Jackson, M. While Glaciers Slept: Being Human in a Time of Climate Change. Green Writers. 2015. 224p. bibliog. ISBN 9780996087261. $24.95. SCI
Jackson, a National Geographic Expert and prominent scientist passionate about researching glacial systems, explores in this emotional memoir her experience of losing her parents, one after the other, to cancer. Literally and metaphorically, the author compares the hopelessness she felt in the aftermath of their deaths with the depression people sometimes encounter witnessing the destruction of the environment. While at times on the verge of giving up in the face of such personal upheaval, Jackson persevered in learning a new way of living, as humanity will have to do with the advent of climate change. She offers parallel glimpses of optimism, both for herself and for the future of the planet, sharing her journey of growth and discovery while at the same time highlighting imaginative, radical projects proposed by innovative thinkers designed to avert what most scientists believe to be inevitable: a changed earth. VERDICT Reminiscent of Bill McKibben’s Eaarth, this title will interest readers of environmental issues, particularly climate change and a warming Arctic region, and fans of personal narratives.
Lane, Nick. The Vital Question: Energy, Evolution, and the Origins of Complex Life. Norton. Jul. 2015. 352p. illus. ISBN 9780393088816. $27.95; ebk. ISBN 9780393248197. SCI
Celebrated evolutionary biologist Lane (Life Ascending) outlines what he hopes are the “beginnings of a more predictive biology” that may make it “possible to predict the properties of life anywhere in the universe from the chemical composition of the cosmos.” Lane eloquently argues that complex eukaryotic life, as wildly disparate as it seems, is stunningly uniform at base, deriving from a single event in which one bacterium entered another and overcame the constraints that held back other such organisms. This singular endosymbiotic occasion, most evident to us today via our cells’ mitochondria (which were once free-floating bacteria), triggered an astonishing series of previously impossible evolutionary actions resulting in billions of animal and plant species that yet share a method of conserving energy: chemiosmosis, or the transfer of protons across a membrane. And according to Lane, “Evolution should continue to play out along similar lines, guided by similar constants, elsewhere in the universe.” VERDICT Novel and complex ideas, vibrant prose, and the author’s careful repetition of central themes, make this book accessible to scientists and science buffs alike.
Montgomery, Sy. The Soul of an Octopus: A Surprising Exploration into the Wonder of Consciousness. Atria. 2015. 272p. bibliog. ISBN 9781451697711. $26; ebk. ISBN 9781451697742. SCI
This book’s big reveal may be up front in the title, but that doesn’t detract from the delight of discovering just what, exactly, an octopus’s soul might look like. Naturalist Montgomery (The Good Good Pig) admirably demonstrates the complexity, intellect, and personalities of the octopuses she has come to know at the Boston Aquarium—sweet-natured Athena, steadfast Octavia, mischievous Kali—without ever resorting to easy anthropomorphism. Her science is accessible but not overly simple, and the details she offers about these creatures bring them into sharp focus: they are sophisticated camouflage artists, can solve puzzles, and show distinct preferences for people, places, and tastes. Along with an abundance of fascinating octopus lore, Montgomery illuminates her own quest to understand the creatures better and paints vivid portraits of the people who are similarly drawn to them. Her affection for her subjects, both human and cephalopod, shines through. VERDICT Anyone captivated by the natural world, from interested middle school readers and up, will be engrossed by this account of a strange—and unexpectedly beautiful—animal. [See “Editors’ Spring Picks,” LJ 2/15/15.]
The jewish table
Koenig, Leah (text) & Sang An (photos). Modern Jewish Cooking: Recipes & Customs for Today’s Kitchen. Chronicle. 2015. 352p. index. ISBN 9781452127484. $35. COOKING
While Koenig (The Hadassah Everyday Cookbook) states that her intention for this book is to write “for the next generation of Jewish cooks,” anyone interested in recipes that are clearly written, use fresh ingredients, and result in delicious dishes will enjoy it. The 175 recipes, all of which follow Jewish dietary requirements, include grilled pear, fennel, and toasted walnut salad; pan-roasted turnips; butternut squash soup with maple syrup; and roast chicken with fennel and orange. For those who crave sweets, caramel-chocolate matzo custers with pistachio will be perfect. The chapters are arranged by type of food—breakfasts; salads and spreads; soups; noodles, matzo, grains, and beans; fish, chicken, and meat; vegetarian mains; breads and pastries; cookies, cakes, and other sweets; and fillings and extras. The final section discusses the Jewish holidays of Shabbat, Purim, Passover, Shavuot, Rosh Hashanah, Yom Kippur, Sukkot, and Hanukkah and recommends suitable recipes for each. The full-page sidebars touch on a variety of topics, for example, “wise frying,” challah 101, and “thoughts about margarine.” VERDICT The beautiful photography, pleasing layout on heavy paper, and excellent recipes make this a fine gift book as well as a suitable purchase for cookbook collections, especially in communities with large Jewish populations.
