Category Archives: Books

“The Genetics of Health: Understand Your Genes for Better Health” is a practical guide to personalized health and nutrition

You can now take charge of your health by understanding the connection between our evolutionary past and our future well-being with The Genetics of Health: Understand Your Genes for Better Health (Atria Books/Beyond Words, $26), a practical guide to personalized health and nutrition from distinguished physician Sharad Paul, MD. Save the date: The book releases April 4.

Recognized as one of the best in his field, surgeon, academic and philanthropist (Time has dubbed him “Open Hearted Surgeon”), Dr. Paul combines everyday health with evolutionary biology and explains how to improve your overall wellness by following a diet and exercise plan based on your gene type.

Written in a captivating literary narrative that sets this title apart from the average self-help book, The Genetics of Health starts with our brains and covers everything from skin and muscles to hearts, diets and stress management. Dr. Paul shares key information and provides steps to improve our daily well-being—impacting everything from our energy levels to memory retention to our overall longevity.

Dr. Paul discusses:

· How to eat for your gene type

· Getting your genes tested

· How you can test for genetic dispositions such as laziness and procrastination

· The best types of exercise for your gene type

· How to reduce your risk of dementia

· The surprising benefits of dance and stress on our genes

· How anxiety and being a scaredy-cat can make you live longer

Our evolutionary past and genetic makeup determine how and why the body works the way it does and how it all combines to make us unique individuals. Presenting a compelling blend of medical mysteries, patient stories, and science, Dr. Paul has developed a revolutionary approach to wellness that will result in beautiful skin at any age, a healthier diet for muscle endurance and skeletal strength, a more resilient and efficient heart, better mood and memory balance and more.


Harper Design and MinaLima team for a most glorious “The Beauty and the Beast”

Tale as old as time/True as it can be/Barely even friends/Then somebody bends/Unexpectedly . . . 

Harper Design never does anything unexpectedly, but the publisher has bent itself in a most lavish way. They have just released The Beauty and the Beast ($29.99), the third book in a series of illustrated classics, that gets reimagined in a most deluxe gift edition. What a glorious journey . . . the tome features stunning new artwork and nine interactive features from the award-winning design studio behind the graphics for the Harry Potter film franchise, MinaLima. Timed to coincide with Walt Disney Pictures’ film adaptation of Beauty and the Beast, this book engages those interested in seeing the musical starring Emma Watson, Ewan McGregor, Kevin Kline and Ian McKellen.

To add elements of visual intrigue, MinaLima includes:

· A trifold map of the rich French city where the Merchant (Beauty’s father) and his family reside

· A fold out that reveals the interior of the Beast’s enchanted palace

· A series of windows that open to reveal different entertainments to Beauty while in the Beast’s palace

· A dial of the ring Beauty turns on her finger to return to the Beast’s palace after visiting her family

This collectible edition is filled with stunning illustrations of stories that continue to be cherished by readers of all ages. Forget the flowers, chuck the chocolates. The Beauty and the Beast  is a scrumptious wonder.

Need an escape from politics? Here’s a trio of good reads

Feeling exhausted from all the recent headlines?  Need an escape from politics?  Bad weather putting you in a bad mood?  Forget forking over big bucks to go for some R&R . . . you can savor R&R by Reading & Rereading. What better way to escape than reading a good book?

We offer a trio of our picks this month. Drawing you into a world of art and beauty, Alyson Richman’s The Velvet Hours (Berkley, $16) is inspired by the true-life story of a sumptuous Paris apartment that was mysteriously shuttered for seventy years right before the eve of WWII, and once belonged to the elusive courtesan, Marthe de Florian.  The novel is a mesmerizing journey of one woman’s reinvention from an impoverished childhood to art collector and muse.

Distract yourself with a glamour and flair with Melanie Benjamin’s Swans of Fifth Avenue (Bantam, $16).  This scandalous, riveting novel about the “New York’s Swans of the 1950’s and the scandalous headline-making, and enthralling friendship between literary legend Truman Capote and socialite Babe Paley.

If you’re still looking to journey further, try Dinah Jefferies’ The Tea Planter’s Daughter (Lake Union Publishing, $14.95). Set in ’20s Ceylon, a young Englishwoman marries a charming tea plantation and widower, only to discover he’s keeping terrible secrets about his past, including what happened to his first wife, that lead to devastating consequences.

