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June 23, 2011 / schulerbooks

It was the summer solstice yesterday, the longest day of the year. Unfortunately, in this neck of the woods it was hard to appreciate the extra daylight hiding behind the huge thunderheads that rolled through last evening. Hope your power’s back on by now and your reading lamp is working again. Here’s what we’re reading:

Quite often as I’m thinking about this newsletter, trying to decide what I’m going to write about this week, the decision’s made in a completely unexpected way. I was unpacking a box of new books the other day and there was a new Puffin Classics edition of Pinocchio. Carlo Collodi’s classic stuck me as an overlooked treasure. Everybody’s familiar with the wonderful Disney movie, but I’ve talked to parents who felt the original book is a bit too dark for younger kids. It’s true; there’s lying, cheating and stealing, even a bit of violence, that sets a different tone from the cartoon, but I vividly remember how much I loved it when I first read it some 40+ years ago. And it does have a happy ending, along with a positive moral. Collodi should be shared with your children as readily as Dr. Seuss, Lewis Carroll and J.K. Rowling.

Ah, you germophobes are going to love this one. Biologist Rob Dunn’s new book, The Wild Life of Our Bodies, takes us all to task for removing ourselves so aggressively from the parasites, pathogens, mutualists and bacteria we “grew up” with, evolutionarily speaking. Rather than only making us healthier, Dunn argues that this disconnect from our true place in nature has led to a rise in both physical and psychological maladies. It’s hard to argue with his research, and he presents his findings very convincingly. So how do we go about reacquainting ourselves with our former tiny allies? There are a few suggestions for that in here, too.

I admit I don’t often read travel books. An occasional Bryson or Theroux title, because I love their writing style. Or Bourdain for the food, of course. But there have been too many “I gave up my comfortable life somewhere and roughed it for a year in Provence, or Tuscany” stories to hold my interest. But just released is The Wild Coast, by John Gimlette, and it was a blast to read. Northeast South America is one of the least hospitable places on earth. Guyana, Suriname and French Guiana really come to vivid life with Gimlette’s gift for telling a story, and his spot-on humor. This was quite an adventure in a place that doesn’t suffer strangers gladly. I was completely swept away to another part of the world for the duration.

Lots of great books were released in paperback this week. Here are some highlights:

As always, I’d like to invite you to comment on my ramblings, or send your own reviews. We’re here to be a good neighbor, so let me know if you have any questions about pricing or delivery of our books.

Until next week,

Neil

neil@schulerbooks.com

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