“Catching Fire: How Cooking Made Us Human” by Richard Wrangham (Basic Books, 2009)

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From the professor of Biological Anthropology at Harvard University, as well as the co-author of Demonic Males and co-editor of Primate Societies, comes Catching Fire, a thoroughly researched book on the importance of the discovery of fire and how it changed Homo sapiens sapiens forever.

While initially thinking Catching Fire would be an in-depth foray into our ancestral humanity, looking at different hominids and what it was that led to the discovery of fire and going on from there, I was pleasantly surprised to discover a book more in the style of Michael Pollan’s Omnivores Dilemma.  The origin of fire and cooking are certainly discussed in this book, but the true story here is how humanity has benefited from cooking, and how it has aided us on the evolutionary path to making us the dominant species on the planet.  Wrangham boils (pun intended!) it down  to energy and how when foods (especially meats) are cooked, more energy is generated from consuming them.  The author scientifically breaks this down by analyzing the energy gained from raw meats as opposed to cooked, as well as vegetables, revealing the problems that some vegetarians and vegans can have in needing to make sure they get enough energy from the foods they consume.

Reading Catching Fire will educate you in a number of ways: you will learn the importance of our ancestors learning to cook foods and further our evolutionary development, but you will also learn why it is we cook foods – on a biological level – and how it can change how we grow and develop, both physically and intellectually.

If you liked this review and are interested in purchasing this book, click here.

Originally written on August 13th 2009 ©Alex C. Telander.

“Catching Fire” by Suzanne Collins (Scholastic, 2009)

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We last left Katniss winner of the Hunger Games, and for the first time in history a co-winner with Peeta, but she knows what they did has upset the government and the President, who would love nothing more than to execute them for that they did.  But the couple has become a sensation, worshiped and celebrated across the districts.  Katniss’s actions have even sparked riots and rebellions in the other districts, which she never expected to do.  The government doesn’t hesitate, stopping, destroying and killing those who are to blame, while Katniss wonder’s what her fate might be.

Meanwhile she is also fighting with what her heart’s desire, but is it Peeta or her friend Gale.  Who will she choose?  Then the unbelievable happens, creating a series of events that brings the nightmare back to her and what she thought she was done with, she must now face again, only this time the stakes are raised even further.

Suzanne Collins is a talented writer with a story-telling style that is able to suck in any reader and keep them locked in and hooked to the very last page.  There should be stickers on her books warning that once the reader starts, they won’t be able to stop!  And once fans are done with Catching Fire, they only have to wait until August 24th, 2010, though they may want to check our her earlier series, The Underland Chronicles.

If you liked this review and are interested in purchasing this book, click here.

Originally written on December 11th 2009 ©Alex C. Telander.

“Catching Fire” by Suzanne Collins

Just finished, literally, Catching Fire by Suzanne Collins; the incredible sequel to Hunger Games.  They really need to put a warning on these books — as I’ve been telling everyone I get hooked on them — to not read them at night, or you’ll just be stuck into the wee hours of morning reading the entire book, wanting to, needing to get to the end to know what happens.  That’s just what happened to me and now I really want book 3 which won’t be out until September or October 2010.  Le sigh.  But what a final climax and cliffhanger.  Wow once again for Suzanne Collins, she sure knows how to tell a story and keep you riveted to every word, sentence, paragraph, and page.