Though occasionally didactic, the narrative is undergirded by Herz’s understanding that one size never fits all, and it...

WHY YOU EAT WHAT YOU EAT

THE SCIENCE BEHIND OUR RELATIONSHIP WITH FOOD

Neuroscientist Herz (That’s Disgusting: Unraveling the Mysteries of Repulsion, 2013, etc.) shines her expertise on the complicated relationships between the human senses and food consumption.

Although this is not a diet book, almost every page contains science-based information that could help readers with weight issues gain overall health. Herz understands that eating involves far more than the tongue, the mouth cavity, the teeth, the throat, and the stomach. In mostly lucid scientific detail, she explains how smell, sight, touch, and hearing interact with taste to affect food consumption. The realm of taste is the author’s primary focus, as she distinguishes among the “fab four”—sweet, sour, salty, and bitter. Within each, she draws further distinctions, so that “sweet,” for example, involves sweet love, sweet pain, and sweet happiness. One of Herz’s major strengths is her skill at creating catchy phrasing to convey complicated scientific theories and experiments. She explains why comfort food has justifiably gained that reputation, why some eaters become easily satiated while others say they rarely feel full, and why certain edibles appear scrumptious to the eyes and others look unappetizing. Within each chapter, Herz folds in tips—sometimes based on peer-reviewed research, other times based on her gut feelings—that could qualify as self-help. These include advice on consuming food alone or with others present, how the size and shape of plates can influence calories ingested, playing imagination games before meals to reduce cravings, why the presence or absence of music during meals matters, and how wine consumption with solid food makes sense for some diners but not for others. Regardless of the tips offered or the science discussed, an obvious common denominator is the primacy of the human brain in all food-related matters.

Though occasionally didactic, the narrative is undergirded by Herz’s understanding that one size never fits all, and it contains useful passages for every reader.

Pub Date: Dec. 26, 2017

ISBN: 978-0-393-24331-4

Page Count: 304

Publisher: Norton

Review Posted Online: Aug. 28, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 15, 2017

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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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A tiny book, not much bigger than a pamphlet, with huge potential impact.

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NO ONE IS TOO SMALL TO MAKE A DIFFERENCE

A collection of articulate, forceful speeches made from September 2018 to September 2019 by the Swedish climate activist who was nominated for a Nobel Peace Prize.

Speaking in such venues as the European and British Parliaments, the French National Assembly, the Austrian World Summit, and the U.N. General Assembly, Thunberg has always been refreshingly—and necessarily—blunt in her demands for action from world leaders who refuse to address climate change. With clarity and unbridled passion, she presents her message that climate change is an emergency that must be addressed immediately, and she fills her speeches with punchy sound bites delivered in her characteristic pull-no-punches style: “I don’t want you to be hopeful. I want you to panic. I want you to feel the fear I feel every day. And then I want you to act.” In speech after speech, to persuade her listeners, she cites uncomfortable, even alarming statistics about global temperature rise and carbon dioxide emissions. Although this inevitably makes the text rather repetitive, the repetition itself has an impact, driving home her point so that no one can fail to understand its importance. Thunberg varies her style for different audiences. Sometimes it is the rousing “our house is on fire” approach; other times she speaks more quietly about herself and her hopes and her dreams. When addressing the U.S. Congress, she knowingly calls to mind the words and deeds of Martin Luther King Jr. and John F. Kennedy. The last speech in the book ends on a note that is both challenging and upbeat: “We are the change and change is coming.” The edition published in Britain earlier this year contained 11 speeches; this updated edition has 16, all worth reading.

A tiny book, not much bigger than a pamphlet, with huge potential impact.

Pub Date: Nov. 26, 2019

ISBN: 978-0-14-313356-8

Page Count: 112

Publisher: Penguin

Review Posted Online: Nov. 3, 2019

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