The Bookshelf

By admin
January 10, 2013

The Book of Coffee and Tea

By Joel, David and Karl Schapira

The evolution of coffee is a fascinating history that began not as a beverage but as a food mixed with animal fat and eaten before war. It wasn’t until 1000 A.D., when the Arabs learned to boil coffee, that it became a warm drink.

Written with the knowledge of three generations of coffee growers and suppliers, the Schapira family has written a history of coffee and tea that reads like a memoir.

The book is divided into two separate halves – the first devoted to coffee, the second, to tea. The end of each section includes recipes of drinks and desserts.

The most invaluable section may be the catalog of teas. Divided by herb and spice, the history of the derivative plant is described, as well as where it can be found and its main taste points, a great reference for any tea drinker.

Reviewed by Adie Smith

Flight Behavior: A Novel

By Barbara Kingsolver

Ever since the age of seventeen Dellarobia Turnbow has based her decisions on her husband and children. On family land in Appalachia, Dellarobia takes a mountain hike that will change their lives forever. Restless and tired of settling with disappointment, she agrees to meet a young man from town who has caught her eye, but what Dellarobia finds in the woods is much more, a breathtaking sight that portends of the tumult ahead for her and her community. What appears to be a “valley of fire” before her eyes, is difficult to comprehend, and brings together farmers, journalists, scientists and religious leaders.

Acknowledging all the complexities of climate change, best-selling novelist Barbara Kingsolver presents a community forced to confront something much bigger than they ever imagined. Dellarobia must stand up for what she believes in as community leaders, her family, her church and the world make judgments on her decisions. In page-turning prose, with empathy and compassion Kingsolver addresses climate change, class and the reasons why such issues are so difficult to face.

Reviewed by Lisa Newman

Critical Decisions

By Peter A. Ubel, M.D.

The other night I found myself frozen in front of the television as I watched a couple work out the details of the husband’s end-of-life care. It was both heartbreaking and brave. It was also frightening when I imagined myself in their shoes.

Needless to say, I was primed for the topic, when a friend recommended Critical Decisions by Dr. Peter A. Ubel, a physician and behavioral scientist. Dr. Ubel has combined his own research in doctor/patient relationships with his personal experience of caring for loved ones during difficult times. With Dr. Ubel’s compassionate reflection on medical care choices, Critical Decisions shows how patients and doctors can improve their communication skills.

Initially, this book made me uneasy, but once I read Dr. Ubel’s stories I came to realize I could use these lessons to make better decisions and increase my quality of life. I like what Dr. Ubel says in his bio: “My research and writing explores the quirks in human nature that influence our lives – the mixture of rational and irrational forces that affect our health, our happiness and the way our society functions. My goal is to show you, in an entertaining way, why the key to living better, healthier lives, and improving the societies we live in, is to understand human nature.”

Reviewed by Lisa Newman

Eat & Run: My Unlikely Journey to Ultramarathon Greatness

by Scott Jurek

Remember Scott Jurek from Christopher McDougall’s Born to Run? He’s written his own book, Eat and Run, about his career as an ultramarathoner while eating only a vegan diet. He covers his childhood, his early success in running, the transition to veganism, and the addiction to races that test not just his physical ability but his psychological strength. A good read from one of the most prominent ultramarathoners.

Running With the Kenyans: Passion, Adventure, and the Secrets of the Fastest People on Earth

By Adharanand Finn

It’s difficult not to compare Adharanand Finn’s book to Born to Run. It’s largely the same formula: journalist seeks to regain his love for running by visiting a tribe/country renowned for near-mythical running ability, meets characters, finds wisdom. But this formula works. The reader ends up with a nice mix of a travel memoir and a sports/ adventure book, with a little inspirational wisdom tossed in.

Reviewed by Mark Geoffriau

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