Curvology: The Origins and Power of
Female Body Shape.
By David Bainbridge.
Nov. 2015. 240p. Overlook, $26.95 (9781468312027).
In this ode to the female form, Bainbridge,
a Cambridge University–trained zoologist,
explains why he thinks humans are the only
animals with big hips and breasts: “Body
shape is a reliable indicator of a woman’s genetic health and her future ability to conceive
and rear children.” Big bottoms store fat that
fuels the growth of children’s brains through
breast milk. Bainbridge calls femininity,
health, and fertility the “‘big three’ desirable
features for a heterosexual man’s mate” and
argues that both sexes see symmetrical, attractive women with “average” features and
even skin tone as healthier, smarter, more sociable, and more employable. Often he veers
into overall appearance (tattoos, hair removal, makeup, clothes) rather than sticking to
curves. For example, he says women are three
times more likely to wear attention-grabbing
red or pink around the time of ovulation.
He gives a lot of weight to weight: when the
economy is lean, styles favor fuller figures. A
selected bibliography and index are helpful,
but readers may want to see more studies and
original research to support his conclusions.
The Hidden Half of Nature: The Microbial
Roots of Life and Health.
By David R. Montgomery and Anne Biklé.
Nov. 2015. 320p. illus. Norton, $26.95 (9780393244403).
According to the latest estimates from
The Rarest Bird in the World: The Search
working microbiologists who track this kind
of information, the teeming population of
microbes living inside of us outnumbers our
own cells by almost 10 to 1. As for those liv-
ing in the soil and sea around us, the figure
reaches into the thousands of trillions, tak-
ing up half of the weight of all life on Earth.
This eye-opening new work from geologist
and popular-science author Montgomery,
coauthored with his biologist wife Biklé, is
replete with many more astonishing facts
such as these, including the momentous
news that a revolution in microbiology is
currently under way demonstrating just how
critical these microbes are both to our own
health and the health of the planet. While
giving readers a thorough understanding of
the many varieties and behaviors of micro-
scopic creatures such as viruses, bacteria, and
fungi, the authors also add a personal dimen-
sion, describing how microorganisms helped
their garden blossom and recounting Biklé’s
ordeal with cancer. A must for all fascinated
by the workings of the body and for those
concerned with health care and the environ-
ment. —Carl Hays
for the Nechisar Nightjar.
By Vernon R. L. Head.
Mar. 2016. 240p. illus. Pegasus, $26.95
A single wing was among the dozens
of specimens collected by a scientific ex-
pedition to Ethiopia in 1990. That lone
discovery would cause quite a stir as it was
determined to belong to a new species of
bird, the Nechisar Nightjar, whose official
Latin name translates to “only wing.” Years
later, bird-watcher and conservationist Head
was invited along on a mission to find the
Nightjar. His first book recounts this journey
with reverence and exuberance. Although his
style, which can be a bit over the top, takes
some getting used to, his enthusiasm for his
subject is contagious. Head revels in the in-
terconnectedness of nature, demonstrating
that his own pursuit of “lifers” (birds seen
for the first time in the wild) is just a portion
of a much larger tapestry of both scientific
exploration and aesthetic appreciation. By
seeking out the mysterious and new, and by
being open to the majesty of nature, Head
memorably demonstrates that bird-watching
is more than just a hobby, offering an almost
magical way to allow flesh-and-blood fanta-
sies to take flight. —Bridget Thoreson
A Chick in the Cockpit: My Life Up in the Air.
By Erika Armstrong.
Nov. 2015. 267p. Behler, paper, $16.95
(9781933016146); e-book (9781933016207). 629.130.
Armstrong has had a solid flying career,
working her way up from the lower rungs to
the captain’s seat in both the corporate world
and the airline industry. Initially her memoir
covers her travails as she broke into the business, built up flight time, and encountered
sexism. The book takes an unexpected turn,
however, after she marries and her marriage
turns emotionally, then physically abusive.
Armstrong writes of how, while she was caring
for two young children and no longer flying,
her husband manipulated the justice system
to have her arrested for domestic violence.
She describes the support she received from
counselors and friends and the long journey
to divorce. Armstrong bolsters her charges
against her husband by citing judges’ orders
and decisions, including their custody agreement, but most of the book is given up to
the raw pain of the situation and her abject
frustration over getting into such a dismal position. If women in similar relationships can
wade through the aviation lingo and cheeky
title, they will find a story with which many
will likely identify. —Colleen Mondor
Health & Medicine
All the Things We Never Knew:
Chasing the Chaos of Mental
By Sheila Hamilton.
Nov. 2015. 300p. Seal, $24 (9781580055840). 616.89.
When Hamilton, a TV- and radio-news
producer and anchor, meets her future hus-
band, David, she is struck by his confidence,
decisiveness, control, and
enthusiasm for life. But after
their marriage and the birth
of their daughter, Hamil-
ton notices changes. David
and combative. He gains
weight and loses interest in
the outdoors. He becomes
disorganized and overwhelmed by his con-
struction business. What Hamilton doesn’t
realize, until David’s first suicide attempt, is
that her husband is suffering from bipolar
disorder. As she vividly recalls the months
leading up to David’s decline and eventual
suicide, Hamilton speaks frankly about the
warning signs she didn’t see and the excuses
Appearing below is a list of all the print reference titles reviewed in this issue. Reference
librarians should also remember that all Booklist reference reviews can be accessed by
Booklist subscribers on Booklist Online.
E-Reference reviews are found on p. 8.
The 100 Greatest Silent Film Comedians. By James Roots. p. 16
Bob Dylan All the Songs: The Story behind Every Track. By Philippe Margotin and Jean-Michel Guesdon. p. 16
The Book of Broadway: The 150 Definitive Plays and Musicals. By Eric Grode. p. 26
Dylan: Disc by Disc. By Jon Bream. p. 16
The Encyclopedia of Film Composers. By Thomas S. Hischak. p. 17
Encyclopedia of Pop Music Aliases, 1950–2000. By Bob Leszczak. p. 26
Historical Dictionary of American Theater: Beginnings. By James Fisher. p. 26
Rise Again Songbook: Words and Chords to Nearly 1,200 Songs. By Peter Blood and
Annie Patterson. p. 23