Roach, Mary. Gulp: Adventures on the Alimentary Canal. Norton. Apr. 2013. 336p. bibliog. ISBN 9780393081572. $26.95; ebk. ISBN 9780393240306. SCI
Best-selling popular science writer Roach (Packing for Mars: The Curious Science of Life in the Void) turns her attention here to the alimentary canal. Roach asks the questions that some readers may have always wondered: Does saliva have curative properties? Do pets taste food differently than their owners do? Could Jonah have survived three days in a whale’s stomach? Could Americans lower the national debt by chewing their food more thoroughly? As she investigates these questions, Roach encounters many an eccentric scientist who has worked tirelessly to unlock the mysteries of saliva, gastrointestinal gases, and mastication. As she recounts her adventures in tasting centers and laboratories, she aims not to disgust readers, but to inspire curiosity—even awe—for the most intimate functions of the human body. VERDICT Filled with witty asides, humorous anecdotes, and bizarre facts, this book will entertain readers, challenge their cultural taboos, and simultaneously teach them new lessons in digestive biology.—Talea Anderson, Ellensburg, WA
Smoak, Shelby. Bleeder. Michigan State Univ. 2013. 214p. ISBN 9781611860696. pap. $22.95; ebk. ISBN 9781609173555. HEALTH
When he turned 18 in his senior year of high school, Smoak’s parents and doctors told him he had tested HIV-positive several years earlier, the result of a blood transfusion administered to treat his hemophilia. This remarkable first book from Smoak, an English teacher and writer, begins during his final year of high school in rural North Carolina. The narrative follows his student days at the University of North Carolina, Wilmington, and several years beyond. Unlike most HIV-inspired memoirs, this one is also a coming-of-age story, one that describes a transition that was sometimes excruciatingly difficult owing to Smoak’s HIV and hemophilia. Without self-pity, the author recounts the trials of dating girls and working odd jobs in college, while simultaneously enduring the fear of disclosing his HIV to his friends. By the end of the book readers will cheer for Smoak, feeling an affinity sparked by his perseverance and humble humanity. VERDICT Many will read this engaging book in one sitting. Though HIV has inspired many memoirs, this is one of the best.—Jeffrey Beall, Univ. of Colorado Denver Lib.
Guzman, Andrew T. Overheated: The Human Cost of Climate Change. Oxford Univ. 2013. 272p. illus. index. ISBN 9780199933877. $29.95. SCI
Guzman (law, Univ. of California, Berkeley; How International Law Works: A Rational Choice Theory) offers a clearly written explanation of the devastating effects of global climate change on human society. Even the optimistic prediction of a two-degree rise in temperature, he explains, will have profound negative effects on humans and the environment. Rising sea levels will cause the disappearance of some Pacific island nations, as well as losses of land along low-lying coastal nations such as Bangladesh. Salt-water seepage into fresh-water supplies will also affect agricultural production. Millions of hungry, thirsty, displaced refugees will destabilize already weak governments and menace others in what the author describes as climate wars. Guzman also scrutinizes the spread of infectious diseases and global pandemics likely to arise and be compounded by the warming climate. The final chapter explores solutions, which include resort to alternative energy sources and carbon taxes. VERDICT This fact-filled, thought-provoking book will appeal to general readers and offers insight on a complex topic.—Patricia Ann Owens, Illinois Eastern Community Colleges
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The following titles are reviewed in the March 1 print issue. Visit Book Verdict for the full reviews.
Paul, Caroline (text) & Wendy MacNaughton (illus.). Lost Cat: A True Story of Love, Desperation, and GPS Technology. Bloomsbury. Apr. 2013. 176p. illus. ISBN 9781608199778. $20; ebk. ISBN 9781608199808. PETS
Rice, Graham. Powerhouse Plants: 510 Top Performers for Multi-Season Beauty. Timber. 2013. 284p. photogs. index. ISBN 9781604692105. pap. $24.95. GARDENING
HEALTH & MEDICINE
Bulik, Cynthia M. Midlife Eating Disorders: Your Journey to Recovery. Walker. Apr. 2013. 352p. ISBN 9780802712691. pap. $16. HEALTH
Fitzgerald, Matt. The New Rules of Marathon and Half-Marathon: A Cutting-Edge Plan To Fuel Your Body Beyond “The Wall.” Da Capo. 2013. 256p. ISBN 9780738216454. pap. $17.99. HEALTH
Houser, Elizabeth E. & Stephanie Riley Hahn. A Woman’s Guide to Pelvic Health: Expert Advice for Women of All Ages. Johns Hopkins. 2012. 224p. illus. index. ISBN 9781421406916. $40; pap. ISBN 9781421406923.; ebk. ISBN 9781421407579. HEALTH
Proctor, Reuben & Lars Thomsen. Veganissimo A to Z: A Compehensive Guide To Identifying and Avoiding Ingredients of Animal Origin in Everyday Products. The Experiment, dist. by Workman. 2013. 320p. bibliog. ISBN 9781615190683. pap. $15.95; ebk. ISBN 9781615191666. HEALTH
Avery, Samuel. The Pipeline and the Paradigm: Keystone XL, Tar Sands, and the Battle To Defuse the Carbon Bomb. Ruka. Apr. 2013. 217p. photogs. index. ISBN 9780985574826. pap. $17.95. SCI
Ellis, Richard. Swordfish: A Biography of the Ocean Gladiator. Univ. of Chicago. Apr. 2013. 272p. illus. bibliog. index. ISBN 9780226922904. $26. NAT HIST
Fagin, Dan. Toms River: A Story of Science and Salvation. Bantam. Mar. 2013. 560p. index. ISBN 9780553806533. $28; ebk. ISBN 9780345538611. SCI
Reel, Monte. Between Man and Beast: A Tale of Exploration & Evolution. Doubleday. Mar. 2013. 352p. ISBN 9780385534222. $26.95; ebk. ISBN 9780385534239. SCI
Freeberg, Ernest. The Age of Edison: Electric Light and the Invention of Modern America. Penguin: Penguin Group (USA). 2013. 299p. illus. index. ISBN 9781594204265. $27.95; ebk. ISBN 9781101605479. TECH