Science & Technology Reviews | March 15, 2014

redstarGrierson, Bruce. What Makes Olga Run? The Mystery of the 90-Something Track Star and What She Can Teach Us About Living Longer, Happier Lives. Holt. 2014. 224p. bibliog. ISBN 9780805097207. $25; ebk. ISBN 9780805097214. HEALTH

In this exhilarating book on longevity, freelance journalist whatmakesolgarun033114Grierson (U-Turn) masterfully combines the latest studies with the story of the great nonagenarian athlete Olga Kotelko—and of himself, a great middle-aged couch potato. Kotelko took up track and field when she was 77 and keeps running strong, and this work is rife with intriguing reasons why. Exercise is Longevity, Rule One. We should probably alternate “aerobic” with “resistance” activity, says Grierson, as this mirrors our paleopast dodging tigers and digging for tubers. Another rule: be a mensch, translated from Yiddish into English as a person of integrity. It was an evolutionary plus to be one—and a clear health gain now. ­Grierson, no slouch as a writer, consults top scientists. His deft re-creation of the moving and humorous bond between ­Kotelko and himself gives the book its center. Proof of gains from physical and mental stimulation—neuron growth, cognitive boosts—mount daily. Grierson joyously pursues claims both silly and divine. (Travel spurs longevity; “incredisocks” don’t.) The prose can boil over. “The minor miracle here is, you can introduce exercise at any point, right up into very old age, and ‘completely reverse any decline you’ve had,’ ” he writes. No, not “any” decline. But proper context prevails. VERDICT A stimulating and inspiring read for all, especially aging boomers and late bloomers.—­Cynthia Fox, Brooklyn

Senior, Jennifer. All Joy and No Fun: The Paradox of Modern Parenthood. Ecco: HarperCollins. 2014. 320p. notes. index. ISBN 9780062072221. $26.99; ebk. ISBN 9780062072269. CHILD REARING

alljoyandnofun033114Journalist Senior’s (contributing editor, New York magazine) new title will likely be shelved next to parenting books filled with do’s and don’ts, but this isn’t another “how to” book. Rather, it aims a social science lens at parents themselves and addresses questions such as: How does having kids affect our lives? Does it make us happier? Does it make us less happy? Senior profiles clans in Minnesota and Texas as she looks at the realities of family life. She doesn’t shy away from the “no fun” aspect of her findings. Parts of the book feel bleak as we hear of strained marriages, parental guilt, and general exhaustion; the joy comes in the simple moments. Senior says, “By spending time with young children—building forts and baking cakes, whacking baseballs and making sand castles—we’re afforded in some respects, the opportunity to be our most human.” VERDICT Full of fascinating ideas and information about the family structure and its history, this work is sure to be of strong interest to parents, in particular, as they look for meaning beyond the day to day. [See Prepub Alert, 8/12/13.]—Mindy Rhiger, ­Minneapolis

redstarVernon, Andy. The Plant Lover’s Guide to Dahlias. Timber. Apr. 2014. 256p. illus. index. ISBN 9781604694161. $24.95. GARDENING

plantloversguidetodahlias033114Luckily for readers, UK horticultural consultant Vernon (Planet Dahlia) wants to share his passion for dahlias and expert tips just as the flower is steadily regaining popularity. Vernon’s enthusiastic guidance in understanding the flowers, designing with them, and propagating them is most welcome as dahlias come in a dizzying array of sizes, shapes, and colors. Writing with U.S. climate zones in mind, ­Vernon provides lists to fill specific niches (for borders, for bees, for beginners, etc.), but the heart of the book is his detailed directory of 200 recommendations beautifully organized by color. Each descriptive entry includes a sharp photo and his succinct answer to the question, “Why grow it?” There is something for almost every garden here, though as in Bill ­McClaren’s Encyclopedia of Dahlias, published by Timber almost ten years ago, Vernon’s book excludes palatable assortments, politely dismissing those pursuing dahlias as food. VERDICT The explosion in new varieties, including singles and dwarfs bred for modern spaces and tastes, makes this up-to-date book essential for dahlia lovers, cutting-edge flower gardeners, and all collections.—­Bonnie ­Poquette, ­Milwaukee

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The following titles are reviewed in this month's print issue.
Visit Book Verdict for the full reviews.


