Some useful health advice can be found amid the plethora of suggestions.

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STRESS MAKES YOU FAT, WRINKLED AND DEAD

A debut book pinpoints the myriad sources of stress in modern life and offers tips for coping with it.

Ben-Joseph identifies himself as a naturopath and healer; Lewis trained with him in manual physical therapy in the 1970s. The authors previously co-wrote a radio script, The 6 Ways Stress Can Kill You. This book’s title suggests a practical medical guide whereas the contents actually veer more toward holistic self-help. But the title does faithfully reflect the tone: familiar, even jokey, and reader-friendly—with plenty of exclamation points, phrases emphasized in boldface, and stock images to vividly illustrate the material. Initially, the problem is that the work doesn’t seem to be sure what it wants to be: readers must wade through 50 pages of florid meditations on the human condition (“For each of us, existing on this blue-white sphere called earth, the wheel of life continues its constant turn”), metaphorical thoughts on the seasons, and generic advice on nutrition and hygiene before getting to the matter at hand in Chapter 4. From here on, the authors break down the causes of stress into digestible sections on everything from moving problems to foot ailments. They helpfully list the effects of physical stress on bodily systems, but the suggestions are all too basic: for example, label your moving boxes; buy appropriate footwear; try earplugs. Chapter 8, disingenuously titled “Helpful Hints,” is nothing but a one-page plug for Ben-Joseph’s “Prime Longevity” supplement. Not until the 12th chapter do readers get the expected straightforward techniques for dealing with stress, such as visualization. This section plus the one on two- to three-minute exercises to alleviate stress are the most valuable, hands-on ones. But the dietary tips, again, seem self-explanatory, or too niche—perhaps echoing Jewish guidelines? (No pork or crustaceans, for instance.) A sex education lesson serves no obvious purpose, and there is some decidedly odd wording that detracts from the authors’ arguments, like “Monitor how many chews you perform with each mouthful” and “Why is the lure of dangerous men that attracts females.”

Some useful health advice can be found amid the plethora of suggestions.

Pub Date: July 27, 2017

ISBN: 978-1-5246-9242-1

Page Count: 251

Publisher: AuthorHouse

Review Posted Online: Nov. 3, 2017

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

WHY WE SWIM

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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