Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Dear Great Book Guru,   I will be at Sea Cliff Beach this weekend for the Silly Shakespeare Company's encore performance of "Julius Caesar" (Saturday, 6pm). I plan to get there early because this performance should attract a huge audience.  While I 'm waiting for the show to start, I'll need something good to read. Any ideas- I'm thinking non-fiction….?   Shakespearean Scholar Sitting by the Sea

Dear Sitting by the Sea,   What fun! Spooky Park's Shakespeare was great but I think Sea Cliff Beach might be even a better venue. I do have a good book for you: THE VIOLINIST'S THUMB by Sam Kean.  It starts out with an interesting history of DNA research from 1860 to the present with mini bios of Gregor Mendel, LI's own Barbara McClintock, and Charles Darwin  among many others, but then takes a spectacular turn with each subsequent chapter telling a DNA story, beginning with as Kean calls him "perhaps the most unlucky man of the twentieth century" Tsutomu Yamaguchi. Yamaguchi rushed out of his apartment in Hiroshima, on August 6, 1945, was struck down by the atomic bomb blast, struggled mightily against horrendous odds to get home to his wife and children, arriving  in Nagasaki on August  8 to be once again struck down by an atomic bomb blast.  Despite extensive radiation exposure, he lived a long life, dying in 2010. What was it about his DNA that he survived and others did not?  From cat hoarders to Egyptian royalty,  the book is filled with  interesting case histories - all of which illuminate our understanding of life.  A good read!

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