The author’s personal history mostly elevates this useful guide to healthy eating.




In this debut manual, a nurse who has faced her own eating problems explains why people overindulge and what they can do about it.

Smith begins this book by discussing her own health struggles, frequently drawing on her life experiences throughout the text. “Toxic hunger” is the term she has coined for a specific, destructive appetite. Individuals with this condition devour more food after eating what they need (in contrast to “healthy hunger”). Toxic hunger can be a side effect of chronic dieting, which puts the body in a state of starvation. Smith explains why crash diets are both ineffective and damaging in the long term, and details various types of eating disorders. The scientific explanations are easy to understand (there is a section on GMOs). The book also discusses the kinds of food that readers require, healthy ways to prepare dishes, and other standard advice on topics like exercise and water intake. The author offers some unorthodox tips for resisting junk food, such as imagining it is full of worms. She describes weathering many health problems, including eating disorders, and as the narrative progresses, she discloses further hardships that contributed to her condition. Smith’s deep exploration of her own life gives this book a highly personal touch compared with the usual health guides. This is a huge asset until the author discusses the death of her son as a young adult. She harshly blames herself for his death, which she believes was caused by imposing her own eating habits on him in childhood. Even though this is a sincere representation of Smith’s feelings, within the context of a health manual, it lays a psychic burden on readers, especially those who are parents. It stands in stark contrast to the solid information in the work on the biology of eating disorders, weight gain, and addiction. Input from a mental health professional (beyond just research) might have further enhanced the valuable psychology discussions throughout the book.

The author’s personal history mostly elevates this useful guide to healthy eating.

Pub Date: Dec. 5, 2017

ISBN: 978-1-975713-31-7

Page Count: 300

Publisher: CreateSpace

Review Posted Online: Feb. 22, 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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An absorbing, wide-ranging story of humans’ relationship with the water.


A study of swimming as sport, survival method, basis for community, and route to physical and mental well-being.

For Bay Area writer Tsui (American Chinatown: A People's History of Five Neighborhoods, 2009), swimming is in her blood. As she recounts, her parents met in a Hong Kong swimming pool, and she often visited the beach as a child and competed on a swim team in high school. Midway through the engaging narrative, the author explains how she rejoined the team at age 40, just as her 6-year-old was signing up for the first time. Chronicling her interviews with scientists and swimmers alike, Tsui notes the many health benefits of swimming, some of which are mental. Swimmers often achieve the “flow” state and get their best ideas while in the water. Her travels took her from the California coast, where she dove for abalone and swam from Alcatraz back to San Francisco, to Tokyo, where she heard about the “samurai swimming” martial arts tradition. In Iceland, she met Guðlaugur Friðþórsson, a local celebrity who, in 1984, survived six hours in a winter sea after his fishing vessel capsized, earning him the nickname “the human seal.” Although humans are generally adapted to life on land, the author discovered that some have extra advantages in the water. The Bajau people of Indonesia, for instance, can do 10-minute free dives while hunting because their spleens are 50% larger than average. For most, though, it’s simply a matter of practice. Tsui discussed swimming with Dara Torres, who became the oldest Olympic swimmer at age 41, and swam with Kim Chambers, one of the few people to complete the daunting Oceans Seven marathon swim challenge. Drawing on personal experience, history, biology, and social science, the author conveys the appeal of “an unflinching giving-over to an element” and makes a convincing case for broader access to swimming education (372,000 people still drown annually).

An absorbing, wide-ranging story of humans’ relationship with the water.

Pub Date: April 14, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-61620-786-1

Page Count: 288

Publisher: Algonquin

Review Posted Online: Jan. 5, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 2020

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