Sponenberg, D. Phillip & others. An Introduction to Heritage Breeds: Saving and Raising Rare-Breed Livestock and Poultry. Storey. May 2014. 240p. illus. index. ISBN 9781612121307. $29.95; pap. ISBN 9781612121253. $19.95; ebk. ISBN 9781612124629. ANIMAL HUSBANDRY

Health & Medicine

Braun, Lundy. Breathing Race into the Machine: The Surprising Career of the Spirometer from Plantation to Genetics. Univ. of Minnesota. Mar. 2014. 304p. illus. notes. index. ISBN 9780816683574. $24.95. MED

Domenig, Stefan. The Alkaline Cure: Lose Weight, Gain Energy, Feel Young, and Stay Healthy for the Rest of Your Life. Harlequin. Mar. 2014. 304p. photos. index. ISBN 9780373893003. $24.95; ebk. ISBN 9781460327142. HEALTH

Hamdy, Osama & Sheri R. Colberg. The Diabetes Breakthrough: A Scientifically Proven Plan To Lose Weight and Cut Medications. Harlequin. Mar. 2014. 352p. illus. index. ISBN 9780373892846. $25.95; ebk. ISBN 9781460327159. HEALTH

Livingston, Kathryn E. Yin, Yang, Yogini: A Woman’s Quest for Balance, Strength, and Inner Peace. Premier Digital. 2014. 316p. ISBN 9781624671838. pap. $16.99; ebk. ISBN 9781624671821. HEALTH

Home Economics

Elias, Megan. Lunch: A History. Rowman & Littlefield. (Meal). 2014. 192p. photos. notes. bibliog. ISBN 9781442227460. $38; ebk. ISBN 9781442227477. HOME ECON

Frankel, Charles. Land and Wine: The French Terroir. Univ. of Chicago. Apr. 2014. 280p. illus. maps. bibliog. ISBN 9780226014692. $27.50. BEVERAGES

Falk, Dan. The Science of Shakespeare: A New Look at the Playwright’s Universe. Thomas Dunne: St. Martin’s. Apr. 2014. 352p. illus. notes. bibliog. index. ISBN 9781250008770. $26.99; ebk. ISBN 9781250008787. SCI

Finlayson, Clive. The Improbable Primate: How Water Shaped Human Evolution. Oxford Univ. Jun. 2014. 256p. illus. notes. index. ISBN 9780199658794. $27.95. SCI

McCalman, Iain. The Reef: A Passionate History; The Great Barrier Reef from Captain Cook to Climate Change. Farrar. May 2014. 384p. illus. notes. bibliog. index. ISBN 9780374248192. $26. NAT HIST

Nelson, Bob with others. Freezing People Is (Not) Easy: My Adventures in Cryonics. Lyons: Globe Pequot. Mar. 2014. 256p. illus. ISBN 9780762792955. $26. SCI

Primack, Richard B. Walden Warming: Climate Change Comes to Thoreau’s Woods. Univ. of Chicago. Apr. 2014. 248p. photos. bibliog. index. ISBN 9780226682686. $26; ebk. ISBN 9780226062211. NAT HIST

Waltham, David. Lucky Planet: Why Earth Is Exceptional–and What That Means for Life in the Universe. Basic: Perseus. Apr. 2014. 224p. index. ISBN 9780465039999. $26.99. SCI

Heart Healthy

Masley, Steven. The 30-Day Heart Tune-Up: A Breakthrough Medical Plan To Prevent and Reverse Heart Disease. Center Street. 2014. 400p. illus. index. ISBN 9781455547135. $25; ebk. ISBN 9781455547128. HEALTH

30dayheart033114Masley (Ten Years Younger), a nutritionist and physician who runs a wellness clinic in Florida, is back with a new plan to help reverse heart disease. His goal is to get people who are taking cholesterol-lowering drugs and still not feeling healthier to make the lifestyle changes that we all know are necessary. His advice is a generally straightforward and positive approach to eating better, reducing stress, and exercising more. Masley recommends evaluating the health of your heart and blood vessels with a carotid intimal medial thickness (IMT) test; if that’s not possible, he has suggestions for using a simple fitness step test at home. After the assessment is a four-pronged plan of aerobic exercise and strength training, recommended foods, stress management, and supplements. The book also includes 60 healthy recipes for foods such as quinoa salad and gumbo. VERDICT There’s nothing really new here, but an easy-to-read and motivational style makes this a preventative prescription that may go down well with the general public. Recommended for readers interested in improving their health.—Elizabeth A. ­Williams, St. ­Matthew’s Univ. Sch. of ­Medicine, Grand ­Cayman, ­Cayman Islands