Martin Torgoff’s “Bop Apocalypse: Jazz, Race, the Beats, and Drugs” is an addictive look at America’s early drug use . . . and the music that went with it

A few pages into this book got us addicted. That’s a good thing. To fully understand national discussions on drugs—whether it’s the legalization of marijuana or the use of Naloxone for heroin overdoses—we must look at how the American drug culture was born: With herbal jazz cigarettes (think joints) at the Savoy Ballroom and the Beats high on Benzedrine in Times Square. In Bop Apocalypse: Jazz, Race, the Beats, and Drugs (Da Capo, $25.99), Martin Torgoff explores the early days of America’s drug use and marries it with our counter culture history taking us back to the beginning of the 20th century when modern drug law, policy, and culture were first established, and when musicians, writers and artists came together under the influence.

The narrative of Bop Apocalypse encompasses:

  • the birth of jazz in New Orleans
  • the Federal Bureau of Narcotics, Harry Anslinger and his “Marijuana and Musicians” file which included Duke Ellington, Dizzy Gillespie and others
  • Louis Armstrong and Chicago in the ’20s
  • “Reefer Madness” and the Marihuana Tax Act of ’37
  • Kansas City and the birth of swing
  • Bebop and the arrival of heroin to the streets of Harlem in the ’40s
  • the con­joining of principal Beat Generation characters in New York—Jack Kerouac, Allen Ginsberg, Neal Cassady and William Burroughs; their journeys and the creation of the three jazz-imbued masterworks (On the Road, Howl and Naked Lunch)
  • the birth, by 1960, of a new bohemian culture in cities and on college campuses across America

    The last known photo of Billie Holiday, snapped during a Verve recording

The juxtaposition of genius and addiction is notable throughout. Billy Holiday’s heroin addiction is discussed candidly with revealing new details from bebop hooker Ruby Rosano who shot up with Holiday’s help in a basement apartment while Charlie Parker played a blues nearby. Other vignettes like the engagement of the Miles Davis Quintet at the Café Bohemia in ’56 introduced John Coltrane’s brilliance to an audience of adoring fans as he spiraled into addiction and Davis reemerged clean.

A book that lays bare the ways in which race, drugs, and music collided to create a culture of both creative ingenuity and, at times, self-destruction, Bop Apocalypse tracks the impact of music’s long love affair with illicit substances.

Crazy over coconuts? Savor Ramin Ganeshram’s new tasty cookbook

The big question: Are coconuts nuts?

The simple answer: No. Coconuts are classified as drupes (more specifically “dry drupes”; a drupe is a fruit with a hard stony covering enclosing the seed (like a peach or olive).  Got it?

Now get Cooking with Coconut: 125 Recipes for Healthy Eating: Delicious Uses for Every Form—Oil, Flour, Water, Milk, Cream, Sugar, Dried & Shredded (Storey Publishing, $18.95) the new book by Ramin Ganeshram, an award-winning cookbook author and professionally trained chef. That may be a long title, but coconuts are among the hottest food trends around, with eaters everywhere eager for new and exciting ways to incorporate it into their diets. Not only is it a superfood—boosting energy and improving heart health—but coconut is delicious, bringing fresh, rich flavor to any dish.

In her book, Ganeshram (who grew up with an appreciation for coconut, passed down from her Trinidadian father) presents all those original recipes that use coconut in all its forms, from coconut milk and oil, dried and powdered, to fresh coconut. Options span the menu, from breakfast dishes like Gluten-Free Coconut Bread with Meyer Lemon Glaze, and Savory Coconut Crepes, to dinner and dessert dishes like Coconut Tikka Masala, and Coconut Rum Crème Brulee. Ganeshram also tells the captivating stories behind her dishes, many of which have roots in traditional coconut-producing countries like Brazil, Jamaica and Thailand.

Ganeshram dishes up everything home cooks and health-conscious eaters need to know to fully enjoy this delectable powerhouse. Mmmm!

Loretta Swit’s new role? An artist whose watercolors of animals are wonderful. So here, we give her and her book hot lips service

Art isn’t easy. That’s what Sondheim says. But Loretta Swit makes it look so . . . well, maybe not easy, but gorgeous that Ed Asner contributes it to the actress’ “animal magnetism.”

This year marks the 45th anniversary of M*A*S*H, and at 79, Swit is as active now as she was then, currently touring the country with the release of her book SwitHeart: The Watercolour Artistry & Animal  Activism of Loretta Swit (Ultimate Symbol, $49)  as she prepares for her roles in the stage productions of Six Dance Lessons in Six Weeks and Eleanor Roosevelt: Her Secret Journey.

