by Jillian Haslam
Indian. English. is Jillian Haslam’s memoir of growing up an English girl in post-colonial India. Her harrowing yet ultimately redemptive story of living in the dark squalid by-lanes of Calcutta, abused and misunderstood by many, recalls the darkest moments of Angela’s Ashes and the inner turmoil of The Glass Castle. For every atrocity described in Indian. English., however, there is found a parallel kindness – a sacrifice, really – on the part of the poorest of the poor, who helped her family to survive. One cannot overlook those small, seemingly insignificant and mundane acts of human kindness. Within these humble people thrive a grace beyond description that literally saves lives every hour of every day. Such was the case with Jillian and her family, which suffered through the death of children, abject starvation, trauma and humiliation. In vivid detail, the author recounts how she learned to look for the positives embedded in the numerous challenges encountered on her path; and how to overcome adversity to be successful. The rich story of her life, of finding the road to success, and how she utilizes her wisdom and vision to help others through her foundation, vividly illustrates how and why Jillian Haslam inspires everyone she meets.
by Robert O. Becker
The Body Electric tells the fascinating story of our bioelectric selves. Robert O. Becker, a pioneer in the filed of regeneration and its relationship to electrical currents in living things, challenges the established mechanistic understanding of the body. He found clues to the healing process in the long-discarded theory that electricity is vital to life. But as exciting as Becker’s discoveries are, pointing to the day when human limbs, spinal cords, and organs may be regenerated after they have been damaged, equally fascinating is the story of Becker’s struggle to do such original work. The Body Electric explores new pathways in our understanding of evolution, acupuncture, psychic phenomena, and healing.
by Michael Pollan
In Cooked, Michael Pollan explores the previously uncharted territory of his own kitchen. Here, he discovers the enduring power of the four classical elements—fire, water, air, and earth—to transform the stuff of nature into delicious things to eat and drink. Apprenticing himself to a succession of culinary masters, Pollan learns how to grill with fire, cook with liquid, bake bread, and ferment everything from cheese to beer.
Each section of Cooked tracks Pollan’s effort to master a single classic recipe using one of the four elements. A North Carolina barbecue pit master tutors him in the primal magic of fire; a Chez Panisse–trained cook schools him in the art of braising; a celebrated baker teaches him how air transforms grain and water into a fragrant loaf of bread; and finally, several mad-genius “fermentos” (a tribe that includes brewers, cheese makers, and all kinds of picklers) reveal how fungi and bacteria can perform the most amazing alchemies of all. The reader learns alongside Pollan, but the lessons move beyond the practical to become an investigation of how cooking involves us in a web of social and ecological relationships. Cooking, above all, connects us.
The effects of not cooking are similarly far reaching. Relying upon corporations to process our food means we consume large quantities of fat, sugar, and salt; disrupt an essential link to the natural world; and weaken our relationships with family and friends. In fact, Cooked argues, taking back control of cooking may be the single most important step anyone can take to help make the American food system healthier and more sustainable. Reclaiming cooking as an act of enjoyment and self-reliance, learning to perform the magic of these everyday transformations, opens the door to a more nourishing life.