Thaik, Cynthia. Your Vibrant Heart: Restoring Health, Strength, and Spirit from the Body’s Core. Revitalize Pr. 2014. 320p. illus. bibliog. ISBN 9780989104128. pap. $16.95; ebk. ISBN 9780989104111. HEALTH

Cardiologist and practicing Buddhist Thaik combines spirituality and science in her new guide to a healthy heart. She sets a personal and conversational tone in the introduction as she shares her journey to her Buddhist roots at a difficult time in her life. Thaik focuses on the mind-body connection and advises yoga, positive thinking, and mindfulness in addition to other lifestyle changes. She writes, “Most, if not all, diseases…occur as a result of the misalignment of this mind-body axis.” The mystical aspect of the book will limit the audience to those who accept chakras, qigong, and other alternative health ideas. Some readers may balk at her referring to nicotine withdrawal symptoms as “adult temper tantrums.” QR codes throughout direct readers to the book’s website for more information. ­VERDICT Readers looking for basic encouragement to make lifestyle changes may find this book to be a helpful pep talk if they are open to the sort of spirituality expressed by the author. Others may want to pass in favor of more mainstream advice.—Mindy Rhiger, ­Minneapolis

Quaffing Local

Blessing, Anna. Locally Brewed: Portraits of Craft Breweries from America’s Heartland. Midway: Agate. 2014. 192p. photos. index. ISBN 9781572841512. pap. $22.95; ebk. ISBN 9781572847293. BEVERAGES

locallybrewed033114Craft brewing is a growing industry around the country. In this book, Blessing focuses on the Midwest, spotlighting 20 breweries and cideries, the companies’ key personnel, and products. Each lavishly photographed chapter connects the reader to the people behind some intriguing-sounding brews. The result is similar to the author’s previous title, Locally Grown, which brought a winning, personal approach to a survey of American artisanal farms. The brewery owners and brewmasters are an affable, motley assortment. For some, their craft is a family matter, built on deep roots in a community, whereas for others, it has meant changes in career and setting. Of particular interest are Deborah Carey of Wisconsin’s New Glarus, a rare woman leading a brewery, and the 5 Rabbit Cerveceria in Illinois, which taps into the vibrant Latino community in the area. VERDICT While some of the beverages mentioned have limited availability outside their regions, this warmly written set of profiles should find fans in beer enthusiasts anywhere and may attract aficionados to the heartland. Purchase for libraries with a collection emphasis on beer and brewing in the Midwest.—Peter ­Hepburn, Coll. of the Canyons Lib., Santa Clarita, CA

Hindy, Steve. The Craft Beer Revolution: How a Band of Microbrewers Is Transforming the World’s Favorite Drink. Palgrave Macmillan. Apr. 2014. 272p. photos. notes. ISBN 9781137278760. $25. BEVERAGES

Amid the recent spate of guides to specialty beers there has been an absence of a solid history of craft brewing in the United States. Hindy, a former journalist and cofounder of the renowned Brooklyn Brewery, attempts to fill that need with this title. His insider perspective on the past few decades of making beer in America ­reveals underlying tensions, struggles for market share, a gamut of personalities, and successes and failures. The narrative moves quickly, and the reader may occasionally lose the thread or get bogged down in all the names. It sometimes feels more like Hindy’s story rather than of craft brewing. Still, he spotlights key players, such as Boston Beer Company’s Jim Koch. More important, he provides a real sense of how these brewers had to overcome obstacles such as competition from the companies with major market share or unfavorable legislation, especially related to distribution and sales. VERDICT An appealing but uneven complement to ­recent craft brewery guides. Recommended for collections where books on beer are popular.—Peter Hepburn, Coll. of the Canyons Lib., Santa Clarita, CA

This article was published in Library Journal's March 15, 2014 issue. Subscribe today and save up to 35% off the regular subscription rate.