8 Booklist December 15, 2015 www.booklistreader.com
to run amok, as she recounts in her memoir of
growing up in the 1980s. She bounced from
college to college, apartment to apartment,
coast to coast, job to job, cure to cure, and
bed to bed. Fueled by a craving for donuts,
candy, and sugar in any form, Kotin recalls
family celebrations featuring pastries and
dysfunction. Weight wasn’t the issue, but she
consulted therapists, acupuncturists, health
food gurus, doctors, Overeaters Anonymous,
and her sister (who seemed, miraculously, to
have her life together) as she tried to control her obsession. Taking theater classes and
working as a mime, Kotin struggled to find a
foothold in the artistic world while her everyday life was imploding. Her real gift turned
out to be writing, and as she penned dramas
and journals based on her experiences, Kotin
began to come to terms with her addictions.
The narrative is by turns bawdy, hilarious, and
heart-wrenching, and readers will be moved
by the author’s candid look at the very real addictive power of sugar. —Candace Smith
Palliative Care: The 400-Year Quest for
a Good Death.
By Harold Y. Vanderpool.
2015. 280p. McFarland, paper, $45 (9780786497997).
Death is a subject that is not easily discussed.
Yet it is a part of life, and patients who are
terminally ill or living with chronic conditions need to plan for it. Vanderpool, professor
emeritus of history and philosophy of medicine at the University of Texas, examines the
history of palliative care in this small book. He
begins with Sir Francis Bacon, who was the
first to tell physicians that they had a duty to
offer care to the dying and to improve this care
as new medical techniques developed.
The book continues on through medical history as scientific advancements make it possible
to prolong life, even as patients are no longer
truly aware and alive. It then follows the development of the hospice movement and the
fight for patients to determine their care and
the manner of their death. Each chapter covers an era in medical history and includes an
introduction, information about physicians
working in palliative care at the time, and conclusions. There are extensive notes and a large
bibliography of primary and secondary sources.
This is a useful book for those doing research in
medical history or palliative care, and academic
libraries supporting these areas should consider
it for purchase. —Barbara Bibel
Too Much of a Good Thing: How Four
Key Survival Traits Are Now Killing Us.
By Lee Goldman.
Dec. 2015. 352p. Little, Brown, $28 (9780316236812);
e-book, $14.99 (9780316236805). 613.
When we were cavemen, it was important
We Have the Technology: How
to seek out the quick energy of fat and sugar,
hold on to our sodium, react quickly to danger,
and have our blood clot efficiently. The fittest
survive, and humans became physically wired
to protect these tendencies. Today, however, ac-
cording to Goldman, dean of health sciences
and medicine at Columbia University Medical
Center, these same tendencies are threatening
our lives. Our search for fat and sugar has led
to obesity and diabetes, too much sodium gives
us high blood pressure, overreacting to threats
leads to stress, and blood clots cause strokes and
heart attacks. Goldman discusses each of these
problems thoroughly, comparing our needs
“then and now.” He presents a convincing case
for the power of our genetics and explains why
conquering these inclinations is so difficult.
The doctor suggests ways to try to change be-
haviors to fight back, but he looks to genetic
altering and future medical intervention as our
best chance. Although sometimes a little tech-
nical, this is an interesting explanation for our
current medical woes. —Candace Smith
Biohackers, Foodies, Physicians, &
Scientists Are Transforming Human
Perception, One Sense at a Time.
By Kara Platoni.
Dec. 2015. 304p. Basic, $34.99 (9780465089970);
e-book (9780465073757). 612.
