Good Germs, Bad Germs

Twin horror stories lead off this slender but vastly informative examination of bacteria and their intimate, complex role in our lives. One is an account of a high school football star stricken by a drug-resistant infection; the second describes a child whose food allergies threaten his life. Jessica Snyder Sachs tells their tales movingly but swiftly leaves them behind for her real subject: how our modern "war on germs" may have given rise to both their conditions. What follows is a Fantastic Voyage through the human body and the world of its millions of microbial denizens. It's a journey that sheds light on why, for all the scientific advances in hygiene and antibiotics, developed countries continue to face new and more daunting challenges in the form of "superbugs" and out-of-control allergies. Sachs isn't afraid of a little lab-speak, and Good Germs, Bad Germs will often make you wish you'd paid more attention in Bio 101. But the author has a knack for giving dramatic form to the many organisms that take the stage here. As she demonstrates how microbes swap genes, send out radar-like detection molecules, and brilliantly adapt to the strategies we use against them, we watch their astonishing feats as if in a brilliantly animated film. The result is an important -- and eye-opening -- inquiry into human-microbe coevolution. -

April 23: " 'A job,' the woman repeated again, smiling, as if I hadn't heard her. 'Would you like one?' "

Kenneth Calhoun (Black Moon) and Lysley Tenorio (Monstress) of the Discover Great New Writers program on B-movies, heritage, and finales.

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Books, CDs, DVDs to know about now
In the Light of What We Know

Zia Haider Rahman's mystery of a brilliant Bangladeshi mathematician's past barrels through the Ivy League, London high finance, and spy-haunted Afghanistan in a page-turning tale of exile, intrigue and the price of friendship. A Discover Great New Writers selection.

The People's Platform

Once touted as the foundation for tomorrow's digital democracy, the Internet is increasingly ruled by a few corporate giants, while millions of contributors till its fields for free. Astra Taylor looks at why the web has failed to deliver a communitarian cyberscape, and offers a compelling case for restoring its original vision.

A Private Venus

Dubbed "the Italian Simenon," Giorgio Scerbanenco (1911-1969) began his crime-writing career with books set in the USA, but quickly shifted scene closer to home, the city of Milan.  In this adventure, appearing in English for the first time, his underdog hero Dr. Duca Lamberti finds himself in the middle of a seedy, scantily clad criminal racket, where the presence of an outsider could result in death.