SwitHeart chronicles the artwork of Swit, such a champion of the animal kingdom that she received the Betty Award Award–“for all she has done to protect and care for animals”–from Actors & Others for Animals on last month.  In September, she was awarded the 2016 Global Wildlife Conservation Champion Award by the GES Africa Conservation Fund for her support of animal conservation efforts, kindness, compassion and generosity.  Ask her and she’d probably agree such awards mean more to her than the two Emmys she won for her portrayal of Major Margaret “Hot Lips” Houlihan.

What many fans may not know about is that Swit has been an artist from age six. SwitHeart documents her animal portraits along with descriptive anecdotes about each and her extensive philanthropic work. “I’m thrilled to see my passion for animals and my passion for art merge in a book that will help benefit and protect the animals on our planet,” she coos.

Coos M*A*S*H star Alan Alda: ““Her pictures are created as much with her compassion and dedication as they are with her talent and artful vision.”

SwitHeart includes 65 full-color paintings and drawings, as well as 22 photographs.  Proceeds from the book will be donated to charities and programs that are as dedicated, as Swit is, to ending animal suffering and cruelty. Someone named Mies Hora is listed as “writer/editor”; the book must have been outsourced for printing since spelling of “watercolours” is so unAmerican.

Dr. Cate Shanahan, Director of the Los Angeles Lakers PRO Nutrition Program, shows how not to oil the body to better health

And we thought sugar was bad.

According to Cate Shanahan’s Deep Nutrition: Why Your Genes Need Traditional Food (Flatiron Books, $27.99vegetable oil is slowly, but surely, eroding away our. Yikes! When Americans cut back on saturated fat, they added oils like soy and canola–and lots of them. We now eat nearly 2,000 times more soy oil that we did in 1909, with roughly 45% of all calories coming from refined oils. Whether it be canola, soy, corn or other oils, over the past half century, these highly processed industrial products have gradually taken over our diets without anyone really noticing.


Refining and heating degrades the molecules in ways that create toxins, which Dr. Cate Shanahan, the Director of the Los Angeles Lakers PRO Nutrition Program,  pinpoints as the No. 1 contributor to poor health in America.

Once a world-class athlete plagued by debilitating injuries, physician and biochemist Cate Shanahan was determined to cure her own ailments. So she researched the diets from around the world proven to help people live longer, healthier lives—diets like the Mediterranean, Okinawan, and The Blue Zones—and identified four common nutritional habits that for generations have unfailingly produced strong, healthy, intelligent children, and active, vital elders.

These four nutritional strategies form the basis of what Dr. Cate calls “The Human Diet”:

  • Fresh food
  • Fermented and sprouted foods
  • Meat cooked on the bone
  • Organ meats

Not all food is created equal. Real food contains ordered information that can direct our cellular growth in a positive way. Our family history does not determine our destiny. What you eat interacts with your DNA in ways that affect your health and the health of your future children.

By adhering to this Human Diet, Dr. Cate cured her own ailments and has since helped countless patients and readers of the original self-published edition of Deep Nutrition achieve their own optimum health.

Cutting through conflicting nutritional ideologies, the book combines science with common sense to illustrate how the traditions of our ancestors can help us all lead longer, healthier, more vital lives.

Catherine Shanahan, M.D. is a board certified family physician. She trained in biochemistry and genetics at Cornell University before attending Robert Wood Johnson Medical School. She practiced medicine in Hawaii for a decade, where she studied enthnobotany, as well as the culinary habits of her healthiest patients. She currently runs a metabolic health clinic in Denver, Colorado and serves as

Eight-legged horses, serpents and cosmic wolves: Welcome to “The Norse Myths”

Gods and goddesses; mighty heroes and indomitable women; dragons, serpents and cosmic wolves; the great World-Tree, inhabited by magical and monstrous creatures . . . .

The new Lucas or Spielberg film? Hardly. These are Norse myths, and they speak to us as vibrantly today as when they were told in Viking halls centuries ago. Originating in ancient Scandinavia and Iceland, they were recorded in sagas and poems, and in the (less approving) accounts of medieval Christian writers. Archaeology also gives us tantalizing depictions of Viking ships, eight-legged horses, and titanic battles on runestones, metalwork and carvings. Sounds Greek to you?  Through The Norse Myths: A Guide to the Gods and Heroes (Thames & Hudson, $24.95), literature scholar Carolyne Larrington brings us vivid new translations from the Old Norse, and we meet the inhabitants of this rich mythological cosmos face to face. The book is an exhilarating introduction to the vivid, violent, boisterous world of the Norse myths and their cultural legacy—from Tolkien to Game of Thrones.

