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

GOOD TO GO

WHAT THE ATHLETE IN ALL OF US CAN LEARN FROM THE STRANGE SCIENCE OF RECOVERY

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...

THE IMMORTAL LIFE OF HENRIETTA LACKS

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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One of the NBA’s 50 greatest players scores another basket—a deeply personal one.

BACK FROM THE DEAD

A basketball legend reflects on his life in the game and a life lived in the “nightmare of endlessly repetitive and constant pain, agony, and guilt.”

Walton (Nothing but Net, 1994, etc.) begins this memoir on the floor—literally: “I have been living on the floor for most of the last two and a half years, unable to move.” In 2008, he suffered a catastrophic spinal collapse. “My spine will no longer hold me,” he writes. Thirty-seven orthopedic injuries, stemming from the fact that he had malformed feet, led to an endless string of stress fractures. As he notes, Walton is “the most injured athlete in the history of sports.” Over the years, he had ground his lower extremities “down to dust.” Walton’s memoir is two interwoven stories. The first is about his lifelong love of basketball, the second, his lifelong battle with injuries and pain. He had his first operation when he was 14, for a knee hurt in a basketball game. As he chronicles his distinguished career in the game, from high school to college to the NBA, he punctuates that story with a parallel one that chronicles at each juncture the injuries he suffered and overcame until he could no longer play, eventually turning to a successful broadcasting career (which helped his stuttering problem). Thanks to successful experimental spinal fusion surgery, he’s now pain-free. And then there’s the music he loves, especially the Grateful Dead’s; it accompanies both stories like a soundtrack playing off in the distance. Walton tends to get long-winded at times, but that won’t be news to anyone who watches his broadcasts, and those who have been afflicted with lifelong injuries will find the book uplifting and inspirational. Basketball fans will relish Walton’s acumen and insights into the game as well as his stories about players, coaches (especially John Wooden), and games, all told in Walton’s fervent, witty style.

One of the NBA’s 50 greatest players scores another basket—a deeply personal one.

Pub Date: March 8, 2016

ISBN: 978-1-4767-1686-2

Page Count: 352

Publisher: Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: Dec. 19, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 2016

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