Posted Online: May 5, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 1, 2021

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