An intriguing look at staying healthy that takes a critical view of current practices.




A debut health book offers readers a theory for a better quality of life.

People are living longer and longer, but what is the use of longevity if their quality of life is not also improved? Quality of life in America is still hampered by the tremendous amount of misinformation people have regarding their health and nutrition. “There are two simple steps to achieve well-being,” writes Håkerud in the book’s preface. “1. You have to find out what is good for you and what is bad for you. 2. You have to do what is good for you and avoid what is bad for you.” The author, an experienced chiropractor and physiotherapist, believes that the only obstacles keeping people from following these steps are either a lack of education or a case of denial. The best way to maintain a good quality of life is not better treatment for the ill, Håkerud argues, but to keep healthy people from getting sick in the first place. The author examines the history of health science, pointing out areas where he thinks it has gone astray—he disagrees with the widely held concept that genes dictate behavior independent of environmental factors, for instance—and questioning treatments that don’t force patients to change their lifestyles. He proposes his own understanding of the interaction between the mind and body, and he presents a guide to “the art of living” that will help maintain a desirable quality of life. The author’s prose is conversational and accessible, even when he delves into matters of scientific complexity: “With these laws, Descartes bumped into a problem. Human thoughts have too many variables to fit into these predictable laws. Descartes solved this problem by claiming that the laws that applied to the objective physical world did not apply to the mind.” Håkerud’s ideas are generally thoughtful and persuasive, though some readers may find him overly skeptical of medicine. The book is more a treatise on the state of health science than a practical manual with tips and tricks. But for those looking for a considered challenge to conventional wisdom, the author’s words make for engrossing reading.

An intriguing look at staying healthy that takes a critical view of current practices.

Pub Date: N/A

ISBN: 978-1-982217-07-5

Page Count: 165

Publisher: BalboaPress

Review Posted Online: Feb. 25, 2019

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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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