Thoughtful analyses and helpful takeaways on healthy eating.


Six Nine, Two Ten


A biologist shares his struggles, research, and eventual success in achieving optimal weight in this debut memoir and health guide.

Given his height of 6 feet 9 inches, Clouse was able to “hide a lot of extra poundage, but how to get it off while maintaining my large body was a puzzle I struggled to solve.” In this guide, the biologist, now in his 40s, discusses how he was able to shed 50 pounds, allowing him to avoid “creeping into ‘obese’ territory,” and maintain what he determines is a healthy weight for his height and body type (as expressed in his title). Initially thinking he would have to focus on a high-protein diet to keep from feeling hungry while reducing calories, Clouse ended up following a friend’s advice that eating leafy plants in large amounts could actually provide the protein needed at a low caloric intake. He details how he threw out all the food in his pantry and focused on making big salads of fruit and vegetables, eventually adding complex carbs including oatmeal, while even enjoying cheating days. The result: he no longer experienced the weight bounce-backs that had occurred in previous diet attempts. Clouse also discusses his birth in Micronesia as well as later work and research studies, including in the New York region, noting, for example, that his bout with salmonella as an infant likely gave him ongoing nutritional and digestive challenges and that the diminishing dominance of nutrient-rich yams as an island staple led to increasing obesity rates. Clouse, a North Carolina–based researcher and academic who has written professional papers as well as expedition blogs for National Geographic, has produced an engaging, accessible essay highlighting his personal explorations into the science of food and diet that has applications for anyone seeking to avoid obesity and improve well-being. While the author doesn’t offer detailed menu breakdowns, he does spark the imagination—and entice the senses—by describing how “a typical salad might consist of chopped broccoli, apples, spring onions, mint leaves, kale, multi-colored carrots, and dried blueberries.” Overall, an inspiring call to arms to transform one’s diet.

Thoughtful analyses and helpful takeaways on healthy eating.

Pub Date: May 28, 2016

ISBN: 978-1-5329-6342-1

Page Count: 102

Publisher: CreateSpace

Review Posted Online: July 27, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 2016

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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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