The Swerve: how the world became modern

From Ellen Druda
Author:  Stephen  Greenblatt
The Swerve: how the world became modern ( sound recording CD)
This book traces the Roman work by Lucretius, entitled “De Rerum Natura”, or “On the Nature of Things.” The original work was lost, found, destroyed, and rediscovered throughout history, and Greenblatt focuses on the book lover who ultimately saved it from oblivion. On the way we learn about the history of civilization and how we have dealt with radical ideas. Even more startling than the ignorance and brutality that can befall those who refuse to conform were the surprising insights within “On the Nature of Things,” which talks about the true physical structure of our world – atoms and their apparent randomness.

The Roots of the Olive Tree

From Ginny  Pisciotta
Author:  Courtney Miller  Santo
The Roots of the Olive Tree
The Roots of the Olive Tree gives the reader entrance  into the lives of 5 living generations of firstborn daughters and their complex  relationships.  Much of the story takes place at the family home  in an olive grove in the Sacramento Valley.  Anna, the family matriarch, is 112 years old at the beginning of the story and is still going strong.  Her daughter is 90 and also healthy in body and mind.

A geneticist seeks to unlock the secret of their longevity and provide a breakthrough that would change the aging process.  As he studies their genetic make-up, we catch glimpses into their emotional lives and gradually learn the secrets they are keeping from each other and the world around them.  Mysteries about each of them are revealed little by little as we learn the reasons behind  strained relationships.  The book is divided into sections – each one told from the viewpoint of one of these daughters.  The final chapter in the book jumps ahead about 10 years and is written from the viewpoint of the firstborn son of the youngest.

The book is riveting, but it is not a feel-good kind of story.  The characters are real and flawed, yet you do care about them.

Jiro dreams of sushi

From Andrea  Kalinowski
Author:  David Gelb
Jiro dreams of sushi [videorecording DVD]
Jiro Dreams of Sushi is a DVD which chronicles the story of a Japanese master sushi chef. He owns a small, 10 seat sushi restaurant in a Tokyo subway station. He is teaching  his sons and apprentices the craft of sushi. He explains the relationship between fish and rice vendors and the excellence of his finished product. Due to overfishing and bottom trawling, he and his sons are worried about the future of both sushi and fishing. They have noticed a decline and/or extinction of certain fish. He is 85 and so enamored of his work that he has no plans to retire even though he has been working for 78 years. His pursuit of perfection and his dreams of new forms of sushi has earned him a loyal following and three stars in the Michelin guide.