A pleasure for foodies and a fine gift for anyone who prizes a good meal—but maybe not if that person works for General...

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FOOD RULES

AN EATER'S MANUAL

What should you eat? How should you eat it? Pollan, doyen of all things food-related, serves up the answers in this jauntily illustrated version of his 2009 book.

Whether Kalman’s innocent, pleasantly goofy sketches (similar to those of Roz Chast) add much to the proceedings will be a matter for the beholder’s eye. Much more serious, even with a few playful moments, is Pollan’s text, which opens with a stinging denunciation of the state of nutrition science (it’s “today approximately where surgery was in the year 1650”). And what should we eat? The author’s answer is simple on its face: food. The answer takes on complexity as his rules elaborate on it: Food, by his reckoning, has fewer than three ingredients of which sugar is not the first, is mostly vegetable and would be recognizable to your great-grandmother as, well, food. Much of the overprocessing, oversweetening and generally over-everything of our current diet, writes the author, is a fairly recent development. Pollan finds good guidance in the grandmotherly saw, “Better to pay the grocer than the doctor,” and he advises paying more for better food and getting away from the problematic Western diet that yields so much obesity, heart disease, diabetes and kindred maladies. He recommends the wisdom in the French Je n’ai plus faim, “I’m not hungry anymore,” as opposed to the English “I’m full.” (You want healthy? Then eat to 80 percent of capacity. Don’t get full.) But Pollan usually avoids preachiness, and he closes with the most welcome admonition of all—to let down your guard every now and again and have some fun with a piece of pizza or greasy fistful of cheeseburger.

A pleasure for foodies and a fine gift for anyone who prizes a good meal—but maybe not if that person works for General Mills or in the advertising biz.

Pub Date: Nov. 1, 2011

ISBN: 978-1-59420-308-4

Page Count: 192

Publisher: Penguin Press

Review Posted Online: Nov. 15, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1, 2011

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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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An absorbing, wide-ranging story of humans’ relationship with the water.

WHY WE SWIM

A study of swimming as sport, survival method, basis for community, and route to physical and mental well-being.

For Bay Area writer Tsui (American Chinatown: A People's History of Five Neighborhoods, 2009), swimming is in her blood. As she recounts, her parents met in a Hong Kong swimming pool, and she often visited the beach as a child and competed on a swim team in high school. Midway through the engaging narrative, the author explains how she rejoined the team at age 40, just as her 6-year-old was signing up for the first time. Chronicling her interviews with scientists and swimmers alike, Tsui notes the many health benefits of swimming, some of which are mental. Swimmers often achieve the “flow” state and get their best ideas while in the water. Her travels took her from the California coast, where she dove for abalone and swam from Alcatraz back to San Francisco, to Tokyo, where she heard about the “samurai swimming” martial arts tradition. In Iceland, she met Guðlaugur Friðþórsson, a local celebrity who, in 1984, survived six hours in a winter sea after his fishing vessel capsized, earning him the nickname “the human seal.” Although humans are generally adapted to life on land, the author discovered that some have extra advantages in the water. The Bajau people of Indonesia, for instance, can do 10-minute free dives while hunting because their spleens are 50% larger than average. For most, though, it’s simply a matter of practice. Tsui discussed swimming with Dara Torres, who became the oldest Olympic swimmer at age 41, and swam with Kim Chambers, one of the few people to complete the daunting Oceans Seven marathon swim challenge. Drawing on personal experience, history, biology, and social science, the author conveys the appeal of “an unflinching giving-over to an element” and makes a convincing case for broader access to swimming education (372,000 people still drown annually).

An absorbing, wide-ranging story of humans’ relationship with the water.

Pub Date: April 14, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-61620-786-1

Page Count: 288

Publisher: Algonquin

Review Posted Online: Jan. 5, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 2020

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