Sleep in and have a beer: There’s a winning regimen. A smart, engaging book.



An in-depth exploration of recovery, “something that athletes—pros and weekend warriors alike—do with almost as much gusto and drive as their training.”

Everybody knows that strenuous activity takes it out of a person; it’s why we drink Gatorade between tennis sets and suck down chocolate milk after a marathon. However, as with everything else, science and big bucks alike have entered the picture. In Colorado, where Washington Post health columnist and FiveThirtyEight lead science writer Aschwanden lives, she is able to use a facility packed with massage tables, saunas, Bio-mats, infrared therapy machines, and other gadgets. Her initial diagnosis after a 5K run: “soft tissue work, electrical stimulation, compression, and vibration.” That’s just the beginning, and though Colorado is known as a New Age–y place, there’s good science behind the whole enterprise. The author takes a leisurely tour through the available modalities, though with a knowing wink from start to finish. As she writes of the recovery business, “we’ve somehow managed to make every aspect of it—nutrition, relaxation, and sleep—vastly more complicated, expensive, and time-consuming than it was before.” Still, who doesn’t like a nice spa? Or a cold brew—for, as Aschwanden learned, there is reason to believe that alcohol and pasta may be good as recovery tools for some runners, if, strangely, better for women than for men. The author is refreshingly skeptical throughout, and she turns in some observations along the way that go against received wisdom and practice but, again, have science behind them—e.g., the revised schedule for drinking water while engaging in strenuous activities or in arid environments. “After examining the science,” she writes, reiterating a theme, “I can’t help thinking we’ve made hydration unduly complicated.” But so it is throughout this spry narrative, which makes a good guide for those contemplating adding recovery to their routines.

Sleep in and have a beer: There’s a winning regimen. A smart, engaging book.

Pub Date: Feb. 5, 2019

ISBN: 978-0-393-25433-4

Page Count: 320

Publisher: Norton

Review Posted Online: Nov. 11, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1, 2018

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Skloot's meticulous, riveting account strikes a humanistic balance between sociological history, venerable portraiture and...


A dense, absorbing investigation into the medical community's exploitation of a dying woman and her family's struggle to salvage truth and dignity decades later.

In a well-paced, vibrant narrative, Popular Science contributor and Culture Dish blogger Skloot (Creative Writing/Univ. of Memphis) demonstrates that for every human cell put under a microscope, a complex life story is inexorably attached, to which doctors, researchers and laboratories have often been woefully insensitive and unaccountable. In 1951, Henrietta Lacks, an African-American mother of five, was diagnosed with what proved to be a fatal form of cervical cancer. At Johns Hopkins, the doctors harvested cells from her cervix without her permission and distributed them to labs around the globe, where they were multiplied and used for a diverse array of treatments. Known as HeLa cells, they became one of the world's most ubiquitous sources for medical research of everything from hormones, steroids and vitamins to gene mapping, in vitro fertilization, even the polio vaccine—all without the knowledge, must less consent, of the Lacks family. Skloot spent a decade interviewing every relative of Lacks she could find, excavating difficult memories and long-simmering outrage that had lay dormant since their loved one's sorrowful demise. Equal parts intimate biography and brutal clinical reportage, Skloot's graceful narrative adeptly navigates the wrenching Lack family recollections and the sobering, overarching realities of poverty and pre–civil-rights racism. The author's style is matched by a methodical scientific rigor and manifest expertise in the field.

Skloot's meticulous, riveting account strikes a humanistic balance between sociological history, venerable portraiture and Petri dish politics.

Pub Date: Feb. 9, 2010

ISBN: 978-1-4000-5217-2

Page Count: 320

Publisher: Crown

Review Posted Online: Dec. 22, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 2010

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Doesn’t dig as deep as it could, but offers a captivating look at the NBA’s greatest era.


NBA legends Bird and Johnson, fierce rivals during their playing days, team up on a mutual career retrospective.

With megastars LeBron James and Kobe Bryant and international superstars like China’s Yao Ming pushing it to ever-greater heights of popularity today, it’s difficult to imagine the NBA in 1979, when financial problems, drug scandals and racial issues threatened to destroy the fledgling league. Fortunately, that year marked the coming of two young saviors—one a flashy, charismatic African-American and the other a cocky, blond, self-described “hick.” Arriving fresh off a showdown in the NCAA championship game in which Johnson’s Michigan State Spartans defeated Bird’s Indiana State Sycamores—still the highest-rated college basketball game ever—the duo changed the course of history not just for the league, but the sport itself. While the pair’s on-court accomplishments have been exhaustively chronicled, the narrative hook here is unprecedented insight and commentary from the stars themselves on their unique relationship, a compelling mixture of bitter rivalry and mutual admiration. This snapshot of their respective careers delves with varying degrees of depth into the lives of each man and their on- and off-court achievements, including the historic championship games between Johnson’s Lakers and Bird’s Celtics, their trailblazing endorsement deals and Johnson’s stunning announcement in 1991 that he had tested positive for HIV. Ironically, this nostalgic chronicle about the two men who, along with Michael Jordan, turned more fans onto NBA basketball than any other players, will likely appeal primarily to a narrow cross-section of readers: Bird/Magic fans and hardcore hoop-heads.

Doesn’t dig as deep as it could, but offers a captivating look at the NBA’s greatest era.

Pub Date: Nov. 4, 2009

ISBN: 978-0-547-22547-0

Page Count: 352

Publisher: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 2009

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