Consumer Health Talk, the Art of Beekeeping, Restaurant Cookbooks, & More | Science & Technology Reviews

redstarMinson, Matthew. Prepare To Defend Yourself: How To Navigate the Healthcare System & Escape with Your Life. Texas A&M Univ. 2014. 256p. illus. index. ISBN 9781623491154. pap. $23; ebk. ISBN 9781623491628. HEALTH

Prepare To Defend YourselfAs a physician, the author is a credible and knowledgeable contributor to the health care field. However, it wasn’t until a negative experience he had as a patient that ­Minson decided to document the vague and often deficient operation of the American health care system. Encompassing various areas of the profession, the text provides practical information on topics including hospital admission/intake procedures, emergency medical services, the patient interview process, prescription writing and drug information, medical mistakes, medical billing and payment options, and the overall infrastructure of the medical industry. Particularly constructive is the chapter on professionals, providing definitions of each of the distinctive roles (nurses, hospital workers, physician assistants, specialists, etc.). The book does not broach politics, so health-care policy content is not presented. Supplementing the text are tables, infographics, and even cartoons. VERDICT Helpful to almost everyone, this title provides expert information on a personal level using layperson’s terms. The text succeeds by straddling both patient and medical professional sides of the system. Highly recommended for consumer health readers.—Carolann Curry, Mercer Univ. Lib., ­Macon, GA

redstarPaska, Megan & others. The Rooftop Beekeeper: A Scrappy Guide to Keeping Urban Honeybees. Chronicle. 2014. 176p. illus. index. ISBN 9781452107585. pap. $24.95; ebk. ISBN 9781452130385. ANIMAL HUSBANDRY

Rooftop BeekeeperAs beekeeping grows in popularity among homesteading hobbyists, books such as this one by apiarist and blogger Paska will help people from urban areas discover the ins and outs of the process. Once a pioneer urban beekeeper in New York City, the author encapsulates her extensive experience and knowledge in personable prose. Highlighting all the basics of beekeeping for beginners, she cautions readers (“I still get stung”) that there is no way to master it perfectly. Numerous color photos and illustrations bring lightness to a book that thoroughly covers the heavier topics of bee biology, equipment, hive management, and honey extraction. The informative volume is capped by a chapter of recipes, giving readers ideas for how to use the sweet rewards. VERDICT Paska offers a fresh voice to the art of beekeeping and shows that even people who cannot see a field of flowers from their window can benefit from this hobby.—Kristi Chadwick, ­Massachusetts Lib Syst., South Deerfield

redstarTeicholz, Nina. The Big Fat Surprise: Why Meat, Butter, and Cheese Belong in a Healthy Diet. S. & S. May 2014. 464p. notes. bibliog. index. ISBN 9781451624427. $27.99; ebk. ISBN 9781451624441. HEALTH

The Big Fat SurpriseFor many years Americans have been told that low-fat diets are the best way to prevent heart disease and lose weight. While heart disease deaths have indeed dropped, the rate of heart disease has not and the obesity rate is increasing. Food writer Teicholz, who followed this advice until she began writing restaurant reviews that required eating whatever the chef served, was surprised when she actually lost weight once she began eating red meat and rich sauces. The author began looking at the scientific nutrition literature. Her research revealed that most of the studies were observational, rather than clinical trials. This meant that there was no real evidence to support the dietary guidelines issued by the American Heart Association and the National Institutes of Health. Yet the data is the accepted canon and scientists who present contradictory information are ostracized. This fascinating book raises important issues as Americans battle obesity, diabetes, and cardiovascular disease. The author provides an extensive bibliography of scientific literature, notes, and a glossary. VERDICT Thought provoking and well worth purchasing.—Barbara Bibel, Oakland P.L.

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


Kawaguchi, Yoko (text) & Alex Ramsay (photos). Japanese Zen Gardens. Frances Lincoln. 2014. 208p. bibliog. index. ISBN 9780711234475. $50. GARDENING

Home Economics

Sax, David. The Tastemakers: Why We’re Crazy for Cupcakes But Fed Up with Fondue. PublicAffairs. May 2014. 320p. bibliog. index. ISBN 9781610393157. $25.99; ebk. ISBN 9781610393164. COOKING


Canfield, Donald E. Oxygen: A Four Billion Year History. Princeton Univ. 2014. 256p. illus. notes. bibliog. index. ISBN 9780691145020. $29.95. SCI

Cobb, Cathy & others. The Chemistry of Alchemy: From Dragon’s Blood to Donkey Dung; How Chemistry Was Forged. Prometheus. Jul. 2014. 340p. illus. notes. bibliog. index. ISBN 9781616149154. $24.95; ebk. ISBN 9781616149161. SCI

Rogers, Adam. Proof: The Science of Booze. Houghton Harcourt. Jun. 2014. 272p. notes. bibliog. index. ISBN 9780547897967. $26. SCI

Down-Home Dining

Carter, Lara Lyn & Doc Lawrence. Southern Thymes Shared. Pelican. 2014. 160p. photos. index. ISBN 9781455618668. $35; ebk. ISBN 9781455618675. COOKING

Carter and Lawrence present Southern cooking and wine pairings in seasonal menus. The book is organized by events, starting with a New Year’s celebration and ending with Christmas. (A surprising omission for the Louisiana-based publication is Mardi Gras.) The menus vary from celebration and advanced preparations to easy 30-minute weeknight options. Wine suggestions range from unknown locals to worldwide favorites. Each entry sets up the home chef for a Southern-inspired meal—just add table settings. Access is enhanced by a recipe index, and pictures add to the down-home feel of the text. VERDICT This title will appeal to the home cook who wants to offer some Southern hospitality. Those looking to venture into wine pairings will appreciate that aspect of the book, and readers who miss grandma’s cooking will probably find a favorite or two in the pages.—Dawn Lowe-Wincentsen, Oregon Inst. of Technology, Portland

Lowenthal, Julie Donaldson (text) & Mary Britton Senseney (photos). Johnny Harris Restaurant Cookbook. Pelican. (Restaurant Cookbooks). 2014. 208p. index. ISBN 9781455618965. $26.95; ebk. ISBN 9781455618972. COOKING

Johnny HarrisThe 90th anniversary of this Savannah restaurant celebrates cooking for many generations. From Johnny Harris’s original roadside tavern/barbecue restaurant with slot machines to its current incarnation as a larger, more contemporary establishment, this restaurant has provided its community with quality service, eating, drinking, and dancing. Four generations of the Donaldson family have kept the restaurant going and the recipes here reflect food fashions of frozen, canned, and trucked-in ingredients. Tastes and presentations were the rule of the day. These foods were served when calories, fat, salt, sugar, and good nutrition were less of a concern; sustainable, organic, local ingredients were not considered. These dishes can be adapted by reducing the amounts of cheese, sugar, and salt, while substituting healthier methods of preparation. Special directions and recipes are given for Johnny Harris’s famous Bar-B-Cue sauces and rubs, which are shipped around the world. VERDICT This cookbook recalls moments in American and world history, while presenting the food and culture of Savannah. Filled with local lore, events, anecdotes of cherished customers and employees, as well as pictures of the establishment, this is a perfect souvenir cookbook.—Ruth Amernick, San Francisco P.L.

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