Steve Jones writes that “to remember Darwin for Origin alone would be as foolish as to celebrate Shakespeare only as the author of Hamlet.” He goes on to show Darwin’s wide-ranging observations in his lesser known publications. Learning that Darwin traveled to Stonehenge to study the effects of earthworms and that he came to “hate barnacles as no man ever did before, not even a sailor on a slow-sailing ship,” made for fun reading.
The shape of American meals was determined by historical forces like the Industrial Revolution, and migrations to urban areas. Dinner used to occur mid day, and a light supper at night. Carroll chronicles the decline of the family dinner, and makes the point that while we spend much less time cooking than we used to, we spend a lot of time watching cooking shows on TV. Did you know that the modern version of breakfast was invented here in Michigan? This is a very readable history of American eating from colonial times through the present.
Stephanie Plum is back! This time she is trying to chase down Joe Morelli’s Uncle Sunny. He has an outstanding bond, and Stephanie really needs the money, so she and her sidekick Lula begin their search, and instead almost get shot, get cursed by Grandma Bella, and they find a giraffe roaming the streets of Trenton. Meanwhile, Ranger is hot for Stephanie to help him find the person responsible for the recent rash Dumpster murders going on in Trenton. You know with Ranger and Morelli on the scene, this must be another sexy thrill ride from Janet Evanovich!
Logan Montgomery, a professional sports trainer, and Holly Brennan, a recent widow, meet on an airplane. Logan, being a nice guy, offers to take Holly under his wing and help her get in shape. Holly has been overweight her whole life, and agrees to make this change in her life. Little did she know she would learn to count on Logan, and maybe even fall in love again. This is a great first book from Stephanie, following in her aunt’s footsteps!
This book is downstairs to the upstairs of Pride and Prejudice. In Longbourn the Bennet family flits in and out of the servants lives instead of the opposite. The main character is Sarah, a housemaid, whose life is neatly summed up in the opening scene of a washday when she slips and falls in pig droppings. But life is not all bad - there is romance among the servants as well as hard work. All of Jane Austen's characters make at least cameo appearances, and the despicable Wickham shows himself to be even worse scum than we had thought possible. A must for Jane Austen fans and all who enjoy historical fiction.
The Circle is about a large and very popular technology company called The Circle (think Google or Facebook). All employees of this company must regularly share what they are doing, where they are going, and "like" various other people's doings. At first, the story feels somewhat familiar: the pull of social media, and always being connected by phone or by email. But as the story goes on, The Circle begins to demand more and more participation from its employees, and eventually from all of society, until the idea of privacy becomes a thing of the past. I thought this was a thought provoking book, and very timely, a bit of a warning for us living today in the technology age.
Edsel carefully crafts a concise account of an unlikely band of brothers and the unsung heroes of civilization. The book follows the exploits of ten courageous and dedicated individuals led by George Stout, a leading advocate for the conservation of art and countering the Nazi threat to the cultural heritage of Europe. Each member was tasked with improbable missions racing against time to find and protect the worlds greatest art treasures looted by the Nazis. They often went behind enemy lines without weapons or support to uncover caches in the most harrowing hiding places. A truly remarkable and inspiring read where good prevails over evil in miraculous triumphs of humanity. A companion book to this one is Edsel's first book: Rescuing Da Vinci.
Much has been made recently in the news regarding the dire situation of the once great Motor City. Detroit-raised Rolling Stone writer Binelli paints a vivid picture of the ruin and decay in the city, from the 70,000 abandoned buildings to the wildlife roaming the miles of uninhabited lands. Unlike other recent “biographies” about Detroit, Binelli doesn’t stop short at the doom and gloom, but rather delves deeper to uncover the many rejuvenation projects going on around the city. You will be drawn in by the tales of decay, but astonished by the depictions of urban farming, a school repurposed for pregnant teens, and the killer ex-convict turned street patroller. Binelli’s work sheds a great light on what the city once was and may yet become again.