10 Booklist March 15, 2016 www.booklistreader.com
lic and consumer-health library collections.
Health & Medicine
The Gene: An Intimate History.
By Siddhartha Mukherjee.
May 2016. 592p. Scribner, $30 (9781501138751). 616.
How do you take the basic building block
of humanity and explore the towering edi-
fices and entire disciplines it has fostered
over the years since the gene—or at least
the idea of it—first became known to man?
If you’re Mukherjee (The
Laws of Medicine, 2015),
a Pulitzer-winning writer
and physician, you distill
the ideas down to some-
thing relatable, in this case,
family. A cousin relegated
to a mental institution in
India because of schizo-
phrenia leads Mukherjee into an astute
and detailed exploration of the many facets
of the gene. Comparisons to Mukherjee’s
prizewinning biography of cancer, The Em-
peror of All Maladies (2010), are bound to
be made, especially since the author himself
shares that he wanted to illuminate what
“normalcy” looks like before a cell tips into
malignancy. The sheer panorama of top-
ics covered—from Mendel’s experiments
to Darwin, eugenics, the Human Genome
Project, and cloning, as he dissects each and
every aspect of the gene—can get dizzying,
and the periodic allusions to Mukherjee’s
family can feel belabored. But there is no
doubt that this compelling volume will be
the last word on the subject, at least until the
next breakthrough in this endlessly fascinat-
ing field of science. Highly recommended.
HIGH-DEMAND BACKSTORY: Following
Ken Burns’ documentary film based on his
book about cancer, Mukherjee remains in
the spotlight as a top medical writer, and his
ambitious new book will be strongly promoted
with a national tour and media campaign.
Cooking with the Muse: A Sumptuous
Gathering of Seasonal Recipes, Culinary
Poetry, and Literary Fare.
By Myra Kornfeld and Stephen Massimilla.
Apr. 2016. 500p. illus. Tupelo, $34.95 (9781936797684).
Literature and food make great compan-
ions. It’s proven, again and again, in this
150-recipe collection, with poems, book ex-
cerpts, and just plain creative musings. Chef
and educator Kornfeld provides the recipes;
poet-professor Massimilla much of the narra-
tive and context for ingredients and rhymes
alike. Such notables as Robert Frost, Pablo
Neruda, and John Keats are suitably inserted
in the appropriate places (e.g., Neruda with
his paean to olive oil), and literary criticism
appears from time to time. Each of the four
seasons is introduced by a lyrical summary
of what that period features, followed by the
dishes and commentary. The history and ro-
mance of specific ingredients are highlighted
(e.g., almonds are cousins to peaches; rhu-
barb, actually a vegetable, not a fruit, wasn’t
fully included in cuisine until a century after
Ben Franklin introduced it). Sure, the text
can be dense, and the recipes complicated
(duck confit, after all, is not the easiest to
make), yet this creative and vibrant effort
successfully marries two highly imaginative
endeavors. —Barbara Jacobs
Crisps, Cobblers, Custards & Creams.
By Jean Anderson.
Apr. 2016. 304p. illus. Houghton, $30 (9780544230750);
e-book (9780544230767). 641.86.
James Beard Cookbook Hall of Fame
member Anderson is back with a new book,
this time about classic desserts that have never gone out of style. Dedicated to “all lovers
of crisps & cobblers, custards & creams,”
it offers dozens of luxurious recipes fitting
those categories. The book celebrates seasonal desserts like red, white, and blueberry
corn-bread cobbler and wild-persimmon
pudding. And it embraces the vast ethnic
diversity of these dishes in everything from
Indian kheer (rice pudding) to Portuguese
sericaia (cinnamon-dusted, baked custard)
to German rote grüze (red-berry pudding).
Anderson also takes care to include a variety of dessert sauces and toppings, as well as
recommended cookware. Whether readers
are looking for a way to utilize seasonal fruit,
seeking an old-fashioned dessert recipe, or
desiring something more modern, Anderson’s latest cookbook is worthy of attention
and will be a delightful addition to most
public-library collections. —Heather Lalley
Fresh Fish: Seafood Recipes,
Traditions and Techniques.
By Jennifer Trainer Thompson.
Mar. 2016. 352p. illus. Storey, $29.95
Any book so evocative of a time or a place
deserves a spot in readers’ hearts and minds,
no matter what the topic. For entrepreneurial Massachusetts
native Thompson, the
coast of New England
is her playground, holding memories of great
things past and visions
of things to come. Most
recipes are marked by a
a tribute to “Little Rhody” (Rhode Island), a
quick education in bay-versus-sea scallops, a
discourse on the history of the sea salt industry, and a somewhat longish answer to the
question, “Is tuna overfished?” She sticks to
her philosophy, “If the fish is fresh, it tastes
best when it’s simple—for it is then that
you taste the flavor of the sea,” and provides
Not Buying It: Stop Overspending and
Start Raising Happier, Healthier, More
By Brett Graff.
Mar. 2016. 288p. Seal, $16 (9781580055918). 649.
It was easier to be a parent back in the good
old days. Dad’s salary provided all a family could need, so Mom could stay at home
to properly raise the kids! A look at inflation
and general economics shows that it now takes
two incomes to replicate the one it took just
a few decades ago, but Graff insists that there
are plenty of unnecessary expenses that parents
saddle themselves with. The aim of this book
is to point out what can be skipped and to illustrate how much money could be made if the
savings were invested instead. The advice isn’t
always practical—choosing a home that saves
you money on a commute might leave you in
a bad school district (though, in the following
chapter, she advises choosing public school
over private), and some of the savings seem
inflated (not many parents spend $5,000 on
video equipment to film audition tapes). But,
overall, this is a solid guide that will appeal to
modern parents looking for guidance on navigating our material world. —Rebecca Vnuk
The Pregnancy Encyclopedia: All
Your Questions Answered.
Ed. by Paula Amato and Chandrima Biswas.
2015. 352p. illus. DK, $40 (9781465443786). 618.2.
Requests for information about pregnancy and childbirth are common in public
libraries. This new encyclopedia from DK
provides detailed coverage of all aspects
of pregnancy, childbirth, and early infant
care. Using a Q&A
format, the book covers preconception, conception, nutrition
and exercise, prenatal care, body changes
during pregnancy, fetal development, practical hints to prepare for the baby’s arrival,
labor and delivery, postpartum care, and
special situations. The color-coded chapters are arranged thematically and are
profusely illustrated. They cover topics such
as in-vitro fertilization, pregnancy loss, and
premature and special-needs babies as well
as practical considerations: financial planning, child-care providers, advice about
travel during pregnancy, and techniques
for bottle- and breast-feeding. The authors
are British physicians who worked with an
American consultant to make sure that the
book would be accessible for readers in the
U.S. With advice about maternity clothes,
baby-care accessories and furniture, and
which medications are safe for pregnant and
lactating women, this book will be a very
useful resource. It has a detailed index and
a glossary to help readers find what they
need. This is an excellent addition to pub-