Every weekday we feature a different review on Booklist Online. These reviews are notable for different reasons—they may be starred, or high-demand, or especially relevant to the current issue’s spotlight. We’ve collected the reviews from October 12–16 below, so you can revisit the best of the week.
Monday, October 12
Loos, Poos, and Number Twos, by Peter Hepplewhite and illustrated by Tom Morgan-Jones
“Everyone loves the smell of their own farts,” this book declares brightly. “Bet you do too.” And that sets the tone for the whole shebang. This installment in the Awfully Ancient series takes a fearlessly chipper plunge into the history of excrement (referred to, for most of the text, as poo). From the archaeological impact of dug-up dung to early toilets in ancient Greece, Rome, Egypt, and China to the devastating effects a lack of hygienic waste disposal had in early London, it seems as though every bowels-related question possible has been answered.
Tuesday, October 13
Make Mead like a Viking, by Jereme Zimmerman
After an exhausting day raiding coastlines and terrorizing natives, Vikings loved to relax with a nice quaff of mead. Over the centuries, mead retreated to merely a historical curiosity. But thanks to creative and adventuresome home brewers such as Zimmerman, mead has roared back to life. Zimmerman promotes natural fermentation from airborne yeasts, but for those lacking bold Viking genes, he offers advice on fermentation from commercial yeasts.
Wednesday, October 14
The Yid, by Paul Goldberg
Paul Goldberg emigrated from Moscow to the U.S. at 14 in 1973 and became a reporter focused on Soviet dissidents and cancer research. His firsthand knowledge of Soviet life and his medical expertise inform The Yid, his wily, rambunctiously entertaining first novel about an unlikely group of valorous would-be assassins and one of history’s most alarming close calls. A clue to the modus operandi of his tale’s irresistible characters is found in Goldberg’s journalistic agility and tenacity, which inspired the New York Times to describe him as “a Russian émigré with a quirky sense of humor and a thirst for the jugular.”
Thursday, October 15
The Mystery of Hollow Places, by Rebecca Podos
When Imogene’s father, a famous author of detective novels, disappears, she agrees to let the police do the investigating. But she has held back some crucial clues, and she secretly starts digging deeper into her father’s absence, as well as the years-old mystery of her missing mother. Imogene, whose worldview has been shaped, for better or worse, by mystery novels featuring troubled, solitary detectives with brilliant investigative skills, bristles when well-meaning friends and her stepmother try to help, choosing instead to make sometimes foolhardy choices when tracking down her parents.
Friday, October 16
Moone Boy: The Blunder Years, written and read by Chris O’Dowd and Nick V. Murphy
From the first chords of the punk-inspired theme song at the beginning to the closing chords of the same at the end, this recording turns a funny book into a hilarious listen. Martin Moone, tired of living in a houseful of sisters, decides to get an imaginary friend (IF). Along his journey, he meets a loopy clown, talking trees, school bullies, strange sisters, mercenary haystacks, and more. Actor O’Dowd uses cartoonish voices to bring the characters to life. The hapless Martin is filled with eager optimism, despite his chronic missteps.