Shoyer, Paula. The New Passover Menu. Sterling Epicure. 2015. 160p. photos. index. ISBN 9781454914402. $24.95; ebk. ISBN 9781454916376. COOKING
Shoyer (The Holiday Kosher Baker) introduces her latest title by describing Passover as “triumph over oppression” but suggests that in preparing for the holiday one may feel more of the latter than the former. It is her hope that this cookbook will make it easier. The first chapters provide a glimpse of the Passover pantry and the preparation of food during that holiday. Segments follow with both traditional and new recipes. Included are menus for Seder, Shabbat, Yom Tov, and others with recipes that are easy to use and include information about equipment needed and prep and advance time. Preceding each recipe is a paragraph about the author’s or family member’s experiences with it. Shredded brussels sprouts salad, crunchy quinoa with sweet potatoes and cranberries, garlic-marinated steak with onion jam, and triple-chocolate biscotti will be popular with those who enjoy contemporary fare. There are also more traditional dishes, including brisket osso buco, Middle Eastern charoset, and matzo balls. VERDICT Those who celebrate Passover will relish this book, and any adventurous cook will discover distinct and delicious recipes.
To log in to your account, click here. To view the new subscription options, Get Started With Book Verdict Pro Today.
Don't know if you have an account with us? It's easy to check and verify your email, or create a new account.
Visit Book Verdict for the full reviews.
Health & Medicine
Poothullil, John M. Eat, Chew, Live: 4 Revolutionary Ideas To Prevent Diabetes, Lose Weight and Enjoy Food. Over and Above. Jun. 2015. 320p. illus. index. ISBN 9780990792406. $25.95. HEALTH
Loomis, Susan Herrmann. In a French Kitchen: Tales and Traditions of Everyday Home Cooking in France. Gotham. Jun. 2015. 352p. index. ISBN 9781592408863. $26.95; ebk. ISBN 9780698191082. COOKING
Wells, Sara & Kate Jones. 400 Calories or Less with Our Best Bites: Tasty Choices for Healthy Families with Calorie Options for Every Appetite. Shadow Mountain. 2015. 160p. photos. notes. index. ISBN 9781609079918. pap. $21.99; ebk. ISBN 9781629733166. COOKING
Jackson, Myles W. The Genealogy of a Gene: Patents, HIV/AIDS, and Race. MIT. 2015. 352p. illus. notes. bibliog. index. ISBN 9780262028660. $35. SCI
Madhavan, Guru. Applied Minds: How Engineers Think. Norton. Aug. 2015. 256p. bibliog. ISBN 9780393239874. $26.95; ebk. ISBN 9780393248005. SCI
Parrington, John. The Deeper Genome: Why There Is More to the Human Genome Than Meets the Eye. Oxford Univ. Jul. 2015. 288p. illus. notes. ISBN 9780199688739. $29.95; ebk. ISBN 9780191002472. SCI
Scales, Helen. Spirals in Time: The Secret Life and Curious Afterlife of Seashells. Bloomsbury USA. Jul. 2015. 304p. notes. ISBN 9781472911360. $27; ebk. ISBN 9781472911377. SCI
Schwarcz, Joe. Monkeys, Myths, and Molecules: Separating Fact from Fiction in the Science of Everyday Life. ECW. 2015. 296p. index. ISBN 9781770411913. pap. $17.95; ebk. ISBN 9781770907003. SCI
Wallach, Wendell. A Dangerous Master: How To Keep Technology from Slipping Beyond Our Control. Basic. Jun. 2015. 320p. illus. notes. bibliog. ISBN 9780465058624. $27.99; ebk. ISBN 9780465040537. SCI