Wednesday, July 23, 2014

From UCD authors, here’s a nonrequired reading list

From page ONC6 | September 25, 2013 |

Special to The Enterprise

Poetry, a memoir of a political prisoner in Iran and books about eating — one on rare chiles and one on, yes, dirt — top this year’s reading list. The titles are culled from dozens of books published in the past year by UC Davis faculty, students, staff and alumni.

* “Craving Earth”: Sera Young, a reproductive and infectious diseases researcher at the UCD Medical Center in Sacramento, has investigated why people eat dirt, ice, chalk and other nonfood items to see if it was related in any way to health, medicine, pregnancy, religion or mental illness.

While the research results of Young and others throughout history have been largely inconclusive, she found the age-old practice too fascinating to restrict to academia and turned it into a book for the masses. She writes about “pica,” an abnormal desire to eat nonfood items, in accessible prose in “Craving Earth.”

“People have been eating earth for a very long time,” according to Young. She tells of people who sneak around to eat chalk and starch (both the laundry kind and the type you use to thicken gravy) so that their loved ones won’t know, and about people who devote Facebook pages to this obsession; she also talks about a woman who buys an industrial-size ice machine to feed her ice-eating habit.

Who knew?

* “Peach Farmer’s Daughter”: Brenda Nakamoto, a longtime staffer in the College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences, writes about her childhood as a sansei (third-generation Japanese-American) growing up on a peach farm in Gridley. The engaging essays and poems, pieced together in 200 pages, focus on family, the land, farming and the ethnic melting pot of the Central Valley.

The family’s hard work, their leisure times, and their relationships with seasonal workers are vividly described. You’ll feel the grit of the dirt and prickle of peach fuzz on sweaty skin. Nakamoto weaves the stories with illustrations, including yellowed color snapshots of life in the orchards.

* “Other Suns”: Patricia Killelea, a doctoral student in Native American studies, writes about nature, conservation and human engagement through verse. Says the publisher: “Killelea’s clear lyrics speak to the ways in which land shapes perception, reminding us that natural space is indeed social space.”

The slim and readable book of poetry takes some unusual turns, including an excerpt of a newspaper story about a fawn that was killed in Oakland, followed by a poem about someone who ran a race in the fawn’s honor.

* “Let Us Water the Flowers”: Jafar Yaghoobi returned to his homeland of Iran after earning his doctoral degree in genetics at UCD, but was held as a political prisoner for five years during the decade after the Islamic Revolution broke out in 1979. The book is the promise he kept to himself that if he survived, he would tell what happened “at the hands of our Islamist extremist compatriots.” The publisher calls the book “to date the most comprehensive English-language memoir by a survivor of the mass killings.”

Released from prison to house arrest in 1989, Yaghoobi eventually escaped and settled again in the United States with his family. He worked as a genetics research scientist in the department of mematology and plant pathology from 1991 until his retirement in 2005. He lives in San Francisco, and this is his first book.

* “Trust in the Land”: Beth Rose Middleton, as assistant professor of Native American studies, examines new and innovative ideas concerning native land conservancies, providing advice on land trusts, collaborations and conservation groups. Middleton writes from the perspective of a woman of Afro-Caribbean (Belizean, Jamaican and Honduran) and Eastern European (Russian and Lithuanian) heritage raised in California Miwok country, specifically the Mokulumne watershed of the central Sierra Nevada foothills.

She raises possibilities for regaining access to culturally vital lands and other resources, while also making a case for land trusts to improve relationships with native partners.

* “Chasing Chiles — Hot Spots Along the Pepper Trail”: Kraig Kraft, who recently earned a doctorate in ecology at UCD, teams up with two fellow slow food and chile fanatics in a spicy odyssey to find the rarest heirloom chile varieties. But the authors have a sobering mission — to understand the effects of climate change by zeroing in on one critical crop and the farmers, chefs and others whose lives are most deeply intertwined with it. They visit the pepper-growing states of the United States and Mexico in a van they call the spice ship.

A bonus: complete recipes with detailed instructions, allowing a reader to learn more about climate change and slow food while feasting on poblanos rellenos. The downside: descriptions are so realistic and Kraft’s photography so vivid your eyes may sting.

To keep up with other new books from UCD authors, subscribe to UC Davis Bookstore Buzz by trade books buyer Paul Takushi (who helped select titles for this list). Send an e-mail to with “buzz subscribe” in the subject heading. Books by UCD authors also are on sale at the bookstore in the “Campus Authors” section.

— UC Davis News Service


Discussion | No comments

The Davis Enterprise does not necessarily condone the comments here, nor does it review every post. Read our full policy

  • Recent Posts

  • Enter your email address to subscribe to this newspaper and receive notifications of new articles by email.

  • .


    Are arachnids awesome or awful? Visit Bohart Museum to find out

    By Kathy Keatley Garvey | From Page: A1 | Gallery

    NAMI program offers mental illness information, support

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: A3

    Backpacks for Kids launches annual donation drive

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: A3

    Architecture in Davis, on ‘Davisville’

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: A3

    Speaker will spin some fishing tales at Davis meeting

    By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: A3 | Gallery

    Kids can paint their own Breyer horses at Davis store

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: A3

    Grandparents support group meets weekly

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: A3

    Kaiser awards grants to Yolo nonprofits

    By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: A3

    Wine-tastings will benefit YCCC

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: A4

    Pedro party will benefit Yolo Hospice

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: A4

    Car lovers will speak Sunday at gallery

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: A4

    Racial diversity crucial to drug trials, treatments

    By San Francisco Chronicle | From Page: A4

    Exchange program seeks host families

    By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: A4

    Enterprise is focus of Davis Roots talk

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: A5



    They’re pickier than she is

    By Creators Syndicate | From Page: B5

    U.S. is complicit in attack

    By Letters to the Editor | From Page: A6, 1 Comment

    Extinguish extremism for peace

    By Letters to the Editor | From Page: A6

    With profound gratitude

    By Letters to the Editor | From Page: A6

    Someday, there will be peace

    By Rich Rifkin | From Page: A6

    Tom Meyer cartoon

    By Debbie Davis | From Page: A6



    Former Davis man at crossroads: biking or artwork?

    By Bruce Gallaudet | From Page: B1 | Gallery

    Aggie golfer headed to men’s U.S. Amateur Championship

    By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: B1 | Gallery

    Giants outlast Phillies

    By The Associated Press | From Page: B1 | Gallery

    A’s fall in extra innings

    By The Associated Press | From Page: B1 | Gallery

    Blue Jays hitting upends Red Sox

    By The Associated Press | From Page: B2

    Pyrenees please Nibali, Rogers in Tour Stage 16

    By The Associated Press | From Page: B3

    Albergotti to discuss Armstrong’s doping scandal

    By Bruce Gallaudet | From Page: B8



    Field to Fork: Skyelark Ranch, not a lark at all

    By Dan Kennedy | From Page: A8 | Gallery

    Name droppers: ASUCD hands out awards

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: A8 | Gallery



    Additional casting notice for ‘Hello Dolly’

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: A7

    Hear Los Tres de Winters on Thursday

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: A7

    Picott to play at The Palms Playhouse

    By Kate Laddish | From Page: A7

    Fairy-tale romance in Barnyard Theatre’s ‘Pinky’

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: A7

    Soar to Neverland with DMTC’s ‘Peter Pan’

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: A7 | Gallery

    Village Homes to host Rita Hosking Trio

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: A7 | Gallery

    Tomato Festival makes call for young artists

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: A7







    Comics: Wednesday, July 23, 2014

    By Creator | From Page: B6