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Friday, January 30, 2015

The Invisible History of the Human Race: How DNA and History Shape our Identities and our Futures

            Here is a recent history on DNA research and how it impacts the understanding of our human past and our future. The book is written by Christine Kenneally, an international journalist and native Australian. Beginning with her own family background and continuing with those of several other individuals, Kenneally describes how information about one’s heritage is obtained. Sources include personal family records, genealogical records from various genealogical societies and the Library for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (LDS), and more. But when these records are unattainable or incomplete, what can be done? This is where the examination and classification of human DNA can fill in the gaps.

            Other important uses for the use of DNA research and classification:
n  tracing human migration from its beginning in Africa throughout the world
n  tracing humanity’s history through its cultural, not racial, background
n  predicting occurrence of genetic diseases and developing ways to prevent it

            Kenneally’s journalistic background is on display through her use of interviews and her investigation of the workings of institutions such as, the LDS Library, the Human Genome Project, and several genetic genealogy companies.
            This is an interesting approach to the study of humanity: past, present and future.

Thursday, January 29, 2015

New Year's Resolutions for Time and Stress Management

            It’s the end of January, but it’s not too late to get to some of those New Year’s resolutions. Here are some books to help.
            The Weekend Makeover: Get a Brand New Life by Monday Morning, written by Jill Martin and Dana Ravich, who are also the coauthors of the New York Times bestseller I Have Nothing to Wear. In this book, women are advised on how to make, execute and apply 48-hour plans to improve their diets, workouts, beauty techniques, vacation goals, closet and clutter cleanups, and more.  
            Less Doing, More Living: Make Everything in Life Easier is written by Ari Meisel, an efficiency consultant. His guide includes ways to organizing your work and personal lives so that you can: write up lower-level tasks in an instruction book and delegate to others; use apps and computer tools to optimize workflow; create an “external brain” in the Cloud for storing projects; rely on a digitized trail not a paper one; and improve your fitness, sleep and nutrition levels to enhance your performance.
          10 Steps to Mastering Stress: a Lifestyle Approach, is written by David Barlow, Ronald Rapee, and Sarah Perini; all who are psychology professionals with more than twenty years of experience working with stressed and anxious individuals. Mindfulness-based stress reduction strategies are illustrated with detailed case studies from these professionals’ notebooks; useful for the general reader.

Tuesday, January 13, 2015

The Organized Mind: Thinking Straight in the Age of Information Overload

            More than a book of “how-to” be more organized in everyday life or at work, this is a guide to coping with today’s onslaught of information based on the latest research in neuroscience. It is written by Daniel J. Levitin, a professor of cognitive psychology at McGill University and the author of two New York Times bestsellers: This is Your Brain on Music and The World in Six Songs.
            Although humans have more neural capacity than the apes and other animals, we still are shortchanged, even with the development of writing as a successor to memory alone. Levitin demonstrates ways to organize our homes, our social worlds, and our time, relying on man-made aids such as note-taking, filing systems and computers as a supplement to memory. He instructs the reader on how to construct a fourfold table to help organize information and calculate the odds when dealing with life-changing decisions. He advises how to structure the business world with clearly defined roles for workers and planning for failure. He recommends that our children be educated in the ways of information literacy and creative thinking using approximation as a tool, and encouraged to be more understanding of others and of other points of view.

            Over ninety pages of endnotes provide a path to Levitin’s research and for further reading.


Thursday, January 8, 2015

Celebrity Birthdays in January

            Have you wondered what celebrities have birthdays in January? Here are some books about and/or written by a few of them.

            Stephen Hawking was born on January 8, 1942, in England. The renowned physicist is known for his work on quantum mechanics, his writings for popular audiences as well as academic ones, and for his disability caused by amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS). His classic work A Brief History of Time: from the Big Bang to Black Holes, originally published in 1988, discusses questions about space, time, and the origin and fate of the universe. Another book, My Brief History, is the story of Hawking’s life including his childhood, education, and work.

            Kate Middleton, or Catherine, the Duchess of Cambridge, was born on January 9, 1982, in England. She is the wife of the future king of England, Prince William. In Kate: the Future Queen, written by Katie Nicholl, we learn about her childhood, education, and relationships. Kate Style: Chic and Classic Look, written by Alisande Healy Orme, is devoted to the wardrobe, makeup and hairdos of Kate; and includes information about her favorite shops and designers.

            Betty White was born on January 17, 1922, in the United States. She is a Hollywood celebrity who got her start in radio, then transitioned to television in a variety of sitcoms (including The Mary Tyler Moore Show and Golden Girls) and game shows. The book Betty White: the First 90 Years, written by Andrew E. Stoner, recounts her life and acting career from birth to the present – age 93! In Betty and Friends: My Life at the Zoo, written by White, we learn of her lifelong love of zoo animals and her work as an animal welfare advocate. She has been a trustee of the Greater Los Angeles Zoo Association since 1974.

            Michelle Obama was born on January 17, 1964 in the United States. She is the current First Lady, a lawyer and the author of the book American Grown: the Story of the White House Kitchen Garden and Gardens across America. This book describes how she and her daughters established a vegetable garden on the South Lawn of the White House; encompassing the First Lady’s interests in healthy eating, gardening, and prevention of childhood obesity. Also included are recipes created by White House chefs using foods from the harvests.

            Guy Fieri was born on January 22, 1968 in the United States. He is a television personality on the Food Network, a co-owner of five restaurants and a co-author of several books about food. In Guy on Fire: 130 Recipes for Adventures in Outdoor Cooking, Guy presents a range of dishes suitable for barbeques, camping, and tailgating. In Diners, Drive-Ins, Dives, the Funky Finds in Flavortown: America’s Classic Joints and Killer Comfort Food the reader gets lots of recipes, character sketches and photos of some of America’s most iconic restaurants.