A sensible guide to health from two genial experts.

Anything you want to know about what, when, and how to eat.

Food gurus Bittman (How To Cook Everything: Completely Revised 20th Anniversary Edition, 2019, etc.), special adviser on Food Policy at Columbia’s Mailman School of Public Health, and Katz (The Truth About Food: Why Pandas Eat Bamboo and People Get Bamboozled, 2018, etc.), founding director of the Yale-Griffin Prevention Research Center, bring their expertise and common sense to answering myriad questions about diet and nutrition. “The artful (or at least competent!) blend of science and sense is what we believe to be our signature contribution,” write the authors, as they impart their views on various diets, whether it’s advisable to always eat breakfast (“there is nothing holy about breakfast,” they assert), what makes a good snack (apples, walnuts, bananas, carrots, hummus, bean dip, salad are fine), whether dairy is good or bad (it depends on what you’re eating and what dairy replaces), and whether there are any true superfoods (the idea of a superfood “is a marketing ploy”). They ring in on how much protein an average person needs, the difference between complete and incomplete proteins, the difference between saturated and unsaturated fats and between fructose (the natural sugar found in plants) and high-fructose corn syrup, which is processed in factories and contains about 45% glucose. Overall, the authors advocate eating unprocessed foods from local sources, which leads to “reducing carbon footprint, supporting local economies, eating seasonally (and fresh), knowing where your food comes from and how it was raised…all these are inarguably positive attributes.” They deal with debates over questions such as eating eggs, avoiding foods that cause inflammation, adding probiotics to one’s diet, using artificial sweeteners, getting enough antioxidants, and whether to take vitamin and mineral supplements, which “should be supplements to a good diet, not substitutes for one.” The authors are straightforward when they can’t resolve a controversy (such as the health benefits of taking a multivitamin mineral mix) and cite scientific studies.

A sensible guide to health from two genial experts.

Pub Date: March 3, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-358-12882-3

Page Count: 256

Publisher: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt

Review Posted Online: Dec. 22, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2020



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. 4, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 2020


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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