Each week as part of SunLit — The Sun’s literature section — we feature staff recommendations from book stores across Colorado. This week, staff from Poor Richard’s Books & Gifts in Colorado Springs recommends “Nose Dive,” “Wild New World” and “How to Sit.”
By Harold McGee
From the publisher: From Harold McGee, James Beard Award-winning author and leading expert on the science of food and cooking, comes an extensive exploration of the long-overlooked world of smell. In “Nose Dive,” McGee takes us on a sensory adventure, from the sulfurous nascent earth more than four billion years ago, to the fruit-filled Tian Shan mountain range north of the Himalayas, to the keyboard of your laptop, where trace notes of phenol and formaldehyde escape between the keys.
From Jeffery Payne, assistant retail manager: This daunting tome is so worth the effort. Make sure to read the first three chapters so there is an understanding of how each following chapter’s scientific breakdown and tables work to explain the incredible intricacies of smells. The way this hefty volume is formatted, one doesn’t have to read from the beginning to end. Pick and choose chapters at a whim.
Be prepared for a crash course in molecules, volatiles and benzenoids. Luckily for us, the author’s splendid language and imagery actually makes learning science enjoyable, though truthfully, I did have to read several paragraphs more than once for them to sink in. Incredibly accessible and thoroughly entertaining.
Wild New World
By Dan Flores
From the publisher: In 1908, near Folsom, New Mexico, a cowboy discovered the remains of a herd of extinct giant bison. By examining flint points embedded in the bones, archeologists later determined that a band of humans had killed and butchered the animals 12,450 years ago. This discovery vastly expanded America’s known human history but also revealed the long-standing danger Homo sapiens presented to the continent’s evolutionary richness.
Distinguished author Dan Flores’s ambitious history chronicles the epoch in which humans and animals have coexisted in the “wild new world” of North America – a place shaped both by its own grand evolutionary forces and by momentous arrivals from Asia, Africa, and Europe. With portraits of iconic creatures such as mammoths, horses, wolves, and bison, Flores describes the evolution and historical ecology of North America like never before.
From Jeffery Payne, assistant retail manager: Somehow Dan Flores has the ability to concisely segment the vast complex interactions, and the long history of, American fauna and humans into bite-size pieces. The ease with which he emphatically shares ages of destruction of species is compelling and insightful. Smartly written, often maddening with the details of ignorance and stupidity of humankind but has bright moments of hope that we just might not completely kill off the natural world.
How To Sit
By Thich Nhat Hanh
From the publisher: The first book in The Mindfulness Essentials series, a back-to-basics collection from world-renowned Zen master Thich Nhat Hanh that introduces everyone to the essentials of mindfulness practice. In short, single-paragraph chapters, Nhat Hanh shares detailed instructions, guided breathing exercises and visualizations, as well as his own personal stories and insights. This pocket-sized book is perfect for those brand new to sitting meditation as well as for those looking to deepen their spiritual practice.
From Jeffery Payne, assistant retail manager: OK, take a moment, put down the electronic gadget in your hand, and just be quiet, try it for a minute….I’ll wait…It’s a challenge, isn’t it? All the noise around you, the random thoughts, and the pain in that one spot in your back becomes more noticeable.
This gem of a book (and really, the whole mindfulness series of How To books by Thich Nhat Hanh from Parallax Press) tenderly guides and prods us to the “quiet.” “How to Sit” reminds us of the importance of being still, however short the length of time. This book gives the reader realistic steps in finding stillness and gives us license to mess up. The holiday rush is upon us and it is a perfect time to sit.