Beginning with an account of the Norse myths’ origins and survival, The Norse Myths continues by introducing the principal gods and goddesses—Óṍinn (Odin), Loki, Þórr (Thor), Freyja, Heimdallr and the rest—before examining the gods’ powerful adversaries, the giants of ice and fire. According to the Norse creation myths, the world was born, and continued, in violence; two chapters are devoted to the (mis)adventures of the men and women of heroic legend and their sometimes unsettling conceptions of heroism and sacrifice. The last chapter is, fittingly, dedicated to ragnarök—the final conflict in which most of the gods will die and the world come to an end, with a hint at the possibility of rebirth.

The book offers fresh retellings of the vivid, often funny, almost always bloodthirsty tales of the Norse gods and heroes, and a satisfying exploration of their meaning and significance, past and present. The old stories have found new life in the work of Wagner, William Morris and J.R.R. Tolkien, and even in the reimagining of the fimbulvetr, or “Mighty Winter,” in Game of Thrones. And the 102 illustrations are an extra treat!

Dr. Laurie Hess and her pet profession: Her book reminds us why owning a Nile monitor is a major no-no

When a dog or cat is sick, there are often dozens of local veterinarians who could help. But who do you turn to when your pet is a boa constrictor or an African grey parrot?

In Unlikely Companions: The Adventures of an Exotic Animal Doctor (Da Capo Press, $24.99), Dr. Laurie Hess—a veterinarian with two decades of experience and her own private practice—invites us into her day-to-day life. Relating the events of one week, Hess shares the mysteries of her ER, the weird and wonderful animals she meets every day, and her observations on how people can connect with their pets in ways they can’t connect with each other. As she searches for answers in piles of lab test results, she shares the stories of owners who have stretched both pennies and hearts to keep their pets going strong.
Hess’ career mantra has always been that exotic pets deserve exceptional care. Here, we chat with her about why people should (and should not) own an exotic pet.

What exactly are exotic pets?
Exotic pets are domesticated animals, other than dogs and cats that are commonly kept as pets. This includes birds (most often parrots, but also canaries, finches, pigeons, doves, and others), ferrets, rabbits, rodents (guinea pigs, chinchillas, hamsters, gerbils, rats, mice, degus, prairie dogs); reptiles (turtles, tortoises, snakes, and various lizards); amphibians (toads and frogs); hedgehogs, sugar gliders (small mammals that look like flying squirrels but that are actually marsupials); pot-bellied pigs; and some less commonly known species such as wallabies, fennec foxes and kinkajous. Exotic pets should be differentiated from exotic animals—those that are typically wild or found in zoos and that should not be kept as pets.

Fennec foxes should not be kept as pets, though princess is awfully cute

Why would anyone want an exotic pet?
Exotics are great for people who are looking for an alternative to a cat or dog. This includes people who live in small homes who don’t have the room to house a dog or cat that needs a lot of space to run around, or individuals that have neighbors close by who won’t tolerate barking dogs. Certain species of exotic pets, such as small reptiles (geckos, bearded dragons, small tortoises) and rodents (guinea pigs, hamsters, gerbils), are great for people who might want a lower maintenance animal than a cat or a dog, such as a family with elementary school age children who are getting their first pet. All children should, however, be supervised around any exotic pets.

What are the best exotic pets for families?
It really depends on what the family is looking for in a pet, how much time they have to spend with it, and the age of the kids interacting with it. A good starter animal for families that are considering getting a bird is a cockatiel. These birds are very interactive, full of personality and fairly easy to keep. For families that want a cuddly mammal, a guinea pig is a good choice. Guinea pigs are hardy rodents that bond to their owners and are not very time demanding. Finally, for families with slightly older children who want a fairly low maintenance pet that is interesting to look at but that doesn’t require a great deal of daily attention, a small reptile, such as a gecko or bearded dragon, might be a good choice.