Biohackers, cyborgs, transhumanists, perfumers, and picklers—these are just a few of
the odd and inventive characters we meet in
this fascinating, often mind-boggling report
on the fast-growing world of sensory science
from award-winning journalist Platoni. She
begins with the five human senses, checking
in with researchers who are working hard to
discover another dimension of taste beyond
basic ones such as sweet and sour; visiting
laboratories where scents are manipulated to
trigger childhood memories; and meeting self-described “grinders” who modify their bodies
in some radical, sense-enhancing way, like Rob
Spence, aka Eyeborg, whose right eye socket
harbors a camera that perpetually records
his experiences. In addition to interviewing
scientists learning to manipulate hearing,
touch, and even the sense of time, Platoni
also interviews virtual-reality developers and
entrepreneurs determined to put the tools
for augmenting perception within everyone’s
reach. Sometimes glowingly optimistic, and
sometimes unnerving, Platoni’s overview previews a fast-approaching future of widespread
sensory manipulation that demonstrates humankind is truly “on the cusp of tinkering
with its own evolution.” —Carl Hays
The Book of Pears: The Definitive
History and Guide to over 500 Varieties.
By Joan Morgan and Elisabeth Dowle.
2015. 304p. illus. Chelsea Green, $65 (9781603586665).
Who knew? This elegant, all-knowing
The Culinary Herbal: Growing and
compendium on all things pear is a boon
companion to pomologist and fruit historian
Morgan’s The Book of Apples (1994), among
other fruit-centered histories. It’s truly intend-
ed as a reference, even for those culinarians
intent on mastering the best information on
pears. Much of the narrative traces the fruit’s
transit from 1000 BCE in the Yangtze Valley
to today’s world distribution, documenting
its role in various lands and in literature. In
addition to Dowle’s realistic and detailed wa-
tercolors, innumerable historic photographs
and illustrations grace the book’s pages. One-
third of the book is occupied by a catalog of
500-plus varieties, from the former USSR’s
Abas Beki to a French Zoe, based on the
Defra National Fruit Collection, in Kent,
with each entry including the cropping level,
when-to-pick ripening season, vigor, use (cu-
linary versus eating), size, shape, color, eye,
basin, stalk, cavity, flesh, flower, and tree.
A thorough investigation of one wonderful
fruit. —Barbara Jacobs
Preserving 97 Flavorful Herbs.
By Susan Belsinger and Arthur O. Tucker.
Jan. 2016. 328p. illus. Timber, $27.50 (9781604695199).
Between them, Belsinger and Tucker draw
on 100-plus years of experience gardening and
cooking in this guide for “gardeners who like
to cook . . . cooks who want . . . the best tasting culinary herbs . . . and the everyday herbal
enthusiast.” With lavish color photographs
throughout, this clearly written “culinary herbal” goes beyond sage and thyme, even venturing
into sensory experiences of nonmedicinal herbs
as it addresses 97 varieties, including Cuban
oregano (flavors salsa), lemon balm (adds a
lemony spark to sauces, cakes, syrups, veggies,
and more), and orache (adds mild spinach taste
to salads). The authors provide instructions on
how to grow, harvest, preserve, and store herbs,
and in the “Master Recipes Using Culinary
Herbs” section, they offer directions for preparing basic herb syrups, vinegars, aromatic pastes,
and butters, all used to enhance a wide range of
foods. The back matter of metric conversions
and lists of resources and suggested readings accommodate varying interest levels, making this
a book with wide appeal. — Whitney Scott
Modern German Cookbook.
By Frank Rosin.
2015. 224p. illus. DK, $22 (9781465443946). 641.594.
Rosin, known for his TV appearances and
the two Michelin stars awarded to his eponymous restaurant, sets aside any preconceptions
about Germany‘s sauerkraut- and meat-laden
cuisine by presenting his contemporary take
on 100 traditional and modern dishes based
on this dictum: “We season by cooking, not
by seasoning.” Though fish recipes are not in
abundance (the country is landlocked, after
all), he does provide a few herring/salmon/
walleye-alternatives to meat proteins, such as
pickled-herring salad with caraway potatoes
and crispy pan-fried walleye. Then any ingredient is fair game: potatoes via a layered potato
cake or Swabian potato noodles. Sausages appear in curry wurst with fruit sauce or Bavarian
sausage with herbs as an appetizer. And fruits
are embedded in a cherry parfait with lemon-grass and baked apples with marzipan filling.