Science and Technology Reviews, August 2012

starred review starCulp, David L. with Adam Levine & Rob Cardillo (photogs.). The Layered Garden: Design Lessons for Year-Round Beauty from Brandywine Cottage. Timber. Nov. 2012. c.312p. photogs. index. ISBN 9781604692365. $34.95. GARDENING

Readers familiar with Culp through his work in Horticulture magazine or appearances on HGTV will relish this opportunity to learn more about the layering technique he’s mastered at his two-acre Brandywine Cottage in Pennsylvania. Culp eloquently explains the design process he used to create his stunning garden, lush with plant combinations that provide a succession of peak garden moments throughout the year in his Zone 6 garden. Spellbinding writing and Carillo’s breathtaking photos entice readers through Culp’s woodland garden, large perennial border, kitchen garden, shrubbery, and walled garden. Along the way, Culp shares warm childhood memories and modestly relates why a Galanthus bears his name. With the passion of a plant collector and a wordsmith, he ends the book by describing signature plants for all four seasons, recommending some of his favorite gardening books, and sharing his optimistic attitude on beauty. VERDICT In the tradition of classics like Beverly Nichols’s Merry Hall, this is a marvelous account of how one gardener created his garden and a sense of place. It’s an essential title in the “how I did it” genre of garden writing.—Bonnie Poquette, Whitefish Bay, WI

starred review starLevy, Robyn Michele. Most of Me: Surviving My Medical Meltdown. Greystone: Douglas & McIntyre, dist. by PGW. Aug. 2012. 256p. ISBN 9781553656326. pap. $21.95. HEALTH

Some memoirs are heartbreaking and some are hilarious, but very few manage to balance absurdity and honesty as does this title. Writer and artist Levy finds her dual diagnoses of Parkinson’s disease and breast cancer wickedly funny and this book is just that. Readers will follow her as she cracks jokes at her doctors, draws strength from her family and friends, and fantasizes about her dentist neighbor flossing her teeth for her. Levy draws strength and tenacity from her ability to laugh at her calamities, and she will inspire readers to see the fiercely funny in their own tragedies. Anyone faced with uncertainty and struggle in the face of a life-changing disease, personal crisis, or just a bad day will find strength in Levy’s words. ­VERDICT This memoir is proof of the power of the human spirit. By finding joy in the face of the worst circumstances, Levy shows that “what doesn’t kill you makes you stranger” and stronger. Enthusiastically recommended.—Julia A. Watson, Marywood Univ. Lib., Scranton, PA

starred review starLanders, Jackson. Eating Aliens: One Man’s Adventures Hunting Invasive Animal Species. Storey. Sept. 2012. c.240p. ISBN 9781612120270. pap. $14.95. SCI

From Asian carp in the Midwest to green iguanas in the Florida Keys to nutria in Louisiana, invasive species cause very real, possibly irreversible damage to their environments every day. Scientists and government agencies have been at a loss for how to stop them, but Landers (The Beginner’s Guide to Hunting Deer for Food) has a plan: create a demand for them as food, then eat them until they’re under control. It’s not such a crazy idea; as he points out, humans have hunted plenty of species into extinction (the passenger pigeon, for example). Moreover, many of the invaders are delicious. Lionfish taste like Chilean sea bass and the feral hogs tearing up great swathes of the South are nothing less than free-range pork. The book chronicles the 16 months Landers spent traveling around the United States hunting and eating invasive species, often in the company of colorful characters. VERDICT Part travelog, part conservation treatise, this is a terrific read and an effective call to arms. Readers may or may not come away wanting to hunt, but they’ll almost certainly be curious to try some of the fare described within.—­Stephanie Klose, Library Journal

The following titles are reviewed in the August print issue. Visit Book Verdict for the full reviews.


Norris, Kelly D. A Guide to Bearded Irises: Cultivating the Rainbow for Beginners and Enthusiasts. Timber. 2012. 352p. photogs. index. ISBN 9781604692082. $39.95. GARDENING

Pierce, Jessica. The Last Walk: Reflections on Our Pets at the End of Their Lives. Univ. of Chicago. Oct. 2012. c.248p. bibliog. index. ISBN 9780226668468. $26. PETS

Health & Medicine

Ashcroft, Frances. The Spark of Life: Electricity in the Human Body. Norton. Sept. 2012. c.352p. bibliog. index. ISBN 9780393078039. $28.95. MED

Makary, Marty, M.D. Unaccountable: What Hospitals Won’t Tell You and How Transparency Can Revolutionize Health Care. Bloomsbury, dist. by Macmillan. Sept. 2012. c.320p. index. ISBN 9781608198368. $28. MED

Mattlin, Ben. Miracle Boy Grows Up: How the Disability Rights Revolution Saved My Sanity. Skyhorse, dist. by Norton. Aug. 2012. c.208p. ISBN 9781616087319. $24.95. HEALTH

Reynolds, Handel, M.D. The Big Squeeze: A Social and Political History of the Controversial Mammogram. ILR: Cornell Univ. Aug. 2012. c.136p. index. ISBN 9780801450938. $19.95. MED

Wright, Thomas. William Harvey: A Life in Circulation. Oxford Univ. Oct. 2012. c.304p. illus. bibliog. index. ISBN 9780199931699. $29.95. MED

Home Economics

Forkish, Ken (text) & Alan Weiner (photogs.). Flour Water Salt Yeast: The Fundamentals of Artisan Bread and Pizza. Ten Speed: Crown Pub. Group. Sept. 2012. c.272p. photogs. index. ISBN 9781607742739. $35. COOKING


Arianrhod, Robyn. Seduced by Logic: Émilie Du Châtelet, Mary Somerville and the Newtonian Revolution. Oxford Univ. Oct. 2012. c.352p. bibliog. index. ISBN 9780199931613. $34.95. SCI

Childers, Michael W. Colorado Powder Keg: Ski Resorts and the Environmental Movement. Univ. of Kansas. Oct. 2012. c.280p. photogs. maps. bibliog. index. ISBN Unknown. $0. SCI

Gordin, Michael D. The Pseudo-Science Wars: Immanuel Velikovsky and the Birth of the Modern Fringe. Univ. of Chicago. Oct. 2012. c.312p. index. ISBN 9780226304427. $29. SCI

Mandelbrot, Benoit B. The Fractalist: Memoir of a Scientific Maverick. Pantheon. Oct. 2012. c.352p. illus. index. ISBN 9780307377357. $30. SCI

Vogel, Steven. The Life of a Leaf. Univ. of Chicago. Oct. 2012. c.312p. illus. bibliog. index. ISBN 9780226859392. $35. SCI