A quirky and useful guide to gradually adopting healthier eating habits.



A self-help book on how to achieve sustainable weight loss by eating for pleasure as well as health.

Although this guide’s subject is weight loss, it isn’t a conventional diet book. Instead of prescribing what foods to eat or avoid, health writer Alvear focuses on howto eat, promising to guide readers toward healthier eating habits by borrowing principles and discoveries from the fields of anthropology, physiology, neuroscience, psychology, and biology. He asserts that food manufacturers have contributed to skyrocketing obesity and ill health by manipulating consumers into eating larger amounts of food, even as its taste and nutritional quality plummets. Standard portion sizes have increased dramatically since the early 20th century, the author writes; even dishes and utensils are significantly larger. He discusses how the general public is constantly bombarded with advertising for junk food and fast food, and how messages about “good” and “bad” foods are full of bewildering contradictions. However, he also notes that research into human biology and behavior can point the way to healthy, enjoyable eating without deprivation or guilt. For example, the book notes that strategies that involve quick, drastic changes are sure to backfire, but mindful eating practices that focus on sensory pleasure can make smaller portions more enjoyable and help people to naturally eat less. The author outlines clear, actionable steps for tapering off poor eating habits, substituting better ones, and rebounding from occasional lapses. Some of the detailed techniques, such reducing soda portions a few spoonfuls at a time, seem impractical, as somewhat less gradual tactics would likely be just as effective. Still, the writing is often persuasive, with plenty of humor, as when it calls dieting “the main exhibition at the Museum of Failure.” It also clearly explains challenging terms, such as “systematic sensitization” and “alimentary alliesthesia.” However, specific citations for research studies mentioned in the text would have been helpful.

A quirky and useful guide to gradually adopting healthier eating habits.

Pub Date: Jan. 1, 2022


Page Count: 151

Publisher: Woodpecker Media

Review Posted Online: Nov. 11, 2021

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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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A conversational, pleasurable look into McConaughey’s life and thought.

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All right, all right, all right: The affable, laconic actor delivers a combination of memoir and self-help book.

“This is an approach book,” writes McConaughey, adding that it contains “philosophies that can be objectively understood, and if you choose, subjectively adopted, by either changing your reality, or changing how you see it. This is a playbook, based on adventures in my life.” Some of those philosophies come in the form of apothegms: “When you can design your own weather, blow in the breeze”; “Simplify, focus, conserve to liberate.” Others come in the form of sometimes rambling stories that never take the shortest route from point A to point B, as when he recounts a dream-spurred, challenging visit to the Malian musician Ali Farka Touré, who offered a significant lesson in how disagreement can be expressed politely and without rancor. Fans of McConaughey will enjoy his memories—which line up squarely with other accounts in Melissa Maerz’s recent oral history, Alright, Alright, Alright—of his debut in Richard Linklater’s Dazed and Confused, to which he contributed not just that signature phrase, but also a kind of too-cool-for-school hipness that dissolves a bit upon realizing that he’s an older guy on the prowl for teenage girls. McConaughey’s prep to settle into the role of Wooderson involved inhabiting the mind of a dude who digs cars, rock ’n’ roll, and “chicks,” and he ran with it, reminding readers that the film originally had only three scripted scenes for his character. The lesson: “Do one thing well, then another. Once, then once more.” It’s clear that the author is a thoughtful man, even an intellectual of sorts, though without the earnestness of Ethan Hawke or James Franco. Though some of the sentiments are greeting card–ish, this book is entertaining and full of good lessons.

A conversational, pleasurable look into McConaughey’s life and thought.

Pub Date: Oct. 20, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-593-13913-4

Page Count: 304

Publisher: Crown

Review Posted Online: Oct. 27, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1, 2020

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