The doc and a feathered friend

What are the problems wanting or owing an exotic?
While birds, rabbits, rodents (such as guinea pigs, chinchillas, hamsters, and gerbils); reptiles (such as turtles, tortoises, lizards, and snakes); amphibians (frogs and toads); ferrets; and other less well-known animals like hedgehogs, sugar gliders and pot-bellied pigs, are very popular pets, most owners of these unique animals don’t even realize that these pets need regular medical care. Unfortunately, many of these exotic animals are purchased or adopted for the wrong reasons—because they are cute, colorful or in the case of birds, they can talk—and many exotic pet owners end up frustrated or disappointed in these animals which end up being ignored or dumped at shelters. Also, many exotic pet owners don’t educate themselves about what these animals need, so these pets get sick and end up being brought to veterinarians on an emergency basis. 

Why did you choose to be an exotic pet vet?
After I graduated from veterinary school I realized that very few veterinarians receive adequate training in school to know how to care for exotic pet species properly. There was a definite need for exotic pet veterinary care because  owners routinely bring these animals to the vet when they are sick with the expectation that the vet will know what to do to make them better. These exotic pet species need not only specialized medical knowledge to get them better when they are ill, but also a detailed education of what to feed them and how to house them to keep them healthy. I didn’t receive any of this information when I was a veterinary student and realized that to be able to provide proper care for these pets, I would need additional post-doctoral residency training in exotic pet medicine and surgery. So, I completed an additional 3 years of training, beyond veterinary school, specifically in bird and exotic pet medicine and surgery.

Is the Nile monitor playing with or trying to eat the dog? People who released their Nile monitor pets has caused such a problem in areas of Florida that wildlife officials are shooting them on sight.

What is the strangest exotic pet you have ever treated?
I have seen many odd pets during my 22-year career treating exotic animals, but perhaps one of the strangest cases I have encountered was a large reptile—a six-foot-long, 30-pound Nile monitor—that was owned by a young man and his mother who traveled all the way from Pennsylvania to New York to see me. The monitor had been housed and fed improperly, became ill and then was then given an overdose of an antibiotic by another vet unfamiliar with this species. By the time it got to me, the lizard was in kidney failure. My staff and I tried very hard to save the animal, but unfortunately, it came to me gravely ill and passed away despite our best efforts to give it intravenous fluids and medications. This monitor is a perfect example of the type of animal that really doesn’t belong in most people’s homes as a pet, because it could not be cared for properly.

Bazillion Points offers two hardcore books that appeal to punks, morbid angels and misfits

And we thought we knew all the publishing companies.

A random house that offers “the most authentic, detailed and sought-after books about Nirvana, Metallica, AC/DC, Black Flag, NYHC, California punk, Norwegian black metal, Swedish death metal, and much, much more”: Bazillion Points Books. The company, that calls itself “America’s smallest but heaviest book publisher”,  has expanded its comprehensive library with two essential new offerings from the world of horror punk/hardcore and death metal/grindcore.

No, George Michael and Madonna won’t be here. The books are no minor threats, simply improved editions of two cult books that deal authoritatively with matters near and dear to all dark hearts.

Misery Obscura: The Photography of Eerie Von ($29.95)
Beginning as the unofficial photographer for punk legends the Misfits and later taking charge of the bass guitar as a founding member of underground pioneers Samhain and metal gods Danzig, Eerie Von captured the dark heart of rock’s most vital bleeding edge during a time when rock and roll was not only dangerous, but downright menacing. Hundreds of “fly-on-the-wall” photos from the best seats in the house document everything from the Misfits’ humble beginnings in Lodi, New Jersey, to the heights of Danzig’s stadium-rock glory.  There are forewords by Lyle Preslar aned Mike D’Antonio; the book ships with a signed 8×10 full-cover lobby card.
Metallica’s lead guitarist coos: “Misery Obscura has an amazing fly-on-the-wall feel that is mesmerizing but unequivocal. He puts me right back in the 1980s, in the same space where the Misfits and Samhain were.”

Choosing Death: The Improbable History of Death Metal & Grindcore ($29.95)
Albert Mudrian’s widely praised blow-by-blow history of metal’s most relentless strains was first published in 2004. Picking up the gruesome path over a decade later, Mudrian leaves no tombstone unturned, delivers three new chapters, and expands existing material with the results of 50 new interviews. Brutal new 16-page color section features raw, bloody early photos of Death, Repulsion, Obituary, Deicide, Morbid Angel, Thanatos, At the Gates, Napalm Death, Carcass, Dismember, Nihilist, and many others. There are forewords by Scott Carlson of Repulsion and BBC DJ John Peel; the book ships with free limited color woven patch. Coos  Napalm Death (dis)member Shame Embury: “Albert Mudrian, our disciple of all that is heavy and extreme, definitively documents this period of blissful cacophony for all to behold. Play fast or die!”

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