Jennifer Ackerman is the author of Notes from the Shore and Chance in the House of Fate. The recipient of a grant from the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation and literature fellowships from the National Endowment for the Arts and the Bunting Institute of Radcliffe College, she writes for National Geographic, the New York Times, and other publications.
Science writer and journalist Ackerman (Notes from the Shore) takes readers on a tour of our bodies and complex circadian rhythms, which help to determine our well-being or discomforts like magical clockworks. She writes, "By timing your actions so they're in concert with these rhythms, you can maximize your performance...[and] by defying them, you may cause yourself real harm." Ackerman proposes to inform her audience "about the new science of your body, the many intricate and intriguing events occurring inside it over a twenty-four hour day" by drawing on her life experiences as well as on those of celebrities both past and present and by summarizing new scientific findings about the body and the internal and external forces that act on it. From the extensive notes, it is obvious that Ackerman has done her research, but overall this general approach to the body, with personal recollections and the occasional historical fact, does not reveal the cutting-edge information one might expect; most educated lay readers will be unsurprised by her revelations. An optional purchase for public libraries.-James Swanton, Harlem Hosp. Lib., New York Copyright 2007 Reed Business Information.
Just as Michael Sims does in his planetary guide, Apollo's Fire (Reviews, June 11), science journalist Ackerman (Notes from the Shore) uses a single day as a narrative framework for examining a wide array of scientific information, but she has chosen a much more intimate subject: the human body. Starting with a 5:30 a.m. wakeup call and working through to the wee hours (with a pause for a restorative midday nap), she explains the complex details behind some of the body's most basic functions. The day is a somewhat arbitrary structure for topics that could be discussed at any time (she holds off on exercise until the late afternoon, for example), but the arrangement is never obtrusive, and Ackerman's prose is inviting. While she doesn't offer a radical new perspective on the human body, she does provide a steady stream of interesting information on things like the tiny hair cells inside the cochlea that enable us to hear even the briefest of noises, and the aphrodisiac allure for women of the odor of men`s underarm sweat. All in all, Ackerman offers an pleasant day's diversion. (Oct. 2) Copyright 2007 Reed Business Information.
"A fascinating look at what modern science tells us about who we
are." --Elizabeth Kolbert, author of Field Notes from a
"It's rare to find a book that delivers so much knowledge in prose that's such an enormous pleasure to read." --Miriam E. Nelson, Tufts University, and author of Strong Women Stay Young
"Jennifer Ackerman writes with the precision of a scientist and the elegance of a poet . . . invigorating, informed, insightful, and wise." --Steve Olson, author of Mapping Human History and Count Down
"Ackerman offers a pleasant day's diversion."
"An insightful text celebrating just how clever is the machine we call the human body."
Ackerman has hit her stride [with] a virtual full-body scan conducted over the course of 24 hours."
"A delightful picaresque . . . You'll never think about your body--and what you do to it--in the same way again." --Stephen S. Hall, author of Size Matters and Merchants of Immortality
"A readable and remarkably comprehensive tour of all that is new and intriguing in the study of normal human physiology." --Abigail Zuger, M.D.