Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Library Loot ~ December 5-11

As the mother of identical twin daughters, I was hooked by part of the title of a chapter of this book:  "How Come Identical Twins Aren't Identical?"  I didn't make it past the "new books" shelves to turn in my last library book and ask for the one on hold before I had this intriguing title in my hands.

The Violinist's Thumb: And Other Lost Tales of Love, War, and Genius, as Written by Our Genetic Code ~ by Sam Kean, 2012, science
Sam Kean explores the wonders of the magical building block of life: DNA.  There are genes to explain crazy cat ladies, why other people have no fingerprints, and why some people survive nuclear bombs.  Genes illuminate everything from JFK's bronze skin (it wasn't a tan) to Einstein's genius.  They prove that Neanderthals and humans bred thousands of years more recently than any of us would feel comfortable thinking.  They can even allow some people, because of the exceptional flexibility of their thumbs and fingers, to become truly singular violinists.  Kean's vibrant storytelling once again makes science entertaining, explaining human history and whimsy while showing how DNA will influence our species' future.
1491: New Revelations of the Americas Before Columbus ~ by Charles C. Mann, 2005, history
A groundbreaking study that radically alters our understanding of the Americas before the arrival of the Europeans in 1492.  Traditionally, Americans have learned in school that the ancestors of the American Indians crossed the Bering Strait 12,000 years ago, existed in small, nomadic bands, and lived so lightly on the land that much of the Americas was wilderness when Columbus set sail.  But as Charles Mann makes clear, in the last 20 years archaeologists and anthropologists using new research tecniques have proven these and other long-held assumptions to be false.  He shows us how a new generation of researchers came to the persuasive conclusion that more people lived in the Americas in 1491 than in Europe; that certain of their cities, including the Azetc capital, Tenochtitlan, were greater in size than any European city; that these much learger societies were also older and far more advanced than had been thought (the Indian development of corn is still the most complex and far-reaching example of genetic engineering known); that the Native Americans managed their environments in ways that, if replicated today, could revolutionize local agriculture.  1491 sheds clarifying light on the methods by which these discoveries where made, how they have rewritten part of our history, and how they contribute to today's environmental disputes.  It is an impassioned and erudite account of scientific inquiry and revelation.
Jesus: A Theography ~ by Leonard Sweet and Frank Viola, 2012, biography
Leonard Sweet and Frank Viola reclaim the entire Bible as a gripping narrative about Jesus Christ.  Virtually every other “Jesus biography” begins with the nativity account in Bethlehem.  In this groundbreaking book, Sweet and Viola begin before time, in the Triune God, and tell the complete interconnected story of Jesus from Genesis to Revelation.  Jesus: A Theography is the first book ever written to combine historical Jesus studies with biblical theology, crafting together one breathtaking saga that tells the Jesus story in both Old and New Testaments.  This flagship book demonstrates clearly that every bit of Scripture is part of the same stunning drama, what the authors refer to as the theography of Jesus Christ.
Library Loot is a weekly event co-hosted by Claire @ The Captive Reader and Marg @ The Adventures of an Intrepid Reader that encourages bloggers to share titles of books they’ve checked out of the library.  To participate, just add your post to their Mister Linky any time during the week.  And of course check out what other participants are getting from their libraries this week.

4 comments:

Claire (The Captive Reader) said...

The Violinist's Thumb sounds fascinating. Enjoy your loot!

Linda said...

Those are all new to me. Enjoy!

Helen's Book Blog said...

Oh, the Violinist's Thumbs sounds interesting! My daughter is studying genetics in her science class right now so we've been talking about it a lot.

I've also heard good things about 1491

maphead said...

I'm jealous-both Violinist's Thumb and 1491 are on my to read list. Can't wait to read your reviews!